Six live albums from the 1980s you should avoid

Some live albums just don’t work, even if they come from top artists. Some people may disagree with this list but these six are best avoided.
Tom Petty
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Duran Duran - Arena

One of the regular complaints about a live album is when the crowd noise has been enhanced in post-production. It’s an attempt to up the atmosphere on the record and occasionally works. Duran Duran seems to have taken a very different approach on their 1984 live album Arena. It sounds as if they have cut the crowd sounds out in some places and turned the volume right down in others. All of which adds to criticisms of overproduction and suspected dubbing for the album.

Potentially the live album is a great idea. The band had a load of hits and was on a world tour, so the material was very much there. But as is often the case, there are a few of their best songs omitted here and one very odd surprise inclusion. Classics like “The Reflex”, “Rio” and “Girls On Film” didn’t make it, which seems odd.

And yet there’s space to add in the band's new single, “The Wild Boys” but as a studio recording, not a live version. And that slots in as the fifth track on the album. It may be a great song produced by Nile Rodgers, but that’s an odd placement indeed.

Otherwise, the album is a decent run-through of the band's songs. In places, the vocals are a bit strained, as if Simon Le Bon needed an extra breath or two. But the performances are good overall. It just lacks a bit of real live sound, the flow with the studio album in the middle doesn’t help and the album lags and slows down somewhat as it progresses. Which makes it another one to miss.

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