Single Live Gonzo!

Before the double live album, there was "THE SINGLE LIVE ALBUM!" Here are some noteworthy and note-fudging selections.

First Live Album Created Entirely in the Studio:
Johnny Rivers
Johnny Rivers at the Whisky A-Go-Go (1964)

It doesn't take a secret agent man to figure out that this and three other "Recorded Live, Very Live" Whisky A-Go-Go albums sound identical to Johnny's first designated "studio" album, where friends were invited down to sing and clap on the sessions. File under Whisky A-No-No!

First Live Album With Massive Overdubs:
The Rolling Stones
Got Live If You Want It! (1966)

What is it with Royal Albert Hall live albums? Both Dylan and Creedence Clearwater Revival have mislabeled Albert Hall live albums. Dylan's was actually taped at the less-prestigious-sounding Free Trade Hall in Manchester. In Creedence's case, it was the even less prestigious Oakland Coliseum. The Stones' actual Albert Hall concert didn't even last two songs before erupting into a riot. However, Stones producer/manager Andrew Oldham was determined to flesh out this piece of fiction. If you put the stereo balance to one side, you hear a tambourine-banging Mick Jagger faking an onstage orgasm and singing "gotta gotta" over unusable live recordings from somewhere else. You'll also hear two mono studio recordings on one channel with overdubbed screams on the opposite channel. And for all this meatball surgery, it still sounds out of tune!

First Live Album to Feature a New Studio Track:
The Cowsills
The Cowsills in Concert (1969)

How many times have you said to yourself, "Gee, I really dig Cream, but just for once I'd like to hear 'Sunshine of Your Love' done the Cowsills way?" Plenty, I'll bet! Having already used up the stopgap greatest-hits option, the Cowsills opt to record a whole album of other people's hits live and toss on the studio version of their last hit "Hair" (which came too late to be included on their original best-of). Bill Cowsill sounds like Lawrence Welk on the intros ("Right now Bob's gonna do a very pretty song about a very pretty lady," "That's sockin' it to 'em, Barry"), but on the plus side, they sing and play "Paperback Writer" way better than the Beatles did on their last tour.

First One-Sided Live Album:
Plastic Ono Band
Live Peace in Toronto (1969)

Having already invented the split single by giving Yoko all his B-sides, John Lennon ensured his first-ever live appearance on record would also be a one-sided affair by letting Yoko shriek for all of side two. First pressings of Live Peace came with a calendar that you could mark with red X's until "Don't Worry Kyoko" was over.

First Silent Live Album:
Marcel Marceau
The Best of Marcel Marceau (1970)

Nineteen minutes of silence, one minute of applause. On both sides! Even if you bulk erased the crowd noise on this one-joke album, it'd still be funnier than . . .

First Live Album by a Singer Who Will Not Sing:
Elvis Presley
Having Fun With Elvis on Stage (1974)

Not content with the five Elvis live albums (two of 'em double discs) already cluttering the market since the King's '68 comeback, the perpetually greedy Colonel Tom Parker decided to take the scraps of banal in-between-song banter excised from those albums and serve it up to hungry fans. Most of the album consists of Elvis' Aunt Jemima impersonation and other witty pearls like "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm the NBC peacock," "Look at these little red things in my pants here," "You want a scarf?" and interminable false starts where Elvis is unable to get past the word "Weeeeeeelll."

First Live Album Where the Audience Was Less Than Adoring:
Iggy & The Stooges
Metallic K.O. (1976)

The Stooges' last ever show had the audience so misty they threw ice, light bulbs, bottles and eggs at the World's Forgotten Boy. Ever the well-mannered Michigan youth, Iggy Pop tosses back classic taunts like, "I don't care if you throw all the ice in the world, you're paying five bucks and I'm making 10,000, so screw ya," and the best song count-off ever ("A-one-two-FUCK YOU PRICKS!"). Then to punish the audience for their unkind indulgence, he offers a perverse version of "Louie Louie" that's far worse than anything the FBI imagined the Kingsmen were singing.

First Live Album of All New Material:
Ted Nugent
Intensities in 10 Cities (1981)

No doubt inspired by Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, the Nooge decided to record a concept album about the road featuring all new songs. Unlike Browne, Ted's time on the road is decidedly less forlorn, if titles like "Jailbait," "My Love Is Like a Tire Iron," "I Am a Predator" and "Flying Lip Lock" are any indicator. And unlike Browne's "The Load Out," there's no introspective "I love you, man" mush about roadies, either, unless "Heads Will Roll" is meant as a warning if Uncle Ted doesn't find enough willing young nubiles waiting for him after the show.

First Live Album With Just the Solos:
Yes
90125 Live: The Solos (1985)

Sort of the prog-rock version of Having Fun With Elvis on Stage. Maybe the Yesmen were incensed that stadium crowds usually chose to take a leak during their individual showcases and were determined that these cosmic noodles be heard. Only the most incontinent Yes fans sat through this sludge once without fidgeting.

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