Monday, 2 January 2017

"Live At Leeds: Deluxe Edition" by THE WHO (2001 Polydor 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...When A Young Man Walks By..."

Even after 20 years of handling vinyl rarities in Reckless - and 40 years trawling records racks as an overgrown manchild who should know better by now - you never quite get over handling an intact copy of The Who's fabulous "Live At Leeds" LP in its original British vinyl form. It's simply a thing of beauty and unbridled Rock lust.

Released May 1970 on Track 2406 001 - it had only six tracks - none of which were listed on the rear and came housed in a flimsy flippy-floppy buff brown gatefold card sleeve with the title stamped on it like a crate of bananas bound for the docks. But when you opened this official Track Records release (deliberately made to look like a 'bootleg' as an antidote to the opulence of the "Tommy” double-album from May 1969) - it housed two pocket pouches – the LP on the right and on the left - 12 of the coolest inserts you'd ever seen inside a glassine see-through greaseproof bag. One of these ephemera inserts was the foldout 'Maximum R&B At The Marquee' poster of Pete Townshend and his 1964 guitar giving it some scrunched-up flying welly - while another had a from-behind-shot of PT in front of the huge Woodstock audience in 1969 holding up his guitar like it was a holy offering of some kind. You then noticed the white label of the LP that told you in script that they were doing covers of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and the Johnny Kidd & The Pirates 60ts belter "Shakin' All Over" (both of which made absolute sense in your head) and on Side 2 when you flipped it over that there was a 15-minute version of "My Generation"!

It was enough to make any young buck tremble – weak at the knees even at the mere thought of it. And decades later - when you returned to "Live At Leeds" yet again - in need of a proper riffage wigout in the comfort of your suburban Audio Mancave - Hell you'd even forgive the staples on the edges that rusted and discoloured the sleeve as the years past. As I say – The Who’s "Live At Leeds" has always been a thing of wonderment and fantasmagoricalness...

Which brings us to this glorious and well thought-out September 2001 33-Track 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Reissue - itself substituting the February 1995 'Expanded Edition' single CD version of 14-tracks. Although some argue it's still 'not complete' – this version purports to offer the first release of the full 14 February 1970 concert at Leeds University – tagging on the whole of the double-album "Tommy" on Disc 2 in a best-ever live performance of something they'd played over 130 times on an extensive US tour. Throw in the careful digital restoration (supervised by Townshend) and semi-removal of the famous 'master tape crackles' and you can't help but feel that a good thing has only been made better – and how. Here are the maximum details...

UK released 1 October 2001 (24 September 2001 in the USA) - "Live At Leeds: Deluxe Edition" by THE WHO on Polydor 112 618-2 (Barcode 008811261825) is a 2CD Reissue with 18 Previously Unreleased Tracks that features the first release of the complete 14 February 1970 Leeds University concert (including the 1969 "Tommy" Double Album intact) and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (73:33 minutes):
1. Heaven And Hell
2. I Can't Explain
3. Fortune Teller
4. Tattoo
5. Young Man Blues *
6. Substitute *
7. Happy Jack
8. I'm A Boy
9. A Quick One, While He's Away
10. Summertime Blues *
11. Shakin' All Over *
12. My Generation *
13. Magic Bus *

Disc 2 (53:33 minutes):
1. Overture
2. It's A Boy
3. 1921
4. Amazing Journey
5. Sparks
6. Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker)
7. Christmas
8. The Acid Queen
9. Pinball Wizard
10. Do You Think It's Alright?
11. Fiddle About
12. Tommy Can You Hear Me?
13. There's A Doctor
14. Go To The Mirror
15. Smash The Mirror
16. Miracle Cure
17. Sally Simpson
18. I'm Free
19. Tomorrow's Holiday Camp
20. We're Not Gonna Take It

"Live At Leeds" was released 3 May 1970 in the UK on Tracks Records 2406 001 and 16 May 1970 in the USA on Decca DL 79175 (peaked at No. 3 and No. 4 on the UK and US album charts). The six songs marked * on Disc 1 are the original 1970 LP - to sequence it from CD 1 use the following track numbers:
Side 1: Young Man's Blues (5)/Substitute (6)/Summertime Blues (10)/Shakin' All Over (11)
Side 2: My Generation (12)/Magic Bus (13)

Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 on Disc 1 and Tracks 4 and 5 from Disc 2 were first released as part of the February 1995 14-song single CD reissue of “Live At Leeds” on Polydor 527 169-2. Fans will note that Disc 1 here has only 13-tracks instead of 14 – that’s because the double of "Amazing Journey/Sparks" from the 1995 disc has been moved for this 2001 reissue as two separate songs to Disc 2 to facilitate a correct running order of "Tommy". All 18 other tracks on Disc 2 are Previously Unreleased.

Those famous 12 inserts are spread across the six flaps within the chunky foldout digipak (including under the see-through CD trays) with the 'Maximum R&B' Poster for their Tuesday residency at the Marquee in 90 Wardour Street gracing page 27 of the 28-page booklet. Before that is a track-by-track appraisal in new liner notes from CHRIS CHARLESWORTH – a superb breakdown of the original packaging by Who enthusiast RICHARD EVANS and the whole caboodle has been overseen by long-time Who archivist and Reissue man JON ASTLEY. There are many Black and White period photos of the individual band members in full-on live mode as well as typed lyrics to “My Generation”. Obsessives like me will know that uber-rare 1st pressing originals of the British LP had the title stamped in black lettering up in the right corner - second pressings came in Blue and Red type. This 2001 'Deluxe Edition' 2CD set opts for the blue lettering embossed into the front sleeve with an attached greaseproof title sheet stuck onto the rear (if you don’t get the outer plastic slipcase).

But the big news is yet another sonic go-round that adds rather fudges. The Remixes and Remasters have been supervised by PETE TOWNSHEND and carried out by Engineer ANDY MacPHERSON and JON ASTLEY at Close To The Edge Studios – and the results are as close to perfect as you can get for such a notoriously crude recording. All the power of the band seems to have been realised here without too much compression or compromise. It’s a cliché I know – but this reissue does truly rock – the sheer sonic excitement of the band during “Magic Bus” is breathtaking and won’t cost you one hundred English pounds...

It opens with a cover of Mose Allison's Jazz Swing song "Young Man Blues" turned into a Who Rocker and you're immediately clobbered by the clarity of both Townshend's guitar and the confident strut of Daltrey's vocals - huge and attacking in all the right ways. It's followed by Townshend's witty 'three hit singles from our past' banter before they launch into a two-minute version of "Substitute" where Mooney's huge drums have no crocodile tears and genuinely threaten your speakers with malevolent intent. 14 June 1970 saw Track Records UK edit down "Summertime Blues" into single form and along with a studio version of Entwistle's "Heaven And Hell" on the B-side release the band's 14th seven-inch single on Track 2094 002 (the US copy on Decca 32708 had "Here For More" as its flipside). That side ends with a Rocking and yet Funky rendition of "Shakin' All Over" - quivers down the backbone indeed.

But for me it's Side 2 with the extended the 15-minute "My Generation" and the near eight-minute "Magic Bus" that puts the LP into legend. Including bits from "Tommy" like an improvised "See Me Feel Me" and a Bass Solo - "My Generation" stills feel dangerous and anthemic - even at such a huge ambling length. The riffage of "Magic Bus" is explosive stuff and when the band finally does kick in - you know why people in the audience never forgot the experience of The Who in full flight. Of the extras I love "Tattoo" from "The Who Sell Out" LP - that perfect combo of melody and crashing pomp - while Entwistle's "Heaven And Hell" lets Pete riff away as if it was own song - a powerful set opener. But best of all is the witty mishmash that is "A Quick One, While He's Away" - a six-part musical Who tour-de-force about an unsuspecting girl guide and a not-so-innocent Ivor The Engine Driver with amazing vocals traded at the beginning and throughout. The booklet advises that after extensive research - the largely unreleased "Tommy" on CD2 is the best played version yet found and when you hear them tear through "The Acid Queen", "Pinball Wizard" and "I'm Free" - you're in no doubt that's no idle boast designed to beef up already overblown liner notes – it's actually true. Amazing stuff...

In May 2017 "Live At Leeds" by THE WHO will be 47 years young. And I have to say that this 2001 Deluxe Edition of it does that in-yer-face legend proud...

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