Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Live Albums of All TimeSelections include 'The Last Waltz,' 'Live Bullet' and 'Live at Leeds'
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1. The Who - 'Live at Leeds'
In late 1969, Pete Townshend made one of the dumbest decisions of his life. The Who had been contemplating a live album to chronicle their Tommy world tour. Thirty-eight shows were recorded in pristine sound quality, but Pete didn't feel like going through all of them to find the best one. Instead, he decided to tape two upcoming shows at Leeds and Hull in England. He ordered sound engineer Bob Pridden to burn all 38 shows from 1969. "It was a dumb decision commercially and historically," Townshend writes in his memoir, Who I Am. "Bob faithfully destroyed them in a bonfire in his garden."
Thankfully, the shows at Hull and Leeds were recorded and preserved. The bass didn't get properly recorded at the beginning of the Hull show, so the Leeds show was released. At the time, the group felt that Tommy had overshadowed all their other work. Live at Leeds didn't have a single cut from the rock opera, even though they played the bulk of it at the show. Instead, it featured covers like Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues," Johnny Kidd's "Shakin' All Over" and Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues." Side two began with a 14-minute "My Generation." This was the Who at their absolute peak as a live band.
In 1995, they released more songs from the show on CD, and then in 2001 they wisely put the whole thing out.