Time for an article with The Who, one of the most influential bands from the 60s and still going strong today. They have a musical heritage that few others can match and I recommend the younger generation to check them out – listen to “My Generation” for example! Have a good read.
Totally unbiased reviewer appraises new Who collection. (Would we lie to you?)
Words: Pete Townshend
While Roger Daltrey was groping round the “Tommy” film set playing (rather masterfully) the part of the deaf, dumb and blind kid himself; while Keith Moon was dressed in a dirty raincoat drinking Guinness with a raw egg and flashing at passers-by; while my fairly good self was ensconced (as usual) in its studio, fast asleep but very convincingly pretending to work, John Entwistle, with a little help from his friends, was rooting about in the mountain of unmarked tape boxes at Track Records in Windmill Street.
He came up with this remarkable collection of unreleased oddities, impulsively labelled “Odds and Sods” by Roger. And I`m going to tell you all why they were never released (What a load of old rubbish it is).
Joking aside, it`s all perfection! Are THE WHO (pause for reverent head-bowing and hand on collar bone, etc.) capable of anything less?
“Postcard” is a John Entwistle song about touring on the road. He describes in luscious detail the joys and delights of such romantic venues as Australia (pause to fight off temporary attack of nausea), America (pause to count money), and of course that country of the mysterious and doubting Customs official, Germany. (Pause, whether they like it or not, for “God Save The Queen”).
Listen out for the field sound effects actually recorded in the countries we toured.
“Postcard” was originally recorded in my house for a maxi-single, as they came to be known here. Maxi-singles were EPs that only cost as much as a single. Unfortunately, ours never got released! We realised at the last minute that we wouldn`t make a profit doing stupid things like that.
I engineered this one with one hand on the controls and the other on the guitar. That`s why I only play one chord throughout the whole song. If John`s bass sound is a little distant, it could be because his speaker cabinet was in the house next door.
“Now I`m A Farmer” is from the same bale of hay, recorded at home for the EP. It`s a drug song, all about the good life out in the fields growing those fantastic phallic ornamental gourds that you can use to…to…to make gorgeous fruit bowl arrangements.
See if you catch the immensely subtle reference to the “Air” in this song. This track is from the period when The Who went slightly mad. We put out several records called “Dogs”, and at least one about finding “one`s inner self”. Gourds mate, that`s the secret to life…gourds.
“Put The Money Down”…is one of the tracks recorded for us by the illustrious Glyn Johns. Terrific sound, beautifully recorded. Wonder what group he used?
“Little Billy”: Now, if I may take the liberty…this is A Masterpiece. Written and recorded for the American Cancer Society in exchange for worldwide success and fame, it ended up, not saving lives, but mouldering unheard in some fat-assed executive`s office for six years.
“It`s too long,” he said in a slimy East Coast accent of the nastiest possible kind.
Actually he was quite nice – used to take me to lunch at the Russian Tea Room. Had baseball bats embroidered on his Y fronts. Oh! What a give-away! I really hate him because he jilted me, the swine. But, as you can hear, Little Billy is doing fine, just fine.
“Too Much Of Anything”: A song about temperance in all things. The insidious horror of excess. Did you hear about that poor chap who died because he drank too much carrot juice? I dedicate this ditty to him.
It was recorded during the “Who`s Next” sessions by Glyn Johns for the Life House film – which never happened. We felt this summed up just what too much of anything can do to a person – too much sex, drink, drugs even rock and roll or nasty blues music.
Realising at the last minute how totally hypocritical it would be for a load of indulgent face-stuffing drug-addicted alcoholics like us to put this out, we didn`t.
Of course, today we`re all different; more mature, less greedy. Anyway, why waste a good money-spinning number like this? I`m being a bit too honest now, aren`t I?
“Glow Girl”: I`m really glad – and amazed – that John found this one and put it on. It`s a rock and roll airplane crash song with a real Pop Art plane crash and a happy reincarnation ending.
I wrote another song with a similar title, “Glittering Girl”. Both ended up on the cutting-room floor. To be honest, I think it was a good job, because better material came along.
And also Kit Lambert was “practising” record production at the time. He used to take us all down to a studio called City of London Studios, which at the time was mono. Yes, absolute mono. It was small and poorly-equipped, but it had something no other studio in Britain could offer at that time – an engineer who could understand what Kit was saying.
This track reveals a lot about the way I write. I rarely leave any good idea unused; Real Themes crop up in “Tommy”, and also in the last lines of this. Only, of course, Tommy was a dear little `boy`. He`s got to be a great big cumbersome oaf these last few years, but he was such a nice baby.
“Pure And Easy”: You may know this one from my solo album. This is the group`s version. Not all of the group`s versions of my songs are as faithful to the original demo as this one, but as usual the `Oo make their terrible mark. Another track from the abortive Life House story. It`s strange, really, that this never appeared on “Who`s Next”, because in the context of stuff like “Song Is Over”, “Getting In Tune” and “Baba O`Riley”, it explains more about the general concept behind the Life House idea than any amount of rap.
…Not released because we wanted a single album out at the time.
“Faith In Something Bigger”: God, this is embarrassing! I don`t know where to hide. Well I mean, the whole thing about Him is that He is Everywhere, isn`t He? A modest beginning to the musico-spiritual work of the irreligious Who.
This reminds me of The Bee Gees.
The guitar solo is the worst I`ve ever heard. They`re great lads you know, the rest of the boys in the band. Do you think anybody else would`ve put up with this nonsense? Anyway, the whole idea is preposterous – something bigger than US? US! THE WHO! A quick listen to this, lads, will bring us quickly down to size, I can assure you.
“I`m The Face”: Quite simply our first record. Words by Pete Meadon, mod miracle man with desert boots, blue beating, and randy female pop writers on every page of his address book.
Music was lifted from “Got Love If You Want It” by Slim Harpo. Pay your royalties, Meadon! Superb jazz guitar solo from somebody I don`t recognise, fast piano from some pilled-up lunatic who probably made more in session fees that day than we did from the ensuing year`s work. Best of all on this (for me) is Jack the Barber`s handclapping and John`s amazing “Zoops” on the bass…is this really the Who? Wo! Wo! Wo!
“Naked Eye”: Another track from the EP. This was written around a riff we often played on stage at the end of our act around the time we were touring early “Tommy”. It came to be one of our best stage numbers.
This was never released because we always hoped we would get a good live version one day. But then we`re such a lousy live group…
“Long Live Rock”: Well, there are dozens of these self-conscious hymns to the last 15 years appearing these days, and here`s another one. This was featured briefly in the film Keith did the music for – That`ll Be The Day. Billy Fury sang it.
This is most definitely the Definitive Version.
I had an idea once for a new album about the history of The Who called “Rock Is Dead – Long Live Rock”. That idea later blossomed into “Quadrophenia”.
All of these tracks have been part of bigger ideas, or at least grand dreams that didn`t see the light of day. At a time when each one of us in the band is, in a sense, looking at the future wearing a blindfold, it`s great to look back at a time when
we were able to make mistakes without worrying too much. Prepare yourselves people! For the Who`s next mistake! Meanwhile, content yourselves with this little lot.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Mike Oldfield, Brian Protheroe, Jerry Garcia, CSN&Y, Joni Mitchell, The Band, Ravi Shankar, Rufus Thomas, Joey Covington, Johnny Copping, ELO.
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