Little Billy Relaxes At The Fillmore (The Godfatherecords G.R. 907/908)
Disc 1 (79:01) Fillmore East, New York City, April 5, 1968: Summertime Blues, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Little Billy, Can’t Explain, Happy Jack, Relax, A Quick One, My Way, Shakin’ All Over, Boris The Spider, My Generation. Capital Theater, Ottawa October 15, 1969 (1st Set): Heaven And Hell, Can’t Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues
Disc 2 (66:04) Fillmore East, New York City, October 22, 1969: Bill Graham Introduction, Heaven And Hell, Can’t Explain, Fortune Teller, Speech, Young Man Blues, Speech, Overture, It’s A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey (cuts within), Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas (fragment only cuts off) See Me Feel Me (fragment only cuts in), Summertime Blues, Shakin’ All Over. State University of New York, Long Island (Stonybrook) October 18, 1969: Overture, It’s A Boy, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks (fade out)
Godfather’s second Who release is like a companion piece to their first title, The Dutch Seduction (Godfather Records GR 820/821) the brilliant Amsterdam Soundboard from 1969. This new title is from a similar period in history and collects together four recordings, three of which have been released prior and are now gathered together, in superb quality for all to enjoy.
The first disc has the Fillmore East show, often attributed as April 6 1968, the quality is superb soundboard recording and has seen many releases over the years, beginning with 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), ultimately on CD under such titles as Live Over 20 Years (Live At The Fillmore East) (Koine K880805), Fillmore East 1968 (Back Trax CD 04-88007), Furious Prelude (WPOCM 0888B008-2), Live At Fillmore East, 1968 (Living Legend LLRCD 010), Live In New York (Black Panther BPCD 034), Who Were These Masked Men? and Shakin’ All Over (Gold Standard), and most recently as Fillmore East 6 April 1968 (Sunrise SR-0012).
There is no new tape as the cuts in “Relax”, “A Quick One”, and “My Generation” are still present but the band’s performance more than makes up for any short comings. What makes the performance so intriguing is that the band melds their early pop sensibilities (“Can’t Explain”, “Happy Jack”) with stage favorites that give them the ability to improvise (“Summertime Blues”, “Shakin All Over”, “My Generation”) plus a couple new songs from the Sell Out record. The version of “Tattoo” is particularly enjoyable, the trading of lyrics between Townshend and Daltrey is perfect and the lyrical content is funny yet disturbing. As most already know, this is an essential tape to have.
The remainder of the disc is a 20 minute fragment of the first five songs from the bands set at the Capital Theatre in Ottawa Canada. It has seen previous releases as Pure Rock Theatre (Hiwatt ZA59), Roulette Rock and Tangled In Tommy. The quality is excellent soundboard and well balanced but has a small amount of top end distortion and it is most unfortunate that the tape is so short as it seems that the band is playing with gusto. They hit the stage with “Heaven And Hell”, Entwistle’s song that was the B-side to “Summertime Blues”, it makes a good opener and features some great bass runs from The Ox. After a quick “Can’t Explain” Roger introduces “Fortune Teller” as something from Benny Spellman, the song seems to be a 60’s favorite amongst bands and one The Who would most certainly make their own. The version here simply swings with swagger and fierce playing, it segues into another strong version of “Tattoo”, the lines about the Dad beating Mom who beats the brother is stunning. Pete’s introduction to “Young Man Blues” is quite quiet and he gives the history of the song originating from Jazz musicians. I remember getting my first taste of this song from The Kids Are Alright record and being amazed by the playing, certainly a vehicle for improvisation, Pete’s guitar has a great fuzzy and nasty tone to it that give a real thick sound.
The second disc begins with the Fillmore East soundboard fragment from October 22, 1969, the recording has seen previous releases as Accept No Substitute on Big Music (Big 011), Sparks On The Bay on Oil Well (RSC CD 044), The Who Live (Mojo 058), and Live At The Fillmore 1969 (Rockmasters RMC-009). The quality is excellent, well balanced and most enjoyable recording and has the best bottom end of all the recordings on this set. What can be debatable is the introduction, it is attributed to Bill Graham but to my ear does not sound like his voice but certainly has his catch fraises, I love the “Mad master of the skins” intro.
The band easily creates an intimate feeling at the 2,700 seat venue, during Pete’s introduction to the speech prior to “Young Man Blues” the tale of stage gremlins has the crowd chuckling. While the band’s playing is tight and professional it is certainly not as spirited as the Capital Theatre gig on the previous disc. Tommy is unfortunately the most fragmented part of the tape, Pete gives a fine introduction to the piece and you are immediately swept in as they kick into the “Overture” and by the time the are in an incredibly heavy “Sparks” you can really appreciate Entwistle’s amazing playing. Sadly a large portion of Tommy is missing but the music seems to invigorate the band and by the time the music fades back with the closing moments of “See Me, Feel Me” the group is in full swing and “Summertime Blues” is full of energy and the band finish with an epic “Shakin’ All Over” with snatches of “The Seeker” and “Spoonful” for good measure.
The final fragment of tape is attributed to the State University of New York October 19, 1969; the sound is most similar to the other soundboard on this tape and is very clear and powerful with virtually no hiss or other tape issues. Clocking in at just over 15 minutes the recording contains the first few pieces of Tommy, all songs are complete save for “Sparks” that has a tape cut at 22 seconds and fades out at the 3:50 mark. A nice tape but frustratingly short.
The tri gatefold is beautifully adorned with live shots of the band and artwork based upon graphic from a Fillmore East program, there is also a 4 page booklet with liner notes from Ian Iachimoe. While this material has seen many prior releases it is certainly nice to have it all collected in one volume and the excellent sound quality make this a very worthwhile release, I for one am looking forward to more Who releases from The Don.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)