Live At Leeds

The Who

MCA Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


How do you improve an album that wasn't that good to begin with?

In the case of Live At Leeds, a 1970 effort from The Who, you take the original six released songs and put on eight more tracks from the same show. Did it work? The answer is an astounding "yes."

Coming off the success of their rock opera Tommy, Pete Townshend and crew were looking to make a live album that would capture the band's power. But when this album hit the streets - packaged to look like a bootleg, the oomph just wasn't there.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Remastered a few years ago with the older tracks restored, Live At Leeds now has the feel of a real Who concert, capturing not only the power of the band, but also their humor as well. The between-song banter adds to the feel of the show, making you feel like you're right there - without having to dodge splinters from shattered guitars and drop-kicked drum kits.

Three of the songs from the original Live At Leeds actually gain in power on this one - "Young Man Blues," "Summertime Blues" and "Shakin' All Over." Mixed in with their brothers from the show, a combination of cover tunes and Who originals, these tracks finally shine in the glory they were meant to. Townshend's playing is solid and incredible, and vocalist Roger Daltrey has rarely sounded better in concert. Add to that the speedfreak drumming of the sorely-missed Keith Moon and the always incredible bass work of John Entwistle, and you have what is probably the ultimate live Who album.

This is not to say there aren't some rough bumps on the road. "I Can't Explain," one of the band's earliest hits and one of my favorite tracks, shows it hadn't aged very well. "My Generation," despite always being a showcase for the bass riffs of Entwistle, seems to drag on a bit too long, just like on the original release. And, "Magic Bus," admittedly never one of my favorite Who tracks, does not translate well in concert.

One of the stand-out tracks is the performance of "A Quick One While He's Away," the predecessor to Tommy. Rarely heard live, this performance shows it could be one of the band's most underrated works.

The glory days of The Who are long gone, but Live At Leeds is a fitting, if not flawed, portrait of those times where the band was at the top of their game. The restored version outshines the original release, and is a worthwhile addition to your library.

Rating: B

User Rating: A-



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.