Monday, September 24, 2012

170 Live at Leeds. The greatest live album of all time?

Album: Live at Leeds
Artist: The Who
Year: 1970
Genre: Rock


  1. Young Man Blues
  2. Substitute
  3. Summertime Blues
  4. Shakin' All Over
  5. My Generation
  6. Magic Bus

If you type "Greatest live albums" into google you will find heaps of lists which attempt to order a massive quantity of live albums into some sort of order. Whether it's a top ten, a top twenty or a top one hundred you will inevitably find Live at Leeds somewhere near the top of the list. It's the high water mark of live releases and the benchmark that all others are held to.

If you're going to compare bands then The Who can stand against pretty much anyone else in a member-for-member match up. Daltry is as good a vocalist as almost anyone else around, Townshend could only be bettered by a handful of guitarists playing at the time, Entwhistle could hold his own on the bass and nobody was better than Moon. Based on pure musical ability they were better than the Beatles and only eclipsed by Zeppelin who boasted a Page/Plant combo that was impossible to beat. Unlike a lot of other bands doing the rounds at the time, The Who were better than the sum of their parts. They weren't virtuosos who didn't listen to each other, they brought out the best and not the worst in their band-mates  When they were on, as they were at Leeds, the band was propelled forward by Moon's magnificent drumming and everyone else just hung on for a rock and roll ride which showcased their collective talent.

Live at Leeds is an amazing show but bogged down slightly by some tracks which aren't among their finest. Heaven and Hell, Fortune Teller and Tattoo are all well played but nothing compared to some of their other work. Don't get me wrong, Live at Leeds is great but it pales when compared to a show they performed at the Young Vic theatre in London a year later. At Leeds the band were supporting Tommy, an overblown rock opera but at the Young Vic they were supporting Who's Next, their greatest album. Consequently the 1971 show has songs like Bargain, Behind Blue Eyes and Won't get Fooled again which are easily among the best songs The Who ever recorded.

Live at Leeds is good, the deluxe edition with more tracks is better but the Young Vic show (released as a bonus disc with the Who's Next Deluxe edition, and more completely in bootleg form) blows them both away.

Influenced by: The Stones
Influenced: Mods

Highlight: Young Man Blues
Lowlight: Heaven and Hell

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "My dad has the original vinyl album of this and it is nothing like it at all. First off there is an extra 8 songs added to the "remastered' cd. I would not reccomend it."

-I will never understand people who complain about bonus material on a CD.

So is this Heaven or Hell? Let me know below.

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