Live At Shea Stadium (DVD) By The Who

November 30, 2015

Hung Up In Your Eyes  B. Hyland

The Who were on tour in North America when they arrived at Shea Stadium for two sold out shows, October 12-13, 1982. They would not tour again for seven years and it was their last tour with drummer Kenny Jones. Also on hand was keyboardist Tom Gorman.

The entire second show has now been released with five bonus tracks from the first performance. The sound and video are both excellent and have a crispness that belies their age. Many times in a live recording, an instrument is lost in the mix but here everything is in synch, including John Entwistle’s thumbing bass, which provides the foundation for the sound. The only miner issue is the crowd, which is either turned down or was not very loud or invested.

The Who of 1982 had settled into a mature groove. Much of their frenetic approach in concert dissipated with the death of Keith Moon. Jones has not faired very well in the band’s history as Keith Moon was an impossible act to follow but he provided a steadying if not spectacular hand. This is very apparent in this concert as Townshend, Daltry, and Entwistle are connected and involved. It all adds up to one of the better Who concerts on film.

Their Shea Stadium show was a combination of big hits, well-known songs, and a number of obscurities that were rarely played live. “Dangerous,” “It’s Hard,” “Naked Eye,” “Drowned,” and “Cry If You Want” have disappeared into Who history so it is interesting to hear and see them performed on stage.

Only two songs, “Pinball Wizard” and “See Me Feel Me,” are from Tommy, which is a relief as material from the rock opera has appeared on numerous live recordings.

It is their middle career material that forms the foundation for the concert. “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Eminence Front,” and “It’s Hard” all benefit from Gorman’s keyboards and show a sophisticated approach to their live material.

The concert came to a rocking end with “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Summertime Blues,” and “Twist And Shout.”

Of the five bonus tracks “5:15” and “My Generation” were inexplicably left out of the second show, so it nice to have both as extra tracks as the energy just flows from one to the other.

Live At Shea Stadium 1982 is a nice time capsule of The Who. It is a very different live performance than any with Keith Moon as the music was getting more complex and they were in transition as a band. It fills in some gaps in their career and is a must for any of their fans.


Quadrophrenia: Live In London by The Who

July 8, 2014


Tommy was one of the seminal albums in rock history. Pete Townsend, Roger Daltry, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon took rock and roll music and moved in a new and creative direction. While the Who would produce a number of excellent rock albums and sell tens-of-millions of copies; Tommy was their defining release.

Quadrophrenia was released in 1973 as the next step in a musical vision that began with Tommy. It was a more ambitious and personal project that contained some of the most sophisticated music of the band’s career. Tommy made the complex simple, while Quadrophrenia was just complex, which gave it a very different feel. It is music that requires your attention and commitment to listen too and appreciate. While not as commercially successful as its predecessor, it represents the peak of Townsends creative process.

Quadrophrenia: Live In London is an album that took four decades to create and in some ways brings the music to a satisfying conclusion. The release presents a complete live performance of the album followed by a six song encore.

The Who of today is far different from the band of 1973. John Entwistle is gone and Keith Moon is long gone.  While Townsends guitar play is crisp and Daltry’s voice is better than I have heard it in years; John and Keith are missed. It’s not so much in the music as it is in the perception. This is more apparent on the DVD than the CD’s.

Townsend and Daltry have recruited drummer Scott Devours and bassist Dino Palladino to round out the basic quartet and both are more than competent musicians.

In many ways the music from Quadrophrenia has withstood the passage of time better than Tommy. Listening to the music in chronological order heightens an appreciation of the album and story. “The Rock,” “5:15,” and “Love Reins O’er Me” form a blistering rock trifecta. Townsend and Daltry appear invested in the performance as it may be a final curtain call for the album. It may not be classic Who but it is very good and at this point in their career the effort is appreciated.

The six song encore is icing on the cake. “Who Are You,” “You Better You Bet,” “”Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Tea & Theatre” are sort of an odd combination but are welcome as live performances.

The sound and video throughout is excellent. The concert was filmed and recorded for release and the care in which that was done shows.

Time is passing and the Who are closing the book on a chapter of their lives. For any fan of the band this release is a must although it must be approached with the year 2014 in mind. Quadrophrenia: Live In London was an ambitious project with a worthy result from an important band in the late fall of their career.

Sensation: The Story Of Tommy (DVD) By The Who

April 21, 2014


The 1969 release of Tommy by the Who proved to be one of the seminal albums in rock history. A full-fledged opera by a rock group was not only unique and creative but contained some of the better music of its era. It propelled the Who from being a popular and respected British invasion group to one of the most popular rock bands in the world.

It has been 45 years since the release of Tommy. Now the story of that epic album has been released on DVD as Sensation: The Story Of Tommy.

Just about every living important contributor to the project was interviewed including new interviews with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. The reflections of the two band members over four decades after the album’s initial release are particularly interesting. Add in contributions by engineer Bob Pridden, artwork creator Mike McInnerney, plus a number of others and you have as about a complete picture of the album’s creation as one can receive at this particular point in time.  There is even an archival interview with the late John Entwistle.

There is a judicious use of clips interspersed throughout the program. The sound and pictures are high quality and the pacing of the film is excellent. A number of the better known tracks make an appearance including “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me, Feel Me,” “The Acid Queen,” “I’m Free.” “Sensation,”  and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

There are a number of bonus tracks including previously unreleased footage from a 1969 performance at the Beat Club, featuring a number of songs from the album, and a 45 year old interview with Townshend which provides a nice bookend to the newer one.

The only problem with a musical documentary of this type is it begins to lose interest after the first several viewings. Still, for any fans of the Who or the era in music, it will be a worth-while purchase.


Happy Jack 45 by The Who

March 3, 2013

happy jack

“Happy Jack” was written by Pete Townshend and was a part of their early stage act for a number of years. John Entwistle shared the lead vocal with Roger Daltry making it a vary rare Townshend song that was not sung solo by Daltry.

It was a huge hit in their native England peaking at number three. Released during early 1967, it became their first top 30 hit in the United States peaking at number 24 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100.

It had a very different sound than much of thier material but is still worth a listen almost 50 years later.

See Me Fee Me 45 by The Who

January 25, 2013

See Me Fee Me

TOMMY by the Who has gone down in history as one of rock’s most creative and memorable albums. Released during 1969, its popularity has now spanned three generations. While the rock opera told a story, it did have three singles reach the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Top 100 Singles Chart.

The highest charting single from the album was “See Me Feel Me.” Released during the fall of 1970, it peaked at number 12.

It was a song that built gradually and was fueled by one of Roger Daltry’s better vocal performances. It is a song that is still instantly recognizable today.

Live In Texas ’75 (DVD) by The Who

October 21, 2012

Back in the mid-1970s, there was always time for the summertime blues.

Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Roger Daltry, and Keith Moon arrived in Houston, Texas, November 20, 1975, at the beginning of their Who By Numbers tour. By the time they were finished that evening, they had created a document of the original Who at the height of their powers. That concert has now been officially released as a DVD.

The concert has been available as a poor quality bootleg. It was not intended for wide release as only two cameras were used and they are subject to the limitations of mid-1970s technology. The sound and picture have been remastered and while they may not be up to today’s standards, it is good enough to hold your attention as it presents a rare glimpse of the original band at their best.

The concert started slow. “Substitute” and “I Can’t Explain” are good enough but “Squeeze Box” and especially “Baba O’Riley” are the two weakest tracks among the 25. Things pick up with Entwistle’s “Boris The Spider, and from then on, the energy builds.

The center of the performance was eight songs from Tommy including a medley. I have always preferred The Who picking and choosing songs rather than playing the entire opera. Today the songs are immediately recognizable to most rock fans. Here, “Amazing Journey,” “Acid Queen,” “Pinball Wizard,” “I’m Free, ” and “See Me Feel Me” are honed back to basics. Daltry is in fine voice and Townshend is at the top of his guitar form, but it is Keith Moon who drives the sound and makes one lament his premature death three years later. Many times Entwistle is the odd man out. His bass lines are heard but the camera’s did not always get him in the picture.

The last third of the concert finds them roaring through “Summertime Blues,” “My Generation,” and “Magic Bus.” Throw in a blast from the past, “Roadrunner,” plus “Join Together” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and you have one of the better live stretches of Who music that has been preserved.

Live performances from the original carnation of The Who are to be treasured. Live In Texas 75 finally gets its day in the sun. It is a must for all fans of the band.

I Can’t Explain 45 by The Who

May 1, 2012

Way back in early 1965 a single spent two weeks on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, peaking at number 93, and then quickly disappeared. “I Can’t Explain” was an inauspicious beginning in the United States for the Who.

The Who are now legends in the rock world having built a body of work that has rarely been equaled in music history.

From the crashing opening guitar chords by Pete Townshend to the frenetic drums by Keith Moon, it was a typical Who performance that would soon become all to famaliar.

At the time it was a far different sound that was coming from the British Invasion as it was a much harder rock style. It was classic Who at the beginning of their career.

Summertime Blues 45 by The Who

January 24, 2011

Eddie Cochran released “Summertime Blues” during 1958. It contained one of the signature guitar intros in music history. It reached number 8 on the singles chart in The United States.

The Who covered the song as a part of their LIVE AT LEEDS album, which is considered one of rock’s legendary live albums.

They released a slightly shortened version of the live track as a single July 11, 1970. It rose to number 27 while spending 9 weeks on the charts.

While the song will always be thought of as an album track. Its sledgehammer rock approach was welcome radio fare during 1970. An essential rock performance.

I Can See For Miles 45 by The Who

January 21, 2011

“I Can See For Miles” was The Who’s first top ten single in The United States when it reached number 9 during late 1967. While they would have 26 chart hits and sell tens of millions of albums, it would be their only single to reach the top ten.

It was a typical Who rocker that would just attack you with a hard driving sound. The Who were never a subtle band, especially during the pre-Tommy part of their career.

This is a song that has withstood the passage of time well. A must listen for anyone interested in late sixties rock.

Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition) by The Who

December 17, 2010

I bought the original Live At Leeds vinyl album shortly after it was released in May of 1970. It is considered one of the best live albums in existence and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it 170 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of all Time.”

I next bought the album when it was released on CD during the mid-’80s. I bought it again during the mid-’90s when a remastered version was released with extra tracks. Next it was on to the 2001 Deluxe Edition. It had now been extended to two discs, with the second containing the entire Tommy set.

We now come to the 2010 release, Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition). It is a massive four-CD, one vinyl LP, one seven inch vinyl 45 with picture sleeve, plus a coffee table-type book with a multitude of pictures. Released in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the original release, it presents the whole story and more.

When The Who decided to record a live album, they booked two venues. They performed at Leeds University on February 14, 1970, and a day later at the Hull City Hall. While many people considered the Hull show to be superior, there was an issue with the recording equipment, as the bass part was lost on four of the tracks. Thus, the Leeds show entered music history.

While the first two discs present the entire Leeds show, the Hull performance has now been resurrected. Yes, the bass is missing on the first four songs but the rest of the concert has a surprisingly good sound. Why it has laid dormant for four decades is beyond me.

The two concerts are very similar, although some tracks are extended on one show or the other. The only real difference was “Magic Bus,” which was not performed at the Hull show. The concerts, which were performed within 24 hours of each other, show The Who to be a well oiled and tight group who had their long set down pat. I think in some ways I prefer the Hull set a little better, but both are ferocious rock attacks on the senses.

The vinyl LP is pressed on heavy gram vinyl and contains the original six tracks that were released in 1970. The sound is at least equal to that of the CDs if you have the proper equipment.

The 45 rpm record, with an accompanying picture sleeve, contains “Summertime Blues” on the A side and “Heaven & Hell” on the flip side. It is one of those artifacts that is nice to have but is not really essential.

The main attribute of the book is the pictures. It is nice to flip through while listening to the music.

Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition) is the ultimate set of the two concerts. It will be my last Leeds acquisition unless there is something I don’t know about that will be released as a Super Duper Deluxe Set 10 years from now.

Its length and price make it primarily appealing for Who fans. It is one of those releases that fill in the gaps while presenting a lot of good music

Article first published as Music Review: The Who – Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition) on Blogcritics.