The Who

Tommy: Live at the Opera House, Amsterdam, September 29, 1969

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This double-disc bootleg comes from the Opera House in Amsterdam on September 29, 1969. For fans of live music, this one is a landmark. It is one of the only known recordings of the Who performing their rock opera Tommy before their much later reunion tours. The band is in good form here, brimming with energy. The sound quality is surprisingly good, although the drums sound like they're coming from another room, with limited bass and the sense that the cymbals are bleeding through someone else's microphone. John Entwistle's bass is also a bit muddy, but all of the vocals are right up front and quite clean, and of course the guitars are plenty loud. Once one gets past the sonic deficiencies, the playing is really very good. The band is tight, energetic, and their vocal harmonies are usually right on the money. All of Tommy is represented here, though not in exactly the same order as it appears on the commercial release. Bookending the Tommy performance are a number of other songs, including "Summertime Blues," "Fortune Teller," and some of the group's older compositions. Finally, the packaging on this set is really extraordinary. Someone went to great lengths to draw elaborate ink drawings for the liner notes, which are extensive, if a bit grandiose, and the result is wonderful. Clearly a labor of love.