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  NIGHTSPOTS

DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
THE POWER OF LIVE MUSIC: THE SECOND ALBUM
by Marc 'Moose' Moder
2013-10-16

This article shared 2746 times since Wed Oct 16, 2013
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Most great live albums, like their live show counterparts, cannot be contained in the length of a 75-minute CD, so most great live albums are broken into two parts. Hence the part two format, recalling last issue's ode to the great live albums of the modern era. Last issue we explored ground-breaking live albums by eighties monsters Depeche Mode, U2 and Peter Gabriel — this week we veer off into smaller, gayer territory.

One of the challenges of doing a live album is to give your fans something new to hear instead of just slightly different or longer versions of the hits. That was done en masse in the nineties with MTV Unplugged albums by Nirvana, Mariah Carey, Natalie Merchant and many more and has since been done to death ( and hopefully put to death ). These next examples are three gay acts that managed to re-imagine the live album with classical flair, as only a queen can.

Back in late '80s, power pop quartet The Bongos folded after two great albums leaving their third album, Phantom Train, unreleased and their lead singer, Richard Barone, nothing but one great live show previewing the new material to show for it. Richard released that live album—which is mostly him, his acoustic guitar, piano and strings—as Cool Blue Halo, which drew him even more new fans than his previous band and helped usher in the aforementioned Unplugged era. CBH was the perfect transitional CD for Richard; covering his hits with The Bongos; some of the unreleased Phantom Train tracks; great covers by TRex, Bowie and The Beatles; and one track that would be the standout on his first studio LP, "Primal Dream." Both Phantom Train and Cool Blue Halo anniversary editions just hit stores last week.

Around the same time The Bongos were parting, Marc Almond was making his pink spotlight shine beyond the legendary Soft Cell. While Soft Cell had their moments of cabaret and camp, Marc turned it up to 11 when, after 6 hit-or-miss solo albums and 14 years combined in the industry, he released his dramatic live album and video, 12 Years of Tears. Pulling from his years with Soft Cell, his love of French and cabaret, and his two big pop solo albums, 12 Years feels like a Jacques Brel musical complete with Jacques Brel classics like "Jacky" ( see Ab Fab ) and "If You Go Away" ( see Streisand and Sinatra ), plus the best song ever about drag, "What Makes a Man a Man."

And finally the mother of all big gay albums has to be Pet Shop Boys' reimagining of their career with a live orchestra, Robbie Williams, Rufus Wainwright and The Art of Noise. If you saw them in concert this past month, you know nothing beats them in concert, so imagine them with this much power behind them. Concrete does what all of these mentioned releases do: embellish, enhance and strengthen your love for the originals, while making you equally appreciate the ones less familiar to your ear. Just like any good concert should.


This article shared 2746 times since Wed Oct 16, 2013
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