When the original version of The Who’s follow-up to Tommy, Live at Leeds, was released, it said on the disk label, “CRACKLING NOISES OK.” I’ve read since then that some wire was loose and they couldn’t get rid of the noise. Later versions of this album have digitally fixed that, and they dutifully say, “CRACKLING NOISES REMOVED.”
I thought I was sick of The Who. I have none of their CDs, although I had all of their albums. Rock Band led me back to Live at Leeds, and I discovered that in 2001 a special edition was released that had the rest of that concert. Over two hours of one of the best bands in the world at the absolute height of their awesome power.
I know people that don’t like live albums. But The Who was a completely different band in concert. In the studio, they were cerebral, harmonic, and sensitive. Live, they were visceral and thunderous. I am one of those who believe they inspired Punk.
This new recording is a marvelous thing. It has all the chatty bits inbetween the songs, where the guys are clearly having lots of fun. I thought I was sick of Tommy too, but when the Overture starts up with just that guitar, that bass, and those drums, and no fucking French horns, it’s wonderful.
Like Star Trek episodes, I have requirements for a good Who song. No keyboards at all. Roger sings the lead vocals. And if you can play that for me from that concert on February 14, 1970 at Leeds University, it doesn’t get any better than that.