Friday, 10 February 2012

Five Double Live Classics

Status Quo - 'Live!' (1977)
Recorded over three nights in October 1976 and the Glasgow Apollo, this gem probably marks the high point of Status Quo's career before they began the long slide into becoming a cheesy parody of the band they used to be. This is Quo at their heaviest and purest. Tracks like Roll Over Lay Down, Backwater, Big Fat Mama and especially Is There A Better Way roll from the speakers like boogie powered steam rollers and just lay waste to everything in their path. But the twin highlights have to be the extended versions of Forty-Five Hundred Times and Roadhouse Blues (the old Doors number, first covered by Quo on the Piledriver album), both of which turn into extended jams that show just what good players the band in fact were.

Crash Street Kids - 'Live From The Waist Down (2010)
With the concept trilogy of The Supersonic Star Show completed, what better way for Arizona glam focused retro rockers Crash Street Kids to celebrate than to record and release a good old fashion double live album. Recorded in a small club in their home town in front of a fanatically loyal crowd over two nights, this album is a live document that stands up their with the best of them. With a set drawn from right across the preceding three studio albums, Live From The Waist Down shows just what a classic rock band in the making CSK are, from the opener - C'mon C'mon C'mon to the closing chords of Penthouse, the band take a listener on a thrill ride of rock and roll excellence that really does make you feel like your there in the crowd. And with cuts like Cigerettes and Star Fuckers, Space Rock time Bomb, The Kids On Dope, Mandy and The Leapers and a storming cover of the Mott the Hoople classic All The Young Dudes on offer, and presented in their rawest and striped down form, full of the pure joy of glam rock enthusiasm your left asking just one question. 'Why the hell aint this band better known'

REO Speedwagon - 'Live: You Get What You Play For' (1977)
 Although some people, especially in the UK, may find it hard to believe, before MTV and the power ballad hits, REO Speedwagon were a damn fine hard edged rock and roll band. This double live set, recorded in various Mid West venues on the band 1976 US tour proves the point in fine style, there's not a cheesy power ballad in sight as the REO boys layout a solid hard rocking set which includes rock and roll classics like Son Of A Poor Man, Lay Me Down, Riding The Storm Out and their break through US single Keep Pushin'. But to me the true highlights are the guitar and vocal interplay on 157 Riverside Avenue and a cracking version of the Chuck Berry classic Little Queenie

Demon - 'One Helluva Night: Live In Germany' - (1990)
 NWOBHM outfit Demon may not be a household name, but as a cult draw on the underground scene, especially in Germany they have few equals. So its hardly surprising that when they decided to release a live album, they recorded it in Germany. This album is basically a full set recorded at The Rockfabrik in Ludwigsburg at the tail end of the band 'Taking The World By Storm' tour in 1989. Demon as a live animal is a slightly different beast from their by then slick progressive metal style of their later studio output, live they reverted to the old school NWOBHM sound of their first two albums, but it still works fine. Whilst tracks like Life Brigade, Living In The Shadows and Life On The Wire do loose some of the studio majesty, they are instead fitted with a new pair of bollocks and are reformed in a fire of glorious angry politically aware metal attitude. Throw in a couple of quieter spine tingling moments like the wonderful Remembrance Day and a load of uptempo rebel rousing classics such as One Helluva Night, Wonderland and Night Of The Demon and you've got a live document that should be owned and cherished by metal fans everywhere.

Hawkwind - 'This Is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic' (1984)
Not so much a double live album, this classic from space rock gods Hawkwind is in fact an archive live set recorded in 1980 at the Lewisham Odeon on the bands Levitation tour coupled with a 12" single recorded at the 1984 Stonehenge free festival. Both sections of this one are well worth a listen. The Lewisham tracks are note worthy for the fact Ginger Baker is the drummist on show and include a storming high energy versions of Psi Power and Shot Down In The Night and a rendition of Angel of Death that by contrast is slowed down to a glorious spaced out sleaze. Of the two Stonehenge tracks Stonehenge Decoded is a tripped out acid improvisation which show a side of the Hawks that had been often neglected since the early 70's, and Watching The Grass Grow is a classic number from Nik Turners Inner City Unit (with Mr Turner guesting) given the Hawkwind treatment. Over all a pretty damn good record.

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