The world is slowly adapting to a world where live concerts are indefinitely postponed. Some stages have even adapted turning concerts into a drive-in experience. So, a small offering from us here at Talkhouse: In lieu of live shows, we asked the Australian-born, Berlin-based band Parcels to pull together some of their favorite songs off of live albums. Parcels themselves recently released their own live record, Live Vol. 1, last month accompanied by a video of the performance inside Berlin’s legendary Hansa Studios. Check it out.
—Keenan Kush, Talkhouse Operations Manager
Aretha Franklin — “God Will Take Care of You”
I think it’s pretty rare for recordings to capture the true spirit of live music in a given room. This album may be the best example I’ve heard of the energy and connection there traveling through time and remaining so powerful. The church is clearly one of the most beautiful and profound musical worlds and it’s truly moving to be privy to the moments on this album. I’ve never attended a true musical gospel service but it’s extremely high on my bucket list.
Donny Hathaway — “You’ve Got a Friend”
Was a tough choice, this whole album is awesome. Check out that version of The Ghetto for one of the grooviest extended jams ever captured. I find the recording tone of this album so tasty. It’s not super hi-fi but everything is gelling so smoothly, tones spilling so symbiotically from mic to mic, and the drums are just bouncing in that room like perfection. Then again so much of it is coming from the playing, the feel of the room, the tuning, the recording is the last step. Anyway, it’s a classic cover song, maybe my favorite version of it, and everybody there can feel that the love is real. That first chorus when the crowd takes the vocals never fails to bring me joyful tears.
B.B. King — “The Thrill Is Gone”
B.B. King playing in the Jailhouse is just one of the most legendary live moments in history. And I could listen to his guitar cry all day long.
Grateful Dead — “China Cat Sunflower”
This is an American publication, so I’d probably be wasting my time explaining what these guys are all about. In Europe and Australia, they’re not really talked about, though, so it took me a while to get into the Dead. Learning about the unique way these guys did everything was so inspiring. If you’re not hip to them, have a dig — they’re the coolest and pioneers in the live music world. Bob and Jerry are in full swing here, the guitars are just weaving in and out so seamlessly, it’s like a couple of blackbirds chirping at each other with the sound of a steady road train chugging along underneath.
Talking Heads — “Psycho Killer”
I recommend the video of this whole show, I guess it’s on YouTube. This is the start of the show and David walks out with just his acoustic guitar and a boombox, places a tape in the box and that drum machine kicks in. There is something so minimal and somehow offsetting about it all; it puts you into his world. A real theatrical live show, something truly different.
Bob Marley and the Wailers — “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”
I never was big into Bob — sadly the college stoner cliche can make it hard to stomach these days. But listening to the live stuff reminds how tight and groovy these guys were. The backup singers are really vibey too. Suddenly, Bob Marley feels very cool. You can feel some powerful discontent coming through this jam — it’s strong.
Simon And Garfunkel — “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”
Much love for this whole album, one of the best. This song, like all of them, is beautifully crafted; the chords and suspense of that verse releasing into some real confident groove in that chorus. And the arrangements and recording of these versions are just as good as the originals. The phased Rhodes sound on this album is a huge, big inspiration for us. And this song kicks off with one of the all-time classic Steve Gadd drum grooves, Toto has been practicing that one.
Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On”
The smoothest of smooth. Not much to say here, so smooth. The whole band. And that sweet voice. It’s tight yet loose, it’s flat yet sharp. It’s a real moment.
Bruce Springsteen — “Hungry Heart”
This one feels a little different. Very epic, very cheesy. The big organ solo and the backup “ooohhh” vocals, it’s got all the tropes of a big old rock show! Legendary song, and the crowd singing that first verse and chorus makes me very happy. Those are the moments when you really feel how much these experiences can bring people together; it’s pretty beautiful.
Weather Report — “In A Silent Way/Waterfall”
Close your eyes and take the trip on this one. I don’t know if it’s these strange and uncertain times talking, but right now I really crave music that feels a little otherworldly, or at least that takes me elsewhere. This one can do that. A bunch of legendary cats joining forces and speaking a sweet, spacey language.
The Crusaders — “Melodies of Love”
Another big journey, sit back and follow those melodies of love. A live piano masterpiece, leading into some really tasty groove. It’s aptly named I think, sounds like all the ups and downs of love.
Parcels — “Everyroad”
And finally the shameless self-promo at the end. This playlist has come to revolve around some exciting and evolving live musical journeys, I guess that’s one of the big inspirations for us, movement and growth and ebb and flow. We tried to make our whole set/album feel like that journey but this is the track that maybe best sums it up. There was tension in the room for this take and I think we nearly fell over after belting those final vocals.
(Photo Credit: Jean Raclet)