What does it sound like?:
On April 4th 1968 Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated, the day before The Who were due to play 4 sets over 2 nights at the recently opened Fillmore East. Things didn’t go to plan – 4 sets were reduced to 2 given concerns relating to the reaction to King’s death and the intention to record them for a live release (Kit Lambert had intended to release this set as the Who’s fourth album after “The Who Sell Out” and before “Tommy”) proved redundant when it was discovered the tapes of first night weren’t usable.
The decision not to make an official release paved the way for a bootleg which is often cited as one of the best ever released, it’s soundboard source capturing the full-on attack of the band’s live show. Turns out however that the second night tapes have been retained in one piece and the previously unreleased recordings are now officially available on double CD and triple vinyl.
The album kicks off with a storming “Summertime Blues”. Entwistle’s bass is very much out front and the vocals a little too distant. Pete’s between song chatter is set out against a backdrop of almost total silence – either the crowd were being very respectful or no-one thought to record them, although Pete’s description of the Village Theater (the venue that the Fillmore East replaced) as a “pisshole” elicits a few laughs.
The tour followed the release of “The Who Sell Out” but only “Tattoo” (anyone know of another song to include the word “gymnasium”?) and “Relax” are included. Maybe the band played cover versions of “C’mon Everybody” and “Shaking All Over” (and even Allen Toussaint’s “Fortune Teller”) to inject some raw energy to balance the more complex story telling songs such as the multi-movement “A Quick One”. Townsend prefaces the old rockers by saying they tend to sound better when they jam on them in warm ups, and he certainly puts his back into these versions.
Hit’s such as “Can’t Explain” and “Happy Jack” are present and stompingly correct. More out of the ordinary is “Little Billy”, a fairly insubstantial an anti-smoking song that Townsend wrote for the American Cancer Society intended it to be – but not to be realized – a single. Pete can’t help but laugh as he explains a Who song preaching abstinence so any sort. There’s also the boogie of “My Way” which reminds me of Dion’s “The Wanderer”. Albeit played by Quo.
The set closes with “My Generation”, which accounts for the whole 2nd CD. Expanded by some 30 minutes over it’s original length, it delivers the instrument destruction that Pete assures the crowd is coming mid set prior to playing “I Can’t Explain”. I assume Daltrey was back on the bus showered and changed by the time this ends. Faithful to the original for the first 3 minutes, across the next 30 it becomes an extended jam before descending into what sounds like a fight in a music store, lasting almost as long as the entire first album it appeared on. Tellingly the bootleg version fades out at 9 minutes. I didn’t last much longer – it may have been a spectacle to watch, but as audio only it’s unlistenable and seems to be padding this release out.
What does it all *mean*?
I think it means it’s increasingly difficult to find worthwhile releases for every “significant” anniversary.
Goes well with…
Apple scrumping and birthday punching
Might suit people who like…
Not so much like but really just for those who have to have everything ever released.