[Today: A pair of remarkable live albums…]
Otis Redding wasn’t yet a star when when he was captured on tape for In Person At The Whisky A Go Go. This incendiary set was recorded March 31, 1966 at the famous Los Angeles dive bar. And while Redding would record with Booker T & The MGs as his backing band for the better part of his short career, here he is augmented by the no-name band that propelled him to the threshold of stardom. This album wasn’t released until 1968, after Redding’s untimely death, and it certainly enhances his status as a heavyweight live performer. The sound quality here is terrific, and Redding and company rip through a host of originals (including ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ and ‘Respect’) and a number of inspired covers (including The Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’ and James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’) in a space that sounds the size of a telephone booth. Whisky A Go Go ensures that the legend of Otis Redding is never more than a needle drop away.
In 1971 The Byrds were well into the back nine of a legendary career that had seen them invent both folk-rock (‘Mr Tambourine Man’) and country rock (Sweetheart Of The Rodeo). Their star power had dimmed considerably with the departures of first David Crosby and then his replacement, Gram Parsons. But while the latter-day Byrds featured a host of new and unfamiliar faces (guitarist Clarence White, bassist Skip Battin, and drummer Gene Parsons) this was easily the most proficient live version of the band. As evidenced on the live platter of their Untitled album, this band thrived on stage and was capable of powerful live performances. In the liner notes for this release, Roger McGuinn contends “This lineup had its own strengths and its own weaknesses, and I think that those strengths really came out when we played live.” McGuinn found the tapes of this show in his garage and they hadn’t been played in decades, making Live At The Royal Albert Hall 1971 a long lost piece of evidence to support the contention that the McGuinn/White/Battin/Parsons Byrds was one of the best live acts of its day.
[Both of these albums have been lovingly re-issued on vinyl by the good folks at Sundazed, one of the best record labels going…]