5 Seconds Of Summer's LIVESOS (and the 10 of the best live albums ever recorded)
It's been quite a year for the Australian pop-punk four piece 5 Seconds Of Summer. They've seen their debut album top the charts in countries all around the world and toured Europe and North America, not to mention being handed a string of awards presented by everyone from Nickelodeon to Kerrang! Magazine. They even found time to pay us a visit and perform live for fans at our store on London's Oxford Street, bringing traffic to a halt in one of the capital's busiest areas.
Next week (Monday December 15th) they'll be releasing their first live album, LIVESOS, which will will no doubt be finding its way into stockings all over the UK during the holiday season thanks to the band's legion of loyal fans. Recorded over the course of their world tour this year, the album features some belting live renditions of all the tracks from their self-titled debut LP, as well as some choice cover versions. Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream' is one of the tracks to get the 5SOS treatment, along with Green Day's 'American Idiot' and The Romantics' 'What I Like About You'.
Live albums can be a mixed bag and you can never be sure what to expect, but Calum, Luke, Ashton and Michael have been touring so extensively over the last 12 months that their repertoire is extremely well versed and LIVESOS finds them sounding tight and energetic, but what really comes across is that this is a band that are really enjoying themselves.
Some of the fans won't be able to wait until December 25th before they're parting with their cash to get their hands on LIVESOS, but for those of you who are prepared to sit tight until then, we've picked out 10 other fantastic live albums to keep you occupied. Enjoy...
10. Wire – Document & Eyewitness
Wire are one of the most unique bands to emerge from the post-punk era in the late 70s and early 80s and their three albums Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 are as good as anything from that period. Document & Eyewitness, comprising mostly recordings from two chaotic shows at the Electric Ballroom and Notre Dame Hall, there's an extraordinary, palpable tension in the atmosphere, the result of a baffled and restless audience witnessing a show with almost none of their best-known songs. Instead the audience are treated to a bizarre, Dada-inspired cabaret with props, costumes and a band that literally could not care less what their fans made of it all. It's reckless, defiant and more than a little rough around the edges, but as live albums go there really isn't anything else like it.
9. Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison
As tough gigs go, it's hard to imagine an environment with more potential for hostility than one of America's toughest penitentiaries, but that obviously didn't concern the 'man in black' when he chose Folsom Prison as the venue for his 1968 comeback album. Compiled from two performances on the same day at the California prison, the album opens with Cash's 1955 song 'Folsom Prison Blues' and includes some fantastic cover versions along with his own material, particularly Lefty Frizzel's 'The Long Black Veil' and the closing number, Glen Shirley's 'Greystone Chapel'. Despite very little record label investment, the album became a huge hit and reignited Cash's waning career.
8. Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive!
Before the release of Frampton Comes Alive! in 1976, Peter Frampton had released four albums with limited success, and although he had already had a hit with 'Baby, I Love Your Way' from his previous album, simply titled Frampton, it was his astonishing live album a year later that really launched him to the next level. He became synonymous with the 'talkbox' effect as a result of the album's highlight, an extended rendition of 'Do You Feel Like We Do?', and the album went on to sell more than 11 million copies worldwide, staying on the Billboard Hot 100 for 97 weeks and making Frampton a household name in the U.S.
7. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
Also released as a documentary compiled from performances and behind-the-scenes happenings from their three-night stint at Hollywood's Pantages Theater, Talking Heads' 1984 live album was one of the first to utilise entirely digital recording technology and its accompanying film is considered one of the best 'rockumentaries' ever made. Highlights include barnstorming renditions of 'Once in a Lifetime', 'Psycho Killer' and 'Burning Down The House', but it's just a great live record from start to finish and even though fans of the band will no doubt be well aware of its existence, it's still well worth revisiting.
6.MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
Detroit's garage rock pioneers enjoyed a relatively short but explosive period at the end of the 1960s when they were considered not just one of the hottest bands around, but an emblem of the whole counterculture movement. Here was a bunch of white guys that were preaching civil rights and hanging around with the Black Panthers, and their reputation as a live act inspired fear just as much as excitement. Their 1969 debut Kick Out The Jams is one of the only examples we know of where a live album has been a band's first full-length release, but it only takes one listen to understand why they decided to do so. The atmosphere is nerve-jangling, the performance raw and heavy, and the moment where vocalist Rob Tyner declares that “it's time to kick out the jams, motherf*ckers” is enough to send a shiver down the spine.
5. James Brown – Live at The Apollo
Although it's barely half an hour in length, James Brown's legendary live recording from Harlem's Apollo Theatre in 1962 is still regarded as one of the Godfather of Soul's best albums. The atmosphere is electric, the band tighter than a mermaid's brassiere and it's just so damn funky it's almost impossible not to dance to it. As much as anything, it's like a snapshot of a scene that no longer really exists and you can't help but feel a little pang of nostalgia when listening to tracks like 'Think' and 'Night Train'. Along with another of his live outings, Sex Machine, Live at the Apollo continually finds itself a feature on countless 'best albums ever' lists, and rightly so.
4. Portishead – Roseland NYC Live
Portishead's 1998 performance at New York's Roseland Ballroom saw the trip-hop pioneers accompanied by a full, live orchestra, and it really is the perfect marriage. The music from their first two albums is ripe for orchestral accompaniment and tracks like 'Sour Times' and 'Roads' are given a new depth here, but the real highlight is a live rendition of their biggest hit, 'Glory Box'. Beth Gibbons delivers an astonishing vocal performance – casually puffing on a cigarette the entire time – before leaning into the mic and saying “sorry if that was a bit dodgy”. You can almost hear the bewilderment in the audience. The other thing that really strikes you about this live recording though is just how underrated Adrian Utley is as a guitarist, and their performance gives him and the rest of the band the perfect stage to show just how good a live act they really are.
3. The Who – Live at Leeds
It's impossible to put together a list of the best live albums without including this little beauty, recorded during The Who's 1969 world tour, but it nearly didn't happen at all. Most of the tour had been recorded with the intention of putting out a live album at some stage, but Pete Townshend was reportedly reluctant to spend days wading through the tapes from 38 performances to find the best ones and, in a decision he would later come to regret, ordered their sound engineer Bob Pridden to destroy the lot, which he did by burning the tapes on a bonfire in his back garden. Instead, Townshend wanted to record their two shows in Hull and Leeds. The Hull recording didn't go to plan as there were problems with the bass guitar track, and so they were left with just the Leeds show. Whether it's just blind luck or the fact that The Who were at their zenith as a live band at the time, the result is one of the best - if not the best- live albums ever released. From its opener 'Heaven and Hell' right through to the closing bars of 'Magic Bus', The Who smash through a long list of their best tunes and show why they are one of the best live acts there has ever been.
2. Kraftwerk – Minimum-Maximum
Some 35 years after their first live performance, the godfathers of electronic music finally released their first official live album in 2005, but it was worth the wait. Recorded at numerous different venues on a world tour that took in shows at berlin, Tokyo, Moscow and London, among many others, Minimum-Maximum is available as CD or vinyl as well as on DVD, and we'd highly recommend the latter option as the band's strong visual presentation is half the fun here. Tracks like the German version of 'Man Machine' sound incredibly heavy, almost menacing at times, and the surround mix on the DVD is just stunning. A career-spanning set over two discs includes belting performances of classics like 'The Model' and 'Radioactivity', as well as their newer material from Tour De France Soundtracks, and shows why they are still held in such reverence by dance music fans.
1. Nirvana – Live at Reading
We could just as easily have picked Nirvana's Unplugged in New York, another great live album in its own right, but their performance at 1992's Reading Festival has become the stuff of legend. The show will always be remembered for Kurt Cobain's entrance - in response to rumours being circulated at the time that he was in ill health, the frontman was rolled onto the stage in a wheelchair dressed in a hospital gown, dramatically standing up and reaching for the microphone before pretending to collapse on the stage. Most of all though, it's just a great set from start to finish and the atmosphere that comes across on the record is nothing short of electric.