THE WHO -- Live at Leeds (MCA)

On February 28th, MCA released the first title in what is to be a complete overhaul of the Who catalog, the classic "Live at Leeds", with eight previously unreleased tracks. The album has been completely remixed, remastered, & repackaged with new photos & liner notes for all the songs. There is also a limited edition package featuring all the inserts, in a special album-sized gatefold sleeve. There are some slight differences in the inserts, namely the poster. The bottom of the poster reads "Live at Leeds" in the reissue, whereas in the original, it says "Tuesdays at the Marquee - 90 Wardour St". Besides that, the inserts are basically the same, & are on a higher quality paper than the original.

Between the new liner notes & photos that accompany the disc, the packaging on both the regular & the collector's edition is nothing short of superb. If MCA even comes close to this kind of quality on the rest of the catalog, there will be a lot of happy Who fans out there.

The sound quality is the real highlight here tho, especially for something recorded 25 years ago. All live CDs should sound this good. The crackling noises that we were all warned not to correct on the original have been eliminated on the reissue.

The performance is incredible, of course. All the vocals are well defined. Pete's guitar sounds clearer than ever, as does John's thundering bass. Keith's drumming is superb as well. One of the main things that I really liked was hearing all the stage banter between the songs, especially the part before A Quick One While He's Away. You won't want to miss this.

The CD starts off with John's song Heaven & Hell, & goes from there into I Can't Explain. Both lead & backup vocals here are excellent. You won't find a better version of the song. Next comes Fortune Teller, which segues into Tattoo - one of my personal favorite Who songs. Tattoo is followed by Young Man Blues & then "the hits" - Substitute, Happy Jack & I'm a Boy. Next up is A Quick One, & then the teaser - Amazing Journey/Sparks. It's a shame MCA decided not to give us the complete Tommy while they were redoing Live at Leeds. Sparks is then followed by Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, the excellent My Generation, & Magic Bus.

There are only two drawbacks to this CD - the absence of Tommy, & Shakin' All Over is still missing Spoonful (although the press kit claims that it's there) as it was originally performed. Shakin' All Over/Spoonful, however, can be heard on the From Lifehouse to Leeds CD in it's entirety. Overall though, the pros far outweigh the cons on the CD. This is a fine example of the band's live shows from this period, and re-establishes it as one of the greatest live CDs of all time.

© 1995 Steve Marshall