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The Who – Live at Leeds (1970)

August 8, 2013

[Album 222/1001]220px-The_who_live_at_leeds

Ah, the plight of the forgotten band member.

Earlier this month, I mentioned the oft-neglected Krist Noveselic & José Carreras.

Throw in George Harrison, the rhythm sections from The Jam & U2, and it’s clear the spotlight isn’t always equitably distributed among members of popular bands.

Add John Entwistle of The Who.*

Oh yeah, The Who!

– Keith Moon’s frenetic drumming
– Pete Townshend’s guitar windmills
– Roger Daltrey’s vocals
and…the bassist.

(*current blog readership excluded of course, as I know many of you share my encyclopedic enthusiasm for being able to name the assistant sound engineer from a given group’s limited edition, 7″ Japanese import.  The more casual/less geekish music fan may not recall The Who’s bassist!)

Enwistle’s contributions are essential.  Much like Les Claypool or Flea, his bass commands attention.

The 14+ minute rendition of My Generation acts nicely as a representative sample of the band’s live abilities.  The extended medley that follows the powerful original track ventures all over the map.  Somewhere around the 12th minute, there’s a quiet section that drifts into territory later occupied by Tom Cochrane’s Big League.  That section is promptly followed by what sounds like a blueprint for Rage Against The Machine’s Bombtrack intro.  Now that’s a diverse jam!  Good as the guitar & drums are (and they are), the bass is the glue.

I should note, I haven’t really been into The Who’s studio releases.  I’ve never quite understood why colleagues elevated The Who to the exclusive echelon populated by Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd.  After hearing Live at Leeds, such a lofty classification makes a lot more sense and I’ll perhaps appreciate their other records that much more.

From → 1970s

  1. A Quick One on the expanded edition is superior to the studio version. First heard it on the Rushmore soundtrack. Amazing!!

    • And Rushmore’s great stuff to begin with – I see on the extended edition they somehow add another minute to my generation, I’ll have to explore!

  2. Superb album! Easily one of the best live albums ever (in any of its incarnations!). The Isle of Wight album is well worth a listen too.

    • I heard the 6-song original, impressively potent – I’m sure a 45th anniversary reissue will make an appearance in a couple years!

      • I only got the original on vinyl a few years ago and I was totally blown away. It’s definitely the best way to hear it. It’s a real statement. But it’s worth getting the extended versions for the extra tracks… I particularly love Fortune Teller and Tattoo on the extended albums.

      • Good to hear – extended can often be synonymous with bloated/unnecessary/a reason it was previously unreleased, nice to know that’s definitely not the case here!

      • The extended versions are well worth having. The 2CD is great if you don’t already have any live recordings of Tommy. Tommy totally came into its own as a live piece so it’s worth having a live version of it.

        I think the reason it was originally trimmed down to a 6 track was to focus on the band’s roots and take away the attention from Tommy. I think the band were afraid of being typecast as the “Rock Opera” band or just being known as “Tommy” for ever more. So I think that’s the reason certain tracks were left out rather than any notion of them not being good enough.

      • Understandable – and I’d say mission accomplished as Live @ Leeds is a far cry from a concept album, it just rocks!

  3. Love the write-up, and great point about the general public being mostly unaware of the brilliance of John Entwistle. The original Live At Leeds is just about perfect, although I seem to be one of the few Who fans who doesn’t really like “Magic Bus.” It’s fun to hear when you see them live, but every recording of it I’ve ever heard has pretty much done nothing for me. The original extended version of this album (from the early to mid 90s, I believe) was one of the first instances where a great album was improved by expansion. I never got the 2-CD deluxe edition because it just seemed like overkill. How many versions of the complete Tommy do I need (I’ve got at least 7-8 of them)?

    As for Who studio albums, have you listened to Who’s Next? If that was their only album they would rightfully be among the rock aristocracy. Of course there’s also Quadrophenia, which is a monster & one of the few double concept albums that holds up to multiple listens. I happen to love most of their 60s recordings, although the production of Tommy is a little flat, but just the two albums I mentioned makes them one of the greatest bands of all time.

    Loving this live album series. Keep ’em coming.

    • It’s strange when the penultimate track is the highlight (as for me, it is here) – the last track (Magic Bus here) is inevitably a bit of a drop-off.

      The classic example being The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead. It closes with Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others, an amusing lightweight ditty, but a puzzling choice to follow the triumphant-on-every-level There is a Light That Never Goes Out. I often wonder with that and other albums, if the running order were revised, would its overall impact & legacy be the same?

      I borrowed a copy of Who’s Next, but I’ve yet to have an uninterrupted listen. It’s a credit to The Who that they’re renowned as a great live act – not all bands that have produced great records can replicate or even improve on the quality live.

      Who’s Next & Tommy made the 1001 list (as did The Who Sell Out & My Generation) so I think I’ll be converted to a studio Who fan by the end!

  4. As Rich said, the two CD version with Tommy may be redundant for some, may just be too much of a good thing for others. But there is a one CD extended version with the rest of the set, and as I said, it is TOTALLY worth it just for A Quick One While He’s Away. That is the DEFINITIVE version as far as I’m concerned. What an album!

  5. adamwalker4991 permalink

    This is honestly one of the greatest live albums I own!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  2. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991) | 1001albumsin10years
  3. The Who – The Who Sell Out (1967) | 1001albumsin10years
  4. Top 5 “W” Artists | 1001albumsin10years
  5. The Who – My Generation (1965) | 1001albumsin10years
  6. 1970 | 1001albumsin10years

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