Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: Ten Live Songs For Your Playlist

Hard to believe but there was a time before YouTube – before cable television and home video for that matter.  We ate the music we were served and we liked it, said the crusty old curmudgeon.  Live albums were an opportunity to hear our favorite music in a new way, and they still are.  Here are some choice live album cuts you’ve probably never heard:

1. “Chloe Dancer,”  Pearl Jam, Live At the Gorge.  The greatest song that you’ve never heard from the Grunge era.  It might have died with Andy Wood, but fortunately the Mother Love Bone survivors didn’t let that happen.

2. “Sign of the Cross,” Skafish, Urgh!  A Music War.  It’s hard for me to pick a single track from this double album, but the nod has to go to Skafish.  Irreverent, funny, disturbing, dramatic, intense.  Runner up:  Every other song on the album.

3.Tattooed Love Boys,” The Pretenders, Concerts for the People of Kampuchea.  Another live album virtually impossible to narrow down to a single track, but when Chrissie Hynde says “I shot my mouth off and he showed me what that hole was for” I still lose the ability to reason for fifteen minutes.

4. “Mother Popcorn,”  Aerosmith, Live!  Bootleg!  Nobody can out-JB James Brown, but this cover comes close – skinny legs and all.

5. “Ain’t It Fun,”  The Dead Boys, Night of the Living Dead Boys.  The first album I purchased on the Bomp! label.  If you’re familiar with the Guns ‘N’ Roses cover, go find this track and hear it done right.

6. “Maps and Legends,”  REM, unknown.  This was a b-side to a 12″ and I’m having trouble placing it right now.  Recorded at McCabe’s guitar shop in LA, it captures REM during that brilliant moment when they could do no wrong.

7. “Pinball Wizard,” Pete Townshend, The Secret Policeman’s Ball.  Nowadays it’s not hard to find Pete live and acoustic, but when this came out it was  a revelation.  The power isn’t in John’s thunder bass,  Roger’s wail, or Keith’s chaotic drumming:  The power is in the song.  Pete’s unique strumming patterns don’t hurt, either.

8. “Had A Dad,”  Jane’s Addiction, Live and Rare.  Jane’s was one of those bands that had to be experienced live.  There are thousands of words in my future regarding Jane’s Addiction, but for now suffice it to say that I found a new best friend I’d never meet when Perry howled:  “I had a dad/big and strong/I turned around and / I found my daddy gone.”

9. “Whiter Shade of Pale,” HSAS, Through the Fire.  A one-off band featuring Sammy Hagar, Neil Schon, Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve. This is by no means the definitive version of Procol Harum’s classic, but it is good and overlooked.  Also of odd note for a live track: On the album version the audience has been removed to make it sound more like a studio cut.

10. “An American Trilogy,”  Elvis Presley, multiple.  E is so anthologized you won’t have any trouble finding this one.  It’s hardly a deep cut, but then again it is for some folks.  There is no recording I’ve ever found that better reveals the latter-day Elvis as the toothless and broken caged lion that he had become.  I dare you not to get a little misty when he sings:

So hush little baby

Don’t you cry

You know your daddy’s bound to die

But all my trials, Lord, will soon be over.

By the eyebrow pencil of sweet Lisa Marie I dare you not to choke up!

18 replies »

    • Totally agree. There are so many good ones. It was all I could do not to include a Johnny Cash track, for example. “Lines On My Face” from Frampton Comes Alive? Weeptastic. If I wrote another list of 10 live cuts right now it would be completely different, and it would be different again tomorrow, and on and on until somebody shouted “Thank You Sacramento!” and turned up the house lights.


  1. When I had to suffer through working with misanthropic d-bags when I lived in W Germany in the mid-80s, my buddy and I would either lose ourselves in REM music or try and decipher their lyrics. Dire Straits helped us through as well.


    • Both bands are atypical in that they were really too good to be huge. REM adapted to the megastardom and Mark Knopfler took his ball and went home. I don’t know what I’m on about other than both bands are far more interesting than “Money For Nothing” or “Shiny Happy People” suggests.


      • Srsly:

        I used to go into this music shop in Wuerzburg and read sheet music, because Bavarian radio only played rock at night after 10.00, on one station (Bayern 3 IIRC) on Friday. We’d get reports from the states as to what to listen to, some you could find crawling through vinyl (I found friends from elementary school band’s album in a subway in Stuttgart). And new guys coming in would bring their sh**, one guy was huge Dead Milkmen fanboy.

        Anyway, I might be a little backward from that time spent in isolation, and I wasted money on Yngwie Malmsteen vinyl from reading the sheet music, so what do I know?

        \m/ \m/


  2. Yngwie is your best note-to-vinyl value. None of those boring empty spaces.

    I hear 40,000 ha of rainforest perished to grow soy for the ink needed to transcribe his songs.

    Ecologists estimate there is a 24% chance a cancer-curing drug was produced by a plant eradicated by soya fields. Therefore, there is a .014% chance Yngwie killed my gramma beans.


    • Okay, guy –
      I just laughed my ass off and am now in a cold sweat because I am not sure if I was supposed to. Please reassure me that I am not going to hell and your humor is simply properly twisted and dark, thank you……


  3. Please reassure me that I am not going to hell and your humor is simply properly twisted and dark, thank you……

    Well, I can’t predict the future to see if your sins are enough to ensure you get to listen to Johnny Cash and Hendrix and Trane and Johnny Lee Hooker and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Shostakovitch and GK Chesterton and Alan Ginsberg all day long, but I can assure you my humor is properly twisted and dark.




    • Whew! Great relief! I am definitely going to hell, no worries there – just wanted to make sure I wound up in the music section and not the “You laughed at gramma’s funeral?!?!” section by accident. 🙂


      • It so happens that my preferred medium, Madame Lola Curacao, tells me that my Gramma Beans is dating Johnny Lee Hooker in hell.


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