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The Who - Live At Leeds CD (album) cover


The Who



4.02 | 148 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars People have repeated so often that LIVE AT LEEDS is the greatest live album of all time you'd ALMOST start believing them. They're wrong, though. I can think of dozens of live albums that are more colourful and varied, more musically accomplished, more emotional - starting with Duke Ellington LIVE AT NEWPORT (1956), and so on through the decades.

However, LIVE AT LEEDS does contain some of the most strikingly energetic rock performances ever. In my view, it's especially noteworthy because of its cover versions. The original LP contained just six tracks, among which the Pete Townshend compositions are by far the weakest. "Substitute" sounded more charming in its original studio version. Similarly, the live performance of "My Generation" feels too heavy (I prefer the quick, revolutionary original) and too long drawn-out (almost 16 minutes!) although it does incorporate the band's most triumphant ever performance of the "Underture" from TOMMY (also known as "Sparks").

No, "Summertime Blues", "Shaking all Over" and "Young Man Blues" are where true glory lies. Especially the last-named. This must be the noisiest ever performance by one of the classic 1960s bands - but how sublime the noise! If you'll allow me to paraphrase one of Ireland's greatest writers:

When things go wrong and will not come right, / Though you do the best you can, / When life looks black as the hour of night - / "YOUNG MAN BLUES" IS YOUR ONLY MAN!

If you grade LIVE AT LEEDS purely on its musical merits, it undoubtedly deserves four stars, but since (this time) the connection with progressive rock is really rather tenuous, allow me to stick to three.

fuxi | 3/5 |


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