December 5, 2020

1995-03-07 – Northwest Herald

1995 03 07 Northwest_Herald_Tue__Mar_7__1995_

‘Live at LeedS’ offers
more Who this time

By J.D. CONSIDINE

The” Baltimore Sun

When the Who’s “Live at
Leeds” was first released some 25
years ago, it was greeted with
equal measures of enthusiasm and
disappointment.

Although both fans and critics
were eager to hail it as one of the
greatest live rock performances on
record most added that, good as it
was, listening to the album wasn t
the same as being there.

W h y
“0‘? For NEW TRACKS
one thing, —————-
the; origi-

nal album was a mere 45 minutes

long, whereas the actual cOncert

clocked in at two hours and 15
minutes. '

For another, though the actual
show included a complete perfor-
mance of “Tommy,” the album
touched on the rock opera only
once, when “My Generation”
detoured into some random
quotes from the work.

' But the biggest problem with
‘ “Live at Leeds” was that it came
across less as a document of the
event than as. another Who album
- that is, a recOrding in which the
emphasis was as much on the
material as on the playing.

And as anyone who caught the
Who back then can attest, the real
thrill of seeing the band live was
reveling in the almost telepathic
interplay between the four band
members —. guitarist/songwriter
Pete Townshend, lead singer
Roger Daltrey, bass guitarist John

Entwistle and drummer Keith

Moon.

Fortunately, that’s precisely
what comes through in the newly
remastered and expanded reissue
of “Live at Leeds” (MCA 11215,
arriving in stores this week). True,
it does omit most of “Tommy,”
offering only the “Amazing
Journey/Sparks” sequence, but

even so, it offers more Who - 14
songs instead {if the LP’s original
six, for 77 minutes of music - and
a far more vivid sense of what it '
was like to see that band live.

Just how “live” the album is
becomes clear in the first few sec-
onds, for we can actually hear the
Who taking the stage and testing
their instruments before charging
into .“Heaven and Hell.”
Although guitarist Townshend
told Rolling Stone magazine at the
time that “Heaven and Hell” had
been omitted because it was tech-
nically deficient, all that really
means is that he played some bum
notes here and there.

That doesn’t affect the quality .
of the playing, though; if anything,
those minor mistakes merely
reflect the intensity of the band’s
instrumental attack. When
Townshend eharges into his solo,
the interplay between his guitar,

,Entwistle’s bass and Moon’s

drums rivals even. the improvisato-
ry gusto of Cream’s live jams.

By the time the tune ends, it’s
clear what made audiences mad
for this band- and what it lost by
making songwriting the principal
focus of its studio recordings. _

There’ s plenty more where
that came from, too, including a
somewhat longer “My
Generation” (more feedback,
among other things) and a stun-
ning run through “Amazing
Journey/Sparks.” But even the
“singles” - songsslike “I Can’t
Explain,” “Happy Jack” and the
R&B standard “Fortune Teller” -
benefit from the freedom and
ferocity of the Who’s onstage
interplay.‘

'For many fans, though, the
best thing about this new “Live at _
Leeds” will be the way it brings
the band members themselves to
life. Notonlydowehearallthe
introductions, but we hear how
much fun the font of them were

having.