The Who – Live At Leeds (1970)
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- Heaven And Hell
- I Can't Explain
- Fortune Teller
- Young Man Blues
- Happy Jack
- I'm A Boy
- A Quick One, While He's Away
- Amazing Journey / Sparks
- Summertime Blues
- Shakin' All Over
- My Generation
- Magic Bus
Live At Leeds is the first live album by the English rock band The Who. It was recorded at the University Refectory, University of Leeds on 14 February 1970, and is the only live album that was released while the group were still actively recording and performing with their best known line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Initially released in the United States on 16 May, by Decca and MCA and the United Kingdom on 23 May, by Track and Polydor, the album has been reissued on several occasions and in several different formats. Since its release, Live At Leeds has been cited by several music critics as the best live rock recording of all time.
By the end of the 1960s, particularly after releasing Tommy in May 1969, The Who had become cited by many as one of the best live rock acts in the world. According to biographer Chris Charlesworth, “a sixth sense seemed to take over”, leading them to “a kind of rock nirvana that most bands can only dream about”. The band were rehearsing and touring regularly, and Townshend had settled on using the Gibson SG as his main touring instrument; it allowed him to play faster than did other guitars. He began using Hiwatt amplifiers that allowed him to get a variety of tones simply by adjusting the guitar’s volume level.[a]
The group were concerned that Tommy had been promoted as “high art”by manager Kit Lambert and thought their stage show stood in equal importance to that album’s rock-opera format. The group returned to England at the end of 1969 with a desire to release a live album from concerts recorded earlier in the US. However, Townshend balked at the prospect of listening to all the accumulated recordings to decide which would make the best album, and, according to Charlesworth, instructed sound engineer Bob Pridden to burn the tapes.[b]
Two shows were consequently scheduled, one at the University of Leeds and the other in Hull, for the express purpose of recording and releasing a live album. The Leeds concert was booked and arranged by Simon Brogan, who later became an assistant manager on tour with Jethro Tull. The shows were performed on 14 February 1970 at Leeds and on 15 February at Hull, but technical problems with the recordings from the Hull gig — the bass guitar had not been recorded on some of the songs — made it all the more necessary for the show from the 14th to be released as the album. Townshend subsequently mixed the live tapes, intending to release a double album, but ultimately chose to release just a single LP with six tracks. The full show opened with Entwistle’s “Heaven And Hell”and included most of Tommy, but these were left off the album in place of earlier hits and more obscure material.
Side one contained three covers. “Young Man Blues”was extended to include an instrumental jam with stop-start sections. “Summertime Blues”was rearranged to include power chords, a key change, and Entwistle singing the authority figure lines (e.g.: “Like to help you son, but you’re too young to vote”) in a deep-bass voice. “Shakin’ All Over”was arranged similar to the original, but the chorus line was slowed down for effect, and there was a jam session in the middle. The other song on side one, “Substitute”, was played similar to the studio recording, but missing the final verses.
Side two began with a 15-minute rendition of “My Generation”, which was greatly extended to include a medley of other songs and various improvisations. These included a brief extract of “See Me, Feel Me”and the ending of “Sparks”from Tommy, and part of “Naked Eye”that was recorded for the follow-up album Lifehouse (that was ultimately abandoned in favour of Who’s Next). The album closed with “Magic Bus”, which included Daltrey playing harmonica and an extended ending to the song.