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The Who, Humble Pie and Bad Company – Summer Of 74 (Empress Valley EVSD-858/861)

$_57

The Who, Humble Pie and Bad Company, “Summer of ’74” (Empress Valley EVSD – 858/861)

Disk 1 – The Who – Introduction / I Can’t Explain / Summertime Blues / Young Man Blues / Baba O’ Riley / Behind Blue Eyes / Substitute / I’m A Boy / Tattoo / Boris The Spider / Drowned / Bell Boy / Dr. Jimmy (59:55)
Disk 2 – The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again / Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me / 5:15 / Magic Bus / My Generation / Naked Eye – Let’s See Action / My Generation blues (56:09)
Disk 3 – Humble Pie – Introduction / What’cha Gonna Do About It / Thunder Box / Sweet Peace and Time / 30 Days In The Hole / Let me Be Your Lovemaker / C’Mon Everybody – I Want A Little Girl / I Don’t Need No Doctor (53:46)
Disk 4 – Bad Company – Introduction / Place Of The King / Little Miss Fortune / Rock Steady / Ready For Love / Easy On My Mind / Bad Company / Deal With The Preacher / Band introduction / Movin’ On / Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love / Announcement (47:38)

Charlton ’74 is one of those bootlegs that must be in your collection even if you’re not so much a Who fan but a fan of bootlegs anyway. Released a multitude of times after a broadcast on the BBC, pretty much since the broadcast was made it has appeared on vinyl bootlegs such as ‘When The Sun Was Going Down’ (no label) to CD boots such as ‘Soccer Rock’ (Past Masters), ‘Boris The Spider’ (The ever dependable Oil Well), ‘Live At Charlton, ’74’ (Midas Touch) and Charlton 1974 – Expanded edition’ (MS) – from very good audience recordings to ’soundboard’, presumably from the BBC broadcast, it became a bootleg staple. None of these boots seem ever to have captured the full event however, mainly taken from partial recordings, the boots have generally been incomplete for the whole Who show.

This new set of recordings expands the experience by giving the full Who selection an airing from a brand new audience recording from close to the stage. We also get two other acts from the day – Some of the earlier acts seem not to have been recorded and the Lou Reed set was captured but the tape was not considered to have been of the best quality and so has been left from the set. The premier on this release is the full Humble Pie set, it has never been booted before and so makes it’s entry point here.

By all accounts the day was a warm one, apparently it rained early on but when the sun shone, the good folk who attended will have done what nearly everybody does at an outdoor concert of this kind and will eventually have been rendered shirtless, a pile of hot pink bodies searing in the English sunshine. To up the ante, those who didn’t make use of the facilities will have smuggled their own booze in and not wanting to have to bring it home again, that will have been drunk in quantities, ending in, what Pete Townshend considered to be one of the bawdiest audiences that they’d played to. Reports vary between whether punches were thrown between the audience members, it tends to depend where you were stood.

Bad Company
Proceeded by DJ Nicky Horne whipping up the crowd and announcing that they were struggling to find the band, the Bad Company set was one of the first times that they would appear fully formed before the public. Formed as an amalgamation of musicians from King Crimson, Mott the Hoople and Free, Bad Company were still to release their debut album but owning to their previous separate fames, they were already anticipated for greatness. The fact that they were being managed by rock’s famed, hard headed manager, Peter Grant, wouldn’t have hindered their push to appear to this bill either. Being prior to their premier release, their set features only 5 tracks from the album, the other pieces are made up of material from their other, previous bands.
The bands set gets a warm reaction, some of it is still obscured by chatter and moaning from the crowd around our taper about the people who choose to stand and dance through out the bands sets. It throws up some funny moments as when Paul Rogers suggests that everyone sits down so there’s a level field for everyone to see, lone voices can be heard applauding his suggestion, some more that others (“Too fuckin’ right” mutters one disgruntled voice) then when Rogers mentions that the crowd could all stand up instead he’s thrown some quiet flack instead (“Bollocks!”).

The first half of their set puts no-one else under pressure to be fair. It’s a rather timid affair considering the reaction in album sales that the band would garner in future, however towards the end, the pressure begins to build almost as the band have decided that a bigger finale would put their name on the map better than a bold beginning and come ‘Movin’ On’, the lustre of their future sound begins to build and the band begin to settle in to form. Current single, ‘Can’t Get Enough’ seems to rouse the audience the most as come the middle section, the crowd begin to steadily ramp up their clapping, moving in like a small wave. Aided, no doubt, by some furious soloing, the song begins to gel with the crowd enough to get a decent reaction.

The disk ends with Nicky’s outroduction who gives his own radio station a bit of a plug.

Humble Pie
According to several people who were there, Humble Pie nearly blew the Who off of the stage – 6 years earlier, the Who had nearly done the same to the Rolling Stones at the Rock n’ Roll circus in pretty much the same circumstances after a long day when the Stones under hot studio lights had possibly gotten past their best but the Who had just been warming up. The band had been formed after Steve Marriot’s departure from the Small Faces and together with Greg Ridley, Peter Frampton (later replaced by David ‘Clemp’ Clempson) and Jerry Shirley, Humble Pie arrive to the stage with a drum and guitar warm up, a brief and terse introduction by Jonny Walker and then a cataclysmic rumble of an intro from ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It?” – The volume is turned up LOUD and ready to tear up the air around. It does a fair bit of damage as the Pie pretty much obliterate any chances of hearing any kind of audience participation (Baring a couple of snatches of hand claps which you can discern just about) the rest is heavy rock of the kind that Paul McCartney was thinking of when he set about recording ‘Helter Skelter’ trying to best the city crunch that the Who had mentioned recording the filthy, heavy rock of ‘I Can See For Miles’.
Certainly, it’s a meatier set than the Bad Company set, Steve’s chops a little larger on the count than a lot more of his contemporaries. His harp playing on ’30 Days In The Hole’ electing some quiet euphoria from the crowd (Though most of that excitement is reserved for the chat regarding smoking that proceeded it which gets one audience member more than a little hot under the collar. Greg Ridley takes over vocals on ‘Let Me Be Your Love Maker’ which owes more to heavy metal as opposed to the soul sound that Marriott was pushing for. ‘Come On Everybody’ follows, including pretty much everything and the kitchen sink, there are blistering solos, cracked vocals but thankfully, no drum solos. The ‘I Want A Little Girl’ appears as part of a tracking blunder as this and both ‘Come On ..’ are actually track 7.
Track 8 is “I Don’t Need No Doctor’, rounding off the set nicely, this pushes the levels of the recorder and belts a thunderous goodbye to Charlton Football Stadium. Melding parts of different riffs to it’s middle section (None I’ll reveal here but instantly recognisable to even the more fair weather rock listener) this gives way to an enthusiastic call and response coda drawing the song out to a face melting 10 minutes plus.
The end of the CD is again marked by Nicky Horne’s comparing.

The Who
As noted, Pete’s mood was dark before the band had really kicked off, he was obviously stood to the side of the stage while Humble Pie were playing and felt that the Who were given the budge by this bunch of upstarts, his fists clenching, watching Lou Reed would have tipped his fever a little stronger and the famous Townshend grouchiness would have reared it’s head.
A short introduction precedes them then leads in to a heavy 70’s styled riff before the Who plunge in to ‘I Can’t Explain’. The quality of the tape doesn’t change even for the bands loudness, each instrument is given space to breathe, Keith’s drums are level best with the rest as he would have wanted – the crowd are once again respectfully noisy but if anything, that gives a little more atmosphere an already psyched gig. There are a few dips in the tape where the tape seems to skip between two to one channel starting with the introduction prior to and while ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ is played (The track is missing from the artwork too, EV!) and continues through until ‘Boris The Spider’ on the first disk and appear at the start of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ on the second CD.
Despite Pete’s grouch – He appears to be chatty enough generally rather than introverted than how his take on it all might suggest – the band are on form. As most of the people present had paid to see the Who (A few to see Lou Reed and Humble Pie too) most were hardly going to turn down the chance to see this mighty band in their pomp and so to fight back against Humble Pie’s might, there’s only forward to go. The set list veers between classic to a small slice of the Quadrophenia tracks which had just reared their heads but the reaction is just as warm in a jumble of people who were more than likely feeling the effects by now.

The set that Empress Valley has created is a very impressive one – A 4 CD set packaged in a fatboy case with holographically printed artwork on the outside with generic but smart printed disks. Promo material and photos from the time are used to neat effect – The only thing lacking are the little misses on the artwork about the Who’s set list and the tracking on the Humble Pie set but they are small misses in between large statements. A positive gem in your Who collection to file against the soundboards.

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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5 comments

  1. Can someone tell me how I get a copy of this ( and other concerts ? )

    I was at Charlton and am dying to hear Humble Pie again

    thanks

    Art

  2. Pinballwizard – The best I might describe the sound is that it’s an excellent audience tape, luckily the taper was far away enough from a very loud gig to capture the performance without distortion but twin it with the atmosphere of a sun weary but increasingly drunken crowd. If we were going to go to grades, I might suggest a 7+ or an 8.

    Solly – I see what you mean but the important word was ‘most’. The BEEB were unfortunate to miss some of the show with their broadcast so maybe a matrix might have been a compromise but I was happy with the gig for the flow, the unheard tracks and, of course, the ‘new’ Humble Pie set. I’ll post a sample soon on the soundcloud, see what you think then.

  3. The frustration of this release ( for me anyway) is knowing that The Who’s set( most of it) is out there in soundboard quality . So essentially this is a very familiar performance in lesser quality. In truth the appeal here lies with the other artists on the bill. I remain on the fence. However, your review is well balanced and informative as usual , Stuart.

  4. Nice review Stuart. I don’t think I can go another day without ordering this one. Can you tell me anything more about the sound quality?

  5. An opportunity to own a real piece of rock history.

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