I bought the original Live At Leeds vinyl album shortly after it was released in May of 1970. It is considered one of the best live albums in existence and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked it 170 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of all Time.”
I next bought the album when it was released on CD during the mid-’80s. I bought it again during the mid-’90s when a remastered version was released with extra tracks. Next it was on to the 2001 Deluxe Edition. It had now been extended to two discs, with the second containing the entire Tommy set.
We now come to the 2010 release, Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition). It is a massive four-CD, one vinyl LP, one seven inch vinyl 45 with picture sleeve, plus a coffee table-type book with a multitude of pictures. Released in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the original release, it presents the whole story and more.
When The Who decided to record a live album, they booked two venues. They performed at Leeds University on February 14, 1970, and a day later at the Hull City Hall. While many people considered the Hull show to be superior, there was an issue with the recording equipment, as the bass part was lost on four of the tracks. Thus, the Leeds show entered music history.
While the first two discs present the entire Leeds show, the Hull performance has now been resurrected. Yes, the bass is missing on the first four songs but the rest of the concert has a surprisingly good sound. Why it has laid dormant for four decades is beyond me.
The two concerts are very similar, although some tracks are extended on one show or the other. The only real difference was “Magic Bus,” which was not performed at the Hull show. The concerts, which were performed within 24 hours of each other, show The Who to be a well oiled and tight group who had their long set down pat. I think in some ways I prefer the Hull set a little better, but both are ferocious rock attacks on the senses.
The vinyl LP is pressed on heavy gram vinyl and contains the original six tracks that were released in 1970. The sound is at least equal to that of the CDs if you have the proper equipment.
The 45 rpm record, with an accompanying picture sleeve, contains “Summertime Blues” on the A side and “Heaven & Hell” on the flip side. It is one of those artifacts that is nice to have but is not really essential.
The main attribute of the book is the pictures. It is nice to flip through while listening to the music.
Live At Leeds (Super Deluxe Edition) is the ultimate set of the two concerts. It will be my last Leeds acquisition unless there is something I don’t know about that will be released as a Super Duper Deluxe Set 10 years from now.
Its length and price make it primarily appealing for Who fans. It is one of those releases that fill in the gaps while presenting a lot of good music along the way.