Song Of The Day 12/8/2014: Aretha Franklin - "Dr. Feelgood" (Live at Fillmore West)


Song Of The Day Outtakes 2014: This was cut from It's Alive! Week, in which I assembled some of my favorite in-concert recordings. To tell you the truth I've never been a big aficionado of live recordings. I grew up during a time when the live album, fattened by all the weight, imagistic and font trappings employed to make it more of an "event" than a "document," was a touchstone in a band's career. When you had a live album out it was at least superficial evidence that your record label paid their bills. Capturing the thrill of performance in two slabs of vinyl was incredibly difficult to pull off without the ironic studio overdubs and tweaking the frequencies of the shrieking audience. There are only two cases in the history of banging things together where a live album broke an artist's career wide open: Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton. In Frampton's case Comes Alive was about it for him (which is a shame because he's very nice and before I'm In You was pretty good), and Cheap Trick had to use outside songwriters for their '80s studio rebirth, songwriters who didn't understand why Heaven Tonight needed to be in the home of anyone who had a stereo. But anyway, let's not do the historical revisionism bit on the albums whose covers we separated our stems and seeds on. Drug humor!

So, as It's Alive! Week sort of reflected, the only genres of live albums that work for me, more often than not, are folk -- where there's a chance the connection between performer and audience is more audible and authentic -- and blues and R&B albums, particularly from the '60s, preferably in small or medium-sized rooms. Aretha Franklin's Live at Fillmore West is one of the very, very good ones, and "Dr. Feelgood" is the perfect live track. Now I feel like a schmuck for cutting it.
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