The Who

Collector's Item

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The Who toured in 1971 to support the release of the Who's Next album, and had given a series of amazing shows, covering a major chunk of their history, and with the best sound system they'd ever utilized on the road. This boot, despite some major problems -- especially with a pressing that sometimes seemed like it had the surface texture of sandpaper -- started a long fixation with live recordings that prevails to this day. It's got only 35 minutes of music, but that 35 minutes is the most intense and energetic presentation of that the band was about -- from its R&B roots to the salvaged parts of Lifehouse on Who's Next -- that most of us had ever heard. The record opened with a powerful version of "Bargain" (which, alas, cuts off in a quick fade), and gives us a superb rendition of "Behind Blue Eyes" (which Pete Townshend misidentifies as a song that could've been a single -- it was, charting quite nicely in the U.S.). That leads us into a killer performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again," which puts the version in The Kids Are Alright, done at the other end of the decade, to shame -- Townshend's guitar pyrotechnics here, and Moon's drumming are both so bold and forceful, that to this day this might be the best performance by the Who ever. The rest of the disc is just as good, and it's all pretty powerful stuff (especially "Baby Don't You Do It"), even what must've been their 500th performance of "Pinball Wizard." Closer to Queen Mary, from the same tour, has more material on it, but this is a nicely affordable alternative -- although there is some surface noise indicating that the producers used a disc source of some sort for the CD, the sound is a lot cleaner than any LP copy of this album, and even avoids the intrusion of a pressing defect that afflicted every copy of the original.