Is it live or is it Memorex???? Long ramble.

This has been floating around in the back of mind for a while. In the 60s and 70s "live" recordings became popular. However,, there was often a significant trade-off; the energy of a live show vs. the relatively poor sound quality of such recordings, when compared to studio. This was true, IMO, at least for pop, rock, bluegrass, folk, etc. I do not have any familiarity with classical and little with jazz. With respect to rock, there was also the issue of overindulgent soloing. So as I got older (read 30s and 40s), I listened to these "live" recordings less and less. However, now I find myself listening to modern "live" recordings more and more. Obviously, some of this is a result of the vastly improved remote recording technology available. This is, IMO, a necessary "precursor" if you will. But what also contributes to this change in listening habitat, I think, is the improved resolution of my equipment, which allows me to "hear" the venue and which communicates the emotional relationshiop between artist and audience much more effectively. Studio recordings sometimes seem too sterile. I imagine some of this is the byproduct of the way many studio recordings are laid down, track by track. But I am not sure how much. I do know that I have taken to pulling well recorded live shows more frequently than their studio "analogs". Any else feel similarly?

I feel exactly the same way, and tried to sort out the why's for some time now. There's no doubt the recording gear at live shows have improved considerably, as have the skilled techs behind the mixing boards. The other thing I've noticed is the venues themselves have improved big time, many of the old hockey rinks have been re-furbed/re-built and they have taken acoustics into account. Huge difference between the old Forum and the Bell Center here in Montreal.

At the end of the day I think what I value most about live recordings is the subtle (or sometimes less than subtle) variations on the material itself, and the live energy. There's many bands I prefer "live" over the studio material, glad I'm not the only one with this affliction! Jeff
Now just how "analog" do you think these live shows really are these days? A lot of bands are doing the "Instant Live" thing and mass duplicating CD's that you take home with you as you leave the show. I've got a bunch of these (never enough ABB for me!) and listen to them all the time. Give the soundboard guys some credit - I imagine by the middle of a tour they pretty much own the sound and are at that point tweaking for their own head.

As an aside, I've been running my many bootleg tapes and albums through Soundforge and utilizing the audio enhancement plugins to remaster some of these to MY own liking. The results have been truly amazing - enabling me to enhance my wine and scotch collection immensely through friendly trades ;)

People can keep throwing their money at their eternal quest for yesterday, however digital is here to stay.
Good post. I have a few albums by some groups that play Irish pub type music. Some of the albums are live and I also have few studio ones. There's no question that the studio ones are slick and polished. They probably also recorded multiple tracks until they got a perfect cut with no missed notes. But it's overproduced and sterile as all heck. The live albmus, warts and all, have an ambiance and emotion that just makes them downright enjoyable. A couple Guiness or Harp beer help too when you're listening, although you have to be careful around the tonearm when cueing cuts as the night goes on! I find music recorded in small jazz clubs are similar in this feeling. Strangely enough, I don't find that the quality of the equipment plays a significant role in this feeling. I think it's the state of mind that the music puts you in, which is maybe why many musicians seem quite happy with a low end system much to the disappointment of us auidiophile types.
I feel ya! I too love pulling out a nicely recorded live show. Some of my favorites are

The Tubes-What do you want from live!
Bob Marley-Live!
Eva Cassidy-Live from Blues Alley
Patricia Barber-Companion
Bill Evans-The Complete Village Vangard Recording

I'm really looking forward to picking up

Peter Frampton-Frampton Comes Alive-Remastered
Hugh Masekela-Hope (also recorded Live at Blues Alley)

I also really like live concert DVDs. Based on the excellent Pearl Jam-Live at the Garden DVD I'm going to pick up a couple of live Concert CDs from the multitude of shows that Pearl Jam has released.

Oh, and I was never a fan of the overindulgent soloing that seemed to be rampant in the past. Also, I don't like live for the sake of live. I'm hugely disappointed in the Rush in Rio CD and DVD. Sounds like two hours of crowd noise with some music playing in the background.....