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The Who – Spectrum 1973 (no label)

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Spectrum 1973 (no label)

The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA – December 4th, 1973

Disc 1:  Substitute, I Can’t Explain, Summertime Blues, My Wife, My Generation, Quadrophenia introduction, I Am The Sea, The Real Me, The Punk And The Godfather, I’m One, 5:15, Sea And Sand, Drowned

Disc 2:  Bell Boy, Doctor Jimmy, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me, Naked Eye

Of all the shows on The Who’s legendary Quardrophenia tour in 1973, none stands out more than the penultimate show in Philadelphia on December 4th.  Parts of this show were broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and titles surfaced almost immediately taped directly from the radio broadcast. 

The first is the famous Tales From The Who (TMOQ) which featured one of William Stout’s most well known covers featuring the band in cages a la a box of animal crackers cookies.  This release was copied on Who Are You (Ruthless Rhymes), copy of the TMQ release with five songs from a 1971 audience recording.  The Ruthless Rhymes release was copied on the German release Mods & Rockers (Ruthless Rhymes) and on another German title called Mods & Rockers (Slipped Disc) in 1974. 

The final vinyl release  was Decidedly Belated Response (TAKRL).  The very first Who release featured this broadcast on Tales From The Who (Great Dane) and American Tour 1973(Swingin’ Pig) both in 1989.  These releases had only ”The Real Me,” “Bell Boy,” “Doctor Jimmy,” “I Can’t Explain,” “Summertime Blues,” “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in upgraded sound quality. 

This new release contains the recently surfaced, more complete version of the Sepectrum show for the first time ever.  “Substitute,” “The Punk And The Godfather,” “5:15,” “Drowned,” “Naked Eye” are new to on this release with only “Love, Reign O’er Me” being the only song missing from the setlist.

The sound quality on this release is nothing short of phenomenal.  Given the phenomenal performance, this is  simply a fantastic release.  The set begins with a few older numbers to warm up the audience.  After a moment of audience buzz the band launch into “Substitute” and “I Can’t Explain.” 

After their cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” Daltrey says, “Thank you Philly.  Here’s a song featuring a geezer whose done a lot on his own, an awful lot with the Who, John Entwistle.”  After a blistering seven minute version of “My Wife” Daltrey explains, ”I think of all the cities in America apart from New York and Detroit, Philly was the first to hear this one from the horrible Who.  MY GENERATION!”  The middle part of the show is taken up with their latest magnum opus, the songs from the new album Quadrophenia

Pete Townshend begins the narrative by explaining, ”Now we’d like to play for you the better part of an album.  what we wrote about something that is very dear to us when we were little.  it’s a story about a mod kid and we call it Quadrophenia, since there are four of us. It’s sort of an in joke.  Being mod meant a lot more in England than it ever did in America.  I think you think of it as a Carnaby Street bullshit thing.   And it’s not just a looking back, but a bringing up to date.  Quadrophenia is about where we are today and maybe you too.  The story is set on a rock in the middle of  a stormy sea.  Quadraphonic, of course.  The story of Jimmy.” 

The whooses of the wave and sea fill the speakers during the “I Am The Sea” as a prelude before the raging fury of “The Real Me” and the great “The Punk And The Godfather.”  Afterwards Townshend gives a lengthy introduction, saying, “The next song is a song called ‘I Am One’ that I sing.  And it’s all about the way I felt, because I wrote it.” 

Someone in the front row shouts, “Mr. Peter Townshend!!” 

“Yea thank you.  When I was an effer, I used to feel that the guitar was all I had.  I could have been right of course.  I wasn’t tough enough to be a member of the gang, not good looking enough to be in with the birds, not clever enough to make it at school, not good enough with the feet to make it at football player.  I was a fucking loser.  And I think everybody feels that way at some point.  Somehow being a mod, even though I was too old to be a mod, Jimmy the hero of the story is thinking he doesn’t have much going for himself, but at least he’s one.” 

This song, which some call a sequel to “Behind Blue Eyes” is very pretty and emotional but unfortunately is the shortest song played in the Quadrophenia set, clocking in at two and a half minutes and seems to end right after it begins. 

Daltrey continues the narration by saying, “England is about twice the size of Philly, so you’re never far from the sea…he gets on the 5:15!”  The set gathers tremendous momentum with “Drowned” to which Townshend says, “He gets really turned on being back at the beach.  And he remembers the great days with thousands of kids.  All mods, all listening to the Who, they really were.  All gathered down at the beach at Brighton.  And for the first time ever he realizes it’s not just the beach and the sea and the bullshit, but the sea is very attractive of itself.” 

The song lasts about ten minutes long and includes some inspired jamming in between Daltrey’s screams of “drowned!!”  Townshend and Entwistle have fun playing their games off of one another and thankfully this recording is well balanced enough to bring that out.  Keith Moon gets his time in the spotlight in ”Bell Boy,” providing the Cockney voice for Ace-Face and his joy at being a bell boy. 

“Doctor Jimmy” is a very dramatic eight minutes long, but it is a shame the finale “Love, Reign O’er Me” is cut in this recording.  “Won’t Get Fooled Again” has the opening notes cut out but otherwise is complete and in excellent quality.  The set ends with two tracks from Tommy.  “Pinball Wizard” is introduced as “Pineball Blizzard” and is followed by “See Me, Feel Me.”  There is almost eight solid minutes of audience cheering left uncut on the tape. 

There are many chants of “We want the Who,” begging for an encore before the band oblige and come out again.  “Naked Eye” lasts for thirteen sublime minutes.  The jamming ignites into such intensity that Townshend destroys his Les Paul at the song’s conclusion and the listener is left with  undifferentiated feedback and fuzz and a very exausted band at the end.   

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The Who - Spectrum 1973 (no label), 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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  1. Avatar of solly
    solly says
    August 12, 2010, 11:36 am

    This is one of the finest sounding live recordings I have ever heard and one of the best Who discs ever.

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  2. Avatar of howard
    howard says
    April 20, 2008, 10:57 am

    I think it’s Keith Moon that screams Mr. Peter Townshend before I’m One.

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