Live albums used to be a super big deal for the music industry with concert records regularly going platinum. Today, the Internet has made it possible for to post live performances within seconds of finishing. The means the debate over which version of a song–the original studio recording or the live performance–is actually better.
I remember seeing Roger Waters at the old Kingswood Music Theatre in 1987 during which he performed “Mother” from The Wall. I swear it was superior to the recorded version. Absolutely transcendent. And who has ever bothered listening to the studio version of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way”?
Then again, there are plenty of live recordings that are absolute rubbish. I’m annoyed at most of U2’s performances of “Vertigo” because Bono insists on changing the pacing of his vocals. Other artists speed things up, slow things down, and otherwise change the arrangement.
Until now, comparing, live and recorded versions of the same song has been a rather subjective thing. But now we have the Live Music Analyst.
The LMA purports to pull apart the particulars of a song in both its studio and live form to judge the merits of each on a variety of metrics. For example, this is what they found out about Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
The LMA has looked at dozens of songs from artists ranging from Alice in Chains to ZZ Top. Give it a whirl.