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The Who - Live At Leeds:

Album: Live At Leeds

LPs (vinyl) Sampled: "Live At Leeds" [Polydor (UK), Decca (USA), MCA-reissue (USA), MCA (Canada), Polydor (France), Polydor (Germany), Polydor (Holland), Polydor (Spain), Polydor (Brazil), Polydor (Israel), Polydor (Japan)] "These Are The Who Live At Leeds" [Polydor-fan club edition (Germany)]

CDs (original mix) Sampled: Polydor (Germany), MCA (USA), Polydor (Japan)

CDs (remix) Sampled: Polydor (Germany), MCA (USA), Polydor (Japan)

CDs (2001 Deluxe Edition) Sampled: Polydor (UK-Promo), Polydor (Brazil), Polydor (Germany), MCA (USA)

LP Comments: The Polydor German copy from the "Phases" box set seems to stand out here. The re-issue MCA (USA) sounds terrible and the Polydor (Japan) sounds a bit muddy. The other ones seem to vary a bit based on vinyl quality ...

CD (original mix) comments: The Polydor (Germany) really is great and the MCA (USA) is really horrible. The Polydor (Japan) adds some extra bass that isn't needed.

CD (remix) comments: Both the Polydor (Germany) and MCA (USA) sound very good. However, I'll give the edge to the MCA, as it's a bit crisper in all the right ways, without being bright or harsh. The Polydor (Japan) has that extra bass, but doesn't sound as good as the German one.

CD (2001 Deluxe Edition) Comments: Frustrating! The 1995 remix was great! While there were good intentions to release this <more> complete version, it is severely over processed. The use of too much noise reduction has caused added distortions and changed the sound of instruments and vocals, particularly noticeable on the "Tommy" disc. Disc one, (which is almost the same as the 1995 release), doesn't sound as good as the 1995 release. The MCA (USA), Polydor (Brazil) and Polydor (Germany) sound the same. The Polydor (UK) promo sounds as if it's an earlier version - less processed. As a result, the instruments and vocals sound more natural and are less affected by the excessive noise reduction, which mostly stands out when listening to the crowd noise or stage banter.

CD (2010 Box Set) Comments: This set comes with a remastered version of the 2001 "Deluxe Edition" (different mastering than above) as well as a 2 CD first time release of The Who live at Hull (February 15, 1970 - the day after "Live At Leeds"). This set features a similar track listing as "Live At Leeds". Also included in the box, is a LP size book, poster, vinyl LP and single of "Summertime Blues" with reproduction of 1970 Germany picture sleeve.

Summary: If you like the original mix, go for the Polydor (German) CD and if you like the 1995 remix, the MCA (USA). Unfortunately, the 2001 "Deluxe Edition" doesn't sound as good as either, which is unfortunate because it contains some great performances. If you can find a Polydor (UK) promo, that's the one to get. (No comments at this time on the "Box Set")

Other Comments: The 2001 "Deluxe Edition" release also contains some unnecessary overdubs. For example, most of the vocals on "See Me, Feel Me" were re-recorded for this release. The original vocals were fine!

About: Live At Leeds

What is there to say about "Live At Leeds"?

This is one of those ever evolving album releases (but all just from one concert)...

What started out as the band's only official live album (packaged like a bootleg) in 1970 continued to grow larger over time.

It's hard to imagine that this album began life with only 6 measly tracks on a single LP and labeled with "crackling noises OK".

There were issues with the original master tapes - but because the concert was so unbelievably good - they used them anyway. From 1970 through most of 1995, all we got was a glimpse of what was then known as The Who and its powerful live act - which sounded nothing like its relatively tame studio recordings...

Fast forward to 1995...

With the beginning of the remix and remastering program - this was one of the first "improvements" - In this case, what seemed like a whole new album!

With modern technology the crackling noises which plagued the original were gone (and for those that are familiar with the bootlegged tapes - they were even worse on "Heaven & Hell".). But this is just a small piece of the story...

At the time, Polydor and MCA were 2 different record companies (always competitive for The Who's business, never really cooperative with each other and ironic that they merged several years later). However, at this time differing motivations hurt the band's catalog. Polydor wanted a 2 CD version of the complete "Leeds", MCA wanted a single (fearing there would be too much
Tommy on the market). So MCA won... (Later on - Polydor wanted Face Dances and It's Hard released as a 2fer with no remixing or bonus tracks - MCA would have none of that and they won that battle.)

As a single disc, we got the full concert performance minus
Tommy and "Smokestack Lightning" but with the inclusion of "Amazing Journey". While disappointing it wasn't the whole concert, this CD was a real "Wow!"

The remix made what was previously "powerful" even more so. Listening to this CD was like transporting yourself back to 1970 and being squished up against the stage because the rest of the fans are as exciting to see and hear The Who in all their glory. The quality of this mix just brought the band fully to life as if there were no other Who recordings. Everything is upfront and crystal clear.

In comparison, listen to
Hull. With the drums mixed the loudest, John mixed the lowest, Roger sounding like he's allergic to the mic and Pete somewhere in the middle - it sounds as if you have bad nosebleed seats. While the quality is crystal clear, you are missing the correct sound of the band. Two concerts, one day apart from each other - two completely different mixes. (Kinda scary).

I illustrate the above not to rag on Bobby Pridden (who is a great guy - but maybe that's what the band sounded like to him from back stage?!?), but rather demonstrate that it takes the right person to mix this stuff. How else do you explain the results being so wildly different for what's basically the same material?

My favorite tracks are:

* Heaven & Hell - wow!!! One of my favorite Who songs that I always wanted to hear live - finally in a pristine "in your face" mix that just blows you away. I could play just this one song over and over and over again - it's that good.

* A Quick One While He's Away - the performance is so perfect and the mix just puts the band right in the same room for you - you can just reach out and touch them (well...maybe not). Just great.

* Magic Bus - long but who cares. What a great version of this song.

* Young Man Blues - the original <1970> album's opener. A brilliant performance and a perfect example of how The Who could transform someone else's music into a unique song of their own.

The album finally got expanded again in 2001 with the (almost) full concert - the addition of
Tommy but no "Smokestack Lightning".


About: Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe/Deluxe)

In 2010 a limited box set was released, the first of The Who's "Super Deluxe" boxes...

I'm not sure why this was a limited release. When it came out I think it sold for between $60-$80. Now try to find one for under $300 (and who said Who records/CDs were a "bad investment")?

There were 2 versions - the European issued box (made in Germany) and the Japan box (SHMCD). I bought both and all the associated promos.

What made this box set different (besides the box itself) is that it also came with a bunch of "stuff" - an LP of the original "Leeds", a 45 of "Summertime Blues" and
Live At Hull 1970 (which was re-released separately in 2012). The "Leeds" CDs were newly remastered.

Just to refresh some if you other old geezer memories...

"Live At Leeds" was remixed/remastered/expanded in 1995

Then...

In 2001, the "Deluxe Edition" was issued, which included
Tommy. The Tommy section of the concert was remixed and the entire concert was remastered together at this time.

Fast forward to 2010 and the 2001 version is now newly remastered for this box set.

Confusing? Maybe.

Unfortunately 2001 was the period of "noise reduction", which was a bit of an enemy in terms of "full quality sound". Hence, it was a good thing that another attempt to improve it took place and I believe the results were much better.

I kind of swore off "audiophile reviews" (comparing and contrasting CDs since my "tinnitus incident"), but there's no reason to be completely "deaf dumb and blind" when I have something to say which could be helpful and used by folks as a resource...

Essentially I  played the last several songs from the "Super Deluxe" (
Tommy only) and then compared them to the 2001 "Deluxe" so that I could have a "fresh" comparison of the differences (whatever they may be). I like the 2010 version a lot better. Whereas the 2001 sounds a bit "dry" (lack of ambiance), the 2010 version seems to restore that, giving it a smoother, more palatable sound quality. It's a nice improvement overall.

What is with the overdubed vocals on "See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You" ???

I'm not quite sure why this happened, but at a young age I was taught...  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

There was nothing wrong with Roger's original vocals in this part of the concert. In fact, they were better than the studio overdub's version.

If you have the "30 Years of Maximum R&B" Box from 1994, you can hear the original vocal version (it sounds great!). This is another of life's mysteries.

(Which is more profound: "Why are we all here?" or "Why did Roger Daltrey re-record a perfectly good vocal performance, 24 years after the fact?")

I still favor the USA pressing of the 1995 single CD "Leeds" for "non-Tommy" (perfect is perfect) and this box for Tommy (at Leeds).

So... What is to become of this recent remaster? Will it make its way into a future reissue? Or will you folks (who never bought it) be forced to pay a lot for an out of print box set?

Good questions...

I'm guessing it will make its way into a future Japan CD release. Time will tell...

Track Listing (Original Album): Young Man Blues, Substitute, Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, My Generation, Magic Bus.

1995 Remix: Heaven And Hell, I Can't Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues, Substitute, Happy Jack, I'm A Boy, A Quick One While He's Away, Amazing Journey/Sparks, Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, My Generation, Magic Bus

2001 "Deluxe Edition":

Disc 1: Heaven And Hell, I Can't Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues, Substitute, Happy Jack, I'm A Boy, A Quick One While He's Away, Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, My Generation, Magic Bus

Disc 2: Overture, It's A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas, The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, Do You Think It's Alright?, Fiddle About, There's A Doctor, Go To The Mirror, Smash The Mirror, Miracle Cure, Sally Simpson, I'm Free, Tommy's Holiday Camp, We're Not Gonna Take It

2010 "Box Set":

CD Disc 1 (Live At Leeds): Heaven And Hell, I Can't Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues, Substitute, Happy Jack, I'm A Boy, A Quick One While He's Away, Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, My Generation, Magic Bus.

CD Disc 2 (Live At Leeds): Overture, It's A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas, The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, Do You Think It's Alright?, Fiddle About, There's A Doctor, Go To The Mirror, Smash The Mirror, Miracle Cure, Sally Simpson, I'm Free, Tommy's Holiday Camp, We're Not Gonna Take It.

CD Disc 3 (Live At Hull): Heaven And Hell, I Can't Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues, Substitute, Happy Jack, I'm A Boy, A Quick One While He's Away, Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, My Generation.

CD Disc 4 (Live At Hull): Overture, It's A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas, The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, Do You Think It's Alright?, Fiddle About, There's A Doctor, Go To The Mirror, Smash The Mirror, Miracle Cure, Sally Simpson, I'm Free, Tommy's Holiday Camp, We're Not Gonna Take It.

LP (Live At Leeds):  Young Man Blues, Substitute, Summertime Blues, Shakin' All Over, My Generation, Magic Bus.

7" Single (45 RPM): Summertime Blues/Heaven And Hell

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