Monday, October 25, 2010
The Who - Live At Leeds: Complete
I hesitate to mention this, for fear of committing rock blasphemy and losing my credibility with you musicophiles out there . . . but frankly, The Who have never done that much for me.
True, I like some of their songs, and I enjoyed seeing them play their abbreviated "greatest hits" set at the Super Bowl last year. But I've never had any interest in delving that deeply into their individual albums, searching for that obscure gem buried on, say, Side Two of The Who Sell Out or The Who By Numbers. I'm happy just listening to my copy of the hits collection Who's Better, Who's Best, and leaving the rest unplayed. To me, their concept albums, like Tommy and Quadrophenia, just seem a bit over the top. IMHO, in the late 60s, there were better bands than The Who putting out more superior concept albums addressing the state of the world and life in Britain (um, Kinks, anyone?).
And over the years, the whole hagiography of the band, and Keith Moon in particular, has seemed a bit overblown to me. Yes, I was sad when John Entwhistle died (I give him props, though, for going out like a true rock star - in bed in a Vegas hotel, a naked hooker to his left and a pile of blow to his right), but it wasn't as affecting to me as it was to a lot of other, bigger Who fans. I have a lot of bands that I'm really into and have made the time and effort to know more about - The Who are not one of those bands. They're a classic rock band, and rank right up there near the top . . . but so do Led Zeppelin and Cream, and those bands don't get half the quasireligious worship that The Who seems to engender.
My buddy Ed is a HUGE Who fan, though, and knows the band's music and history back and forth. He can tell you which one of the numbered guitars Pete Townshend played at which point during the Woodstock and Isle of Wight festivals, and exactly how much gunpowder was loaded into Keith Moon's drumset during the infamous Smothers Brothers show explosion in 1967 (BTW, if you've never seen it, it's an instant classic:)
Ed's all-time favorite album is Live At Leeds. Many years ago, he began hearing rumors that what was released on Live At Leeds was not the band's complete set recorded at Leeds University on February 14th, 1970. He assumed that with the release of the expanded Live At Leeds: Deluxe Edition in 2001, he would finally be hearing the full show. But even that release had issues, specifically in that it wasn't fully 'live', but "augmented" in some places in the studio to either expand the sound or hide some of the flubbed notes and sloppy riffs. Ed was still itching to get his hands on the complete, unadulterated set, complete with errors and extended stage banter. I told him I'd help him track it down. A friend of mine in the Rockies had a copy, a bootleg released on Midas Touch Records a few years ago, and at my request he immediately sent one to me.
The two-disc Live At Leeds: Complete was all that Ed had asked for, and more - the complete set from that fateful day in 1970, from start to finish. The song sequencing is different from the earlier releases of this album, and the length of the individual tracks varies according to how much studio wizardry and elimination of stage chatter was done to the originals. There's also an infamous static hum through some of the songs, a noise that was eliminated on the earlier releases, but a sound that told Ed that he was getting the original, unadulterated goods. He was completely flabbergasted and fascinated with some of the obvious (to him) changes evident on Complete, compared to the originals. He tried to point out some of them to me, but I was oblivious - shit all sounded the same to me. Still, I know he spent hours listening and relistening to each track . . . as many others have done. There are literally entire websites set up that meticulously analyze every song on this one album and track the modifications. That's getting a little too nitpicky for me, but more power to guys who are into stuff like that.
If you're one of those types of Who fans, then I guess this posting will be right up your alley. Have a listen, enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think:
Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP: