Today I'm listening to yet another benefit album (I go through certain phases when listening to stuff apparently), "Concerts for the People of Kampuchea." Recorded from a series of 4 concerts in London the last week of the '70s (2 weeks after I was born!), this album, a 2-record set, is leaner than the "No Nukes" album I reviewed the other day. The "No Nukes" album seemed to suffer from a "let's throw everything on here" approach, but the "Kampuchea" album features the cream of the four shows. I think the performers selected were quite a bit stronger also: Paul McCartney & Wings, the Who, the Clash, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, the Pretenders, Queen, and the Specials (not to mention the colossal rock supergroup "Rockestra," featuring members of the aforementioned bands PLUS 3 members of Led Zeppelin).
Side one features four songs by the Who, who are sounding excellent. They had come off a hard year, touring with a new drummer for the first time in their career (Kenney Jones, ex-Small Faces/Faces), after the 1978 death of Keith Moon. They had also been part of a tragedy earlier in the month of December 1979, when several fans were crushed to death at a concert in Cincinnati. Here are the songs they performed: "Baba O'Reilly," "Sister Disco," "Behind Blue Eyes," and "See Me, Feel Me." This was during Pete Townsend's "drunk era" (famously described in the song "Who Are You"). I recall reading an article in some music mag at a book store a few years back about this show and how Pete was drunk out of his mind during the performance the last night of the show. His style is a bit sloppier than I have heard before, but overall the vibe is good. The shows were filmed, and I found footage of the Who playing "Behind Blues Eyes":
Sides 2-3 feature one or a few song by Pretenders, Elvis Costello, Rockpile, Queen, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, and the Specials. All good stuff, and I'm especially partial to the Clash and Queen stuff. The artists featured showcase the variety that British music at the time offered...punk, new wave, and classic rock were all given equal time. Here's a video of the Clash playing "Armagideon Time:"
Finally, the grand finale, Rockestra! First appearing on Wings 1979 album "Back to the Egg," this "rock orchestra" featured John Bonham, Billy Bremner, Gary Brooker, Howie Casey, Tony Dorsey, Dave Edmunds, Steve Holly, James Honeyman-Scott, Steve Howard, Kenney Jones, John Paul Jones, Lawrence Juber, Denny Laine, Ronnie Laine, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Thadeus Richard, Bruce Thomas, and Pete Townsend. David Gilmour, who appeared with Rockestra on the Wings album, couldn't be there since he was busy with Pink Floyd preparing for their tour for "The Wall." This clip shows the mammoth Rockestra performing the "Rockestra Theme" (check out the very intoxicated Pete Townsend):
Overall, I really enjoyed the heck out of this album. The musicians and songs featured were all top shelf, and the atmosphere seemed fun and playful.