The Who and Thin Lizzy
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Dec. 21, 2012
The WhoLive in Texas '75 (Eagle Rock)
Thin LizzyLive at the National Stadium Dublin (Universal UK)
By mid-decade, the Seventies had broken free of its damaged and idealistic predecessor to pound out peak work by groups born of the Sixties – Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti and The Who by Numbers, to name but a pair of 1975 landmarks by foundational powerhouses. The latter's seventh album, The Who by Numbers still suffers the relative misfortune of following the UK quartet's Himalayan summit: Tommy (1969), Who's Next (1971), and Quadrophenia (1973). At another Summit, in Houston, a venue whose audio-visual setup must have been state-of-the art judging from the CD/DVD bonuses it's supplied in the last decade, The Who by Numbers only debuts three tracks in the riveting two-hour set, but such footage – washed-out, yet thankfully dinosaur in its nonextant quick cutting – remains rarest of the rare. The album's amped-up folk-pop single, "Squeeze Box," glistens in the three spot, but it's a thrilling back-to-back of two of the LP's best tracks – principal songwriter Pete Townshend's rambling alcoholic confession (about "the night I gave up drinking"), "However Much I Booze," complete with lyrics on a music stand and Keith Moon's rolling drum thunder, plus the gorgeous "Dreaming From the Waist," a symphony of progressive melody – that singles out Live in Texas '75. When the band jams the outro to "Dreaming," bassist John Entwistle watching Townshend for cues while playing lead as his electric cohort chops power chords, Moon tumults into orbit, and Roger Daltrey croons another immaculate lyric, the classically minded rock & roll magnificence of Quadrophenia continues. In fact, the Who's only warmed up by the time a casually epic summation of Quadrophenia arrives with "Drowned" a half-hour in, and soon a 30-minute Tommy extract writhes and cries like the day it was born. 1975 also birthed London fourpiece Thin Lizzy's best lineup, Dubliners Philip Lynott and drummer Brian Downey paired with dual lead guitarists Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham. That year's fifth Lizzy attack, Fighting, provides most of the set list, though it's the frontman (with his halo Afro still only at three-quarters bloom) getting soulful on "For Those Who Love to Live" that almost thieves the gig. "Suicide" later anchors Lizzy breakthrough Live and Dangerous, but what puts this out-of-nowhere DVD into must-have band catalog territory is its filling out the almost hour long Irish set with another hour of Emerald Isle TV in a multipart band documentary centered around an interview with Lynott. Further bonuses include a tech doc from Lizzy's last tour, preserved here on sulfurous goodbye ballad "The Sun Goes Down," and three video clips, including a 1981 reunion of the original Irish trio on first hit "Whiskey in the Jar," with a hold-your-breath live vocal by Lynott. God bless.