The Who

Woodstock

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Hurrah! It is finally official -- there is now one readily available live recording of Tommy for every single person on the planet who can still listen to the beast in its entirety without (a) leaving the room; (b) leaving this life; or (c) remembering they lent their last hearing aid to Pete Townshend, who himself is said to have been driven to deafness by prolonged exposure to "See Me Feel Me." The importance to the Who of the Woodstock festival, where the bulk of this two-CD package was recorded, can never be doubted. It confirmed their stateside ascendancy, and beamed their blind kid into several trillion theaters worldwide. But the performance itself was fairly ordinary, and with the exception of that unscheduled interruption on behalf of the jailed John Sinclair, there's little to distinguish this show from any of the dozens of others which are circulating today. By that token, disc two, wrapping up Woodstock, then unearthing a few more cuts from 1971's Young Vic Lifehouse show, is infinitely more interesting. "My Generation" might have been hoary, but it was very rarely boring, while both "Bargain" and (especially) "Getting in Tune" are delightfully overlooked little ditties, no matter how many times you've heard them. Which, of course, is more than can be said for two-thirds of the closing medley, and sometimes one wonders why that final piece of advice, "Baby, Don't You Do It," wasn't suggested to Townshend a little more often? Or had he already gone Tommy-deaf by then?

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