Last week we examined the original vinyl record of Live at Leeds. Due to the technological limitations of vinyl, it was only about 45 minutes, give or take a couple, long. The album was rereleased in 1995 on CD, and because that medium is capable of much more time, around two hours, many more tracks were added that had been recorded at the time.
Tonight we shall listen to those tracks and discuss whether or not we think that they are good. I think that they are all no worse than very, very good and that many of them are outstanding. Please listen and tell me what you think. For those of you who have not signed up for an account, please do so so that you can comment in future.
Let us get started.
I mentioned last week that younger people often do not know who The Who were, except when they hear the heavily edited Who are You? that is used for the opening credits on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, they everyone know about which I speak. This is pity, and have been in contact with some of my younger friends to watch for these posts. Another thing that came to mind is that if you have only the internal speaker(s) for your computer, this will sound terrible. Better to rob your I-Pod of its earbuds to get improved sound quality.
This shall be my last installment about this record, because MCA and other labels just kept milking it for years. I like this CD very much, and will end this series with it. Although I shall continue to provide pieces about The Who, it will be a couple of weeks before the next one so that I can address other Popular Culture issues. The previous installment about Live at Leeds is here.
All of the songs were written by Peter Townshend unless otherwise specified. This record is notable for having lots of covers by The Who of other artists’ work, so there will be several otherwise specifications. We shall take them in order as presented on the CD.
The first track is the extraordinarily good Heaven and Hell by John Entwistle. This is one the band’s best songs, and is just outstanding. John sings all of it except the choral parts, when the others join. This may be one of his best songs, and sadly got little airplay in the United States.
Please disregard my former idea about just providing links. Let us go for broke! Here is the Live at Leeds audio version:
Listen to the bass and drum close syncopation! Entwistle and Moon were best mates, both on and off stage, and this is an example of some of their best collaboration. Townshend is also excellent with the really rocking guitar. No wonder why The Who were recognized as one of the best, if not the very best, live performance bands of their day.
Now, you know that I like some video. How about this one? It from Tanglewood in July of 1970.
I think that the Leeds one sounds better, but there is video with this one. Watch how Entwistle and Moon work together.
Here is the one from the Isle of Wight. I think that The Who were at the top of their live game there, for one with a video. They are dressed in their classic attire: Entwistle in his skeleton suit, Daltrey in all of his fringe and throwing the microphone, Moon in his tee shirt, and Townshend in his jump suit. What do you think?
This performance really impresses me. However, I believe that the audio from Leeds is better. As an aside, the Wight material was lost for many years and was poorly miked. Only after good digital technology became available was it fit to hear.
The next bonus track was one of their early songs, I Can’t Explain. They played it the last time that I saw them in person in Dallas many years ago. Entwistle was still with us then, but ill.
Here is the audio from Leeds:
Daltrey sings the lead, with choral backing from the rest. That song, written as a pop throwaway, still sounds fresh to me.
But, how about some video? Here is Tanglewood:
My gosh, watch Moon hit those skins! Also notice that he did not have a high hat. Very early he would use one, but came to hate them because it crimped his style. You see, one has to use both a foot and a stick at the same time on one, and his feet were much too busy on the bass drums. He could make more sound from the bass drum and two cymbals in half a second than other drummers could with a high hat in two.
I normally do not include things after Moon and Entwistle departed us, but this one at Swansea, Wales, is really pretty good. You can see that the two remaining members are MUCH older, but the sound is still pretty authentic. I credit that to Zac Starkey, the drummer (Ringo Starr’s son). He “got” the Moon rythm, and is the only other drummer other than Moon that, at least in my estimate, ever did. Of course, Moon used to visit the Starkey house and play with Zak when Zak was little (they loved putting jigsaw puzzles together). I do NOT mean to imply that Moon “played” with Zak in any inappropriate manner. Moon really never grew up, and was in essence a little kid all of his much too short life. With Starr as a father and Moon as your best mate, how could he NOT be an excellent drummer? By the way, Daltrey sounds good here, his voice still “having” it.
The next bonus track is the wonderful Fortune Teller by Naomi Neville. Actually that was a pseudonym for Allen Toussaint, the brilliant jazz and R&B composer and performer. He chose the name as a joke on the Neville Brothers, with whom he was friends.
Here is the Leeds version, and note that Tattoo runs later, by Townshend:
I am lost for words about how good it is. Please fill in for me in the comments.
But, once again, live video is good! Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much with the sound quality that my readers would like. If you find a good video, please embed it into the comments.
I already included Tattoo in one of the recent embeds from there, so how about a different version? I am not sure about the origin of this one, but it is nice. Daltrey is at the top of his game, and Moon is as good as he got:
This song has some really deep psychological meaning. Townshend was it his lyrical best when he says “…I think that I’ll regret you but the skin graft man won’t get you; you’ll be there ’till I die…”. Brilliant, and one of Townshend’s best pieces.
The next bonus track is one of my favorites, Happy Jack. I just LOVE the way that Entwistle and Moon play as one in this song. Here is the Leeds version:
I am not convinced that this is the Leeds version, but I think beyond reasonable doubt that it is. I love the bass and drums togeher, as only Entwistle and Moon could do! Note Townshend shouting, “I saw you!”, at the end. I explained the reason for this when I wrote an essay about the original album. You are welcome to ask. I have not given links, because I have written so many pieces about The Who that it would take me hours to find all of them.
Here is the studio version and one of the very first of what we would recognize as a modern music video. Yes, once again Townshend anticipated where things were going. He is a sage, or at least was one.
The next bonus track is one of my favorite songs of theirs, I’m a Boy. We have discussed the psychological meanings of this song before, but I still have not decided if Bill is really a boy and his mum and siblings want him to be a girl, or if Bill is really a girl and wants to be a boy. Thus is the wonder of Townshend’s composition. Like all wonderful art, it leaves one wondering about the meaning.
Here is the Leeds audio version:
Note that I have used this same embed several times because it contains good audio of several songs from Leeds. Please bear with me for using it again.
Here is one of the studio versions. Listen closely at around 2:25 and you can hear Entwistle on the French Horn.
On, man! Listen to this studio version! Not only does Entwistle play French Horn, he uses tuba for part of the bass, and then goes to bass guitar! The choral work is also excellent! I think that this is my favorite version.
The next bonus track was A Quick One, While He’s Away. I did an entire piece on this single number some time ago, so will not repeat it here. Here is the link to it, and it is as long as this piece.
The last bonus track was The Amazing Journey and Sparks. I also added them to my essay about Tommy, but it would not be right to leave them out since this is near the end of the essay for tonight. Here is the Leeds audio version:
If Moon was not the greatest rock and roll drummer ever, tell me why not! This was one his live masterpieces. What raw talent! I cry when I listen, and when I think of talent lost way, way too young.
After this comment is the Tanglewood video. Just watch Moon, doing no drumming, play with his sticks! He drinks a big drink (I have no idea what was in the cup), but still manipulates the sticks like there are extensions of his body. He was one with his instrument, and precious musicians ever are.
It is hard to see at first, but he is using two bass, foot operated drums. They are set at angles hard for the video cameras to pick up at the same time. Also notice that Daltrey is using TWO tambourines! He actually was a very under appreciated guitar player, but only did that very early and very late in The Who‘s career because Townshend was one of the top five in the world.
I have been told by several drummers that Moon had an extremely different idea about syncopation, and that they were just baffled about how he did what he did. One told me that Moon would lead with his left foot, but another told me that he would lead with his right one. They do not know! Except for Zak, who is not talking as far as I can tell, Moon was unique. Someone once said that he was the most unique Keith Moon style drummer that ever lived. I agree, and daresay that he was the most gifted and talented rock drummer who ever lived. I do not think that anyone would challenge me on that one.
Finally, this video purports to be the only capture from Live at Leeds. Look at it and tell me what you think.
If I can believe the folks on You Tube, this is actual video from Live at Leeds. I am leery, but if you know one way or another please let us all know in the comments. It just sounds a little too slick for me, but I want to believe.
Regardless of its origin, it is a wonderful piece of video, with lots of video of Moon at work. He is marvelous to watch. Too bad that there was not more video of Entwistle playing bass, because he was so good that he made it look easy even though the complexity of his art is anything but.
Well, that does it for Live at Leeds. If anyone would like to embed music from later CD releases, please feel free to do so, but I am going to let Live at Leeds rest with this installment. We shall take a break from The Who for a couple of weeks and cover other aspects of popular culture, and when we return to The Who later this month will discuss the seminal Who’s Next, considered by many to be their very best studio album, and the ill fated project Lifehouse for which the music was originally written.
Thank you for reading and commenting! I love each and every one of my readers!
Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith