Review: The Who – Greatest Hits Live

The Who at its best is the equal of any live band ever, so the new double CD Greatest Hits Live has plenty of potential. On the other hand, cherry-picking from concerts over a 42-year period (1965 to 2007) is unlikely to offer the coherence or adrenalin rush of a single concert – get the sublime Live At Leeds in the unlikely event you have not heard it yet – and much of this material has appeared before, especially if you snagged the fanclub-only release View from a Backstage Pass.

The first CD here covers the original band including the late, great Keith Moon. Not a bad track here, though personally even by 1976 there was some decline in the band’s live performance in my opinion.

The CD does not present the songs chronological order which seems odd to me. I’ve sorted them for the list below. Great to have the songs from Hull, the day after the famous Leeds gig. In detail:

BBC Session 1965
My Generation

Leeds 14 Feb 1970
Magic Bus

Hull 15 Feb 1970
Happy Jack
I’m a Boy

San Francisco 12 Dec 1971
I Can’t Explain
Substitute
Behind Blue Eyes

Largo 6 Dec 1973
5.15
Won’t Get Fooled Again

Charlton Athletic FC, 18 May 1974
Naked Eye/Let’s See Action/My Generation

Swansea, 12 June 1976
Pinball Wizard
I’m Free
Squeezebox

CD2 on the other hand starts 15 years later. The first part is a good chunk of a 1989 concert from a tour which honestly was not one of The Who’s best. But it is still The Who and worth hearing. Then we get a scattering of tracks from more recent concerts, including a fine Real Me from Watford in 2002 and Eminence Front from Brisbane last year. Overall though, it’s not a particularly good representation of the best latter-day Who. In fact, I’d rather have had the entire Watford concert. In detail:

Los Angeles, 24 August 1989
I can see for miles
Join Together
Love Reign O’er Me
Baba O’Riley
Who Are You

Watford 31 Jan 2002
The Real Me

Royal Albert Hall, London, 7 Feb 2002
The Kids are Alright

New York, 11 March 2007
A man in a purple dress

Brisbane, 24 March 2009
Eminence Front

Overall, enjoyable but not a very satisfactory release. I’d recommend the At Kilburn 1977 [DVD] [2008, which also includes a concert at Coliseum 1969, ahead of this – the Coliseum concert on that is just fantastic. Greatest Hits Live on the other hand is mainly for Who enthusiasts.

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