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The Who – Who Is This? (SpeakEzy / SPE-008)

Who Is This? (SpeakEzy / SPE-008)

Duetsches Museum, Munich, Germany – September 4, 1972

Disc 1 (76:54) Introduction, I Can’t Explain, Summertime Blues, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, Bargain, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Magic Bus, Relay, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me

Disc 2 (62:25) Audience, My Generation, Naked Eye. Taken from the vintage LP “Who Is This? (Rubber Dubber Records / DL 75065): I Can’t Explain, Summertime Blues, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Behind Blue Eyes, Magic Bus, Relay

The SpeakEasy label recently released a Who title I thought looked interesting, it takes its name and subject matter from an old vinyl bootleg named Who Is This? (Rubber Dubber DL75065), a single LP’s worth of material from the 12th show on The Who’s European tour in late summer 1972 in Munich, Germany. Like many old vinyl bootlegs, little is know about the source tape as it has never circulated outside the vinyl world, yet thankfully there is a near complete alternate source that makes its silver disc debut here. To round out this set, they also present a needle drop of the original vinyl bootleg so we get both sources as complete as they’ll ever be.

First off is source 2 which makes up all of disc 1 and the first three tracks on disc 2. It is a very good audience source, slightly distant with all instruments and vocals clean in the mix. The sound is slightly distant and you can here the hall acoustics well as there is a bit of echo. There is minor distortion in the upper frequencies but overall it sounds great when played loud. The set-list is similar to others on the tour, I have both Brussels and the Copenhagen shows from this tour and this performance is certainly on par with those, strong dynamic evening of Maximum R&B.

I Can’t Explain is the opener for the tour, short and sweet to get things rolling described as “an old one from us” followed by “an old one from somebody else…Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues”. I like The Who’s version of this song, retains the natural swing of the song but delivered in bombastic fashion that for me, blows away the Blue Cheer version many single out as being influential. My Wife has a bit of a jam feel to it, a certain tight but loose feel to it, Baba O’Riley features a synthesizer and is more structured but quite powerful. This recording has a very intimate feel to it, the audience is in a dialog with the band and the atmosphere is like a group of old friends hanging out. Pete’s guitar conks out at the beginning of the hard rock section of Behind Blue Eyes, the band continue without him but the song loses some of the emotional energy, he does get it together but the song never really regains it usual energy.

The new material from Who’s Next is quite dynamic live, My Wife, Baba O’Riley, Bargain and Won’t Get Fooled Again with the latter becoming a show stopper, Roger having no difficulty hitting the highs of the powerful scream. There is a small cut in the tape 14:25 to 14:41 at the very tail end on Magic Bus, no music is lost and it’s only audience noise, this is patched with source 1, the patch is seamless. Relay is very nice, you can cleanly hear the synthesizer which gives the song an almost funky feel. The Tommy material is kept to a minimum with Pinball Wizard and See Me Feel Me being the culmination of the set. Naked Eye is the final song yet the tape continues to run amid shouts of “Who’s the best”, Long Live Rock was played at the majority of the other shows on this tour so one can assume it was not recorded.

As mentioned the first source was released in 1972 by the Pig’s Eye label as Live In Munich (Pigs Eye 7) and was followed the next year by Rubber Dubber as Who Is This? (Rubber Dubber DL75065). There is a singular compact disc listing, Olympic Magic Bus, on the very informative White Fangs Who website although I could not dig up any other information from my old Hotwacks books or the web so I’m unsure if it exists. The sound on source 1 is very good, recorded much closer to the stage and has a better balance of frequencies with a nice bottom end. Being closer to the stage the sound does not have that distant sound found on source 2 with the vocals, bass, and guitar being in the front and the drums just a tad low in the mix. There is just a bit of distortion but that is to be expected and there is sporadic audience noise as well but it merely adds to the atmosphere. A really great sounding document, had it been complete this recording would certainly be the best from the 1972 European tour. There is a small edit during My Wife, from :56 – 1:15, like the previous one the patch is seamless and well handled. While the recording runs at just 47 minutes, it is well presented here, the vinyl transfer is super clean and the transfer has been very well done.

The packaging ties in wonderfully with the agenda of the title. The front cover insert features the old Rubber Dubber LP art and when it’s folded open features not only the front but the back cover and LP label as well and when the whole thing is open it becomes a mini poster of the aforementioned album art. This is a numbered edition of 200, mine being # 82. A really nice release from the SpeakEzy label, one that Who fans will enjoy.  

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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