06.08.2009

LeftRightLeftRightLeft, Coldplay

Posted by AJ Harbison at 4:32 pm

It took me a while, but I finally downloaded Coldplay‘s new live album a few weeks ago. It’s called LeftRightLeftRightLeft, and can be downloaded for free here (they’re also giving away free copies at their shows; according to the band, it’s a “recession-busting” thank-you to their fans).

It’s awesome, of course, since it’s Coldplay (and my love for the band is well-documented). But the dynamic of a live album is an interesting one. Of course it’s fun to hear the crowd in the background, cheering and singing along; to hear Chris Martin’s occasional comments; to hear the live version of “Death Will Never Conquer,” featuring “the singing abilities of Mr. William Champion” (their drummer). But for the most part, the rest of the songs appear very much like their counterparts on the studio albums (mainly Viva La Vida and Prospekt’s March, plus “The Hardest Part” from X&Y and “Clocks” from A Rush Of Blood To The Head). And that makes me wonder how interesting most people find the live versions. Take for example “Viva La Vida.” Apart from beginning with the chorus’ background vocals, the song is practically identical to the studio version, complete with the recorded string tracks, except for the fact that the vocals are a little less polished. I realize that this was a huge single, the title track from their last main record, their current signature song, etc., and that people would probably revolt in outrage if it was played a different way. But I, for one, would be interested to hear how the band might arrange it if they didn’t have the string tracks. Could the electric guitar take over the rhythmic harmony parts, with a keyboard doing some of the midrange riffs during the verses? Do I really want to get an album to hear a live track that could almost be a studio track with added crowd noise? (I know it’s a free download, but I’m talking about the principle here…)

Most of the tracks fit this bill, including “Glass Of Water,” “42,” and “Clocks”–the main difference is slight differences or added flourishes in the vocals–and the tracks that are different are the ones that stand out. “Strawberry Swing,” perhaps the song I underestimated the most on Viva La Vida, is basically the same instrumentally, but Martin changes some of the lyrics slightly (and they make more of an emotional impact in their changed form). It was exciting, listening through LeftRightLeftRightLeft for the first time, to hear the different lyrics–“that wasn’t how it was on the last record!” “The Hardest Part” is also interesting–Martin performs it solo on piano, so although the melody and lyrics are basically the same, it has a different accompaniment (and is also made into a medley with the instrumental track “Postcards From Far Away”).

Of course, these thoughts haven’t kept me from listening to the album nonstop for a week or two. But it’s interesting to me that a band as musically genius as Coldplay would not only play songs live the same way they appear on the album, but also release a live record of songs as they appear on the album. What are your thoughts?

P.S. For some reason, over the past few days TLB has been absolutely deluged with spam (in the space of two or three days I’ve gotten as many spam comments as I’ve gotten legitimate comments over the entire history of the blog). In the process of vehemently deleting the spam comments, I also deleted a few legitimate comments, back to April 20th–including the first comment on the redesigned site, which was from Idhrendur. So, even though the comment itself no longer exists, I can still commemorate his great achievement here in this post. I’ve installed the Akismet plugin, which has eliminated all the spam thus far, so hopefully this won’t be a problem again. And if I deleted your comment–you should just leave another one!

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