Posts Tagged ‘The King Biscuit Flower Hour’

Image result for the who roger daltrey 1973 images

The final night of the North American tour, was when The Who took to the stage of the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland before another sold-out house. This show, like the preceding show in Philadelphia two nights prior, was recorded by the King Biscuit Flower Hour. These historical recordings have been the source of collector confusion and the subject of debate for nearly 35 years. While PA system issues are apparent and the band is struggling with problems both on and off the stage, here for the first time ever, are the nearly complete direct recordings from this final night of The North American tour, including all the Quadrophenia songs performed that evening. Much like the Philadelphia gig two nights prior, this performance kicks off with a double dose of primal Who, first with the opener “I Can’t Explain” followed by a ferocious “Summertime Blues” to warm things up. Next up is another enjoyably expanded version of John Entwhistle’s “My Wife,” before they cap off this initial segment with the signature song, “My Generation.” Both feature impressive instrumental exchanges between Townshend, Entwhistle and Moon, with the latter taken at a furious tempo and pummeling in its delivery.

The next hour is devoted exclusively to Quadrophenia or as Daltrey jokingly mentions in his introduction, “what’s left of it.” The band had been trimming it down since the tour began and the opening “I Am The Sea” tape sequences had been problematic. On this final night in America, they forego it completely and instead launch directly into “The Real Me” to kick it off, followed by “The Punk And The Godfather.” As the storyline progresses, the crowd continues to surge toward the stage, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the band. Several times during Quadrophenia both Daltrey and Townshend implore the audience to relax and move back as fans were being crushed against the stage. After addressing this, Townshend continues with his introduction to “I’m One.” Similar in structure to “Behind Blue Eyes,” this begins as a solo vehicle for Townshend’s voice and guitar alone, before the entire group kicks in to dramatic effect. The remainder of the Quadrophenia material features plenty of great ensemble playing, but the problems continue in front of the stage and one can sense the band is distracted. The performance of “5:15” is quite good and a marathon take of “Drowned” never loses its energy. “Bell Boy,” again features Keith Moon altering his lyrics to recall the hotel room destroyed in Montreal earlier that week. Despite the technical limitations of the equipment, which are more prominent during this latter part of the Quadrophenia presentation, the band concludes with a fine performance of “Dr. Jimmy” followed by a majestic “Love, Reign O’er Me” that has Daltrey’s raw vocals echoing throughout the mammoth hall. It’s a strong finale to a difficult performance. As the audience roars, Daltrey addresses them in regards to this being their last night in America. He mentions the ups and downs of this tour and makes a point to debunk then prominent press rumors that this would be The Who’s last tour. As if to hammer this message home, they launch into a powerful “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” As icing on the cake, they cap it all off with two classic tracks from Townshend’s earlier magnum opus, Tommy. First by way of a frenetic rendition of “Pinball Wizard,” followed by a wild finale of “See Me Feel Me” to end the night and the 1973 North American tour.

King Biscuit Introduction

Setlist:

I Can’t Explain Summertime Blues My Wife My Generation Quadrophenia Introduction The Real Me I’m One Sea And Sand Drowned Bell Boy Doctor Jimmy Won’t Get Fooled Again Pinball Wizard See Me Feel Me

Roger Daltrey – vocals, harmonica; John Entwistle – vocals, bass; Keith Moon – vocals, drums; Pete Townshend – vocals, guitar

1973 European tour poster

During the Rolling Stones’ 1973 tour of Europe, the band would usually end the show with their 1968 single (and Beggars Banquet album track), “Street Fighting Man.” On occasion, the Stones’ performance of the tune on the ‘73 jaunt could be magical. One such version was professionally recorded—and bootlegged—eventually seeing official release in 2011, before fading back into obscurity.

“Street Fighting Man,” like most of the Rolling Stones’ best stuff from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, is not only a fucking great song, but the studio version sounds cool.
Believe it or not, what you’re hearing during the opening moments of is Keith Richards’ acoustic guitar, which was recorded using a cheap cassette deck, giving it an overloaded, electric character. Charlie Watts used a 1930s practice drum kit on the intro, also captured with the tape recorder, the thin tone of the kit adding to the lo-fi effect. As the song progresses, Indian instruments are heard, giving the track a psychedelic quality. One of those instruments, the shehnai (essentially an Indian oboe) produces the wailing sound heard towards the end of the song. Mick Jagger’s lyrics—is he calling for revolution?—are open to interpretation. Jagger’s words, and the fact that his vocals are partially buried in the mix, contribute to the mysterious nature of “Street Fighting Man.”

Street Fighting Man - French picture sleeve

In support of their new record, Goat’s Head Soup, the Stones launched the 1973 European trek on September 1st in Vienna. Though significantly less dramatic than their infamous 1972 U.S. tour, the outing still had its moments. Take this one, in which saxophonist Bobby Keys quits the band right before the first of two scheduled performances that were to take place in Brussels, Belgium, on October 17th. In his autobiography, Life, Richards describes the scene:

No sign of Bobby at the band assembly that day, and finally I was asked if I knew where my buddy was—there had been no reply from his hotel room. So I went to his room and said, Bob, we gotta go, we gotta go right now. He’s got a cigar, bathtub full of champagne and this French chick in [the tub] with him. And he said, fuck off. So be it.

The Rolling Stones had booked the shows in Brussels due to its proximity to France, as they were banned from entering the country after behaving badly while recording Exile on Main St. in Villefranche-sur-Mer. The Brussels gigs took place at the Forest National Arena.

Ticket stub

With a live album in mind, the Rolling Stones recorded both Brussels performances. Though the live LP idea was eventually scrapped, the public did eventually get to hear portions of the Belgian recordings via the syndicated radio program, The King Biscuit Flower Hour in both stereo and FM quadraphonic 4-track. Naturally, the KBFH broadcast was subsequently bootlegged.

Brussels Affair bootleg cover

On the Brussels recordings, the Stones—augmented by keyboardist Billy Preston, as well a horn section—are in fine form, for sure, but the absolute highlight of the tapes is the version of “Street Fighting Man,” the final song played during each of their sets that day. From the get-go, the energy of the band is palpable. Keith, especially, stands out, as he doesn’t seem to be playing his guitar as much as stabbing the thing, but it’s when Mick Taylor steps on his wah-wah pedal (in place of the shehnai) that this rendition starts to become spectacular. As the number continues, Bill Wyman’s bass swoops, the horns squeak and squawk, and the tempo increases and increases until the music ceases to be just that, morphing into a riotous, stunning wave of sound.

In 2011, after decades of praise from fans who heard the Brussels tapes, the Stones finally granted the release of a selection of the recordings. Nicking the title from one of the bootlegs of the Belgium gigs, Brussels Affair (Live 1973) was made available as a download via Google Play and the Rolling Stones’ website, as well as a limited edition box Set . But the box is now out-of-print, and, for some reason, you can’t even buy the download anymore. Currently, the only way you can pick up the release (through official channels, that is) is if you splurge for the japanese set.  I bought the download when it came out, and can say that the recordings, given a fresh remix by Bob Clearmountain, sound stellar (much better than what’s heard above, which is from the bootleg version).

The live footage of “Street Fighting Man” is from the second of two shows the Stones played in Frankfurt on September 30th, 1973. Per usual, it was the closing song of their set.