The Who Join Together 1989

Join Together is a recording of The Who performing live in 1989.

It was the first time a live version of Tommy was released although this has also subsequently appeared on an extended The Who Live At Leeds Live At Hull and Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival.

Tommy was played on this tour because the group were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of the original studio album. Personally I’ve never thought the songs – and especially the studio album – live up to the good reputation it has.

Prepare yourself. Join Together is a very different listening experience to the other live albums by The Who because it features brass.

I’ve heard it called “The Who Las Vegas style” but I like it. You do need an open mind and it comes as quite a shock if you’ve loved Live At Leeds and you want a similar roar in the live recordings of the later songs.

Review Of The Who Join Together – Overall Rating of 24/30

The Who Join Together

Set List – 9/10 rating

Disc one (all from the Tommy studio album)

  1. Overture/It’s a Boy – 5:26
  2. 1921 – 2:52
  3. Amazing Journey – 3:07
  4. Sparks – 4:36
  5. Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker) – 2:18
  6. Christmas – 4:25
  7. Cousin Kevin – 3:56
  8. The Acid Queen – 3:44
  9. Pinball Wizard – 4:21
  10. Do You Think It’s Alright? – 0:23
  11. Fiddle About (Entwistle) – 1:39
  12. There’s a Doctor – 0:21
  13. Go to the Mirror! – 3:22
  14. Smash the Mirror – 1:09
  15. Tommy, Can You Hear Me? – 0:58
  16. I’m Free – 2:09
  17. Miracle Cure – 0:25
  18. Sally Simpson – 4:18
  19. Sensation – 2:22
  20. Tommy’s Holiday Camp – 0:58
  21. We’re Not Gonna Take It – 8:44

Disc two

  1. Eminence Front – 5:53 (from It’s Hard)
  2. Face the Face – 6:15 (Pete Townshend album White City)
  3. Dig – 3:46 (Pete Townshend album Iron Man)
  4. I Can See for Miles – 3:43 (The Who Sell Out)
  5. A Little Is Enough – 5:06 (Pete Townshend album Empty Glass)
  6. 5:15 – 5:48 (Quadrophenia)
  7. Love Reign O’er Me – 6:49 (Quadrophenia)
  8. Trick of the Light – 4:49 (Who Are You)
  9. Rough Boys – 4:44 (Pete Townshend album Empty Glass)
  10. Join Together – 5:15 (single originally intended for the Lifehouse project)
  11. You Better You Bet – 5:40 (Face Dances)
  12. Behind Blue Eyes – 3:38 (Who’s Next)
  13. Won’t Get Fooled Again – 9:30 (Who’s Next)

The Who weren’t touring to promote a new album so rather than feature many of the oldies that feature on most live albums by the Who, they played a selection of Pete Townshend solo tracks along with Tommy.

I’m not crazy about the Tommy CD but I think the second CD is a really interesting mix of songs and makes a nice break from the narrow list of tunes that The Who normally play live.

I’ll give Tommy 8/10 and the other CD 10/10 making an overall set list rating of 9/10.

Performance Rating – 8/10

By this stage Kenney Jones had left the band and the drums were played by Simon Phillips. He does a good job although he’s not Keith Moon.

Pete Townshend hurt his hand at the start of the tour and he mainly plays acoustic guitar. His lead guitar duties are performed by Steve ‘Boltz’ Bolton who used to be a member of Atomic Rooster. I think he does a good job. John Bundrick supports the sound on keyboards and piano.

The Who bring brass into their live sound which makes the album sound very different from their normal live recordings.

As far as I’m concerned it works very well and after the excellent Live At Leeds and From The Blues To The Bush, this is the album I listen to when I want The Who with a twist.

Here is The Who performing the CSI theme tune, Who Are You in 1989 in LA.

And Baba O’Riley also from 1989

I’m giving this a performance rating of 8/10

Atmosphere And Authenticity – 8/10

What the album gains in the performance side because of the brass, it loses in authenticity because it sounds different. Marks are also lost for missing the sadly departed Keith Moon and The Who were well part their best by this stage and had stopped functioning as a recording group.

Overall Rating – 25/30

This is an album where my marking system feels a little stingy. I really like it but I won’t pretend that it can replace Live At Leeds or Blues To The Bush… and that’s before the great missing live album(s) from the Quadrophenia to The Who By Numbers period that are probably hiding in Pete Townshend’s vault.

I recommend Join Together if you’re prepared to be open-minded about what the group should sound like live. If you want the traditional Who sound, then it’s best to forget it.

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