Album no. 193/1001
Our friends Roger, Pete, Keith and John make their first live appearance on this list, recording at the University of Leeds.
This album is often touted as one of the best live rock albums of all time and reached number 4 on the Billboard charts.
It’s important to point out that the original release of this album only included 6 songs – but you can’t find that on Spotify. There’s either the the deluxe edition which has all 33 tracks – including a live rendition of Tommy, or the reissue that has 14. So… take your pick.
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: Negative – last we heard from The Who was their cheerful collection of songs about everybody’s favourite blind deaf mute.
NK: I have not. Pretty keen though.
CL: I like ‘Magic Bus’ so much.
Hop on the Magic Bus!
This also has ‘Substitute’ which may have been the second song by The Who I ever heard? Fun! And my other favourite from The Who Sell Out ‘Tattoo’ makes a well-deserved appearance! The drums on this live version are SO bloody good as well. #loveyoukeithmoon. There’s plenty here to get involved with.
NK: I kind of think it has to be ‘My Generation’. The first side is good, but ‘My Generation’ includes a medley of songs off Tommy, goes for fifteen minutes, and really rocks out in places. There are times in transitions between songs where they get really quiet, and there is virtually no crowd noise, which is really weird. Maybe audiences were different then, listened though the songs and clapped politely at the end. Somehow I doubt it. Their clapping keeps pretty good time on ‘Magic Bus’, I’ll give them that.
CL: The handclaps are SO good. I’m super impressed – it doesn’t descend into that terrible rushing where nobody knows what the beat is anymore. WELL DONE LEEDS AUDIENCE.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: When hopping on the magic bus! Is this the inspiration behind the Magic School Bus? I certainly hope so.
NK: There is a massive difference depending on how you listen to this. I listened to it at work through generic ear buds, and I was not that impressed. This album is much more enjoyable if played at high volume through a good quality set up.
Why has this album been included on the list?
CL: It’s definitely good to hear The Who doing their thing in a live context. I’ve enjoyed their studio albums – especially The Who Sell Out – but they hold up live FOR SURE.
NK: One of the things that really stood out to me on this was the bass. He really plays it like another guitar, a tiny bit of distortion, lots of messing about, really filling up the space. It’s really different to a studio recording where you can overdub another guitar and have the bass sitting in the background. Here it gets much more of a starring role. It makes sense they would be more like that I guess, given there was only one guitarist. I wish they had mixed the crowd a little bit louder, because at times it sounds a bit like they’re playing to an empty room. Between the songs it’s ok, but on the quiet bits in the ‘My Generation’ medley they sound a bit lonely. I am kind of surprised this gets talked about as the greatest live album of all time. It’s pretty good, but it doesn’t sound that live! Maybe that’s the point, but I can’t help feeling that maybe you had to be there.
CL: I know exactly what you mean! It doesn’t sound like a crazy raucous gig – they sound great, but there’s a real lack of atmosphere here.
Will you be listening again?
CL: Hmmm. I don’t know! A lot of the songs were covers, or we’d heard them before. MAYBE I WILL. I’ll definitely stick with ‘Magic Bus’.
NK: I’ll probably listen to it again, but I’ll definitely lend it to my dad.
NK: I quite liked it, but I still felt they never quite kicked into top gear!
Listen to Live At Leeds on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.