Sunday, June 03, 2007

Classic Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Who - Monterey Pop Festival, June 18, 1967

A boot by the mighty Who is long overdue, and the fact that we're already focused on 40th anniversaries this weekend gives me yet another reason to start with this one, which is just days away from being a full four decades old.

It's a short one, but for a reason. When they took the stage on the third and final day of the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967, The Who had not yet blown up in the States, and thus were a hotly anticipated, but still relatively unknown, support act. (The Grateful Dead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Scott "If You're Going to San Francisco" McKenzie and The Mamas & The Papas played later in the day.)

The Who had less than a half-hour to make an impression, but -- as this glorious recording confirms -- they made every moment count. They roar out of the gate with "Substitute" (one of the most perfect pop singles of all time), thunder their way through Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and then turn on a dime to deliver a surprisingly lovely version of the more delicate "Pictures of Lily," their timeless "anthem to wanking," before even 10 minutes have elapsed. Then it's around the turn and into the home stretch with a slightly sloppy go at "A Quick One (While He's Away)," Pete Townshend's first stab at "rock opera," early hit single "Happy Jack," and of course, the proto-punk finale of "My Generation." And if you've seen The Kids Are Alright, you know how that last song ends. Let's just say that Rickenbackers and drum kits are shown no mercy.

There are a lot of terrific Who boots (and I'm sure we'll get around to others eventually), but this is among my favorites -- it's a full, rich soundboard recording, the band is in ridiculously tight, ferocious form, and it captures them shortly before they became mired, for a couple of years, in the whole Tommy phenomenon, which to me was the least interesting (and at time even tedious) period for The Who's original line-up. Speaking of which, while Townshend, Daltry and Entwhistle are all at the top of their respective games on this recording, just listen to Keith Moon's playing. Focusing on Moon here is like lifting the hood on some monstrous machine and hearing the engine roar.


(No artwork available - if you have some please send it!)

01 Substitute
02 Summertime Blues
03 Pictures of Lily
04 A Quick One (While He's Away)
05 Happy Jack
06 My Generation