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View From A Backstage Pass

March 14, 2012

First published December 2007

The Who

To celebrate the launch of the new Who fanclub those nice people at http://www.thewho.com have launched a beautifully judged retrospective of the band live from 1969 – 1976. Membership of their fan club costs $50 but you get this free of charge which makes this 2CD set a Bargain (The Best I Ever Had)

Lovely packaging – matt black slipcases with a leaping be-Union Jacked Pete Townshend and a full colour booklet with lots of rare pics from the gigs contained herein, even including Bob Pridden Who soundsman-deluxe and unlikely laser expert.

Straight out of the blocks is The Grande Ballroom, Detroit, October 1969 and a ferocious ‘Fortune Teller’ that eclipses the rather restrained ‘Live at Leeds’ version. Then three tracks from Hull, the night after Leeds. Who-lore had it that Hull was not used because the bass did not record, but Entwhistle is very noticeable here.  ‘Magic Bus’ from Denver in June 1970 which at 13.50 rather overstays it’s welcome. However the final six tracks on CD1 come from the legendary San Francisco December 1971 dates and they smoke. ‘Bargain’ is terrific, ‘My Wife’ has a ponderous power and the harmonies on ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ are lovely. All tracks in luscious sound thanks to having access to the original masters and having Jon Astley do the mastering.

CD2 doesn’t quite hit the same heights but has its moments. Very welcome are a ‘Punk And The Godfather’ and a ‘5.15’ recorded for the King Biscuit Flour Hour at Maryland in December 1973 but never broadcast (and therefore omitted from the seminal  ‘Tales From The Who’ bootleg). Great to have them as additions to that set, complete with lengthy Daltrey introductions. Next are extracts from Charlton 1974, the familiarity of  ‘Tattoo’ being balanced by a growly  ‘Boris The Spider’ that had evaded the bootleggers. The final eight tracks on CD2 are from Swansea in September 1976 and are familiar from the widely-available Capital Radio broadcast, subsequently released as the  ‘Put The Better Boot In’ bootleg. ‘See Me Feel Me’ provides an excellent end to over 2 hours of live Who at its best.

Messrs Pridden and Astley are to be congratulated for their choices. Not too obscure, not too easily available and all in pristine sound. Truly New Who To Do You Through and highly recommended.

 

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