When purchasing albums, and now CDs, I prefer live recordings. Partly it is aesthetic preference. I think that performing in front of a live audience gives an excitement and immediacy to the music. Partly it is philosophical. Music is naturally a performance, and seems made for sharing in the immediacy of person-to-person contact. Decades ago, recordings tried to capture the sound of an orchestra or band as in performance. Louis Armstrong and friends would stop into a studio between gigs and play just like they were in front of an audience. No overdubbing, tape splicing, enhancing, or other wizardry by a producer. Eventually some groups--Beatles, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, etc.--made the studio primary and then tried to replicate the recorded sound while on tour. This seems the tail wagging the dog. Of course the Beatles largely gave up live performance by the end. And some bands that sounded good on a recording were often atrocious live (yes, you also America).

Instapundit links to this post on the 100 greatest live albums of all time. I am not familiar with them all, but am familiar with most of the jazz choices. Good stuff.

Of course, many of you live in places with live music available nearby. Get out and go. And, for all of us, if we are to be producers rather than merely consumers, we'll make some of our own music. Long live garage bands, living rooms duets, and back-yard sing-alongs.