Date: 29 September 1969.
The greatest rock'n'roll band in the world of all times in their absolute prime !! The audio has been carefully remastered with great dedication. It has never sounded this good before.
About the recording: This recording was made by a Dutch radio/TV broadcast. It's not 100% certain who did it, but it was probably done by the VPRO, who also did the Pink Floyd recording the same year at the same venue. And just like that Pink Floyd recording, this one was also bootlegged a million times from various very good to very poor sources. All of these sources were originated from radio broadcast/s. Back then, and today still, the Concertgebouw was not a place for rockbands but for opera's and other classic music. Mixed directly to 2-tracks, this may been one of the reasons why the mixing engineer had a hard time finding the right balance. The mix changes often, and sometimes the drums or the guitar just disappear or get buried for a while. It also must have been hard for the band to hear each other, because of the extremely reverberating acoustics. Remember, this was 1969 and sound monitoring on stage was still a thing for the future. When comparing this one to other Who shows from this period, this one probably isn't the best. Roger Daltrey has once said that he didn't think he sang very well this night.
|The Who 1969|
|The Who On Stage 1969|
The first day of recording sessions for the Who's rock opera Tommy took place at the IBC Studios, Portland Place, London. on the 22nd September, 1968.
Pete Townshend: It was supposed to be a series of singles and any departure from that was introduced by Kit Lamberts coaching - "Keep that, write another tune, then repeat that." So I just wrote bits and stuck them into songs. It may appear to flow, but when I presented it to the band, it was simply a series of songs.
Roger Daltrey: It was really Kit Lambert's dream to do an Important Work in rock music — if there were ever any such thing. Kit had come from a classical background - his father, Constant Lambert, was founder of the English National Opera - and having his kind of education, it frustrated him that there were all these grand tales being told in classical music, so why couldn't rock address itself to something more serious than the three-minute soundbite?
It was a long way from what we'd been doing, but we'd have a go at anything. Only someone like Kit could have pulled Tommy off, though - all the hype that went with it. I mean the narrative is not particularly good, is it? Then again it does have a narrative, which is more than Quadrophenia had!
John Entwistle: We started out doing what was basically a single album, but it didn't make sense. We realized the only way to make it coherent was to make it a double album, because a lot more things happened to Tommy than could be put on one album.
John Entwistle: It took us eight months altogether, six months recording, two months mixing. We had to do so many of the tracks again, because it took so long we had to keep going back and rejuvenating the numbers, that it just started to drive us mad, we were getting brainwashed by the whole thing, and I started to hate it.
Pete Townshend: [ Tommy] was completely autobiographical. All I knew was that I spent time with a grandmother whom I didn't like very much. "See me, feel me, touch me." Where did that come from? It came from that little four-and-a-half-year-old boy in a fucking unlocked bedroom in a house with a madwoman. That's where it came from.
I was so earnestly trying to avoid writing something autobiographical. All of The Who's first work was about their early audience; we felt rock should be reflective of its audience. That was what was unique about rock'n'roll as an art form. I tended to write, if not my own biography, certainly an encapsulated biography assembled from bits of the audience. Yet Tommy felt to me - when I was writing it - to be the exception to that.
Roger Daltrey: Pete used to literally write his best stuff when he was writing about a character that he could see very, very clearly from outside himself. When he gets introspective it turns into melodramatic dross. And some of it's really good and I admire his courage for doing that. So, I'm not putting him down for that but he writes his best stuff when he's writing for a figure beyond himself. And I was that figure. And of course I personified Tommy. I was the guy who used to play the part. I played the damn part for five years. I slogged my balls off around the world sweating it out. People thought I was Tommy. I used to get called Tommy in the street.
|The Who Onstage 1969|
Roger Daltrey: Pete used to come in some days with just half a demo. We used to talk for hours, literally. We probably did as much talking as we did recording. Sorting out arrangements and things on Tommy.
Pete Townshend: I didn't write Tommy in any kind of chronological order. I already had some of the material - "Amazing Journey", "Sensation", "Welcome", "Sparks" and "Underture". "We're Not Gonna Take It" was a kind of anti-Fascist statement. The first rundown of the idea I put on a graph. It was intended to show Tommy from the outside and his impressions going on inside him.
John Entwistle: Pete suggested that I write two songs he felt he couldn't write.
Roger Daltrey: The most important songs in Tommy, which give it the kind of edge, are "Cousin Kevin" and "Uncle Ernie", which were written by John Entwistle, not by Pete.
John Entwistle: Basically, the brief I got was to write a song about a homosexual experience with a nasty uncle, and a bullying experience by ... I don't know whether "cousin" was actually mentioned, but I figured it might well be the son of Uncle Ernie. I found it very easy. I'd written "Fiddle About", for the character of Uncle Ernie, by the time I'd got back to the room. If I've got the idea for a song, then it comes almost immediately.
Pete Townshend: I don't consider the album to be sick at all. In fact, what I was out to show is that someone who suffers terribly at the hands of society has die ability to turn all these experiences into a tremendous musical awareness. Sickness is in the mind of the listener and I don't give a damn what people think.
Roger Daltrey: Tommy came along at a time in our lives when everyone was searching for answers in their life. The ambiguity of Tommy allowed it to answer many things for many different people. But in fact it didn't really answer anything. That's the beauty of it.
Pete Townshend: There is no ending. What I was doing at die time was attending to the fact that in rock'n'roll what you don't do is make peoples decisions for diem. You share their ideas, difficulties and frustrations.
John Entwistle: I only ever played the record twice — ever. I don't think Tommy was all about [what] was on the record - I think it's on the stage. The message is much stronger on stage than on record.
Pete Townshend: I suppose the mistake I made in Tommy was instead of having the guts to take what Meher Baba said - which was "Don't worry, be happy, leave the results to God" - and repeating that to people, I decided the people weren't capable of hearing that directly. They've got to have it served in this entertainment package. And I gave them Tommy instead, in which some of Meher Baba's wonderfully explicit truths were presented to them half-baked in lyric form and diluted as a result. In fact, if there was any warning in Tommy, it was "Don't make any more records like that." [ extract from The Who - The Day-By-Day Story, by Johnny Black. 2001 p142-145)
May 23, 1969. The Who release their rock opera album, Tommy, in the UK. That night they play at the Electric Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Leonard Bernstein (composer/conductor): Pete Townshend of rock's toughest and most innovative group, has made the dream a reality with Tommy, a full-length rock opera that for sheer power, invention and brilliance of performance, outstrips anything that has ever come out of a recording studio.
Pete Townshend: We joked as a group about Tommy being true opera (which it isn't) but The Who's audience and many of the rock press took it very seriously. It was this seriousness that ultimately turned Tommy into light entertainment.
Roger Daltrey: In fact, the Tommy album was not a particularly big success. It got into the charts but then it quite rapidly disappeared again. It was only after us flogging it on the road for three years, doing Woodstock and things like that, that it got back in the charts. Then it stayed there for a year, and took on a life of its own. We were flat broke and busted before Tommy, and for the three years afterwards until it caught on. But when it did, it totally made our fortunes.
Pete Townshend: We went from the ridiculous to the sublime - being told we were musical geniuses when really we were just a bunch of scumbags. [ extract from The Who - The Day-By-Day Story, by Johnny Black. 2001 p155-156]
This bootleg recording comes from my Grapefruit CD and was ripped to MP3 (320kps) and includes full artwork. The quality of the recording improves from start to finish and is indicative of the live sound that The Who could produce back in 1969. Please note that the 2nd last track Boris The Spider is thought to not belong to these Amsterdam recordings and in fact comes from their earlier Fillmore East concert. Although not the full Tommy track listing, the essence of the rock opera is certainly represented here. So, Tommy - can you hear me ?
02 Happy Jack
03 I'm A Boy
04 I Can't Explain
06 It's A Boy
08 Amazing Journey
10 Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker)
12 The Acid Queen
13 Pinball Wizard
14 Do You Think It's Alright
15 Fiddle About
16 Tommy Can You Hear Me
17 There's A Doctor.
18 Go To The Mirror
19 Smash The Mirror
20 Miracle Cure
21 Sally Simpson
22 I'm Free
23 Tommy's Holiday Camp
24 We're Not Gonna Take It
25 See Me, Feel Me
26 Sumertime Blues
27 Shakin' All Over
28 Boris The Spider
29 My Generation
The Who Line Up:
Pete Townshend (guitars, vocal)
Roger Daltrey (vocal)
John Entwistle (bass, vocal)
Keith Moon (drums, vocal)
The Live Tommy Unauthorised (171Mb)