As I frequently due, I fully intended to write my review of The Who: Live in Texas '75 while it played, jotting down first impressions, fleshing them out. I didn't get very far. What was I thinking? A live performance by The Who is not something you can multitask your way through. Especially when it was one recorded when they were at their peak. This performance - 25 songs, running nearly two hours - is a classic, one that leaves no doubt as to why Rolling Stone magazine says, "Along with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Who complete the holy trinity of British rock." Audio has been remixed and video has been digitally restored. It looks and sounds as good as anything recorded in 1975 possibly could.
Step into the time machine, please
We're setting the controls for The Summit in Houston, Texas on November 20, 1975. On stage, The Who, just beginning a U.S. tour. They were performance and recording veterans, having opened for business in 1964. They had already released seven studio albums, and what was (and still is) considered the best live rock album ever, 1970's Live at Leeds. They had two hugely successful rock operas -- Tommy and Quadrophenia -- in their back catalog. Their 1975 tour was in support of The Who By The Numbers which had been released a few weeks before this performance, so some of the songs they performed that night were new: "Squeeze Box," "However Much I Booze," "Dreaming From the Waist". Others were already standards: "Pinball Wizard," "Summertime Blues," "My Generation," "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Baba O'Riley".
"Hope I die before I get old ..."
It's a little chilling when you hear that line from "My Generation" while watching the two who did -- drummer Keith Moon in 1978, bassist-songwriter-vocalist John Entwistle in 2002. While lead vocalist Roger Daltrey and guitarist-songwriter-vocalist Pete Townshend resumed recording and performing a few years after Entwistle's death, watching this performance reminds us the degree to which the band's success had depended on the unique contributions of each member of the lineup. Moon didn't play drums so much as he commanded them. Contemporary drummers are still trying to match his speed with the sticks, his double bass drum acrobatics, cymbal explosions and exaggerated flourishes. None have succeeded yet. Although The Who of 1975 employed the standard "power trio" instrumentation -- guitar, bass, drums -- it was in anything but a standard fashion. Typically it is the drummer who establishes the basic rhythm line, but in The Who's case, it was Entwistle's bass that assumed that role. While the lead was typically provided by the lead guitar, there were many instances in which Townshend switched to a rhythm guitar role, and Entwistle made the bass line the lead. Nobody has ever duplicated those things either.
Living (and dying) like rock stars
The Who were the prototypical rock band of the '70s. They were destructive onstage -- smashing instruments, slinging microphones, kicking drums -- and off (Moon was legendary for trashing hotels and dressing rooms.) And they were self-destructive, particularly Moon and Entwistle, both of whose deaths were drug related. They were also, for many of their contemporaries and generations to follow, the prototype for rock as we know it. Never was that more in evidence than during the performance captured on The Who: Live In Texas '75. Release date October 9, 2012
Available on DVD
Available on DVD
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Eagle Rock Entertainment via Kayos Productions. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.