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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Breaking the Foghat Rule

As mentioned in Yo La Tengo's video for "Sugarcube" (where students learn how to be rock stars), there is a rule called The Foghat Rule: Your fourth album shall be double-live. Even though Foghat's fourth album was not a double-live album (I think that was their sixth release), the rule is a good rule to follow (as my tongue is firmly in my cheek).

Well, according to Rolling Stone, Maroon 5 will release a live album this September. The number of releases from the band made up of former members of Kara's Flowers? One proper album along with some singles and an all-acoustic EP. Here's my question: Why release a live album now?

This reminds me of when Usher released a live album following his first major album, My Way. In other words, you get all the songs you know by heart played live along with some covers or a new song. I don't know about you, but I'd feel ripped off.

I can understand if a jazz artist released a live album after one proper album if the songs were completely rearranged live. However, with slick pop, R&B and rock acts playing their songs note-for-slick-note live, what's the real difference between studio and live?

Live albums themselves are lacking something: the visual experience. Taking the visual experience away takes the fun out of it. I'm all for live concert videos and DVDs because you get it all and you don't have to worry about having a crappy view.

I don't know if Maroon 5's or Usher's live albums hold high in the hearts of their fans, but I wonder more about how much can you milk from one hit album.

2 comments:

Kev said...

"I can understand if a jazz artist released a live album after one proper album if the songs were completely rearranged live."

Actually, many "proper" jazz albums are live albums; that's not so much of an issue in that genre. It's even possible to debut with a live album, and some people prefer that setting to the studio because of the extra energy of performing in front of people. Having just been involved in a studio big band project, I think I prefer the live one we did two years ago for that exact reason.

On a live jazz album, even if there wasn't a drastic change in the arrangement of the tunes, the solos would be completely different. Plus there would be no reason to release the same tunes twice anyway, because, by and large, jazzers have a bigger variety of tunes to draw from (as I said in my "covers vs. standards" comment on a previous post of yours).

So yeah, your point is well taken; it's a totally different thing when a pop/rock artist does that. You mentioned Usher; didn't Erykah Badu do the same thing as well?

Eric Grubbs said...

didn't Erykah Badu do the same thing as well?

I believe the answer is yes. She released a live record with "Tyrone" as the lead single. Lauryn Hill is another one you can add to the list . . .