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Liner Notes › Live at Leeds

Live At Leeds

Roger Daltrey Vocals & Harmonica 
John Entwistle Bass Guitar & Vocals 
Keith Moon Drums 
Pete Townshend Guitar & Vocals

Produced by The Who at Leeds University 
on February 14, 1970 on the Pye Mobile

Liner notes by Chris Charlesworth
[Liner notes in brackets by Brian Cady]
 
 
Sleeve design by Graphreaks [It was designed to resemble a bootleg. A press release claimed that the emblem on the cover would be hand stamped by band members and others in the Track Records office. ALL original LP issues in the U.S. and U.K. came with a sheaf of photographs, facsimiles of documents from The Who's career to that point including their contract at Woodstock, and a reproduction of the poster used to promote The Who at their Marquee Club gigs in late 1964. So no, you didn't just find an old Who album in which somebody left all these original Who documents. And the "Live" in the title is pronounced with a long "i." The Who don't "live" at Leeds.]

Released as Track 2406 001 on May 23, 1970. It reached #3 in the U.K. [and remained in the charts for 21 weeks, the longest for any Who LP in Britain. The 1995 expanded CD also charted reaching #59. This new version was also released as a limited edition in a 12-inch cardboard sleeve designed to resemble the original LP with full-sized copies of the paper contents.]
Released in the U.S. as Decca DL 79175 on May 16, 1970, it reached #4 [and remained in the charts for 44 weeks.]

[The original release was affected at the time of recording by loosely-connected wires which caused crackling noises. The original LP had a note on the label saying "Crackling Noises O.K. Do Not Correct!" After the crackles were removed electronically on the 1995 CD, this was changed to "Crackling Noises Have Been Corrected!" Released as a double CD called Live At Leeds: Deluxe Edition on Sept. 18, 2001 in the U.S. with the first disc containing the non-Tommy part of the show and disc two containing the Tommy performance.]

Pete Townshend: "(Live At Leeds) happened to be covered in clicks. There was a dodgy mike cable somewhere and great clicks all the way through. On the newly mastered we got rid of the clicks, but not all of them. We had to leave a few clicks in because they've become legendary."

Here's Who manager Kit Lambert's explanation of the album's title: "In those days live albums were always 'Live At The Colosseum in Rome' or 'Live At The Palladium,' 'Hollywood Bowl,' etc. I said, 'live' isn't really like that. Touring is much seedier. So why didn't we think of 'Live At Grimsby' or 'Live At Mud-on-sea'...I looked at the schedule and said, 'You're in Hull on Wednesday and Leeds on Thursday, so it's going to be 'Live At Hull' or 'Live At Leeds.' Things didn't go too well at Hull, so it had to be Leeds."]
 

photo courtesy Joe Giorgianni

Young Man Blues
(Mose Allison) Jazz Editions, Inc. (BMI) 
Mose Allison's blues song, which he first recorded in 1957, is given a whole new lease of life in The Who's violent stop-start reading. It's attack and counter attack, with Keith leading the assault against Roger's vocals, John contributing his usual high speed runs and Pete slashing away on a hot blues riff until the solos allow him to stretch out. The version here is tighter and more assured than usual, not quite as long as The Who sometimes played it but hugely impressive as a showcase for improvised streams that slide apart and reconnect with effortless precision. [Mose's original version was recorded March 7, 1957 when he was 29, not "nearly 40" as Pete puts it, and released as "Blues" on his LP Back Country Suite as part of the title suite. It runs only 1'24. Pete says he first heard it in November 1963 and The Who were playing it by 1964 as a tape from that era shows. The Who had tried to shoehorn it into Tommy and recorded at least two studio versions then. In the U.S., this track was planned as the second single released from Live At Leeds, but was pulled after a few stock copies were pressed. Alternate live versions appear on The Kids Are Alright (1969), Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 and Who's Next Deluxe Edition (1971). This is track #1 on the original LP where it runs 4'45. On the 1995 and 2001 CD's it's track #5 and runs 4'56. The unedited original is 5'07.] 

Substitute 2'06 
(Pete Townshend) TRO-Devon Music, Inc. (BMI) 
Many fans' choice as the best Who single of all time. "Substitute" is an ironic comment on the gulf between image and reality, set to one of Pete's trickiest little riffs, driven along by a ringing open D string. Now a bona fide pop classic. "Substitute" was played at virtually every concert The Who ever performed. 
Pete has stated that he felt The Who were a substitute for The Rolling Stones, but he was also bemused by the blurring of reality and unreality in the pop world, and he liked the idea of lines about identity that contradicted each other. In America the 'controversial' line "I look all white but my Dad was black" was changed on record to "I try walking forward but my feet walk back," a reflection of American cowardice towards sensitive racial matters at this time. 
The original single of "Substitute" was the first record that Pete Townshend ever produced. Released in March 1966 [it entered the charts on the 10th], it reached #5 in the U.K. charts but flopped in the U.S. [first released April 5th, 1966] where it was the only Who single to be issued through Atlantic Records, on their down market Atco subsidiary. 
This short, sharp, snappy "Substitute" is as tight a performance as any live performance they gave, although it lacks the punchy chord solo and false ending of the single. 
[The U.S. version of the single was released on CD in 2002 on a bonus disc for The Who: The Ultimate Collection. This version was also released in South Africa and Canada. Other Who live versions can be found on the Monterey Pop box set (1967), Live at The Isle Of Wight 1970, Who's Last (1982), The Blues To The Bush (1999), the Who/Live featuring their Rock Opera Tommy video (1989),  the Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B video (1974) and The Who & Special Guests Live at the Royal Albert Hall video (2000) with Kelly Jones on vocals. Track #2 on the original LP, #6 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.] 

 
Summertime Blues 3'20 
(Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart) Warner - Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) 
Eddie Cochran's bouncy, rhythmic guitar style influenced Pete enormously in The Who's early days and their version of 'Summertime Blues' was a highlight of the band's stage shows for many years. Pete's block chord slash style, coupled with John's rumbling bass riff, was ideal for this song of teenage angst, and Roger, weaned on Fifties rock 'n' roll, loved to sing it. John always supplied the basso profundo vocal line with a wry smile. 
Cochran died in 1960 and by 1968 The Who had made "Summertime Blues" their very own [they were performing it in their regular set during most of 1967]. Other Cochran songs essayed by The Who included "C'mon Everybody" and the lesser known "My Way."

Also released in an edited version as a single on July 10, 1970. [According to Matt Kent and Andy Neill's book Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, the single was released by Track Records without the permission of the members of The Who while they were touring America. The single reached #38 in the U.K. and #27 in the U.S. Eddie Cochran's original was released July 1958 reaching #8 in the U.S. and #18 in Britain. It was also a hit in 1968 for Blue Cheer. During the original Leeds concert, 'Summertime Blues' and the rest of the LP and CD followed the live Tommy. Other Who live versions can be found on the Monterey Pop boxset (1967), Live at The Isle Of Wight 1970 and Who's Last (1982). This was track #3 on the original LP, #11 on the 1995 CD and disc one - #10 on the 2001 CD.]
 
Shakin' All Over
(Johnny Kidd) [real name Frederick Heath] Mills Music, Inc. 
"Shakin' All Over" is the best pre-Beatles British rock 'n' roll song bar none. With its startling guitar riff, heavy bass line, minor key and lyrics that really do rock, 'Shakin'' could have been written by one of the great American Fifties rock songwriters like Leiber & Stoller, Doc Pomus or Otis Blackwell. Instead it was written in 1960 by Johnny Kidd (Fred Heath), the leader of The Pirates, one of the first truly ballsy rock 'n' roll bands in Britain, and their version reached number one in the U.K. charts in August 1960. Contemporaries of The Detours (as The Who were originally known), it was The Pirates, with their singer, guitar, bass and drums line-up, who convinced Roger Daltrey to abandon his own guitar, fire the Detours' singer and occupy centre stage himself. That left Pete as their sole guitarist, and he took particular notice of Pirates' guitarist Mick Green whenever the two bands shared a bill, which was often. The Who's 'Shakin' All Over' is a typical full frontal assault, guaranteed to rouse everyone within earshot. Everyone gets a chance to shine: Roger howls the lyrics, John tampers with the celebrated bass riff, Pete lets fly on the solos and Keith thunders in at all the right moments. [Rather confusingly for The Who, the song was best known in the U.S. from the 1965 cover version by The Guess Who. This track on both the LP and 1995 and 2001 CD's has the middle section, which incorporated a cover of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful," removed because The Who didn't care for their performance on this section. All other live versions of this song have another song appearing in the middle, usually "Spoonful." On the original it was track 4. on the 1995 CD and disc one - #11 on the 2001 CD all running 4'15. The uncut original runs 5'06. Another live version can be found on Live at The Isle Of Wight 1970.]  

Photograph courtesy Chris McCourt

My Generation
(Pete Townshend) TRO-Devon Music, Inc. (BMI) 
If 'My Generation' was the only record The Who ever recorded, they would still deserve an honourable mention in any history of rock. Their third single, the Mod anthem of 1965, is still the best known song in their entire catalogue. Pete Townshend has since regretted penning the memorable lines "Hope I die before I get old" but 'My Generation' remains the hardest hitting single released by any U.K. pop group in 1965. The Beatles and The Stones, remember, were still writing love songs when 'My Generation' was first released. 
'My Generation' went through many transformations over the course of The Who's career. Often it became a slow blues that gradually speeded up but here, on what must be one of the longest versions of the song that The Who ever performed, it starts traditionally before meandering off after the bass solo into sections from Tommy, including a whipped-up verse of 'See Me Feel Me,' some unsecured blues and R&B hollering, and some excellent soloing by Pete who appears to play against his own echo bouncing off the back of the hall. There are many false endings where Pete silences the band, only to restart and accelerate again.
This version of 'My Generation' is as good an example as any of the way in which The Who could play off each other when they were in the mood. By now, they'd been playing on stage together for six years, and there's no substitute for the intuition that such training generates. Listen for Keith's repeated sixth-sense count-ins, all pre-empted by a Pete line that's familiar only to him and John and as ever listen to John working overtime as he zooms up and down the longest bass fretboard in rock.
The original recording was produced by Shel Talmy at Pye Studios, London on October 13, 1965, and released as a single three weeks later. It reached #2 in the U.K. charts, the highest position any Who single would ever achieve. [except for "I'm A Boy" which also reached #2 in the same chart] Due to lack of promotion in the U.S. it just scraped in at #74.
[Here's Pete's explanation for this track from his introduction at Leeds: "We do a number now which is kind of a little bit of everything. Mainly, it's mostly The Who. It's mostly The Who of about three years ago and mixed in are little bits of The Who today. This is something which is more or less our hymn. The reason we reprise 'Tommy' in it, in other words we repeat a bit of it, is to mix all the bits of our history together in a one great, huge deafening din." On the Canadian version of Live at Leeds this track is broken down into the following songs: 1a. My Generation (Townshend), b. See Me, Feel Me (We're Not Gonna Take It) (Townshend), c. Higher (Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey, Moon), d. Overbridge (Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey, Moon), e. Coming Out To Get You (Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey, Moon), f. Underture (Townshend), g. Driving Four (Townshend, Entwistle, Daltrey, Moon). On the original LP this was the first track on side 2 and was 14'27. On the 1995 CD it is track 13, on the 2001 CD disc one - track 12, and is 14'45 on both CD's. The uncut original is 15'03. Other live versions of "My Generation" can be found on the Who's Better, Who's Best video (1967), the Monterey Pop boxset and movie (1967), The Kids Are Alright movie (1967), Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970, Who's Next Deluxe Edition (1971), the Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B video (1972), Who's Last (1982), The Blues To The Bush (1999) and The Who & Special Guests Live at the Royal Albert Hall video (2000).]
 

Magic Bus
(Pete Townshend) TRO-Essex Music, Inc. (BMI) 
With its Bo Diddley beat and the scope it offered for stretching out on guitar, Pete lived to play 'Magic Bus' but John, anchored to a 'dub du-du du-du-dub dub' riff on A, hated it. There wasn't much opportunity for Keith either, but he always looked pleased as punch to be making silly faces and tapping away on his little wooden block while Pete and Roger swapped those preposterous lines about trading the magic bus in for 'one hundred English pounds.' 
As a stage number, 'Magic Bus' became a crowd favourite if for no other reason than it was quite unlike anything else The Who ever performed. Like everything else on the original Leeds album bar 'Substitute,' the version here is extended well beyond its normal running time. It's also a great showcase for Pete and Roger is no slouch on harmonica. 
The original recording was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios, London in the summer of 1968. It was released as a single on September 18, 1968 and it reached #26 in the U.K. charts. [It was released earlier in the U.S., on July 27, 1968 and reached #25 in the Billboard charts and #10 in the Cash Box charts. Pete wrote the song in early 1966. On November 20, 1968, Moon was joined onstage during a 20-minute version of 'Magic Bus' by the Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones and the once and future Who drummers performed it together. This was the last track on the original LP and was 7'30. It is also the last track on the 1995 CD (track 14) where it clocks in at 7'22. The 7'30 was restored for 2001 CD where it appears at track 12 on disc one. The original performance at Leeds ran 9'41. Other live versions can be found on Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970, Who's Last (1982), the Who's Better Who's Best video (1972), The Blues To The Bush (1999) and The Who & Special Guests Live at the Royal Albert Hall video (2000). 
The original release had a backward guitar track near the beginning that was removed for the 1995 issue. Pete Townshend: "I produced Live At Leeds and I did a few repairs here and there. At one point in "Magic Bus," I cut out a bit where John and I and Keith went out of sync and to show that I'd edited it, I took four bars of it and turned it upside down so you know that there's an edit." The backwards guitar was removed and replaced with the original sound on both the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]

BONUS TRACKS ADDED IN 1995
 

Photograph courtesy Chris McCourt

Heaven and Hell 4'30 
(John Entwistle) Gowmonk, Inc. (BMI) 
Although never recorded in the studio to John or The Who's complete satisfaction, 'Heaven and Hell' was one of the greatest songs that John Entwistle contributed to The Who's catalogue. A harsh warning about the perils of mortal misbehavior, it's a full-blooded rocker, rhythmically tougher than most of the material that Pete was writing at the time but still finely tuned towards The Who's particular strengths. Often used to open Who sets during the late Sixties when Tommy got a full airing, it allowed Pete plenty of opportunity to stretch out on the solo and the whole band could warm up for the lengthy set that lay ahead.
Originally recorded at IBC Studios, London May 15, 1970, the studio version was released on July 10, 1970 as the 'B' side of the 'Summertime Blues' single. [the location is right, but only the vocal was recorded on May 15th, the backing tracks were actually recorded on April 13, 1970 as part of a studio recording of highlights of their live set for a BBC radio program. "Heaven and Hell" initially appeared in The Who's live set as early as April 1968 but was dropped except for a few instances along with the live Tommy at the end of 1970. Although it seemed to have a prominent position in The Who's live set being first, the song was seen by the band as a test song to discover if guitars and microphones were working. At Leeds this occurred right at the beginning when John did not have his amp set correctly and missed singing a verse at the beginning of the song. For the remix John recorded enough of a vocal in 1994 to cover up to the point where his 1970 self could take over. Track 1 on the 1995 CD and 2001 CD's. Other live versions by The Who can be found on Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 and the Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B video (1970). ]
 
I Can't Explain 2'16 
(Pete Townshend) Fabulous Music, Ltd. (BMI) 
The Who's first single was an unashamed attempt at copying the riff style of The Kinks, who were also produced by the American expatriate Shel Talmy. This similarity to The Kinks aside, 'I Can't Explain' was still an explosive debut, describing the frustration of being unable to express yourself, not just to the girl of your dreams but, in a broader sense, to the world as a whole. 
Perhaps the best testament to 'I Can't Explain' is that throughout their career, The Who almost always opened their live shows with this song, occasionally alternating it with 'Substitute' and during this period, 'Heaven and Hell.' Is there any other band in the entire history of rock whose first single was so good, so timeless, that they could continue to use it as their opening number on stage for 25 years? 
The original single, released on January 15, 1965 featured Jimmy Page on second guitar and the Ivy League on backing vocals. Live, Keith would chirp in unless sound engineer Bob Pridden discreetly switched off his vocal mike. It reached #8 in the U.K. charts. 
[Shel Talmy denies that Jimmy Page played on this, or any other, Who song. In the U.S. it was released February 13, 1965 and reached #97 in the Billboard charts and #57 in Cash Box. Other live versions can be found on The Kids Are Alright soundtrack (1965), Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970, Who's Last (1982), The Blues To The Bush (1999) and The Who & Special Guests Live at the Royal Albert Hall video (2000). Track 2 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]  
Fortune Teller 2'34 
(Naomi Neville [a pseudonym for Allen Toussaint]) EMI Unart Catalog, Inc. (BMI) 
Benny Spellman's hit 'Fortune Teller,' also covered by The Rolling Stones and the Merseybeats, was a staple of The Who's live act between 1968 and 1970. Opening as a medium-paced R&B lurcher, The Who slip into a higher gear halfway through, turning the song into a full-throated rocker, a fine example of 'Maximum R&B.' 
The Who recorded a studio version at Advision in London on May 29, 1968, but it remained unreleased until The Who's box set 30 Years of Maximum R&B came out in 1994.

Photograph courtesy Chris McCourt

["Fortune Teller" entered The Who's set at the Fillmore East in New York City on April 5, 1968 and left their set shortly after Leeds. Track 3 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]
 
Tattoo 2'51 
(Pete Townshend) Towser Tunes, Inc. (BMI) 
Segued straight from 'Fortune Teller,' a song of cascading arpeggios heralds 'Tattoo,' a tongue-in-cheek ballad based loosely on the spurious concept that tattoos make 'a man a man.' A stand-out track from their third album, The Who Sell Out, The Who retained an affection for 'Tattoo' long after the album's other songs had been discarded. They were performing it live right up to the mid-Seventies. 
'Tattoo' boasts a particularly attractive and mature melody, and couplets with unusually complex rhymes about two brothers who decide to get their skin tattooed, only to regret the decision after parental objections and personal contemplation. 
The original recording of 'Tattoo' was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios, London on October 12, 1967. ['Tattoo' was also performed occasionally after The Who's 1999 revival. Track 4 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]

Happy Jack 2'13 
(Pete Townshend) TRO-Essex Music, Inc. (ASCAP) 
The star of the show here is Keith, whose remarkable drum patterns carry not only a beat that explodes on the choruses, but in a startlingly original fashion, the melody as well. All The Who's Sixties trademarks are present and correct: high harmonies, quirky subject matter, fat bass, and drums that suspend belief. 
The original recording was produced by Kit Lambert at CBS Studios, London on November 10, 1966. It was released as a single on December 3 and reached #3 in the U.K. charts. The following May it became the first Who record to make an impact on the American charts, finally reaching #24 in the Billboard Hot 100. ["Happy Jack" was the third single to hit the Billboard charts in the U.S. and the fourth on the Cash Box charts where it reached #13. It was released in the U.S. March 18, 1967. This track was previously released on The Kids Are Alright soundtrack. Other live versions can be found on the Monterey Pop boxset (1967) and the Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B video (1969). Track 7 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]

 
I'm A Boy 2'40 
(Pete Townshend) TRO-Hampshire House Publishing Corp. (ASCAP) 
'I'm A Boy' was originally written as part of a longer project called Quads, a Townshend tale set in the future when parents could choose the sex of their children. The family in the story requested four girls but got three girls and a boy, and this single is the boy's lament at the error. With lyrics quite unlike any other pop song of the period, it tips a hat to The Beach Boys with its high harmonies, but the great counterpoint between guitar and drums is 100% Who. 
The original recording was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios on August 1, 1966 and released as a single just over three weeks later [August 26]. Unfortunately it stalled at #2 in the U.K. charts (but spent two weeks at #1 in the Melody Maker charts - hence Pete's 'half hour' remark) while The Small Faces featuring Kenney Jones on drums occupied the top spot with 'All Or Nothing.' [The original single was unceremoniously dumped by Decca Records on the U.S. market four months after its U.K. release, on December 10, 1966, and, naturally, it failed to chart. A live version from 1999 is on The Blues To The Bush. Track 8 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]

Photograph courtesy Chris McCourt

A Quick One While He's Away 8'25 
(Pete Townshend) TRO-Essex Music, Inc. (ASCAP) 
Pete's first attempt at a rock opera [other than "I'm a Boy;" see above] was inspired, original and amusing, with a rousing climax that redeemed the rather gauche opening sections. It would never have been written had it not been for the peculiar circumstances surrounding the recording of their second album for which each member of the band was supposed to contribute at least two songs each. When the others came up short, Kit Lambert proposed as a solution that Pete write a mini-opera to fill up ten minutes at the end of Side Two. 'A Quick One' was the result. It was certainly complex, moving through six specific sections, all with different melodies of their own, ranging from camp country and western to lush harmonies and all out power pop, with a touch of English music hall in between. There is also a stimulating power chord climax with quite stunning vocal harmonies, especially John's falsetto. By 1970 The Who had been playing 'A Quick One' on stage for at least three years and there's a casual self-assurance to their playing on this version that cannot be found elsewhere. The six 'Quick One' songs are 'Her Man's Gone,' 'Crying Town,' 'We Have A Remedy,' 'Ivor The Engine Driver,' 'Soon Be Home' and 'You Are Forgiven.' Along the way the unnamed heroine pines for her absent lover, selects Ivor as a substitute on the advice of her friends, regrets her folly when her man returns, confesses her indiscretion and is ultimately forgiven.
The original recording was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios, London, in November 1966.
[Pete's introduction was cut for the 1996 version. The full-length introduction was restored for the Deluxe Edition. A flaw in the original recording caused Roger to have to retrack his vocal on the "Ivor, the Engine Driver" part in 1994. This song (or songs) was dropped from the live act shortly after Leeds. Other live versions appear on the Monterey Pop boxset (1967), The Kids Are Alright (1968), the Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B video (1967) and The Rolling Stones' Rock 'n' Roll Circus (1968). Track 9 on the 1995 and 2001 CD's.]

Amazing Journey/Sparks 7'34 
(Pete Townshend) Towser Tunes, Inc./ABKCO Music, Inc. (BMI) [The one track from the live at Leeds Tommy included as track 11 on the 1995 CD, it appears as part of the opera as a whole as tracks 4 and 5 on disc two of the 2001 CD. Another live version of 'Sparks,' recorded at the 1969 Woodstock festival and every bit as good as the Leeds performance, appears on The Kids Are Alright soundtrack and a one minute longer version, misidentified as "Underture," on the 30 Years Of Maximum R&B boxset.]

BONUS TRACKS ADDED IN 2001

The Who's first ever live performance of the entire Tommy song cycle was at a press preview at Ronnie Scott's Club in London on May 2, 1969, the same month that the original double album was released. The final performance, until their 25th Anniversary reunion tour in 1989, was at London's Roundhouse on December 20, 1970, when they dedicated it to the support act, an upcoming singer/songwriter/piano player named Elton John. In between times The Who dragged Tommy across Europe and America, performing it over 160 times. "Assemble the musicians," Pete would say as the band geared itself for 'Thomas,' as he liked to call it. Keith would tap the rim of his snare like a conductor would tap his baton on a music stand. "Stop laughing," he'd yell from behind his drums. "This is serious. It's a fucking opera, ain't it?" 

And off they'd go, crashing into the 'Overture' and sticking at it until the final verse of 'Listening To You,' the coda from 'We're Not Gonna Take It,' an hour and 15 minutes later. [Actually a little over 50 minutes at Leeds and that was one of The Who's longer Tommy performances.] It was a marathon performance, something never attempted by any rock band before or since, and those fans who caught it in its gloroius prime were indeed fortunate. Over the years Tommy would become abridged, with certain songs left out - John's 'Cousin Kevin' was never played [John thought it too hard to sing live] and 'Sally Simpson' often got the chop ['Welcome' was also not performed during this period] - until only 'Pinball Wizard' and the 'See Me Feel Me'' climax remained. Occasionally The Who would reprise the instrumental 'Sparks' which, with its layered dynamics, sudden octave drops and multiple rising crescendos, always brought audiences to their feet mid-way into the piece.

Though Pete's development of the realms of rock operas often brought charges of pretension, The Who always maintained a slightly picaresque sense of humour which was present in Tommy during Keith's two vocal contributions, 'Fiddle About' and 'Tommy's Holiday Camp.' No-one quite revelled in the role of a pervert quite like Moonie, as seen in his subsequent appearance as Ernie in Ken Russell's movie of Tommy.

Pete has recalled that on May 29, 1969 at the Grande Ballroom in Dearborn, Michigan, duirng the tour in which Tommy was first performed in the U.S., the audience - who'd had little opportunity to hear the album and therefore familiarize themselves with the music - rose at one point and remained standing, simply grooving away to the music. The band exchanged glances amongst themselves, realising there and then that they had created something very special. By the time Tommy neared its climax no-one was ever sitting down. 'See Me, Feel Me' became the Tommy hymn, crystal clear homage to some deity or other, and when it was played live it appeared for all the world as if The Who were paying a remarkable tribute - "Listening to you, I get the music" - to the audience they were singing to. In this respect, it couldn't fail to lift the spirits - just as all hymns are designed to do. And when the bright lights were switched on, The Who's auditoria became giant cathedrals in which, briefly, preachers and congregation were united in a massed celebration of rock mussic as the force for unification that Pete Townshend truly believed it was meant to be. Hell, disabled fans even waved their crutches in the air; maybe one or two even walked out of the show without them.

By the time The Who and Tommy reached Leeds, they could be forgiven for being well and truly sick of it. If they were, it doesn't show. Extensive research amongst The Who's archives and collectors around the world reveals that this Leeds Tommy is the very best concert version of the work extant. Now available as part of this celebratory package, I can only quote Pete Townshend, using the same words I used to title an essay I wrote on The Who some years ago for Crawdaddy magazine, "it's a bargain - the best you've ever had!"

[So why did it take 31 years for The Who to release the Tommy performance from Leeds? Mostly because The Who didn't care for it and considered it inferior to the rest of that night's show. It took a lot of pressure, the demands of fans and the widespread dissemination of bootleg copies of the complete and unedited concert to convince them. Before they would agree to it, however, The Who felt it was necessary to "fix" some of the problems, so there are parts of the 2001 Tommy disc that have recently recorded vocals in place of the originals. Those of you Who fans who'd prefer to hear The Who, bum notes and all, and that would probably be most of you, are encouraged (by me) to seek out the complete bootleg version.

[The Who have also released two other live versions of Tommy. The first came in 1990 with the release of the CD Join Together. This version was more complete than the one on the 2001 Live At Leeds but it was taken from The Who's 1989 concerts that featured Pete primarily on acoustic guitar and a host of additional performers. A different animal entirely from the one performed at Leeds.

bootleg version of disc two

The second live Tommy comes was released in 1996 but was recorded the same year as Leeds, 1970. It was called The Who Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 and has Tommy in its correct setting in the middle of the set. Unfortunately, for some reason, Keith was more off his game that night than he was at Leeds and, although exciting, it doesn't quite reach the Leeds level.

Overture 5'15
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
If The Who were in a hurry to get through, "Overture" and "It's A Boy" would be dropped. The 1969 Woodstock performance was one of those shows. Disc two - track 1 on the 2001 CD.

It's a Boy 0'31
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI)
Disc two - track 2 on the 2001 CD.

1921 2'25
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
Disc two - track 3 on the 2001 CD.

Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker) 1'58
(Sonny Boy Williamson) Arc Music Corp. (BMI) 
The first "fix" can be heard 33 seconds in. The word "blind" has been recently re-recorded in studio. Disc two - track 6 on the 2001 CD.

Christmas 3'18
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
Disc two - track 7 on the 2001 CD.

The Acid Queen 3'32
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
Skipping over "Cousin Kevin," The Who jump to "The Acid Queen." Notice that, as with "A Quick One While He's Away," Pete plays the girl's role. Disc two - track 8 on the 2001 CD.

Pinball Wizard 2'50
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
Once Tommy gets fully underway, The Who stop paying strict attention to the song order from the original album. Here they go straight past "Underture" and "Do You Think It's Alright/Fiddle About" to the big hit single. This version from Leeds previously came out in 1996 as the B-side of a "My Generation" single re-release.

Do You Think It's Alright? 0'22
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI)

Fiddle About 1'13
(John Entwistle) New Ikon Music Ltd. 
Now The Who go back to pick up these two songs. Keith took this song from John only after the movie.

Tommy Can You Hear Me? 0'55 
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
The mother's song is here moved to before the doctor's visit.

There's a Doctor 0'23
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI)

Go To The Mirror! 3'24 
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI)

Smash The Mirror 1'15 
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
And now back to the mother singing to Tommy again. Surprisingly for The Who, no actual mirrors were smashed onstage.

Miracle Cure 0'12 
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
"Sensation," which fell between the two songs above on the studio album, was rarely, if ever, performed live at this time.

Sally Simpson 4'00 
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
Another song commonly dropped from live versions of Tommy performed around this time.

I'm Free 2'38 
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI) 
As with the studio album, The Who kept "I'm Free" in this later position through the 1969-1970 live shows. It would not move to its new position immediately following "Smash The Mirror" until the 1972 London Symphony Orchestra version.

Tommy's Holiday Camp 1'00 
(credited to Keith Moon but actually composed by Pete Townshend) New Ikon Ltd. 
Ah, but even if he really didn't write it, Keith certainly makes it his own. "Good morning, wankers!" indeed! "Welcome," that precedes this song on the studio album, was never performed live during 1969-1970.

We're Not Gonna Take It 8'08
(Pete Townshend) Eel Pie Publishing Ltd. (BMI)
The "See Me Feel Me" and "Listening To You" sections at the end of the song feature almost completely recent, studio-recorded vocals.]

Audiophile comments by White Fang are now located at WhiteFang's Who Site! You can read them by clicking here.


If you want to contact me about something on this page, click on my name. I want corrections! Brian Cady

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