The onslaught of live albums: cash grab or super fab?

Hope Lynes and Finlay Holden debate whether live albums are worth their salt.

multiple writers
8th November 2019
Wikimedia Commons (Bruce)

In an age where a new live album comes out every week, Hope Lynes and Finlay Holden debate whether they’re worth your time and money

FOR- Hope Lynes

In my argument for live albums I want to focus on what is possibly my favourite album of all time, that just so happens to be a live recording. DMA's released MTV Unplugged Live earlier this year, and it is a masterpiece. Combining songs off their both their first and second albums as well as their EP this is a beauty of a gift for fans.

And that is exactly what I would argue live albums are, they are a gift for fans. A different interpretation of fans' favourite songs redefined. It's a new way to listen that isn't overplayed and can mean something special, often focusing more on the lyrics. Lyrics become even more beautiful when they are stripped back or enhanced.

Equally, live albums of gigs or festival performances can recapture the music within experiences where we often focus on the visuals and the memories surrounding the events. Phones can capture images and what the eyes see but sound quality is often poor and misleads interpretation of an event. A live album rekindles the special performance for those that were there, and allows those unable to attend to share some experience of the sound that can't be captured through a badly recorded Instagram video.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoy listening to live albums as I prefer sound to be unperfected, raw and to hear the unedited sounds of the instruments. Listening to these albums on a record player is a unique listening experience that is the definition of a special record to own in my opinion. My favourite record that I own is my live DMA's album and that sums up for me the importance and uniqueness  of the live album.

AGAINST- Finlay Harbour

While it cannot be argued that live renditions of records shouldn’t be heard, I do not believe that recordings of performances being released as entire albums is the best way to approach this.

First of all, the magic of hearing your favourite tracks blasting out from the artist in person is an incredible feeling that is hard to replicate anywhere else. It will always sound different to the pre-recorded, maybe over-produced version that you’ve had on repeat on Spotify for months beforehand, and this new sound is interesting to observe. Each artist will render their songs live in an unique way. What live albums do is try to recreate this feeling by giving you a tape of a show, but it every way it is an inferior replication of going to a live show that will not ever live up to being at a show yourself.

Ultimately, music is produced in a specific way by each artist in the studio for good reason. The flair of a performer and atmosphere of a crowd can elevate it to another level, but listening through a microphone on stage is not sufficient.

If you want to see how songs sound live, there are many online platforms that allow you to do so. Clogging up the feed of streaming platforms with attempts to capture the essence of a gig is simply a nuisance that should be avoided.

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