The Who – Fillmore East 6 April 1968 (Sunrise SR-0012)

Fillmore East 6 April 1968 (Sunrise SR-0012)

Fillmore East, New York, NY – April 6th, 1968

(69:18):  Summertime Blues, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Little Billy, I Can’t Explain, Happy Jack, Relax, A Quick One While He’s Away, My Way, Shakin’ All Over, Boris The Spider, My Generation.  Bonus tracks, Pier Pavillion, Felixstowe, UK, – September 9th, 1966:  Short Medley (with French DJ’s voice over / Heat Wave / So Sad About Us), I’m A Boy, Substitute, My Generation

The Who in 1968 toured almost non-stop.  With approximately one hundred thirty seven shows, they toured the UK three times, the US twice, and made their first visit to Australia in January.  On their first US tour they played the Fillmore East on April 4th, 5th, and 6th.  The soundboard recording of the third and final night was made for an anticipated live album which never saw the light of day. 

Ten songs from this concert were released on vinyl on Fillmore East (TMOQ 71071), and the various vinyl permutations such as Fillmore East (K&S RECORDS 014), Fillmore East (Koine V880805), Fillmore East 1968 (LXXXIV SERIES 40), Fillmore East 1968 (TMQ 71071), Furious Prelude (WPOCM 0888B008-1) and Live At Fillmore East (EXIL LP-EX-002).

The vinyl yielded the very first Who CD bootleg in 1988 when Live Over 20 Years (Live At The Fillmore East) (Koine K880805) came out.  During the protection gap era many more copies surfaced and flooded the market, including Fillmore East 1968 (Back Trax CD 04-88007), Furious Prelude (WPOCM 0888B008-2), Live At Fillmore East, 1968 (Living Legend LLRCD 010), and Live In New York (Black Panther BPCD 034).

The better versions to come out are Who Were These Masked  Men? and Shakin’ All Over (Gold Standard).  Fillmore East 6 April 1968 sounds as good as the better releases.  It is still a bit distorted but still very enjoyable and one of the best early live Who tapes in circulation.  “Relax” cuts out just past eight minutes, the first three sections of “A Quick One” are missing, and “My Generation” fades out after nine and a half minutes.   

Given all the releases, it is one of the most common and essential tapes from the era documenting their transition from pop stars wanting to recreate their hits into a jamming rock and roll band determined to put on a spectacle.

Some sources date this tape from April 5th.  Without corroborating tapes it’s hard to finally determine, but it’s thought that they played “Pictures Of Lily” and “C’mon Everybody” on the fifth.  The tape is posted on on Wolfgang’s Vault, but with an altered setlist (placing “A Quick One” and “Shakin’ All Over” at the end of the show), but every release has the setlist posted above.

The Who headlined the Fillmore East with Free Spirits and Buddy Guy opening, starting the show with the Eddie Cochran cover “Summertime Blues,” and afterwards Pete Townshend tells the audience the are going to “play a number that we played the first time last night” before “Fortune Teller.”  It’s thought they played it also in Vancouver on March 1st, so this would be the third performance.  It segues into “Tattoo” from The Who Sell Out, their latest LP.

Townshend gets into a long exposition about “Little Billy” and its origin as a single for the American Cancer Society.  They play the song expecting it to be a single.  It would later be rejected (for being “too long” according to an executive with “a slimy East Coast accent of the nastiest possible kind” Townshend joked) and would be released six years later on Odds & Sods.  Given the hopeful tone in Pete’s voice, the meeting occurred after this show.

Before “Relax” he calls the Village Theater, the name of the venue before it became the Fillmore East, a “pisshole” and praises Bill Graham’s management.  “Relax” is stretched into a long and loud jam session before cutting out. 

“My Way,” the second Cochran cover, follows their mini-opera “A Quick One.”  The latter songs such as “Shakin’ All Over” and “My Generation” are further opportunities for the band in general, and for Townshend in particular, to stretch, improvise and jam for the audience.

The bonus tracks include another early tape.  The radio broadcast comes from the French TV show “Seize Millions De Jeune” with DJ Emperor Rosco, telecast on October 18th, 1966.  The performance comes from the Pier Pavillion in Felixstowe on September 9th and contains “I’m A Boy” and also “Substitute” and “My Generation.”  The French host’s voice can be heard at various points in the telecast.  Despite that limitation, it’s a good document to hear for The Who at such an early era.

Fillmore East 6 April 1968 is packaged in a gatefold cardboard sleeve with one pocket to house the CD.  Sunrise seems to be the most common silver pressed version of the show now.  It’s a good production worth having.  

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