I literally stumbled on to this one in the course of trying to figure out why my DVD-Audio of “Tommy” lacked a vocal track. Never did puzzle that one out, but in Googling for answers I found a British fan site with some cool stuff. The guy who runs it is a big fan apparently – there’s a picture of him and Pete Townshend featured prominently on the home page.
There’s only a few downloadable tracks on the site, each very rare, and each lovingly converted to MP3 from obviously pristine vinyl. There are a few MIDI files and a movie shot in 1973, without sound, of the band playing live in Long Beach, California.
“Young Man Blues” is one of ballsier tracks on what I consider the most important live album ever made, “Live At Leeds.” Why is it the most important? At the time of its release, rock concerts were for cognoscenti; a hundred to a few thousand fans witnessed them, and sold-out shows were uncommon.
“Live At Leeds” communictated the Who’s essence as a live band. That, combined with their almost mystical appearance at Woodstock (c’mon, the SUN ROSE on cue to Daltrey singing ‘see me, feel me’) made them superstars. It also compelled a lot of curious fans, myself included, to buy their first concert ticket.
Today’s free track was only released on a British compilation album, “The House That Track Built.” I’m pretty sure it was a promotional album, which means only a few hundred were even made. This version of “Young Man Blues” is much more restrained than “Live at Leeds” or even the supposedly original take contained on “Odds and Sods.” The band learned from the success of “Live at Leeds” to hit the throttle in the studio just as hard as the stage, coming up just short of smashing their instruments. Rock was certainly better for it.