Tuesday, November 13, 2012
The Who - Live At Hull 1970: Amazing Grace
Pete Townshend never quite gets his due - maybe because for whatever complicated reasons, he often comes across as an unmitigated ass. I get it, believe me, there have been times when I wanted to hate everything he did, just because he came off as such an insufferable twat. However. He's also as great an artist as rock has known.
Much has been made of the fact that the bass tracks for the first four songs were lost and replaced by Leeds tracks, but if you didn't know, you'd never know, and while I wish I hadn't been told this, it really doesn't matter. Again, the real point is that this is an amazing live set from one of the best rock band's in history, and a must own by any measure.
Fortune Teller is another deep catalogue favorite, and with it's staccato rhythms and Beatles-esque harmonies it's another brave choice for early in the set. Pete switches gears rapidly, going from pristinely clean arpeggios to slamming power chords, and back again. Tattoo was forty years ahead of its time, explaining tattoo culture way ahead of its later arrival. The sophistication of the band is incredibly evident, and they segue from pop to proto-metal without a blink. One of my favorite Who tunes.
A Quick One, While He's Away is more sheer Townshend brilliance, and his guitar playing and sound are magnificent. By now Townshend had shed any desire to be an R&B/pop hitmaker, and he's into intricate operettas. I hate to beat a dead drum, but Moon is again beyond friggin' fabulous, and Entwistle's loping basslines create the perfect pad from which to launch Pete's awesome strumming. Pete's as good a rhythm player as Keith and John Lennon - cool thing is they all play completely differently. What was in the English water supply post WWII?
Muscular rock closes out CD one with Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, and one of the greatest 15 minutes of sheer rock bliss I've ever heard, a truly mind bending My Generation that stops and visits See Me, Feel Me, and a few other Tommy reprisals, before Pete Townshend goes off on a guitar tangent that in my estimable opinion should sit next to Hendrix's Machine Gun as an archetypal rock performance - this track is easily worth the price of the set, and every person who loves rock should own this. It's actually the final track of the night, and I wish they had stayed chronologically correct here. It is maybe the ultimate set closer, maybe even more so than the set closing Magic Bus from Leeds.
Live At Hull 1970 is a tremendous addition to The Who's catalogue, and even if you own, love, and swear on Live At Leeds, this is equally essential, and again, for my money, I've never heard Moon and Townshend better in sheer sonic terms.