The Who

ARTICLE ABOUT Keith Moon (The Who) FROM New Musical Express, April 19, 1969

This article was found in print about a month before the group released their breakthrough album in the US, the now legendary “Tommy” album. So Moon may have liked to joke about its first single, but he didn`t know that this album would make The Who a household name for people all over the western world.
Read on!

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As `Piebald Lizard` leaps to No. 10, NME visits the Highgate Palace of…

Moon: Drummer extraordinaire

Words in the local by Richard Green

PRINCE Pizzowl Teenuque Moon, self-styled Ambassador to Highgate, made his grand entrance in the local exactly one hundred minutes late and graciously explained: “Matters of State, you know.”
His subjects, instead of showing the required respect, fell about laughing. This because “his Highness” is the latest guise of Keith Moon, Who drummer extraordinaire.
Since he advertised in a national newspaper recently for a title, Keith has been enjoying his own brand of regal status. He likes being introduced as a prince and he screws up his eyes and shakes with mirth when people respond.
Keith is feeling pleased that “Pinball Wizard”, or “Piebald Lizard” as he insists it be called, is doing well. Apparently this means the group will not have to work so hard on it.

Holiday

“Oh, good,” he replied when I told him its high NME position. “We can have a holiday now. That’s the best time to go away, when they all want you here.”
Keith has been spending some time recently in Bournemouth. To prevent panic among the more staid members of that community, I hasten to add that he has only been staying with his parents-in-law and has no evil intent.
“You have to get away now and again, else you’d go mad,” he grinned. “That’s why I won’t have a phone. You’d get home from a gig about four a.m., get the baby off to sleep and the phone’d go, there’d be people yelling ‘We’re coming round’ and the next thing, they’d be lugging crates up the stairs.
“You’d lie in bed watching them troop through, alsatians, performing elephants, the lot. They can’t phone me now, so I’m safe.”
And he broke up into another period of squeaking laughter. Whoever wrote “laugh and the world laughs with you” must have had Mr. Moon in mind.
He ordered another round of “tomato juices with the wonder ingredient — vodka,” then told me: “The LP’s finished. Actually, it was quite a quick one, it only took about four years! There’s only the mixing to do now.”

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Stage act

As Pete Townshend revealed in the NME a few weeks ago, the Who’s act is to be based entirely around the “Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy” album. Keith, in a rare moment of seriousness, elaborated.
“We may have to cut a bit because the album lasts about two hours,” he commented. “Maybe we’ll cut it to ninety. We’re doing that now on stage, though. ‘Specially places like universities where it goes on until one. We go on about eleven and there’s no hurry.
“It doesn’t mean the group’ll change, just the act. That’s only to get the feel of a continuing story across. All the songs are linked by a theme and one carries on from another.”
A friend asked Keith what the growths at the side of John Entwistle’s mouth were. He had been seen on “Top Of The Pops” sporting them.
“Oh, the best way to annoy the Ox (a Who-ism for J.E.) is to keep calling him Peter Sarstedt,” Keith advised, once more the Satanic smirk playing about his mouth.
Someone else asked Keith what the programme had been like and he replied: “We were about the only group down there, they’re filming most of it now. One bloke that was on was that coloured guy who’s good with his hands… Black and Decker’s his name I think.”
At this point, a reporter phoned and asked to speak to Keith. Keith decided it was time for a merry jape and put me on the line to answer the questions for him. We wait with baited breath for the resultant feature.

Outrageous

Enter Pete Townshend to try and persuade Keith that a rehearsal is necessary. Keith tells Pete that I’ve already written the feature while waiting for him and I add that Keith’s statements have been outrageous.
“Oh, Christ, what’s he been saying,” Pete moaned. “I can just see next week: We’ll be holding auditions for a new drummer!”
Pete dragged a protesting Keith away before further harm was done, Keith wanting to go back to his fifteen-room flat above a garage.

Make noise

“It’s useful being above a garage, you can make as much noise as you like,” he pointed out. “I only use two rooms and let some to a little old lady. There’s one where a bloke had a party about a year ago and I haven’t bothered to take the decorations down yet.”
There is also the room where a champagne bottle emerges from a wall. Keith alleges that having got upset with Kim, his wife, once he aimed the bottle at her head from a distance of two feet and missed. It stuck in the wall where it has remained ever since. Much to the amusement of two year-old Mandy who is used to seeing Daddy do funny things.

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If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

ARTICLE ABOUT The Who FROM New Musical Express, April 15, 1967

This Coronavirus thingy have made it necessary for me to spend more time at home. So at the time of writing I have about a month of articles written and ready for publishing here. Even if this crisis hits us hard in many ways, there will be something new to read here for a long time. To be positive: something good comes out of this at the very least. I hope that you, my loyal readers, are well and that you will continue to be well.
April 1967 was a better time to visit New York than April 2020 – as the Who found out!
Read on.

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Who`s smashing New York trip

By Keith Altham

THAT well-known demolition squad – the Who – recently returned from nine “smashing” days on a Murray the K “endurance test” at the New York RKO Radio Theatre (other non-combatants included Wilson Pickett, Mitch Ryder and the Cream) where they contrived to destroy everything on stage to the tunes of “My Generation” and “I Can`t Explain.”
Now that some of the dust and debris have settled I talked to bombardier Pete Townshend last Thursday who issued a full report on the damage and exclusively revealed to the NME news of their next missile, “Pictures Of Lily,” to be launched next Friday (21st).
“We worked hard on ‘propaganda’ for the first three days and I had two stock quotes which everyone wrote down,” said Pete.
“They were ‘we want to leave a wound’ and ‘we won’t let our music stand in the way of our visual act!’
“At the Press reception I walked around in an electric jacket with flashing light bulbs which proved to be something of an anti-climax because a girl had appeared on TV recently with a dress on the same principle. Reporters kept asking me where I had got my copy from and I said, ‘It’s psychedelic and it cost £200 and it’s supposed to blow yer mind!’
“We were to have done an Ed Sullivan TV show but the new readers were out on strike and as artists we were expected to support their action — so no show.
“Once in the theatre for the Murray the K show you are virtually trapped for the day and the show goes on continuously with artists appearing one after the other on a conveyor belt system.
“Originally we were supposed to do four numbers but we complained and said it was impossible to put the act over with only four numbers so they cut it to two!
“Someone had to cut their act because the show was running over so we volunteered.
“Murray the K’s wife was on the programme. She appeared about ten times in a fashion spot with teeny bopper girl models — `Jackie the K and her fabulous fashion show’.
“The most presentable of the models was a girl called ‘Joy Bang’ who took a liking to Keith which I think was mutual until she said, ‘You must meet my husband Paul Bang!’
“We really worked the destruction bit to a fine art in our spot. I developed a great thing where I hit myself on the head with my guitar which had absolutely no visual impact but made me see stars and I thought — ‘that’s nice!’

Dangerous:

“At one time I noticed Keith throwing his big bass drum at me with the spike protruding and Roger hurling the stand-mike at me from another direction.
“I made myself very thin and the mike shattered to pieces in front of me while the spike from the drum ripped my shirt down the back. The stage hands got tired of sweeping up the equipment and went on strike.
“Most of the things we broke had to be repaired by us afterwards for the next house — I discovered Fender guitars are very strong and cheap out in the U.S.!
“We shared a dressing room with a group called the ‘Hardly Moving Players` who did satirical sketches and were nice people. Below us the Cream and the Blues McGoos played whining guitars all afternoon until Pete and Keith retaliated for about three hours by going through the entire Shadows repertoire.
“Occasionally we went outside and allowed ourselves to be torn apart and sign autographs which wasn’t so bad because the kids give it back to you by storming the stage during the act.
“The only club I liked was one called The Scene where a man called Tiny Tim plays ukulele and sings ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’ and when anyone applauds he whoops like a Red Indian.
“I’m trying to get him signed up with our recording company!
“A few words on the new single.
“I submitted three songs and ‘Pictures Of Lily’ was the most obvious hit. It’s all about a boy who can’t sleep at night so his dad gives him some dirty pictures to look at.
“Then he falls in love with the girl in the pictures which is too bad because she is dead.”
Follow that!

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If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
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ARTICLE ABOUT The Who FROM New Musical Express, February 4, 1967

A great article by Mr. Drummond who unfortunately died in 2005 just 59 years old. He had been working in Afghanistan for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and was coming to the end of his three month engagement when he collapsed.
He leaves behind some great articles written for the NME as you can all read here. Thank you for your contribution to music history, Mr. Drummond!
Read on!

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Who are mellower fellows now

says Norrie Drummond

AFTER twice failing to turn up for appointments, Keith Moon eventually arrived for our third arranged meeting an hour late. I was waiting for him with the group’s panicking publicist Nancy Lewis in a small coffee bar not far from Piccadilly.
He apologised, ordered coffees and settled down at our table.
“I didn’t realise it was so late,” he said, “and the traffic on the way here was dreadful. I bet you we’ve got a parking ticket by the time we get back.”
Although neither Keith nor John Entwistle drive, they have just taken possession of a new Bentley. They have their own chauffeur, a young man called Wiggy, who looks a cross between John Lennon and Mao Tse-tung.
“We got the Bentley at a reduced price,” explained Keith. “You see, John and I have been recording a group called the Brood and their manager runs a car salesroom.”
John and Keith are toying with the idea of forming a production company. “We’ve been thinking about calling it Moonwhistle Productions. But at the moment we’re deciding which company will issue the Brood’s record. It may come out on Reaction or possibly its subsidiary, Repulsion,” he gagged.
I mentioned to Keith that in the past few months I had noticed a distinct change in the personalities of the group. The tensions and frayed tempers had disappeared, John was now talking, Pete and Roger had mellowed. I asked him what had brought about the sudden change.
He agreed that they all had mellowed recently. “The group works much more as a unit now than we did six months ago. To progress we felt we had to change our outlook. We had to be less outspoken and be more pleasant to people.
“For the first year we said a lot of things we didn’t mean merely to create impact. Mind you, the fights and arguments we had were all genuine enough but some of the statements we made in interviews were deliberately controversial.
Now, of course, I think we’ve developed as individual personalities. We don’t need to be as outrageous as we were before, and I think that now we are far more natural. We now speak our minds without worrying so much about image.”
I asked Keith about the group’s proposed TV series and whether it would be similar to the Monkees’ show or not.
“I like their TV series myself,” admitted Keith, “but I don’t really think our series will be anything like it. We’re completely different personalities. We’ll probably end up in a five-minute spot after the Epilogue on BBC-2, co-starring with Ollie Beak and Noddy.
“As the Who were one of the first groups to smash up their guitars and equipment onstage, how did Keith feel about the Move, who have apparently taken the smashing up bit a stage further ?

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Not bad

“They’re not a bad group. I don’t really know much about them except that the bass player moves like John Entwistle.
“I know a far better act, though. Two motor mechanic friends of Roger Daltrey called George The Weld and Jaimo The Rub.
“George goes about welding cars, doors, people, anything he can lay his hands on, and Jaimo then polishes them up!
“In their act they’re going to put cars and effigies of Hitler together again”
Building things up instead of smashing things up — maybe that’s what the Who are going to do in future, too.

But it doesn`t help their stage act a bit

I CAN’T help wondering just what the Who are all about. Their concert at London’s Saville theatre on Sunday was a mixed-up ragbag of their hit songs, new group compositions, flashing lights and winking toy robots wandering around the stage.
Oh, it was all pleasant and inoffensive enough — perhaps too inoffensive — and the sound was good, but all their former excitement seemed to have disappeared.
Admittedly, smoke bombs and fire crackers could not be used because of the fire risks, and the law regarding the use of stage props on Sundays must be taken into consideration, but the Who and their managers have always been able to think of something in the past.
The numbers they played — including “Happy Jack,” “Barbara Ann,” “Maurice The Spider” and half a dozen more — were good, but not what one might call overwhelming.
No smashed drum kits, not one broken guitar, merely a feeble thrust at one of Pete Townshend’s amplifiers. There was some good and original lighting using square and rectangular spots.

Went wrong

But what was the purpose of intentionally bringing down the curtain half-way through the act? As far as I could see the only thing it succeeded in doing was to drive about fifty people from the theatre.
But then perhaps the whole act was a “happening”- a “freak out.”
It could easily have been that I was simply disappointed with the Who after seeing the Jimi Hendrix Experience, which closed the first half of the show.
Despite the fact that only one mike was working and a meeting of the ETU seemed to be taking place on stage at the same time, they brought the first spark of life from a hitherto unresponsive audience.
Hendrix doesn’t only play his guitar — he caresses it, abuses it, mothers it and talks to it. He has a love-hate relationship with it. He is often happy with it, occasionally annoyed by it, but always the master of it.
He played “Wild Thing” the way the Troggs never could, and “Like A Rolling Stone” the way Dylan never would. He plays his guitar with his teeth, his feet, his amplifier, his elbow, occasionally his hands, and sometimes it plays on its own. Jimi Hendrix also sings — very well!

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This band only recorded a handful songs, but were very influential in psychedelic music scene. What could have been, if not for the draft?

If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT The Who FROM New Musical Express, December 24, 1966

A very early article with this band that recently released a new album. Nice to read this from so long time ago. Read on!

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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.

Persuade

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.

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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.

Jealous

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!

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT The Who FROM Sounds, November 8, 1975

A good, honest interview the way I like it. This one should be great for anyone interested in this band.
Read on.

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The magic had begun to dwindle… but now we`re shit-hot. We`re back to the stage where we can go anywhere and do a good show.

The Who`s verdict on The Tour and The Album. By Barbara Charone

PETE TOWNSHEND has a point. A very good point. `Where do you fit in magazines where the past is the hero and the present a queen’, he wrote for Roger Daltrey to sing on ‘They Are All In Love’ from the `Who By Numbers’ album. And it’s quite a valid question.
Where do the Who fit? So The Sunday Times safely locks them away in the sixties time capsule, remnants of something that was. In one neatly constructed paragraph they dismiss Pete Townshend as a writer who exhausted his topic after three songs. Jaded disbelievers file the Who under nostalgia, bringing them out of the closet with caution, fondly thinking of them much like you’d look at an ancient family scrapbook. But why concentrate exclusively on the past when the present is just as good and the future could possibly be even better?
Some 70,000 paying customers caught the Who on their recent romp round Britain. Not one of them was an aging geriatric patient bent on reliving youthful memories.
Maybe the kid standing precariously high atop a steel beam at Wembley likes Queen. Maybe he goes to see Status Quo when they’re in town. But right now this kid is imitating every Townshend gesture down to the last guitar swoop and leap across the stage. This kid never saw them at the Marquee or the Scene Club. This kid doesn’t even own a copy of ‘My Generation’ let alone ‘Who’s Next’. But this kid almost falls off his steel beam during the ‘Tommy’ finale. That’s today. Y’see the kids are all right.
With the Who inspiration isn’t rehearsed. Neither are the mistakes. Pete Townshend’s guitar strap falls down during the `Won’t Get Fooled Again’ finale. Roger Daltrey forgets the first verse to ‘Summertime Blues’ leaving John Entwistle a vocal solo. Playing with headphones to hear the ‘Baba O’Reilly’ backing tapes, Keith Moon gives one final percussive assault just after the rest of the band have finished the song. Townshend falls over during some visual acrobatics and Daltrey laughs.

But that’s exactly what makes the Who great. There’s an ominous sense of danger that permeates every concert, that very real knowledge that chaos could break out momentarily. Equipment fails, guitars feed back, tempers flair, the band threaten to break up in the dressing room after a show, disaster lurks overhead. Take the first night of their British tour.
Six thousand pounds had been spent on risers for the equipment and the drums to give the band more room on stage, to heighten the visuals. So there’s Keith Moon playing only to himself because the rest of the band can’t hear. Six thousand pounds and they threw it all away after the show.
“I think the first gig could have blown the whole thing,” John Entwistle admits. “There was absolutely no communication. We were just playing stuff we’d memorised and hoped it fit. The risers cut the band off from each other. It’s always like that. When we haven’t been working for a long time we try to do something new. And every time we do something the whole sound just goes. The times we’ve stuck Keith on rostrums and pulled him off the next night,” John sighs.

Tolerant

“The Who is a band that’s got to hear each other. If we don’t the whole thing falls to pieces. We’ve got to be on the floor with the amps close so we can hear what we’re doing. We’re more confident now because we can actually hear each other!”
Just a few years ago the first night in Stafford could have been the beginning and the end of the tour. Then the Who could have easily locked themselves in their dressing room and battled out the problem. Now they’ve matured because they`re determined to survive.
“We’re a lot more tolerant towards each other now. There’s still flare-ups, arguments, and screaming matches. But at least now we know what makes us tick,” Entwistle slyly beamed. “Now we know we can do a good show. That second night in Stafford cured us all. We just hadn’t done a show like that for ages.”
Prior to this recent period of productivity, the Who had grown collectively disillusioned and depressed over live performances. They had lost the enthusiasm and inspiration integral to elevating a show from the routine to the sublime. Playing five concerts in June of 1974, four at New York’s Madison Square Garden and one at London’s Charlton Athletic ground, the Who despised themselves for mechanically going through onstage motions.
“I nearly walked out of the band after the Charlton show,” Entwistle recalls. “I just couldn’t take it anymore, couldn’t take the lack of enthusiasm onstage. Since `Quadrophenia’ it’s been very difficult. Pete hasn’t wanted to particularly work onstage. He felt he wasn’t giving anything. Now he feels better than he has the last five years.
“Before we all wanted to keep the band together, but now we all want to work. Concerts had become straight Who gigs. We’d come offstage and say ‘Well that’s another one gone’. We`d never say ‘that was an amazing thing you played’. There was absolutely nothing there. The magic had begun to dwindle.”
“It got to the point where it just wasn’t fun anymore,” Daltrey said, echoing Entwistle’s statements. “And if it ain’t fun why bother?”
Yet the fun was a long time coming. A disturbing lack of good times permeated strained atmospheres during the first painful weeks attempting to record what eventually became ‘The Who By Numbers’. Normally optimistic Daltrey became depressed over the recording progress.

Traumas

“It just got to the point where I began to think that maybe we had done as much as we could within our framework. I kept telling myself that wasn’t true,” he said somberly.
But that tenuous maybe held steady. The Who felt like they had exhausted their framework during the first album sessions. Part of the problem revolved around differing rates of individual growth.
“We found it very difficult to record at first,” Entwistle recalled. “We couldn’t play well together and kept falling back on oldstyle Who playing without trying to put anything new into it. In the end we just had to takea break from recording, do a rehearsal and just jam between numbers to prove we could play again. We took a mobile down to Shepperton which did us a lot of good.”
Even more despondent that the group was producer Glyn Johns who had worked with them laughed. “Who’s Next’ was time however, beginning traumas and problems seemed insurmountable.
“Glyn had to go through a lot in those early sessions,” John admits; “When you get to a session and no one turns up I imagine you get somewhat disillusioned.
“I’ve had more fun making other albums,” Glyn Johns laughed. ” ‘Who’s Next’ was made under more satisfying conditions. This was more of a challenge because the atmosphere was far from relaxed. When they first arrived in the studio they weren’t a band. When they left the studio, they were. The album speaks for itself.”
While the rehearsals proved they could still play well together, the Who almost discarded the album much to Glyn Johns, horror when they heard the final mixes. About to scrap the entire project and return to the studio to record additional tracks, the band realised the problem lay in the album running order and subsequently worked out a more rationale line-up.
“The first album order just seemed to go down and down,” Entwistle said seriously.
“But the second order was like a new album. It’s the type of album we needed after the grandeur of ‘Quadrophenia’. We needed to prove that we`d done something since ‘Tommy’ as it had been regurgitated and thrown up again. We needed another album to let people know we were playing new music.
“Personally I think the next album should be live so people will know that we`re still touring,” he laughed ahout their recent onstage holiday. “We tried to do a live version of ‘Tommy` once and maybe we could include some selections from that. We need some new onstage numbers. We can’t play ‘Summertime Blues` for the rest of our life. But by the time we tour America again in the Spring we should be able to do another live album.”
Although it won’t be included on another live album, much of the new studio album translates easily to stage. Unlike the bulk of ‘Quadrophenia’ with its complex backing tapes, the more basic material from `The Who By Numbers’ finds the group returning to their original format.
“The synthesizer was the one thing I missed,” John admits. “I could have seen it on several tracks. But Roger doesn’t like synthesizers, he thinks they’re fake. Still I like to use them to colour the songs theme.”

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In tears

Deceptively low profile on first listening, much of the new album is charged with Who aggression and emotion. Several observers have remarked that they wished Townshend had been in a more optimistic frame of mind when writing the songs. Others insist the record is not indicative of group morale and believe Townshend should have released the material as a solo album. These complaints seem equally deceptive as first listenings.
The songs are stuffed with more genuine feeling and emotion than some of the bands better known work. Underneath the disillusion, lies a promising future optimism. Either Townshend writes words the band personally identify with or the band play merely emotionally. Or both.
“In a lot of ways I feel the same as Pete,” John said. “I could really relate to ‘How Many Friends’ and so could Keith. Moony was nearly in tears when he heard that song. Still, before we did ‘Squeeze Box’ and ‘Blue, Red and Grey’ the album had a different identity. Those songs brighten the whole thing up. I was personally more restricted on this album because complicated bass parts didn’t seem to fit so I simplified a lot of it.”
In many ways the cover caricature of the group, drawn by Entwistle, neatly parallels the inside contents. When the Who are apart friction and break-up rumours circulate but when they are joined together, the combination is unbeatable.
“That cartoon of the group has been around for about eight years. The first time I ever drew cartoons was on our American tour with Herman’s Hermits,” John laughs. “Pete and I were doing a comic strip. Pete’s was the Duchess versus Plum. We used to call Roger the Duchess because of his big, floppy hat and fur coat. Bob Pridden (sound engineer) was Plum, scruffy little man. My comic strip was Dr Jekyl and Dr Noom which was Moon, a monster that chased old ladies in wheel chairs.

“When it came round to this cover the band turned to me and said it’s your turn, so I just drew the cartoon updating the clothes and appearances as they have changed. Pete’s used to have more hair and no beard. I changed his nose as well, flattened it up. Roger’s had the same hair with different clothes. Keith’s is more or less exactly the same. Mine’s different cause I drew in an extra scar.” he laughs fiendishly. “Originally I was going to have birth signs with scales but then I thought that was a bit too far but.”
Astrology would have been too cosmic for the Who verging dangerously close to Yes or the Pink Floyd. Instead they stuck to a stark cover to compliment the authentic insides. It is the brute force of the Who that comes through onstage and record whether’s it’s the gentle frustration of ‘However Much I Booze’ or the vulnerable truths of ‘Dreaming From The Waist.’
“Making that album wasn’t easy in any way at all,” Glyn Johns admitted. “Reflecting on it, the greatest thing is that the end result is very healthy. That’s worth it. The Who came out of those album sessions full steam ahead and that’s very important.”
Full steam ahead means that the Who are earning their reputation as rock’s greatest performing band. Revitalised and invigorated, they are not living off the past. They play with a vengeance because they are determined to prove their worth. Even ‘Tommy’ is being done for a reason, not to capitalise on Ken Russell’s Technicolour glory but because they enjoy playing it. The days the Who walked offstage, and said ‘Well that’s another one gone’ are thankfully over.
“Actually it was our idea to do `Tommy’ onstage again. The reason I agreed to it was because everyone expected us to drop ‘Tommy’ from the act because of the film so instead we thought we’d do more of it,” Entwistle said with amused irony.
“We’re determined not to let anything worry us and try to do perfect shows. It’s obviously very important for us to keep the Who going. But I’d like to see the solo careers continue. I missed playing with the Who during the Ox tour but that’s what allows us to bring something extra to the band when we get back together. That’s what helps us grow.

Jamming

“We haven’t played this well since the ‘Live At Leeds’/`Tommy’ era,” John said proudly. “I suppose you could say we’re shit-hot. We’re back to the stage where we can go anywhere and do a good show. Before we’d just jam at rehearsal or in the studio and it was unbelievable but we could never do that onstage. We haven’t been able to jam onstage since we stopped doing ‘Tommy’. Now, ‘My Generation’ onwards is all off the top of our heads.”
The good shows are paying of with handsome results. Normally cold, sterile and cavernous, the Who transformed Wembley into one giant mass of sweating bodies all moving on the same rhythms. I can`t even remember `Brown Sugar` doing that to people. The kid on the high steel beam nearly fell over. What`s most positive is the future. While fondly paying homage to the past, the Who are impressively saying hello to the present.
As one observer astutely remarked: “They almost look like they love each other.”

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