The 5: Live Albums Recorded New Year’s Eve
This Week on the 5: New Years Eve Albums
So you decided to stay in, and just hang out, and you don’t want to watch the pop acts parading around on the networks. Before you settle in with a marathon of the Twilight Zone, the Odd Couple or the Honeymooners, check out these five albums– all recorded live on New Years Eves of years past.
^ ^ ^
- Welcome in 1970 with Jimi Hendrix: Band Of Gypsys. After disbanding The Experience in early 1969, Hendrix formed Band Of Gypsys with Army buddy Billy Cox on bass and former Electric Flag frontman Buddy Miles on drums. They were already recording tracks for what was Hendrix’s next studio album, but didn’t make their live debut until New Year’s Eve. To help settle legal squabbles, the performances were recorded for an upcoming live album but it had to feature new material. Billed as Band Of Gypsys, the chemistry between the principal performers was immediate. Tracks such as ‘Who Knows’, ‘Message Of Love’ and ‘Power Of Love’ beautifully. The album’s centerpiece is ‘Machine Gun’, a nearly 13 minute anti-war sonic meditation that send shock waves then and sends them now. Next time you listen to Funkadelic, 70′s era Isley Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Living Colour, Soundgarden, etc, they are by products of those amazing sounds laid down by Band Of Gypsys on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
- Bring in 1972 with The Band: Rock Of Ages. Recorded during a three-day residency at New York’s Academy Of Music (to support their latest album Cahoots), this album captures The Band at their creative and artistic peak. they wanted to make the run special. New Orleans songwriting/arranger legend Allan Touissaint was commissioned to write horn charts for the five piece horn section that augmented the group and it kills. Highlights included the jaw dropping sequence of ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and ‘Across The Great Divide’; a rocking reworking of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Don’t Do It’. Rock Of Ages is the perfect document of The Band’s rise to one of the most beloved bands in rock history.
- Happy New Year 1977 with The Grateful Dead: Live at Cow Palace. A New Year’s Eve Dead show was always an event and this December 31, 1976 performance proves it. The material ranges from concert favorites (‘Bertha’, ‘Sugar Magnolia’, ‘One More Saturday Night’, Playing In The Band’), to covers of Chuck Berry (‘Around And Around’, ‘The Promised Land’), Buddy Holly (‘Not Fade Away’) and Merle Haggard (‘Mama Tried’) songs. One of the many must haves for Deadheads.
- Say Hello to 1978 with The Ramones: It’s Alive! The Ramones capped off punk’s breakout year with a blistering New Year’s Eve set at the Rainbow Theatre in London. The band is in peak form, racing through material from the first three albums like their lives depended on it. Choice covers of surf standards (‘California Sun’ and ‘Surfin’ Bird’) are also given the Ramones treatment. The London audience loved it – the first ten rows were ripped out and thrown on the stage post-show. The quintessential live punk album.
- Celebrate 1999 with Government Mule: Live…With A Little Help From Our Friends. Gov’t Mule took the jam band experience to epic heights at the 1998 New Year’s Eve in Atlanta. Former Allman Brothers keyboardist Chuck Leavell, P-Funk alum Bernie Worrell and former Black Crowes guitarist were among the special guests as the power trio ripped through material from the band’s first studio albums. There were also choice covers that influences ranging from Free to Pearl Jam as well as Coltrane, Black Sabbath to ZZ Top, and Albert King to Frank Zappa. If you got an afternoon to kill, this album (which is still available in 2-CD and 4-CD formats), is for you.
* * *