A very early article with this band that recently released a new album. Nice to read this from so long time ago. Read on!
Who`s for a Merry Xmas!
By Keith Altham
Who`s for a merry Christmas, then – if we are to judge by their seasonal bounce up into the NME Top Twenty this week with “Happy Jack,” the newest composition from the bizarre pen of Pete Townshend.
Looking slightly the worse for wear due to having been full of the festive “spirit” the previous night at London’s new in-club, the Bag O’ Nails, John Entwistle was not optimistic about their prospects of a No. 1 hit when I located the group at Ryemuse recording studios last Friday.
“No chance with the Seekers’ new single,” expostulated John. “We’re always beaten to the top by the dead or the half dead. Good old Jim Reeves did it on us last time, and before that it was the singing pimple, Ken Dodd!”
Mr. Entwistle was not, apparently, convinced that this is the season of goodwill toward all men!
“I’ve got a list of people to insult written down on me sock,” obliged the bug-eyed Keith Moon, rolling up his trouser-leg to select a likely candidate. He was forestalled by being recalled to the studio to tape “Please Don’t Touch” for tonight’s “Ready, Steady, Go!” Christmas edition.
We were treated to some stereo-ed cockney from Keith in the control room, as he counted the group to start with “One, two, free.” What Pete had described as “The Who’s new sound” and was, in fact, their version of a very old rock sound, echoed about the room. They were to have recorded “Rock Around The Clock” for the show, but a change of plan was evident.
Manager Kit Lambert got RSG producer Francis Hitchens on the phone after explaining to a secretary that he just wanted a word with Francis for “the teensiest-weensiest minute” which was sufficient time for him to persuade Francis he ought to have “Please Don’t Touch” and not “Rock Around The Clock.” Which was just as well, seeing they had just recorded it!
The boys trooped back into the control room, and Pete proved informative over the origins of “Happy Jack, who lived in sand on the Isle of Man.”
“My father used to play saxophone in a band for the season on the Isle of Man when I was a kid,” said Pete. “There was no character called `Happy Jack,’ but I played on the beach a lot, and it’s just my memories of some of the weirdos who live out on the sand.”
At this point someone announced that there was a policeman in the reception complaining about someone’s car being an obstruction, so Pete strolled out and was not seen again. Which left me with that well-known pantomime team of Moon and Entwistle. What were they doing over Christmas?
“I shall buy a copy of `Mary’s Boy Child,’ stay home and pick nuts out of me cavities,” mourned John.
“I shall watch Walt Disney and buy a new copy of `The Hallelujah Chorus,’ ” breezed Mr. Moon.
“My copy’s a bit scratched,” nodded John.
Did the two jolly satirists consider Christmas too commercial now?
“I agree with whatever Paul Jones said,” announced John.
“I suppose I shall have to go out carol singing again,” moaned Keith.
Were they sorry that this was the last Christmas RSG?
“No, it was getting a drag, and anyway Cathy McGowan can always do toothpaste adverts,” said John, consolingly.
“Vicky Wickham can go into mass production,” added Keith.
“Francis Hitchens can join the Beach Boys,” capped John.
What changes would the New Year bring for the Who? And were they concerned over the possibility the Beatles might break up?
“Not as long as there are people like us — with imagination, drive and vigour — to carry on,” John replied.
“We’re planning some shock publicity pictures of the group,” confided Keith, ” to combat those meat pix of the Beatles, and the Stones photos in drag. We’ve got a big close-up of Pete having his finger nail bent backwards, and one of a one-eared Roger standing next to a self-portrait of Van Gogh.”
There was a short departure from the script when Kit Lambert announced that he wanted all the boys to draw portraits of each other for a “Top Of The Pops” film to be directed by Michael Lyndsay Hogg.
“Isn’t he an American?” said Keith, suspiciously. “And who am I drawing?”
“Roger,” said Kit.
“Thanks,” said Keith, but looked far from festive about it.
“Who am I doing?” asked John.
“Pete,” decided Kit.
“Good — he’s easy,” affirmed John.
There followed a rather puzzling story from Keith — for no apparent reason — about how he and John sat eating a Chinese meal in a Cologne restaurant recently while co-manager Chris Stamp and Pete got beaten up. “Every time they fell down to the floor they could see us ignoring it all and eating our meal a table away,” said Keith, delightedly.
Why were they attacked?
“I think it was because we’re just such good-looking boys, and they were jealous,” said Keith, innocently.
Finally John observed: “You know, some people have said that they preferred the flipside of the new single. Oh, sorry, that just slipped out!”
It transpired that John wrote the flipside, “I’ve Been Away,” which is “a waltz inspired by Victor Silvester,” he says.
As I left, Keith attempted to glue a sandwich to my overcoat with a tube of super-glue, but omitted to take the top off the tube! Moon is a must for the Christmas party this year!