Live at Leeds
was recorded on February 14th, 1970. Some people held it in high esteem as one of the greatest live albums of all time. The presents The Who in their prime, ripping at their instruments fiercely. The album predates the era of the double-LP, clocking in at between 35 and 40 minutes, and was packaged to look like a bootleg. It is short but sweet, and this album sounds best when extremely loud, I have found. Headphones or one a stereo, it doesn't matter.
The album opens with the angry, almost snotty sounding "Young Man Blues"
. One thing that I noticed when listening to this record was
that Pete Townshend's tone is absolutely snarling and vicious, unlike his sound in the mid 60s; jangly and poppy. The lines constantly remind
you of things like "The young man ain't got nothin' in the world these days,"
as if you had forgotten from a minute ago. It is a rather strong opening to the album, and sets the mood for the rest. The next song "Substitute"
is a bouncy number from their 60s collection, and is probably on of my favorite songs of all time. This version, though, rocks harder than ever before. With lines like "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth, the north side of my town is facing east and facing south,"
and "I look all white but my dad was black"
are just genius, and I sometimes think that Pete Townshend is one of the most underrated songwriters of the last 40 years. Definately a highlight of the album, in my honest opinion.
Next is probably the most famouse version of the Eddie Cochran song, "Summertime Blues"
. Although the vocals are barely audible, it doesn't really matter, because the rest of the band shines bright. Pete's guitar churns out chord after chord of pure meat. Keith's drumming s everywhere, yet fits with everything perfectly. John's bass playing is in it's prime here, where he does something I can't describe as anything other than "the water gurgle"
. "Shakin' All Over"
is farily reminiscent of "Young Man Blues,"
but it is still as great as the other songs, although it would have been nice to see an original in it's place.
And thus, concludes Side 1.
The second half of the album contains only two songs, which obviously, means that they are going to be longer than the average time length of most pop songs. This is probably the best and most rewarding part of the album. "My Generation"
is the longest here, at 14:27. Actually, I consider "My Generation"
to be the first punk
song, ever. The version here is basically a long medly. It starts off, roaring, with "My Generation"
and goes into a brief quotation from "See Me, Feel Me"
that seems a bit rushed. I can't really recall off of the top of my head everything that happens within the 14 minutes of the song, but it definately showcases Pete Townshend as both a rhythm and lead guitar player, and the whole band is perfect on it. "Magic Bus,"
clocking in at 7 and a half minutes, is equally as good as the previous opus of "My Genetation,"
though almost half of the running time. The song almost immediately locks into a perfect Bo Diddley-esque groove and continues for some time. As all of the other songs on this album, these two songs show the live power of The Who at their best.
In conclusion, this is a fantastic live album. Anyone who enjoys music, especially rock music, should own this album. If you can find (or afford) it, you should probably buy the Deluze Addition of this album, or even just the 1995 reissue, as they are both even better than this, and the sound quality is vastly inmproved.