The Who Live At Leeds is arguably the greatest live album ever recorded.
I thought about which live album was going to be the first one to feature on my Best Live Albums blog and in the end, I decided the answer was obvious.
The first one I ever bought.
I always think of this as The Who Live At Leeds although others refer to it as Live At Leeds by The Who. From 2012 onwards, there is also The Who Live At Hull to consider.
Overall Rating For The Who Live At Leeds 29/30
Average Amazon Customer Rating – %%AVERAGERATING%% Stars
The Set List – Rating 9/10
The Who are one of my top 5 groups. Even the “good” Who tracks are better than the best of many artists and the great Who tracks define rock music.
There have been three different versions of the Live At Leeds album and a 40th anniversary special edition version with the complete concerts from Leeds and Hull. I’m excluding that because I may love The Who but it’s £200 and I’m not a fanatic.
The Original Live At Leeds LP
- Young Man Blues (Mose Allison) – 4:45
- Substitute (Pete Townshend) – 2:05
- Summertime Blues (Jerry Capehart, Eddie Cochran) – 3:22
- Shakin’ All Over (Johnny Kidd) – 4:15
- My Generation (Townshend) – 14:27
- Magic Bus (Townshend) – 7:30
The original Live At Leeds wasn’t very long and only had three Townshend originals on it but it was magical and revealed a very different version of The Who than that shown on The Who Sell Out And Tommy.
In 1995 the CD version of Live At Leeds was released
- Heaven and Hell (John Entwistle) – 4:50 (bonus track)
- I Can’t Explain (Townshend) – 2:59 (bonus track)
- Fortune Teller (Naomi Neville; original by Benny Spellman) – 2:35 (bonus track)
- Tattoo (Townshend) – 3:42 (bonus track)
- Young Man Blues (Allison) – 5:52
- Substitute (Townshend) – 2:07
- Happy Jack (Townshend) – 2:14 (bonus track)
- I’m a Boy (Townshend) – 4:42 (bonus track)
- A Quick One, While He’s Away (Townshend) – 8:41 (bonus track)
- Amazing Journey/Sparks (Townshend) – 7:55 (bonus track)
- Summertime Blues (Capehart and Cochran) – 3:22
- Shakin’ All Over (Johnny Kidd) – 4:34
- My Generation (Townshend) – 15:47
- Magic Bus (Townshend) – 7:48
In this version of Live At Leeds, eight Who original tracks are added to the original album, making it much more substantial. Surprisingly some of the songs are slightly longer too but I haven’t compared versions to explain the extra 80 seconds of My Generation.
It turned out, this wasn’t the complete Live At Leeds recording because six years later…
2001 Deluxe Edition (with a live version of Tommy) was released
- Heaven and Hell (Entwistle) – 5:07
- I Can’t Explain (Townshend) – 3:13
- Fortune Teller (Neville and Spellman) – 2:35
- Tattoo (Townshend) – 3:42
- Young Man Blues (Allison) – 6:12
- Substitute (Townshend) – 2:07
- Happy Jack (Townshend) – 2:14
- I’m a Boy (Townshend) – 7:47
- A Quick One, While He’s Away (Townshend) – 8:52
- Summertime Blues (Capehart and Cochran) – 3:22
- Shakin’ All Over (Kidd) – 4:35
- My Generation (Townshend) – 15:49
- Magic Bus (Townshend) – 7:56
Disc two Tommy
- Overture (Townshend) – 6:53
- It’s a Boy (Townshend) – 0:31
- 1921 (Townshend) – 2:26
- Amazing Journey (Townshend) – 3:18
- Sparks (Townshend) – 4:23
- Eyesight to the Blind a.k.a. “Born Blind” (Sonny Boy Williamson) – 1:58
- Christmas (Townshend) – 3:19
- The Acid Queen (Townshend) – 3:35
- Pinball Wizard (Townshend) – 2:52
- Do You Think It’s Alright? (Townshend) – 0:22
- Fiddle About (Entwistle) – 1:13
- Tommy, Can You Hear Me? (Townshend) – 0:55
- There’s a Doctor (Townshend) – 0:23
- Go to the Mirror! (Townshend) – 3:24
- Smash The Mirror (Townshend) – 1:19
- Miracle Cure (Townshend) – 0:13
- Sally Simpson (Townshend) – 4:01
- I’m Free (Townshend) – 2:39
- Tommy’s Holiday Camp (Keith Moon) – 1:00
- We’re Not Gonna Take It (Townshend) – 8:48
So why the 9/10 rating for the set list?
The first version was terrific. Extended versions of Magic Bus and My Generation, an aggressive Substitute and three covers that feel so right for The Who.
The extended version in my opinion seems to take something away. I don’t know why but sometimes more is less. I certainly find that with bonus tracks that are studio out-takes although it shouldn’t happen here. I don’t play it as often because the start with Heaven and Hell, Fortune Teller and Tattoo doesn’t grab me by the throat in the way the original album did. Some of this feeling may be down to pure nostalgia. For me Live At Leeds starts with Young Man Blues.
The third version with Tommy is better for some fans and I like the way that it has its own CD while the Live At Isle Of Wight recording keeps the normal running order.
I can’t give it 10/10 for the set list.
I don’t even think that it was the best set of tracks the Who could pick in 1970 and allowing for the commitment to play the majority of Tommy. A quick check of Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy shows that songs as good as The Kids Are Alright, Pictures of Lily and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere are missing.
The Who Live At Leeds is immense.
It’s difficult to believe that a guitar, bas and drums can create such a huge sound.
While their first album My Generation had plenty of aggression and power, The Who Sell Out was virtually a pop album (although it is great) and the studio version of Tommy has always sounded wimpy to my ears.
Live At Leeds proved that The Who could fight The Rolling Stones and the emerging Led Zeppelin for the title of the best rock group in the world.
Here is a video of The Who performing at the Isle Of Wight Festival in the same year. This is I Can’t Explain.
Young Man Blues again from the isle of Wight
See Me, Feel Me at the Isle of Wight
But The Who also show their subtly in some of the quieter moments.
Atmosphere & Authenticity 10/10
Live At Leeds feels so alive.
Like all great live albums, it doesn’t leave you thinking “I wish I’d seen them on that tour” but “I wish I could have been there that night.”
The extended versions have more chat with the audience than the original which is interesting and funny.
Live At Leeds is the authentic version of The Who, Roger Daltrey on lead vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums when they were in their mid 20s.
The original album crackled but these have been eliminated in the remix. The sound quality is very good although there is always the difficult to resist temptation of turning the volume up high which can give me a headache as the bass lines pummel into my skull.
The original CD played up on the bootleg idea with the LP housed in a plain brown paper sleeve stamped with The Who Live At Leeds. Included in the package were a poster promoting The Who as maximum R&B, ticket stubs and other concert memorabilia.
Summary Rating For The Who Live At Leeds – 29/30
The Who Live At Leeds is rightly regarded as a classic live album and possibly the best ever.
I agree.It really does live up to its reputation.
If I lost my album collection and had to start again and could only buy 10 albums, then The Who Live At Leeds would probably be one of them unless they release a killer album from 1973 or 1974 with tracks from Who’s Next and Quadrophenia.
If you love energetic rock music and you haven’t heard much of The Who, other than from the CSI theme tunes, then you’re in for a treat when you listen to Live At Leeds.
I bought Live At Leeds just after Christmas 1975 with my present money. The other purchase I made that day was Dark Side Of the Moon and I can still remember the jaw-dropping excitement of hearing both albums for the first time.
What Others Say About The Who Live At Leeds
Live At Leeds is widely recognised as a must have live album.
NME 50 Greatest Live Albums Of All Time – 3rd
The 100 Greatest Live Rock Albums (from DigitalDreamDoor.com) – 2nd
The Top 25 Live Albums from IGN – 8th
Stylus Magazine’s Top 50 Live Albums Of All Time – 6th
The Rolling Stones Top 25 Albums Of All Time – included (not listed in order)
Classic Rock 50 Greatest Live Albums Ever – 5th
There are many rave reviews at Amazon.com
It’s also doing extremely well in my poll to find the best hard rock & heavy metal live albums.
Getting A Copy Of The Who Live At Leeds
I recommend you go for the deluxe version of Live At Leeds with Tommy, even if you already own the Tommy album. In fact, particularly if you own the studio version of Tommy because you’ll be astonished at just how good it sounds live.
You need to take care about getting the right version but you can buy this live album from:
What Do You Think About The Who Live At Leeds?
Does Live At Leeds deserve its reputation or it it overrated?
Let me know by leaving a comment.
Is it the best live album by The Who?
What Are The Best Live Albums Ever?
Please help me find the best live albums by voting in the readers polls.
Because there are so many great hard rock and heavy metal live albums I have split the poll into two and you may find some of your favourites in the second division. Albums will be promoted when they get enough votes.