The Summit 1975 (4 Reel 2005)
The Summit, Houston, TX – November 20th, 1975
Substitute, I Can’t Explain, Squeezebox, Baba O’Riley, Boris The Spider, Drowned, However Much I Booze, Dreaming From The Waist, Behind Blue Eyes, Amazing Journey, Sparks, The Acid Queen, Fiddle About, Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Summertime Blues, My Generation, Join Together, Naked Eye, Roadrunner, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Magic Bus, My Generation Blues. Bonus features: Pontiac Stadium, Pontiac, MI – December 6th, 1975: Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Summertime Blues, My Generation, Join Together Blues, Roadrunner, My Generation Blues, Won’t Get Fooled Again.
BBC Old Grey Whistle Test 1973: Long Live Rock. Fete De L’Humanitie, Paris, France: Roger Daltrey interview clip plus Summertime Blues. Old Grey Whistle Test 1975: Keith Moon interview. Roadies Documentary clips, recorded 8/23/75 for Sverige Television broadcast 4/22/73 live clips from Kungliga Tennishallen, Stockholm. Long Live Rock BBC Old Great Whistle Test 1973, Keith Moon Interview Old Grey Whistle Test 1975, French TV Footage 1972, Roadies Documentary 1973
The Who began their 1975 winter tour of the US on November 20th at the Summit in Houston. Footage of this show from the venue’s closed circuit television feed was thought to exist for a very long time before finally being released in 2005.
It was rumored the band themselves wanted to buy the video tape for official release, but it eventually came on The Summit on 4 Reel, sourced from the master tapes. The title proved so important and popular that 4Reel took the dramatic step of releasing a second edition (with different artwork).
The Summit in Houston just opened (and in fact this was the very first rock concert booked), and they were obviously learning what to do. It is a two camera professional shoot, one on stage left slightly raised, and one on stage right on the floor. Gaps are filled in by quick repeats of the action.
The cameras focus on the action very well, following whomever is carrying the tune at the moment. But there are times when they miss the action, like when they focus on Townshend during the first verse of “Tommy’s Holiday Camp” when Moon has the vocals, or reaming on Daltrey when Entwistle is singing his part of “Summertime Blues.” The audio is a very crisp mono. An eight second gap at the beginning of “Squeeze Box” is the only significant flaw.
Visually the band are at the height of their mid-seventies fashion with Moon wearing his service station attendant uniform, Pete wearing the giant, white, slack bell-bottoms & the super-tight, sleeve-less striped shirt, Entwistle in a black jacket & black trousers and Daltrey is in his tan animal-skin looking outfit side-vents and flowing, leonine mane.
The show starts with “Substitute” and “I Can’t Explain,” two “blasts from the pasts” according to Daltrey. They play with a tremendous amount of energy and happiness with the newer material like “Squeeze Box.”
Pete gets into a long speech while Entwistle gets ready for his number. “We just finished a European tour…and we played to a bunch of American servicemen mostly in Ludwigshafen in Germany. And they looked exactly like you lads except they had no hair. And they told us to send you their love, because they gave us plenty.” Townshend refers to “Boris The Spider” as “a very weird song,” and Moon shouts “a very weird person” at the bass player.
“Drowned” is “what’s left of the stage show from the last tour” according to Daltrey, the only song from Quadrophenia in the set. Before “However Much I Booze” Townshend says: “You’re in for a special treat. I’m gonna do another number off the new album. And this is where I make my little speech. It’s a song I wrote on the night I gave up drinking. That’s the end of my speech.” He uses a music stand with the lyrics for help but still manages to flub the lines. It would be performed two more times but dropped forever after the show in Memphis.
Moon has the honor of introducing the Tommy suite. He tell Houston “who said you were just a hick town with more millionaires per square inch than any other? Certainly not me. We’d like to do something never before even attempted, under this roof.” This section of the show is slightly expanded from previous tours to acknowledge the movie’s release the previous March.
The show comes to a crashing conclusion with the long medley of “My Generation,” “Join Together,” “Naked Eye,” “Roadrunner” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And to celebrate the opening night The Who reward Houston with a rare encore of “Magic Bus” (with Townshend’s many silly dance moves repeated ad nauseum) and a reprise of the slow blues arrangement of “My Generation.” At the end Townshend twirls his guitar (and threatens to smash it, but never does) and ends with the band taking their final bows.
Those who say this is one of the best bootlegs ever have much to back it up. The pristine visuals are matched by the ferocious performance where The Who state their case as the best live act from the seventies.
Houston could stand on its own, but the bonus footage are an added bonus. There is a forty-five minute clip from the December 6th, 1975 show at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, about two weeks after Houston. It captures the second half of the show from “Pinball Wizard” to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from two cameras at stage level. The visuals are a bit darker and the audio is distorted compared to Houston. Pontiac also has a time counter on bottom of the screen.
In some ways the performance is better than Houston. The Who set a record at this show for indoor attendance at a rock concert (to be broken by Led Zeppelin two years later at the same venue).
After Pontiac is The Who’s appearance on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” playing “Long Live Rock.” It was filmed on January 29th, 1973 and broadcast the following day. The band sing live to a backing track, pretending to play their instruments. Pete flubs the third verse and smiles in acknowledgement.
The Paris footage comes from the Open Air Festival on September 9th, 1972. It is a five minute clip starting with a short interview with Roger Daltrey (stating he doesn’t speak about his political opinions) followed by the band running on stage and playing “Summertime Blues.” It ends with random shots of the crowd smiling at the camera before ending. It’s exciting footage and makes one hope the entire show would surface in this quality.
Paris is followed by a two and a half minute clip of footage from their visit to Sweden in 1973. The final track on the DVD is Keith Moon’s interview with Bob Harris on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” in the spring of 1975 discussing his solo album Two Sides Of The Moon, various projects and the upcoming US tour with The Who.
4 Reel use a cardboard digipack for the packaging. Since its release in 2005 there have been very good official DVD releases including the 1977 Kilburn concert (with the 1969 London show as a bonus). But The Summit 1975 still ranks as an essential document of the band at its height and is absolutely essential to have.