The Who: Live at Leeds

May 16, 1970 – The Who: Live at Leeds is released.
# allmusic 5/5
# Circus (see original review below)
“Unbelievable!” – me at 10 years old when I heard it.
“Unbelievable!” – me at 20 years old when I heard it.
“Unbelievable!” – me at 30 years old when I heard it.
“Unbelievable!” – me at 40 years old when I heard it.
“Unbelievable!” – me at 50 years old when I heard it.
“Unbelievable!” – as I write this – LOUD (tinnitus be damned)
True Story.  Then “Who’s Next” at 11….
Live at Leeds is The Who’s first live album, and is the only live album that was released while the group were still recording and performing regularly. It was released in the United States on this date in May 1970, by Decca and MCA and the United Kingdom on May 23, 1970, by Track and Polydor.  As of 2005, the album is ranked number 170 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It is often cited as the best live rock album of all time and is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. It is also included in Q magazine’s list of Loudest Albums of All Time.
Live at Leeds was designed to emphasise The Who as a rock band as opposed to opera singers and its packaging was also an antidote to the splendour of Tommy: a plain buff sleeve roughly rubber-stamped with the band’s name and designed to resemble a bootleg. Within could be found an envelope containing all sorts of facsimile Who ephemera (photos, date sheets, contracts, lyrics) and a record on which there was a handwritten warning that crackles heard throughout were not the fault of your record player.
After releasing Tommy in mid-1969 The Who went on an extended world tour to promote it, and returned to England at year’s end with a desire to release a live album from the tour. However, the band balked at the prospect of listening to approximately 80 hours of accumulated recordings to decide which would make the best album and it was rumoured that the tapes were subsequently burned to prevent bootlegging. Roger Daltrey cast doubt on this rumour in a 2006 BBC interview, but it was supported by Townshend during an interview (broadcast by the radio station Planet Rock on 11 February 2010) celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original recording.
Two shows were consequently scheduled, one at the University of Leeds and the other in Hull, for the expressed purpose of recording and releasing a live album. The shows were performed on 14 and 15 February 1970 at Leeds and Hull, respectively, but technical problems with the recordings from the Hull gig — the bass guitar had not been recorded on some of the songs — made it all the more necessary for the show from the 14th to be released as the album. Regardless of great approval of the Leeds gig by many fans and critics, the band members believed the recordings at Hull sounded better, as the acoustics projected better in the more spacious venue.
Live at Leeds became a critical smash, with The New York Times acclaiming it as “the best live rock album ever made.” Its reputation as such continues to this day with Q magazine recently putting it at the top of its list of the greatest live albums of all time.
The album’s reputation has become so lofty that the venue at which it was recorded, the University of Leeds refectory, has been named a national landmark in the UK, commemorated with a blue plaque.
Not since Tommy has there been a record quite so incredibly heavy, so inspired with the kind of kinetic energy that the Who have managed to harness on this album. They have always been the type of group which relies on a simple, hard, repetitive and highly contagious theme that doesn’t involve itself terribly with head stuff. “My Generation,” which is included, does not depart from this formula and must rank as one of the great rock songs of all time. And they do this together with a generous sampling from Tommy, fusing several songs together on the second side in a highly powerful physical and coherent theme. The entire album flows like Tommy only better; there’s no waiting for the good stuff.
~ Jonathan Eisen, Circus, July 1970
Side one
“Young Man Blues” (Mose Allison)  – 4:45
“Substitute” (Pete Townshend)  – 2:05
“Summertime Blues” (Jerry Capehart, Eddie Cochran)  – 3:22
“Shakin’ All Over” (Johnny Kidd)  – 4:15
Side two
“My Generation” (Townshend)  – 14:27
“Magic Bus” (Townshend)  – 7:30
2001 Deluxe Edition (complete “Leeds” performance)
Disc one
“Heaven and Hell” (Entwistle)  – 5:07
“I Can’t Explain” (Townshend)  – 3:13
“Fortune Teller” (Neville and Spellman)  – 2:35
“Tattoo” (Townshend)  – 3:42
“Young Man Blues” (Allison)  – 6:12
“Substitute” (Townshend)  – 2:07
“Happy Jack” (Townshend)  – 2:14
“I’m a Boy” (Townshend)  – 7:47
“A Quick One, While He’s Away” (Townshend)  – 8:52
“Summertime Blues” (Capehart and Cochran)  – 3:22
“Shakin’ All Over” (Kidd)  – 4:35
“My Generation” (Townshend)  – 15:49
“Magic Bus” (Townshend)  – 7:56
Disc two
“Overture” (Townshend)  – 6:53
“It’s a Boy” (Townshend)  – 0:31
“1921” (Townshend)  – 2:26
“Amazing Journey” (Townshend)  – 3:18
“Sparks” (Townshend)  – 4:23
“Eyesight to the Blind” a.k.a. “Born Blind” (Sonny Boy Williamson)  – 1:58
“Christmas” (Townshend)  – 3:19
“The Acid Queen” (Townshend)  – 3:35
“Pinball Wizard” (Townshend)  – 2:52
“Do You Think It’s Alright?” (Townshend)  – 0:22
“Fiddle About” (Entwistle)  – 1:13
“Tommy, Can You Hear Me?” (Townshend)  – 0:55
“There’s a Doctor” (Townshend)  – 0:23
“Go to the Mirror!” (Townshend)  – 3:24
“Smash The Mirror” (Townshend)  – 1:19
“Miracle Cure” (Townshend)  – 0:13
“Sally Simpson” (Townshend)  – 4:01
“I’m Free” (Townshend)  – 2:39
“Tommy’s Holiday Camp” (Keith Moon)  – 1:00
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” (Townshend)  – 8:48
2010 40th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Collectors’ Edition (complete “Leeds” & “Hull” performances)
CD One – Live at Leeds
Heaven and Hell (Entwistle) – 5:12
I Can’t Explain (Townshend) – 2:38
Fortune Teller (Neville and Spellman) – 3:13
Tattoo (Townshend) – 3:00
Young Man Blues (Allison) – 5:56
Substitute (Townshend) – 3:05
Happy Jack (Townshend) – 2:13
I’m a Boy (Townshend) – 2:45
A Quick One, While He’s Away (Townshend) – 13:44
Summertime Blues (Capehart and Cochran) – 3:35
Shakin’ All Over (Kidd) – 4:35
My Generation (Townshend) – 15:26
Magic Bus – 8:21
CD Two – Live at Leeds: ‘Tommy’
Overture (Townshend) – 6:49
It’s a Boy (Townshend) – 0:35
1921 (Townshend) – 2:26
Amazing Journey (Townshend) – 3:18
Sparks (Townshend) – 4:22
Eyesight to the Blind a.k.a. “Born Blind” (Sonny Boy Williamson) – 1:58
Christmas (Townshend) – 3:18
The Acid Queen (Townshend) – 3:32
Pinball Wizard (Townshend) – 2:52
Do You Think It’s Alright? (Townshend) – 0:22
Fiddle About (Entwistle) – 1:13
Tommy, Can You Hear Me? (Townshend) – 0:55
There’s a Doctor (Townshend) – 0:23
Go to the Mirror! (Townshend) – 3:24
Smash The Mirror (Townshend) – 1:18
Miracle Cure (Townshend) – 0:13
Sally Simpson (Townshend) – 4:00
I’m Free (Townshend) – 2:39
Tommy’s Holiday Camp (Keith Moon) – 1:00
We’re Not Gonna Take It (Townshend) – 8:50
CD Three – Live at Hull
Heaven and Hell (Entwistle) – 4:04
I Can’t Explain (Townshend) – 2:51
Fortune Teller (Neville and Spellman) – 2:35
Tattoo (Townshend) – 3:02
Young Man Blues (Allison) – 5:41
Substitute (Townshend) – 2:07
Happy Jack (Townshend) – 2:12
I’m a Boy (Townshend) – 2:48
A Quick One, While He’s Away (Townshend) – 9:51
Summertime Blues (Capehart and Cochran) – 3:43
Shakin’ All Over (Kidd) – 5:09
My Generation (Townshend) – 15:58
CD Four – Live at Hull: ‘Tommy’
Overture (Townshend) – 5:30
It’s a Boy (Townshend) – 0:43
1921 (Townshend) – 2:28
Amazing Journey (Townshend) – 3:18
Sparks (Townshend) – 4:14
Eyesight to the Blind a.k.a. “Born Blind” (S.Boy Williamson) – 1:56
Christmas (Townshend) – 3:18
The Acid Queen (Townshend) – 3:33
Pinball Wizard (Townshend) – 2:47
Do You Think It’s Alright? (Townshend) – 0:23
Fiddle About (Entwistle) – 1:14
Tommy, Can You Hear Me? (Townshend) – 0:57
There’s a Doctor (Townshend) – 0:22
Go to the Mirror! (Townshend) – 3:32
Smash The Mirror (Townshend) – 1:22
Miracle Cure (Townshend) – 0:13
Sally Simpson (Townshend) – 4:08
I’m Free (Townshend) – 2:24
Tommy’s Holiday Camp (Keith Moon) – 1:00
We’re Not Gonna Take It (Townshend) – 8:19

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