The Who – Johnny B. Goode (Heart Breakers HB 946-1/2)

Johnny B. Goode (Heart Breakers HB 946-1/2)

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA – October 10th, 1976

Disc 1:  Bill Graham’s introduction, I Can’t Explain, Substitute, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Squeeze Box, Behind Blue Eyes, Dreaming From The Waist, Magic Bus

Disc 2:  Keith Moon’s mc, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, See Me Feel Me, Summertime Blues, My Generation (includes Join Together, Road Runner), Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pete’s mc, Shakin’ All Over / Spoonful, Johnny B. Goode (Keith Moon vocal)

The Day On The Green are a series of concerts organized by the late Bill Graham.  For twenty years, from 1973 to 1992 (just after Graham’s death), the Bay Area were treated to massive, eclectic bills from the biggest acts in the industry and produced some of the most memorial concerts on tape.  “Day On The Green #7 & 8” was the final event in 1976 and featured the billing of The Who with The Grateful Dead on October 9th and October 10th.  Beginning at 11 AM the sets were played in the daylight before fifty-thousand fans (at least). 

The tape used for Johnny B. Goode is merely fair to good.  It is listenable to the committed, but listening to it for too long will make you committed.  It is thin sounding with distortion and deterioration by the end and with cuts after “Behind Blue Eyes,” at 10:29 in “Magic Bus,” a cut after “Sparks” and “See Me Feel Me,” a three second gap between 5:33 to 5:36 in “My Generation” and a cut at the beginning of Pete Townshend’s speech before the encore.

The Oakland shows were among the very last Who concerts with Keith Moon on drums and many consider this to be the band’s live peak.  A big deal is made about them playing with stalwarts of the San Francisco music scene The Grateful Dead and even the late comedian George Carlin was in attendance. 

The tape begins with Bill Graham coming on stage and saying, “Thank you very much for waiting.  From England, your friends and our friends.  The great ones.  The Who!”  Standard for this era are the two opening songs “I Can’t Explain” and “Substitute.”  From Who’s Next comes “My Wife” clocking in at close to nine minutes with Townshend throwing in an energetic solo and leads into “Baba O’Riley.”

“We don’t usually do singles but this one came out as one” Roger Daltrey says in introducing their current hit “Squeeze Box.”  “On the drums Mr. Keith Moon” Daltrey shouts afterwards.  Moon continues, “thank you very much indeed. Don’t let that stop you.  No carry on!  Carry on some more!  These legs were written by a real professional.  Not your amateur legs.  I’d like to do a number, but unfortunately I’m outnumbered and I have a lousy voice.  We’re gonna do a number real soon written by Mr. Pete Townshend…’Behind Blues Eyes.'” 

The mood is serious, but it is the first real let up in energy coming from the stage. 

“We’ll have to make the stage bigger” Townshend says.  “We just want to say, before Roger walks around you in circles, that we’re enjoying this.   It’s good to be playing with the Dead.”  He then points out that John Entwistle “plays a blinding bass solo” in “Dreaming From The Waist” and they play the second of two songs from their latest album The Who By Numbers

“Magic Bus” is stretched to ten minutes with Townshend on guitar dueling with Daltrey on harmonica and Moon laying down chaotic beats underneath.  It is one of the best jams in the show and it leaves the audience speechless.  It’s a shame there is a cut by the end because it sounds as if they could have gone on for another twenty minutes with no boredom.  

The latter half of the set is dominated by the Tommy suite, which Moon introduces as “the definitive original version” and Townshend as “the punk rock version.”  The play the highlights of their rock opera in quick succession.  The “My Generation” jam includes snatches of “Roadrunner” and “Join Together,” stretched out to more than fifteen minutes before segueing into “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” 

The Who rarely performed encores, but this show has perhaps the only one from their 1976 North American tour.  Townshend comes out on stage to say, “We’d like to say thank you for two amazing days.  Eleven amazing years that this era and we hope to be around in the future.  This song is dedicated to The Grateful Dead all those people and their fans.”  “Shaken All Over” and “Spoonful” recall their electrifying set at the Isle Of Wight festival in 1970.

The final encore is a cover of  Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” played for only the second time.  The only other evidence on tape is the October 23rd, 1975 show at Wembley in London.  It is ragged and Moon treats the audience with his vocals, but it is a riotous way to end a long afternoon.

The show is good enough to make one wish for a better audience recording because this one, although good enough for the hardcore Who collector doesn’t have appeal to the casual fan.  Many fans on the Wolfgang’s Concert Vault forums have stated they would love to see this show surface on a soundboard recording.  Since it is a Graham production and other shows during the Day On The Green series were recorded, it makes sense this one, which is one of the best Who performances, would also be recorded. 

The October 9th show was also taped and was released by Heart Breakers on John’s Birthday Party (HB 810 1/2).  The title is referring to Entwistle’s 32nd birthday and it is a much better recording than this.  Once one gets past the mediocre recording, Johnny B. Goode is an interesting enough title for the Who collector and is certainly a great show.  

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