Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

9. The WhoLive At Leeds

Like with the Slade live album, I’d been to see The Who and it was quite an experience, again at the Orchid Ballroom in Purley. It’s one of the most unknown venues in the country, I think, but it was the biggest ballroom in Europe and it used to hold about 5000 people. It was huge, and you wouldn’t even know it was there when you drove past; it was just a doorway, in Purley. And I think The Who had just come back from America where they’d been doing Tommy. So it was Townshend in his white boiler suit and nailing Keith Moon’s drums down before the set, and The James Gang opening. I’m not sure when Live At Leeds came out, whether it was before or after that, but I just remember how amazing the album was because it had all of those pull-outs and receipts and photographs and things. I was sitting on the train and looking at the record and really hoping that people would think I was in the record business and that I’d received this white label with a load of bills. But again I’d seen them play that sort of show, and I think Live At Leeds really was them at the top of their game. As a live band they’d really pulled together and they’d done their homework. They’d done enough and they’d really nailed how to put it together on stage. For me they didn’t do a better live thing. Tommy I liked, but I thought a lot of it was unnecessary and went on a bit, and it was a bit more Who than I wanted, in some cases.

The real thing that always stuck with me with this record is where they do the jamming stuff and Townshend takes off on that discordant thing, and the dynamics and atmosphere are liable to go up and down, taking it from this raging onslaught of rock down to this level of almost subtlety, and then to build it up again from that. They’re good dynamics, and those are often hard to find. There’s something about that sound they got as well: not so much as a band but just the guitar sound. It was very clean and there was a lot of clarity. And the drums: the sound never changes, but the dynamics of what he does have peaks and troughs.

Keith Moon is probably the drummer you get the most comparisons to.

He is, isn’t he? And I don’t play anything like him. But I think ‘mad drummer trashing things’ is pretty much the label that sticks sometimes. It’s not a bad aspiration. At least you know what you’re supposed to be doing.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Mike Watt, Wayne Coyne
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