More Musings at the Dunkin' Donuts

So, I was in line at the Dunkin' Donuts, as is my wont and my right as a God-Fearing American (His name is Zothar, and he lives in the lake out back), and I began listing what I thought were essential live versions of songs (for another CD sampler). Most of the time, a live record is simply an exercise in how close the band can sound like the album, but sometimes you have some pretty great moments. Feel free to add your favorites, as I don't have a full CD worth yet.

"Ziggy Stardust," Bauhaus, on The Sky's Gone Out -- you thought the song already kicked ass, and then Daniel Ash said "Let's put distortion on everything! Even the distortion!"

"America," David Bowie, on The Concert for America -- apparently played on a casio keyboard where he sat cross-legged in a dashiki. Not until Bowie sings "the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike!" do the collected NY police and firefighters have any idea what is going on.

"Honeysuckle Blue," Drivin' n Cryin', on Live -- this is my favorite song to play along with on my guitar. All the bending strings makes you feel like any of the barefoot, dirtbag, Southern guitar players from the Allman Brothers to My Morning Jacket. In the live version, in the middle of the song, Kinney starts into a typical "So how you doing tonight? It's Friday, working hard ...." and then busts into the angriest 10 seconds of "Hey Jude" I've ever heard (which probably fits the subject of Paul's song all the better).

"A Salty Salute," Guided by Voices, on Live at the Wheelchair Races -- Pollard asks the crowd to sing along with this "drinking anthem." Some smartass in the crowd says "they're all drinking anthems." Touche.

"The Queen is Dead," The Smiths, on Rank -- every Smiths record should have begun with Morrissey screaming "Hullo!"

"We'll Inherit the Earth," The Replacements, on Houston Bootleg -- Paul dedicates the song to the "little dude" he knocked unconscious with a beer bottle. That was me.


Mitch said...

Good choices. Regarding Bowie's "America," thought perhaps I'd post the link of the video so all could see.

Cross-legged and Casio'd, but alas, no dashiki.

chad said...

Sometime the live version becomes the version of the song. The live version of "Lisa Says"? Not to mention that is one of my favorite album covers ever. "Needle and the Damage Done" is live. That one gives me the shivers.

Trevor Jackson said...

Jane's Addiction - "Jane Says" on their self-titled LP. Far superior to the version on Nothing's Shocking because they immediately go into a cover of VU's "Rock 'n Roll."

MSF said...

the version of thunder road on springsteen's live from 75-85 box set was amazing.

Grendel said...

Chad nailed it with Neil Young. The whole of "Unplugged" is magic -- even freakin' "Transformer Man" emerges as surprisingly terrific.

Let's not forget "Frampton Comes Alive." I think any live album comes down to the recording, and the recording on that album is so intimate and vibrant that it vaulted a fairly obscure artist into the stratosphere. In fact it became the best-selling album of all time up to that point. It's the only live album I know that somehow makes me feel like I'm actually at the concert. No small feat.

But "Unplugged"... sheez. Everyone should have that CD.

Brando said...

Good post idea, El G, and I love the Salty Salute suggestion. Mine off the top of my head:

"Game of Pricks", GBV, also from the box set. They really ramp up the energy of an already kick-ass song.

"Tennesee Plates" and "Slow Turning", John Hiatt from Hiatt Comes Alive at Budakon.

Speaking of which, "Surrender" and "I Want You to Want Me" from Cheap Trick's Live at Budakon fall into Chad's category of eclipsing their studio originals.

I also love the live rock version of "Polly" from the Nirvana live album.

On Sting's Bring on the Night live album, his jazzy meddly of "Bring on the Night/When the World Is Running Down" is really good and a nice reworking of those songs.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention two Rush songs: the live versions of "Closer to the Heart" with the little jam at the end, and the live version of "La Villa Strangiato" on Exit Stage Left