Are live albums in 2011 a cop out? I think I'm going to have to say “yes.”
Here's why: back in the 70s and 80s...if you wanted to hear your fave band live, you saw them in concert. If you were too young or broke or lived in a remote location, a live album was your second best option for that special concert experience. While live albums have always been controversial in the fact that questions are nearly always raised to their validity (was this song touched up in the studio? Or this one? Or all of them?), at least the older the live disc, the more raw (usually). Now, live albums are basically always touched up to the hilt, so what is the point? Plus, every concert ends up on YouTube anyway...giving the fan the special chance of seeing and hearing the concert in its true form.
Even in the past, it seemed like bands only made live records as part of a contractual obligation to a label. Since few new acts (and even legacy acts) have the same sort of expansive, multi-album contracts that were once common, funding for live albums is getting less and less. I understand that a self-funded live album is a quick way for a band to get a new product in front of fans...but still. While I like live albums, I can't recall any in recent memory that I considered groundbreaking. It's pretty hard to compete with iconic live records like One Night at Budokan (Michael Schenker Group) or Live at Leeds (The Who).
I think in 2011, I'd just rather save my cash for shows...and watch other performances via YouTube. But then, that's me. What do you think: are live albums in 2011 a cop out?