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A great Who live album
on 19 November 2012
Recorded the night after Live At Leeds, this is another great live performance - in fact not that different from its legendary predecessor. The mighty version of Magic Bus isn't repeated but the rest is - the great versions of Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over and Young Man Blues especially. They're just as good, as is the rest. It's a proper live album rather than the modern, auto-tuned and otherwise airbrushed and adulterated stuff we're often served up. Daltrey produces some spine-tingling moments but also strains for some notes and suffers from some dodgy tuning sometimes (as do the backing vocals.) Towshend's guitar wanders out of tune sometimes, and there are some moments of near-shambles mixed in with some sheer brilliance. It's real music being played by real people and, warts and all, is a terrific reminder of what a superb guitarist Townshend is under the antics and destruction, and that Keith Moon may have been madder than an exceptionally mad person on National Mad Day, but behind a drumkit he was a unique genius.
Every Who fan will want this. Of course we will; as a self-respecting Who fan, I bought Live At Leeds when it came out and still have the vinyl album - bits and pieces and all - and then the expanded CD versions and I had to have this, too. I'm not sure that this adds anything to Live at Leeds, really, but - come on - we're going to buy a live album recorded the night after that historic concert no matter what. If you're a Who fan, you'll love it - but then, you already knew that.
(What follows is a personal reflection which you may not want to bother with. The thing is, although Live At Leeds a great live album - possibly the greatest in rock - I've not played it in the intervening 40-odd years nearly as much as Tommy, Who's Next, Quadrophenia and the rest. There are some great moments but I often find with live albums that you really had to be there, and I wasn't - I was at home a few miles away studying for my O Levels. I saw The Who in concert only once (at Charlton Athletic's Valley ground in 1974, since you ask) and it was a stunning experience. Daltrey shone like a rebellious god with his golden curls, Townshend windmilled and leapt like a demon, Moon was...well, Keith Moon, and Entwhistle stood like a rock amid it all while I was among tens of thousands of people, all swept away by the music we loved being played just for us, right there and right then, by the men we so admired. Almost four decades on, I still remember it with a thrill. And that's the thing: a recording of it would probably be very good, but it wouldn't be the occasion, and that's what I find with live albums generally. I'm often glad to have heard them but don't go back to them that often. I suspect it will be like that with Live At Hull, too, but then - so what? I've got to have it so I know it's there in my collection.
Sorry - rambling over.)