In 1995, Entwistle put together a backing unit with producer Steve Luongo that he christened as simply The John Entwistle Band. The outfit also featured guitarist Godfrey Townsend and keyboardist Gordon Cotton with vocal chores divided between all the members. The group documented their amazing 1996 tour, during which they performed an exciting mix of new, solo and classic songs from The Who, with this landmark 2-CD recording, Left For Live: Deluxe.
Before there was Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, or even Alice Cooper, bassist extraordinaire John Entwistle was casting dark jollities like "Boris the Spider" and "Whiskey Man" into the Who's early repertoire. This live 24-song double-disc chronicles the final incarnation of the John Entwistle Band on its typically bannered Left for Dead--The Sequel Tour of 98-99. The complete set documented here leans heavily on his considerable Who contributions, with Entwistle and band (Steve Luongo on drums, Godfrey Townsend on guitar, and Gordon Cotton on keys) powering their way through a rumbling set that reaffirms Entwistle's status as the gleeful Godfather of Gloom. If the music sometimes seem stuck in '80s big-guitar rock, its sheer fury and occasional prog-ish reworkings of staples like "Boris" make it a compelling, in-your-face eulogy (Entwistle died on the eve of the Whos 02 tour) for the otherwise quiet man who was arguably rock's greatest bass player. --Jerry McCulley
What Who fans will appreciate is the song selection. Officially released live versions of "The Real Me" aren't easy to find. It's not a song commonly performed since Entwistle's death. Face Dances "You", By Numbers "Success Story", Who Are You's 905, Had Enough, A Quick One's Whiskey Man are all songs I don't believe ever were played live by the Who. They are well performed here. While no one will ever claim Entwistle has the vocal range and strength as Daltrey has, Entwistle still manages to hit the notes well and with conviction. It is a treat to hear these songs being played by this band.
What short circuits this is the songs which are commonly done by the Who and whose recordings are easy to find. You'll hear better live versions of My Wife (see the expanded edition of By Numbers), Boris the Spider Who's Last, Trick of the Light (the Join Together set from their '89 tour) and no less than 4 songs you can hear on the expanded version of Live At Leeds, Shakin All Over, Young Man Blues, Heaven and Hell and Summertime Blues are all better on Live At Leeds. These songs are doomed to pale in comparison (especially Young Man Blues which also appeared on The Kids Are Alright soundtrack. That version is among the best rock recordings I have ever heard, Townshend's bending guitar solo forever warped my mind). It's something all solo albums from Who vets have going against them. The songs are reimagined somewhat (some opening with solos, all with synthesizer fleshing out the sound) but not nearly enough to divorce my mind from the Who recordings I heard before.
What I enjoy the most about this set is the solo material being performed. In most cases, the material is not readily available elsewhere. I always felt that Entwistle was the first member of the Who to create some genuinely great solo work. "Smash Your Head Against the Wall" and "Whistle Rhymes" to me, show as much pent up musical talents as George Harrison on "All Things Must Pass". Following up those albums of shelved ideas and perhaps Who rejects seems to have been difficult. Much of what followed them never worked for me. Rigor Mortis Sets In, Mad Dog, Too Late the Hero have their moments but on the whole I found them sadly forgettable. The newer songs on here like Horror Rock come across well but I frankly never could find studio versions of them anywhere in the States to compare them with.
This collection has his best known solo song, My Size (basically the title track of the debut album, has the title's line in the song), Too Late the Hero's, title track, Love's a Heart Attack, newer songs like Endless Vacation, Darker Side of Night and I'll Try Again Today are pretty good.
Included is something else I wasn't fond of. It's a Pete Townshend song, written in tribute to Keith Moon, performed originally on a Roger Daltrey solo album, performed here by John Entwistle and it features a rather lengthy drum solo. Drum solos don't do it for me personally (I still loathe most of that live section on Cream's Wheels of Fire). If you don't mind drum solos then, you won't mind the 12 minutes spent on this Deluxe Edition.
This is a pretty good album on the whole. It's got some flat moments but more than enough bright spots to make up for them. I find myself listening to this live album the most of all the Who solo live material out there. It's got more drive than Townshend's Deep End Live and some of his OOP Eel Pie live material like La Jola or The Empire, and the Daltrey live recordings of Who songs like A Celebration.
For newcomers and old fans this is a good cd but the production is not the best. Lets hope another live cd with better production arrives one day. I understand the JEB Woodstock concert will be produced in dvd and cd as well. Also there are many unreleased songs he recorded for his first albums and also for the "Vampire" cd sessions. And also, his drummer STEVE LUONGO has said that John Entwistle did record many new songs as "demos" for the upcoming new WHO cd.
Here the best songs are "Trick of the Light", "905", "Had Enough", "Wiskey Man" and "Under a Ragin Moon" among many others.
However, Steve Luongo has tried to re-create what sitting the audience was like. The on-stage banter reveals Entwistle's humorous personality. And like a few shows I saw, the band stops a song after John fumbles it, only to nail it after a joke.
For the casual listener, buy the King Biscuit CD, or the "Thunderfingers" collection. For fans like me, this a great way to remember a musical genius in his favorite setting.