Live at Leeds by The Who (1970)
Favorite Tracks: "Young Man Blues" and "Summertime Blues" and "Shakin' All Over" and "My Generation" and "Magic Bus"
Thoughts: (Pre-listening) This is our 3rd Who album! We've heard Quadrophenia and The Who Sings My Generation, and I'm impressed that a Who live album I've never heard of has made it so close to #1. I mean, I've never claimed to be hardcore Who fan. It's not because I don't want to be, but because I have yet to put in the time/work/energy. But I imagine it's only a matter of time. For now, I'm excited to see why this live album gets such a prestigious ranking...
The Rolling Stone website says "there's no finesse, just the pure power of a band able to play as loud as it wants." And according to wikipedia, New York Times music critic Nik Cohn calls it the "definitive hard-rock holocaust" and "the best live rock album ever made." No pressure! Let's turn it up.
(Post-Listening) The album opens with "Young Man Blues" and gets things rolling. One youtube commenter said: "I think this song was described as, "What happens when your bassist, drummer and guitarist all play lead at the same time," and it's true. Everyone is giving their all from the get-go. I turned up the volume as loud as I felt was more-or-less safe for my ears and...it is just pure rock.
Next up is one of Pete Townshend's songs (I will always want to spell it 'Townsend'), "Substitute," which has a much more 60s pop feel. Next is their cover of "Summertime Blues" with gives the song more energy than I think I've ever heard it have. And of course in each of these songs I can just picture Pete shredding and Roger's golden locks whipping around the mike. Next is another cover, "Shakin' All Over" (which reminds me that The Who have a song called "Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand" whose lyrics I've tried not to ever read too deeply into). This is the first song where Roger's vocals really seemed to take center stage and demand attention away from the instruments.
On a side note, as far as live recordings go, the crowd was either very reserved and respectful during the songs or the sound mixer/engineer did an unbelievable job just getting music to show up on the tracks.
Side B opens with a fourteen minute and thirty second version of "My Generation." I wasn't sure how it wouldn't get annoying after a few minutes, but they tricked me by adding in a song from Tommy mid-way through: "See Me, Feel Me." At about 4 minutes and then again at 6 minutes in, there's beautiful guitar solos that took my breath (ears?) away. So really it's more of a medley than just "My Generation" but it's the kind of live track you could see people starting a church as a result of hearing it.
The crowd finally seems to get rowdy (or we finally hear their rowdiness) in the last track, "Magic Bus." We can hear them clapping and yelling along with the woodblock (right?) that opens the song. This is, I believe, my first time hearing "Magic Bus" and it is a freaking fun song, and excellent track to end the album on. I love hearing Pete and Roger sing back and forth with each other.
Is This Better Than Every Picture Tells a Story?: Since it's a live album and not original work, I won't compare the two. Suffice to say, it rocked my socks and shoes and pretty much everything else off. I highly recommend a listen or three!