Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, and Hanson are releasing live discs

By Tom Sinclair
Updated September 25, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Don’t look now, but that testament to ’70s excess — the double live album — is back and more bloated than ever, thanks to the super-long playing times afforded by CDs. And with two-disc live sets from Aerosmith (A Little South of Sanity) and Black Sabbath (Reunion) on the horizon — not to mention a triple-disc collection from Canadian progsters Rush (Different Stages) — you might think the industry has taken a wholesale leap back into the era of crushed-velvet bell-bottoms and waist-length male hairdos. (Note to those who never bought the ”Disco sucks” party line: Dust off those platform shoes for the Bee Gees’ One Night Only — alas, a mere single disc.)

Sixties legends are coming out of the woodwork as well. Bob Dylan’s stunning two-CD set The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966 (The ”Royal Albert Hall” Concert), revisits Dylan at the peak of his powers, while the Rolling Stones’ single disc No Security gives fans the chance to hear once again the oldest rock & roll band in the world pretending it’s still the greatest.

Atlantic Records’ Ron Shapiro sees the sudden stampede of dinosaurs as an implicit indictment of many of today’s prefabricated artists, acts from whom no one expects — or wants — live product. ”The ’80s were a time that created a lot of videogenic bands who weren’t necessarily compelling live artists, so that puts a premium on the [older] acts that can deliver the goods,” he says.

Still, at least a few Young Turks are trying to give the oldsters a run for their money, with live discs from Portishead (PNYC), the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Live From the Middle East), Hanson, Garth Brooks (Double Live), and the Dave Matthews Band in the pipeline. And lest you think men have a chokehold on the medium, VH1 Divas Live will add a much-needed shot of estrogen to the mix, with Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, and Carole King in a superstar sing-off.

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