DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Who – Live In Texas ’75 – DVD (2012)

The volatile The Who, doing their thing in Texas in 1975.

Published on November 6, 2012

The Who – Live In Texas ’75 – DVD (2012)

Featuring: Pete Townsend – guitar, vocals; Roger Daltrey – vocals, harmonica; John Entwhistle – bass, vocals; Keith Moon – drums, vocals
TrackList: Substitute; I Can’t Explain; Squeeze Box; Baba O’Reilly; Boris The Spider; Drowned; However Much I Booze; Dreaming From The Waist; Behind Blue Eyes; Amazing Journey; Sparks; Acid Queen; Fiddle About; Pinball Wizard; I’m Free; Tommy’s Holiday Camp; We’re Not Gonna Take It; See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You; Summertime Blues; My Generation; Join Together; Naked Eye; Roadrunner; Won’t Get Fooled Again; Magic Bus; My Generation Blues
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment [10/9/2012]
Audio Restoration: Jon Astley
Visual Restoration: Simon Marbrook
Audio: DD 2.0
Video: 4:3 color
Length: 117 minutes
Rating: ****

The British invasion defined popular music in the sixties. Initially, most of the groups recycled American blues and r&b, sending it back to the U.S. When The Beatles and Rolling Stones began charting with original music, songwriters moved to the forefront. The Who were a dynamic band, fueled by street-tough lead singer Roger Daltrey and fiery guitarist, Pete Townsend. Bassist John Entwhistle had a diverse musical background (including jazz), and with a youthful drumming phenomenon Keith Moon, a volatile alchemy shaped the core of the group. In particular, Townsend composed songs with a brooding hostile edge, like “I Can See For Miles” and “My Generation”. A few of the seminal albums became conceptual work, including the rock operas, Tommy and Quadrophenia. Both were developed into films. Even their most recognizable work, Who’s Next was the result of an abandoned film project.

When The Who performed live, it was loud, explosive and at times violent. Their style of play (with the exception of Entwhistle) reflected this. Townsend played guitar with ruthless abandon and Moon insanely attacked his drum kit. Daltrey shrieked the vocals and the frenzied activity (which included a lot of smashed instruments and equipment) mesmerized the audiences. Whether by excessive lifestyle or staged theatrics, they had no equal.

Eagle Vision has released The Who – Live In Texas ’75 on DVD. For those who are unfamiliar with “old school” rock and roll…here it is! This basic power trio (guitar, bass and drums) plus singer put on a loud and raucous show. After lackluster renditions of earlier hits, “Substitute” and “I Can’t Explain”, the band starts to come alive on a “new” song, “Squeeze Box”. Entwhistle (bass) and Moon (drums) are a very cohesive, underrated rhythm section.. The band shines on their anthem (from Who’s Next), “Baba O’Reilly”.  Daltrey is a consummate lead singer with his screeching vocals and microphone twirling. Moon’s propulsive drumming is frenetic and drives the other musicians. The programmed synthesizer/organ programming feeds into Townsend’s electric flourishes. Noted for the strong composition of their material, they are exciting in concert. That is evident on an extended version of “Drowned” (the only number from Quadrophenia). Townsend solo’s are powerful. He sings lead on another tune from Who By Numbers, the autobiographical “However Much I Booze”.

The filming of the concert is adequate with limited creativity (an occasional freeze frame or slow-motion scene). However, the material is anything but pedestrian. After a comical Keith Moon verbal introduction, The Who resurrect several tracks from Tommy. This material showcases the musical texture and eminence of the group.”Amazing Journey” still possesses intricate rhythm patterns and morphs into the “Sparks/Underture” instrumental. Townsend is the “Godfather of Punk” and his frenetic energy permeates the music with emotional intensity. The interaction of the three instrumentalists is at its peak and the story of a messianic “deaf, dumb and blind boy” is recreated in grandiose style. Daltrey is also at his preening best. “Pinball Wizard” is riveting with its blistering chords. The refrain-filled “See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You” is compelling.

Moving on, a concert staple, “Summertime Blues” (also heard on Live At Leeds) shakes off the rockabilly and explodes in a deafening collage of metal riffs. “My Generation”, with its idiosyncratic stuttering vocals, is transformed by Entwhistle’s freewheeling thick bass lines. The ultimate anti-establishment rant, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is great live…and yes, the trademark scream before the final chorus works fine! A minor surprise is a blues reworking of “My Generation”.

The DD 2.0 stereo mix is good and captures the power of the group. At increased volumes (Is there any other way to listen to The Who?), there is some distortion. Not all of the feedback could be removed, but the raw intensity is there. The footage is not very inventive and many shots are interrupted by people walking right in front of the camera.

The WhoLive In Texas ‘75 is a rockin’ good time!

—Robbie Gerson




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