Patti Smith Group / John Cale / Television :: The Palladium, New York City, December 31, 1976

As mentioned in a recent Aquarium Drunkard Book Club, some of the most entertaining parts of Thurston Moore’s Sonic Life memoir come during his teenage years, way before Sonic Youth was even a twinkle in his eye. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Fan? From the suburbs of Connecticut, Moore made countless trips into NYC to soak in the punk/CBGB/Max’s Kansas City worlds, catching shows by The Ramones, Suicide, the Dead Boys, Sid Vicious … and Patti Smith, of course. Thurston paints an evocative portrait of this New Year’s Eve blowout, which doubled as Patti’s raucous 30th birthday party. He was dangerously high on mescaline.

Hear it for yourself …

Yo La Tengo :: Idiot’s Delight with Vince Scelsa, WNEW, December 28, 1997

Yo La Tengo are one of our greatest bands — but they’re particularly great on the radio. Who else would be able to expertly accompany Daniel Johnston via a telephone call-in? Or take off-the-cuff requests from listeners every year during WFMU’s pledge drive? This vintage WNEW broadcast is terrific, too, coming at the end of 1997, when YLT were winning hearts worldwide with I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One.

Neil Young & The Stray Gators :: Scope Arena, Norfolk, Virginia, January 29, 1973

As a followup to the Time Fades Away (Again) collection we shared earlier this year, break out the Jose Cuervo and get into one of the best audience tapes from Neil Young’s somewhat ill-fated early 1973 North American tour.
“Neil was pretty strange on his big tour,” former road manager Leo Makota told Rolling Stone. “[He] was trying to get a certain sound out of the band that he apparently could never find. The band would jam at soundchecks in the afternoon and sound great. Then they’d come in and do the show at night and never make it.”

John Cale :: Rond Point, Marseilles, France, April 12, 1975

The mighty John Cale has re-emerged — he’s touring Europe as we speak and has a new LP coming out early next year (You can check out the Weyes Blood-assisted “Story of Blood” now). In the meantime, let’s go back to the mid-1970s when John was just getting going as a touring act. He’d obviously played live plenty before, but following the release of 1975’s Slow Dazzle, he really leaned into being a traveling musician.

Move Right In: The Velvet Underground At The Boston Tea Party, 1968-1969

Dig into a homemade comp of choice Velvet Underground performances at the Boston Tea Party, the club that served as the band’s home away from home in the late 1960s. These so-called “Professor Tapes” have circulated for years, but the master reels were made available a while back, and – though they’re still far from an audiophile experience – they’re much more listenable now. And the music here more than makes up for the 50+ year old tape hiss.

James Booker :: Montreux Jazz Festival, July 1978

Ancient AD. We originally featured the following 1978 live recording (captured at the Montreux Jazz Festival) back in October of 2005. We’ve collected a number of live documents from this New Orleans piano master — Live at Montreux is by far the most spirited. Pearls on black velvet, the set is essential listening for Booker acolytes and New Orleans piano disciples alike. Ten tracks, all very raw arrangements with Booker backed by a loose, electric pick-up band that full-on swings.

Arthur Russell :: Roulette, Brooklyn, New York, March 2, 1985

As last year’s astonishing Iowa Dream showed, the posthumous Arthur Russell well is far from dry. The man lived and breathed music for his short time on the planet, and we’re extremely fortunate to be able to explore his beautiful/beguiling imagination. Compared to his studio work, there are relatively few documents of Russell as a live performer — which is why this 35-year-old tape is so precious.