The live interpretation of a hit song can either be a big hit itself or a devastating miss. As demonstrated by the spectacular 2022 Hollywood Super Bowl performance of ‘The Family Madrigal,’ from Disney’s hit animation ‘Encanto’. And the Oscars’ polarizing version of ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno,’ the earworm that many of the British public fought to get out of their heads while it remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, performed by a medley of stars such as Megan Thee Stallion, Luis Fonsi, Becky G, and many more.
In the case of the Hollywood Super Bowl performance, it was one of those moments you felt honoured to be witnessing, with the greatness of the live version almost trumping the studio version. Yet, this isn’t the first time a live performance has been nearly as good as its studio version, and we’re sure it won’t be the last!
An excellent live music track must include good sound quality, tangible energy from the crowd, interaction with the public from the artist, memorable dance moves and much more. Live music is what separates music legends from mortal musicians, from rock legends like Iron Maiden and Nirvana to musicians that speak to your soul like Bob Marley and Aretha Franklin; we list some live versions of tracks that are almost as good as their studio counterparts below:
The Angel And The Gambler, Iron Maiden (1998)
Despite being lesser known than legendary tracks like ‘The Trooper,’ ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ and ‘Powerslave,’ Iron Maiden’s almost ten-minute-long epic ‘The Angel And The Gambler,’ deserves a place on this list. Despite Bruce Dickinson deserving a medal for being able to sing for that long, the song wasn’t initially well received by fans upon its release in the album ‘Virtual XI’ in 1998.
Generally, most fans say that ‘The Angel And The Gambler’ wasn’t a musical masterpiece by any means, but overall it isn’t a bad song. Yet, what saves the song from being labelled one of Iron Maiden’s most lack-lustre songs is the underlying message of the piece. Overall, the song depicts life as a gamble; no matter how well-prepared we might be, our decisions and actions can create an entirely unpredictable outcome.
Paired with Iron Maiden’s distinguishable heavy, darker sound, the almost melodic bass-playing, and Dickinson’s incredible vocals, this song is a real treat to see live. Although nowadays, you are more likely to hear this iconic track in your local land-based or virtual casino, some of which have heavy-metal-themed slots inspired by Iron Maiden, KISS, and Motorhead, which you can find over at OnlineCasinos.
No Woman, No Cry, Bob Marley And The Wailers (1974-1975)
Another live version that destroyed its studio counterpart is Bob Marley and The Wailer’s version of ‘No Woman, No Cry’, released in 1975 live. Although the recorded version was gifted to listeners in 1974 on the album ‘Natty Dread’, the song didn’t reach the peak of its popularity until 1975 when it was performed and recorded live on the ‘Live!’ album and eventually featured on ‘Legend’.
Unlike the track recorded in 1974, the later version of ‘No Woman, No Cry’ took the track to new heights with its personable energy, making the live performance the more dominant out of the two. Being one of the most influential songs in Marley’s catalogue, ‘No Woman, No Cry’ tells the story of keeping your head up even when life is trying to drag you down.
Featuring a slower tempo than his other songs, female backup vocalists, organ playing, and background noise from the audience, it’s not challenging to see why it’s become one of Marley’s most popular tracks to date. The stoner community particularly favours the record, with it being listed along some of Marley’s other tracks as one of the best songs to listen to while sparking up.
About A Girl, Nirvana (1993)
As a teenager growing up in the 90s, when you got home from school and sat down on the sofa to listen to MTV, if Nirvana made an appearance, you could usually expect the usual rock-n-roll shenanigans from the threesome. From smashing guitars all over the stage to wearing clothes that made the members look like they’d just rolled out of bed, Nirvana got much criticism for being a typical rock-n-roll band.
However, this changed in 1993, when Kurt Cobain pulled up a stool on MTV’s Unplugged and sang the band’s lesser-known song ‘About A Girl’. Coupled with much less teen angst and proper clothes, Kurt Cobain stripped back the image that the band was renowned for and showed a much more sweet, sensitive side to Nirvana’s sound, leaving fans everywhere shocked.
After this appearance on MTV’s Unplugged ‘About A Girl’ was released as the only single to result from the 1993 show, and to this day remains the only version of the song you are likely to hear on the radio. Not to mention, no Nirvana fan could walk past a set of red curtains without thinking of the clip or that cardigan.
Trouble, Elvis Presley (1968)
No list of live versions that are almost as good as the studio versions would be complete without the King of Rock himself, Elvis. Yet, with such an iconic catalogue, a few of Elvis’s lesser-known hits get lost in the shadow of his iconic tracks like ‘Blue Suede Shoes,’ ‘Hound Dog,’ ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ and ‘Burning Love.’
One of Elvis’s lesser-known songs that deserves more praise is ‘Trouble,’ especially the live version that was performed in 1968 when The King used the tack to open ‘Elvis’ otherwise known as the 68’ Comeback Special. Like Elvis’s other songs in his catalogue, ‘Trouble’ opens with his iconic snarl, which pays homage to some of his earlier tracks like ‘Jailhouse Rock’ etc.
Not only did the track make for an excellent opening number for his comeback, but it also served as a slight insult to The Beatles, whose rising fame threatened to overshadow The King. Dubbed a ‘boring old fart,’ by the leader of The Fab Four, Elvis jabbed back against their criticism with the opening lines of ‘Trouble’ – turning it into a much-loved live rendition of the studio version.
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