The Who

Tangled Up in Who [DVD]

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On July 7, 1970 the Who performed the final show of their American tour from that year in Tanglewood, MA. The concert was videotaped by the Joshua Television company, and originally designed to be used for a TV special of edited highlights of three summer concerts at Tanglewood. However, most of it was never officially released, although the opening three songs were included in Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live. This bootleg DVD contains almost the entire show, and is an interesting document of the band in the first flush of post-Tommy success, although there are imperfections in the sound and image that would prevent it from finding official release in this form. Although the visuals are almost up to commercial standard, the first half has a running time strip and a logo of promoter Bill Graham's at the bottom of the screen. Then there's an awkward cut from the middle of "Eyesight to the Blind" to the middle of "Christmas," at which point the time strip and logo disappear, but the image quality gets noticeably worse, though not difficult to watch for the most part. The sound's okay but not great, the vocal balance in particular falling off the mark sometimes.

All those technical flaws logged, how's the concert otherwise? It's okay, though not something that will astound the hardcore Who fans. And those hardcore Who fans will, almost without exception, be the only listeners to seek out this disc. The band perform in what by mid-'70 was almost their trademark animated fashion, with Pete Townshend leaping and windmilling, Roger Daltrey rising to his level as quasi-operatic rock star, and Keith Moon pounding up a storm behind the drums. Most of the set is devoted to songs from Tommy, though be aware -- as this and other bootlegs of the band from the era show -- that the Who did not actually do the entire opera in their concerts of this period. In fact, some of the better songs were left out -- like "Underture," "Sensation," and "Sally Simpson" -- though most of Tommy is here. Prefacing the Tommy stuff are five songs that don't come from the opera, and which might fascinate Who aficionados the most, as three of them ("Heaven and Hell," "Water," and "I Don't Even Know Myself") only appeared as non-LP B-sides at the time. The set concludes with a too-long version of "My Generation" that degenerates into grandstanding near-heavy metal (for that matter, the far more obscure "Water" goes on too long as well). As cool as this DVD is for Who collectors, it's short on surprises, the most unpredictable moment coming when Keith Moon makes a bizarre introduction to "I Don't Even Know Myself," referring to it as a song from their upcoming album (though it ended up not making that cut).

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