Posts Tagged ‘John Entwistle’

The Who - Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and Keith MoonThe Who 'Live at Leeds' Concert, Leeds, Britain - Feb 1970

On the 50th anniversary of a legendary gig by The Who, people who were there have been recalling how the band “threw everything into it.” The rock group played at the packed University of Leeds refectory on 14th February 1970 and recorded the gig. The record it spawned, Live at Leeds.

It was 50 years ago today that the Who walked into the University of Leeds Refectory in Leeds, and played what many rock fans consider to be the greatest concert of all time. At the very least, the album they recorded that night “Live at Leeds” is one of the most celebrated live albums in the genre’s history, up there with the Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East, Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York, the Band’s The Last Waltz, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s Live Bullet, and Cheap Trick’s Live at Budokan.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Live at Leeds, the Who’s longtime sound engineer Bob Pridden to chat about the momentous gig. He joined their ranks in 1966 and, amazingly, stayed on the road with the Who until 2016 when he decided that half a century traveling around with a rock band was enough. “It was getting hard,” says the 74-year-old. “I wasn’t getting any younger. The pressure each night was getting hard for me.”

Pridden witnessed well over 1,000 gigs during his life with the Who, but he says they reached their peak in the late Sixties and early Seventies. “That’s when they were on fire,” he says. “The were working all the time and just on top of their game. As a unit of just four people, a band couldn’t be any better.”

It was his job to mix the sound every night for the room, but actually recording the shows for posterity wasn’t even a thought for the band in their earliest years. Tragically, that means that the hundreds of gigs they did between 1963 and 1968 have been completely lost to history beyond little bits here and there.

“About two years before Live at Leeds, I thought I’d try recording them with a couple of microphones plugged into a tape recorder,” Pridden says. “I brought an Akai seven-and-a-half–inch reel-to-reel and started taping shows on it. We went from that to a Vortexion where you can take a D.I. [direct input] into it and then put two mics into it and mix them in together.”

The enormous success of 1969’s Tommy forced the band to think more seriously about recording their shows. The rock opera gave them a huge new audience, but it was largely a studio creation that didn’t capture their explosive onstage sound. When they headed to America in the fall, Pridden was instructed to tape 30 shows for a live album that was envisioned as the perfect follow-up to Tommy. (Bootlegs were also becoming big business at this point, and the band wanted to beat the pirates at their own game.)

In Pete Townshend’s memoir “Who I Am”, he recalls speaking to Pridden after the tour and realizing he hadn’t taken any notes about the relative quality of each show. “There wasn’t enough time for us to wade through 30 shows again,” he wrote. “Plus we now had an additional eight that Bob had recorded in England — including the most recent show at the London Coliseum. For me to listen to 38 shows would take five days in a studio. Even with notes I would lose track. The live album was never going to happen if we didn’t do something, and fast.”

This was early in February 1970, and the band had only two gigs coming up before a long break, at Leeds University on February 14th and Hull’s City Hall the following day. “‘Hire an eight-track rig, record the shows, I’ll mix them both at home on my new eight-track machine, and the best of the two nights will have to do,’” Townshend instructed Pridden. “Bob was looking anxious again. ‘What do I do with the live tapes from the tour?’”

In a move he’d later label “one of the stupidest decisions of my life,” Townshend told Pridden to burn the tapes so that they’d never wind up in the hands of bootleggers. Pridden remembers the moment well all these years later. “I burned them in a dustbin in the back of a cottage I had,” he says. “I put them in the bin, dropped a match and that was it. I felt weird, but we were already planning on playing another show. I didn’t think that 20 years on people would be crying out for these things. But it couldn’t have been everything because some of them did eventually surface and they got used.”

Pridden’s bonfire put immense pressure on the Who as they headed to Leeds and Hull. They had just two nights to capture a perfect concert after thinking they could simply pick the best out of 30 in America. Making matters worse, the mobile recording kit that Townshend envisioned the label sending over wound up being “a bunch of bits and pieces in military-grade boxes” that arrived in a van. This equipment was set up in the cafeteria one floor below the general assembly hall where the Who were performing.

“They played in the room where students would get together and the headmaster or the teachers would talk from the stage,” says Pridden. “There were no seats at all and it was really packed. People were hanging off the side of the wall and onto things. It was packed to the gills. I don’t think these days that amount of people would even be let in.”

The set featured the vast majority of Tommy along with earlier hits like “I Can’t Explain,” “Happy Jack,” and “Substitute,” along with covers like “Fortune Teller” and “Summertime Blues,” and a nearly 16-minute version of “My Generation.”

“I played more carefully than usual and tried to avoid the careless bum notes that often occurred because I was trying to play and jump around at the same time,” Townshend wrote. “The next day we played a similar set in City Hall in Hull. This was another venue with good acoustics for loud rock, but it felt less intense than the previous night.”

When Pridden listened to the tapes, he was horrified to discover that John Entwistle’s bass parts somehow weren’t recorded at Hull. “Forget about Hull then,” Pridden recalls Townshend telling him. “Concentrate on Leeds.”

That show had its own problems though. In addition to intermittent clicks, the backing vocals weren’t recorded properly. “I arranged a session at Pye studios,” Townshend wrote, “played the show back, and John and I simply sang along. We covered the backing vocals in one take, preserving the immediacy of the live concert.”

Townshend tried slicing out the clicks with a razor blade and quickly realized it would be impossible to get all of them. But subpar-sounding bootlegs were flooding the market at this time, so the band just added a note to the label saying the clicks were intentional. The cover was a faded stamp reading “The Who: Live at Leeds” on brown paper, mirroring the look of illegal vinyl bootlegs of the era.

The original Live at Leeds, released May 23rd, 1970, featured just six of the 33 songs played at the show, and not a single one of them was from Tommy. It wasn’t until 1995 when a CD version arrived containing 14 of the songs, and the complete gig wouldn’t see the light of day until the release of a deluxe edition in 2001.

All this time, the master tapes for Hull sat in storage. They were presumed to be worthless because of the issues with Entwistle’s bass parts, but when prepping a 40th anniversary of Live at Leeds a decade ago, Pridden listened to the full Hull show for the first time. “That bass wasn’t there for the first five or six numbers,” he says. “Then all of a sudden it kicked in and stayed.”

He went to Townshend with his discovery. “Let’s get someone to overdub a bass on it,” Townshend said. “We can use it.” Horrified at the idea of someone else attempting to replicate John’s bass parts, Pridden came up with a better solution. “I thought to myself, ‘They did exactly the same set both nights,’” says Pridden. “‘Maybe we can lift the bass from the first few numbers on Leeds and drop it in.’ This is when Pro Tools was on the go.”

He tasked an audio engineer, Matt Hay, with the delicate task of lining up the Leeds bass parts to the Hull recordings. “We went in and set up an eight-track machine, which Hull was recorded on, and lifted the bass from Leeds and dropped it onto the track with Pro Tools,” says Pridden. “Poor Matt was running for two days and nights marrying the bass from Live at Leeds. But when we did, it was fantastic.” (Live at Hull was released on the 40th-anniversary edition of Live at Leeds in 2010 and as a standalone disc two years later.)

After the Leeds and Hull shows, the Who slowed down the pace of their touring considerably so they could focus on the creation of complex studio releases like Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. Their tours after 1971 were shorter affairs marked by private planes, drug binges, and sloppier sets, especially when it came to the work of Keith Moon. These were still incredible gigs by the standard of most any other band, but the magic of Live at Leeds — the culmination of seven years of relentless road work was never quite achieved again.

After Moon died in 1978, the group never again played as a four-piece band, despite coming close in 1999 and 2000 when Daltrey, Townshend, and Entwistle were joined only by drummer Zak Starkey and keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick

“They are still fantastic, though,” says Pridden. “I went to the concert at Wembley last year. It was certainly different with the orchestra, but it was magical. Maybe the next thing they’ll do is go back to a four-piece, but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell it’ll happen. It would be amazing, though.”

And looking back at Live at Leeds five decades later, Pridden says he and the band were moving so quickly they didn’t realize what an amazing legacy they were leaving for future generations to discover. It was just another show.

“We were making history,” he says. “But we weren’t history. We never thought about making history. We were just wandering minstrels out there having fun.”

The Who Roger Daltrey – lead vocals, harmonica, tambourine Pete Townshend – guitar, vocals John Entwistle – bass guitar, vocals Keith Moon – drums

The Live and Leeds album and singles

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While not exactly the most prolific of bands, The Who have released some of the most enduring and genuinely influential albums singles and in the history of rock

Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon first began touting their maximum r’n’b wares to West London’s pill-blocked mod community in 1964, hammering out James Brown and Slim Harpo covers as The High Numbers. Their original manager, publicist and self-styled ace face, Pete Meaden was more intent on getting his own name on the songwriting credits of their first single (I’m The Face/Zoot Suit) than looking after the band’s best interests, but when they were picked up by film-makers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert (lured by Townshend’s penchant for destroying guitars) the latter encouraged the troubled guitarist to compose some original material. Which he did. In abundance. And the rest is history.

The Who are among my my favorite band’s.  Lets have a look at their albums. Live At Leeds is no ordinary live album. Also included are the compilation Odds and Sods an album of outtakes and rarities because of so few studio albums and it was released while they were still going strong. and the compliation Meaty Big and Bouncy.

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Endless Wire – 2006 

This album was released in 2006. Obviously, I’m not as close to this album as The Who’s other albums..but I’ve listened to it more recently than the other albums.  It’s a good album but the best way I can describe it is it’s not as defined as other albums and the mini-opera Wire and Glass can get tedious. There are some good songs such as Black Widow’s Eyes (the only song featuring Zac Starkey), A Man in a Purple Dress and the different but good  God Speaks of Marty Robbins… I will say that time has affected Roger’s voice more than Pete’s. Pete’s voice sounds really good on this album. Roger does fine but age has treated Pete’s voice well.

Following their ludicrously extensive two decade-plus studio lay-off, Roger Daltrey weighs in with muscular vocals that occasionally overshoot the runway while Townshend remains largely introspective. Everything here is fine, but the overwhelming feeling is that none of these songs should ever trouble The Who’s live set. Performances are accomplished, but where’s the desire ?.

Regular live drummer Zak Starkey, a ten-year veteran unavailable due to touring commitments with Oasis is much missed, but the most keenly felt absence however is that of the late John Entwistle. Respected bass journeyman Pino Paladino work is solid, dependable, but the venerable Ox was always going to be utterly irreplaceable. A Man In A Purple Dress rails against religion, yet there’s no lyrical maturity, and you can’t escape the feeling that Townshend’s better than this. The Wire & Glass mini opera that lies at the heart of the project is as uneven as it’s technically faultless, and you cannot help but long for Endless Wire’s dependable surgical slickness to be shattered by a spell-breaking fart-at-a-funeral Moony drum fill.

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It’s Hard – 1982

One thing I will say about this album. It has aged better than I thought it would, never a big fan of this album. I liked some songs like Eminence Front, Athena and some of the tracks like Cry if you Want. This was the last studio Who album until 2006 Endless Wire. The band was not happy at this time and the end was coming…at least until they reunited at the end of the 80s for a reunion tour.

While lead singleAthena is insipid, with Pete Townshend at his most inconsequentially self-regarding, the guitar solo-led, groove-driven highlight Eminence Front remains in their live set to this day. Elsewhere the stylish muscle of Roger Daltrey powerhouse I’ve Known No War and epic dynamics of John Entwistle’s Dangerous work in the album’s favour, but Kenney Jones continues to wilfully behave himself. It’s Hard (their last studio set prior to a 24-year hiatus) is further hobbled by the always debilitating eighties factor. Its contemporary Glyn Johns production sheen lacks teeth and its Tommy-referencing cover documents a midlife style crisis that’s probably best forgotten.

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Face Dances – 1981

The first post-Moon album finds The Who on surprisingly good form. Occupying the Loon’s position at the rear ex-Faces drummer Kenney Jones faces an impossible task, but his tighter, more concise style focusses Townshend’s songwriting. Daltrey gives a little too much beef to some of the more sensitive material, but Entwistle’s The Quiet One is a highlight that, for a couple of years, replaced My Wife as his live party piece. Accompanying hit single You Better You Bet might not be Pete’s best work, but it boasts a similarly effective hook to Who Are You. Elsewhere modestly performing second single Don’t Let Go The Coat(again somewhat overcooked by Daltrey) further confirms Towshend’s continuing commitment to both the teachings of Meher Baba and, for the time being at least, sobriety.

This album has been slammed by critics and fans alike. I bought the album when it was released.  Face Dances was The first album without their engine, Keith Moon. Kenney Jones was a great drummer for the Small Faces and Faces but there is only one drummer for the Who and that was Keith. There are some good songs. “You Better You Bet”  (what I call “Who Are You’s” weak sister) Don’t Let Go the Coat, Another Tricky Day, and The Quiet One.

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Odds and Sods – 1974

This album was released in 1974 of outtakes and rarities that The Who had in the Vaults. The highlights are Long Live Rock, Naked Eye, Pure and Easy, and Postcard by John Entwistle. This album full of outtakes were as good as other bands A-songs. Just as its title suggests Odds And Sods is a collection of studio floor sweepings but, in this case at least, unreleased need not mean unworthy. Who’s Next era Long Live Rock previously sung by a Keith Moon-backed Billy Fury in the David Essex vehicle That’ll Be The Day movie — is absolutely classic ‘orrible ‘Oo in excelsis. The original Pete Meaden-penned single version of the pre-Who High Numbers’ rework of Slim Harpo’s Got Love If You Want It, I’m The Face (recorded in ‘64 as the b-side to Zoot Suit) is an essential mod artefact and irrefutable album highlight. Essentially compiled to confound bootleggers by a clearly spoiled-for-choice John Entwistle, Odds And Sods is a surprising highlight of the Who’s all too slight seventies output, and a release only deemed more essential by a CD-age doubling of its contents.

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Who Are You – 1978

The Who were in the worst shape of their 15-year career when they began work on Who Are You in late 1977. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey had taken nasty swipes at each other in the press in recent years, and Keith Moon was a severe drug addict. He was just 32, but he looked a good decade older. The punk revolution was also sweeping England, threatening to make bands like the Who seem like dinosaurs.

Pete Townshend was determined to see his band survive, though the Who Are You opening track “New Song” acknowledges his tough task: “I write the same old song with a few new lines/ And everybody wants to hear it.” The title track reflects on a drunken night with members of the Sex Pistols where he did actually pass out in a Soho doorway, while “Music Must Change” also acknowledges the changing musical landscape. “But is this song so different?” Townshend wonders. “Am I doing it all again?” Despite his doubts, the album was a huge success – but less than two weeks after it hit shelves, Keith Moon was dead. Ironically, he’s posed on the cover sitting in a chair that reads “Not To Be Taken Away.”

Keith Moon was not well during recordings of this album. Still, I’ll take a 70 percent Keith Moon over a 100 percent anyone else for the Who. It contained the Who classic title track, Sister Disco, 905, and Music Must Change. Pete continued what he started with the Who By Numbers album by writing from the perspective of an aging rocker. This album sold faster than any other Who album. Within the month of its release, Keith Moon was gone for good.

Intoxicated and depressed into ill health and undeniable disinterest, Keith Moon’s lack of form left the band operating at little more than 75% of their potential. Quite literally in the case of Music Must Change from which, uninspired, the debilitated drummer remained entirely absent, save for a handful of cymbal crashes. Overshadowed by Moon’s death just three weeks after its release, this out of time album remains one of Townshend’s most underrated works.

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Who by Numbers – 1975

Pete wrote songs so personal that Roger didn’t feel right about singing some of the songs. Pete was wondering at this point if The Who were still relevant anymore. He felt old by rock standards and wondered if the band should just pack it in.

This album had to grow on me but now I do appreciate the personal songs that Pete wrote. “How Many Friends” is the single saddest song in the Who’s catalog, while “Dreaming from the Waist” deals with the sexual frustration of aging. The best-known song is Squeeze Box but the album is full of good songs. Slip Kid, However Much I Booze, Dreaming from the Waist and Blue Red Grey. With Punk music starting to happen Pete wrote in “They Are All In Love”

Hey, goodbye all you punks, Stay young and stay high
Hand me my checkbook, And I’ll crawl out to die

After the high concepts that dominated the band’s output for the previous trilogy of albums, The Who By Numbers’ unpretentious straightforwardness arrived into the directionless pre-punk doldrums as something of a relief. Kicking off in impressive style with Slip Kid, things rapidly freewheel downhill as Townshend takes his Dr Marten-ed foot way too far off the gas. However Much I Booze swathes the guitarist’s ongoing descent into alcoholism in an inappropriately jolly arrangement, while the seemingly inescapable contemporary jukebox staple Squeeze Box is little more than throwaway, end-of-the-pier fluff. Where is the Pete Townshend of Lifehouse? Where the architect of Quadrophenia? In 1975 it was a baffling disappointment. And The Who, as they entered their thirties, seemed unbelievably old.

If Pete had only known the future…they were only in their twenties at that time…that is just the beginning now.

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A Quick One – 1966

Following on from the time-marking surf-heavy Ready Steady Who EP, The Who’s second album represented almost implausibly rapid progression, and exhibited a far higher level of sophistication to My Generation. If there’s a slight return to their mod-era dance floor traditionalism in Townshend’s So Sad About Us, his closing mini opera A Quick One While He’s Away is almost preposterously ambitious. A multi-part expansion of the kind of linear narratives that were to provide the band with their next brace of singles (Happy Jack, Pictures Of Lily) it hasn’t aged particularly well and sounds significantly more sixth form than La Scala.

The mini-opera starts here. A Quick One, While He’s Away is a classic song made of fragments weaved with each other to make a whole. Everyone writes at least one song for this album. John Entwistle with his signature tune Boris the Spider, Keith Moon turns out the crazy and strange “Cobwebs and Strange,” and a bit of power pop with I Need You. They also covered Heatwave with the familiar Who flair.

The Kids Are Alright

The Kids Are Alright (1979) 

Released to accompany Jeff Stein’s documentary of archive clips, The Kids Are Alright captures some of the band’s greatest performances, not least a titanic final assault on Won’t Get Fooled Again captured during the soon-to-be-late Keith Moon’s swansong appearance at Shepperton Film Studios on May 25th, 1978. Here also is the band’s show-stealing rendition of A Quick One While He’s Away from The Rolling Stones ill-fated Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus TV Special of ‘68 and the, quite literally, explosive My Generation detonated during The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour in ‘67 where soon-to-be long-term tinnitus sufferer Townshend is effectively deafened (and has his hair set on fire) when Moon exceeds the prescribed dose of pyro when blowing up his drum kit.

Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy [VINYL]

Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy (1971)

The overwhelming success of Tommy and Who’s Next brought the Who a huge new army of fans, and many of them weren’t around during their initial hit-making period in the 1960s. Also, many of their early classics (“I Can’t Explain,” “The Seeker,” “Substitute”) weren’t available on any album. It was common practice in the 1960s for bands to churn out regular singles, leaving many of them off their albums.

A cornerstone of any early seventies record collection, ‘60s hit compilation Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy provided irrefutable proof that throughout the previous decade The Who were not just a singles band but one of the world’s best. Prior to Townshend’s obsession with lengthier operatic works he was the master of the short sharp perfectly formed linear narrative, and the best (Happy Jack, Pictures Of Lily, I’m A Boy) are here, along with mod’s ultimate anthems; I Can’t Explain, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Substitute and the totemic My Generation.

The BBC Sessions

BBC Sessions (2000)

For pure mod-era distilled adrenalin you’d have to go a long way to find a better example than the guitar solo captured here on Anyway Anyhow Anywhere. Eye-opening insights into the early Who’s live set come courtesy of spirited frugs through James Brown’s Just You And Me Darling and The Olympics’ Good Lovin’. Elsewhere, rare Roger Daltrey composition See My Way is significantly perkier in session than in its A Quick One incarnation and, somewhat implausibly, disaffected teen anthem My Generation is rewritten as a perky Radio 1-promoting jingle. With plentiful chart hits reimagined, some of the Odds on here are significantly better than the higher profile Sods corralled elsewhere.

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Live at Leeds – 1970

Tommy was a bigger hit than the Who could have possibly imagined. They were suddenly headlining major festivals and playing to sold-out opera houses in major cities. They played the entire album every night, along with earlier songs and covers like “Young Man Blues” and “Summertime Blues.” They were on fire every single night, playing some of the greatest concerts in the history of rock.

In late 1969, they began taping shows for a possible live album, though Townshend was unhappy with the results.  Tapes were rolling again when they played Hull and Leeds University, in February 1970, but Entwistle’s bass parts weren’t captured during the opening songs at Hull, so they released the Leeds show. The original record of Live at Leeds just had six songs (three of which were covers) to showcase their pre-Tommy live repertoire but, over the years, they’ve slowly released the complete show.

There are live albums and then there is this… This album along with At Fillmore East rise above other live albums. Bands would release them when they were in between studio albums. On Live at Leeds, I have never heard a rock band so tight. This is the Who clicking on all cylinders.

The Who were always a very different band in the live arena and Live At Leeds captures them at their best. Rather than the tightly-disciplined studio entity, they’re a loose-limbed, tirelessly extemporising rock machine. Rather than simply duplicating three-minute hits, the vinyl album’s entire second side is split between an elongated improvisation upon My Generation and a similarly expanded version of Magic Bus. Considered for at least the first five years of its existence to be the ultimate example of the live rock record, Live At Leeds (now vastly expanded for CD) still boasts a rare, feral potency.

Moon, Entwistle, Townshend, and Daltrey are all in their prime on this.

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My Generation – 1965

A little over a year after he helped the Kinks become superstars by producing “You Really Got Me,” producer Shel Talmy brought the Who into his recording studio. They made the heavily Kinks-inspired “I Can’t Explain” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” together and those singles were successful enough to get the young band a deal for an entire album.

Scattered among a handful of perky, maximum r’n’b covers designed to keep Goldhawk Road modernists leaping, a batch of Townshend originals entirely define their time. None more than the pair recorded in a single session on October 13th, ‘65. The Kids Are Alright and My Generation. The Who’s intensified, electrified, surf-splashed, pop art-infused over-cranked bludgeoning not only provides a raw template for garage rock, but created a musical landscape within which Jimi Hendrix, Heavy Metal, punk, and therefore, modern rock itself could exist. Due to a long period of unavailability, My Generation attained mythic status in the mid-seventies as it was widely assumed that every track delivered equal parent-quaking wallop to its ubiquitous title track. Of course, they don’t, but if they did the album would be good enough to actually kill you

The title song is still an anthem of the sixties generation. This may be the hardest power pop album released, The Kids Are Alright, A Legal Matter, and Out In The Street.

They experimented in the studio and found new sounds and used feedback as an instrument. You start hearing the power chords on this album and the great hooks that Pete came up with on guitar…Roger still hasn’t grown into his later voice and the band is raw but electric.

The Ox is just a musical explosion. What a great debut album this was in 1965.

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Who Sell Out – 1967

The Who’s take on Pirate radio of the sixties complete with commercials. The standout hit was I Can See For Miles but this album is a collection of good songs strung together with fake commercials. The Who Sell Out wraps up with “Rael,” which contains the musical seeds of a story about a blind, deaf and dumb boy that would transform the Who into one of the biggest bands on Earth.

I like to listen to this album in sequence. Pete was maturing into the Pete we would know soon. The Who didn’t repeat themselves and kept reaching and experimenting.

The Who’s third album — recorded soon after their pivotal appearance at the Monterey Festival — was even more ambitious in scope than A Quick One, yet while lauded as a pop art masterpiece on its initial release it hasn’t aged well. That said stone-cold classic I Can See For Miles balances out overly contrived one-joke ditties like Odorono and Heinz Baked Beans, Speedy Keen’s Armenia City In The Sky injects psych-era menace (even if it is more Satanic Majesty than Sgt Pepper) while Rael (1 And 2) sounds like a premonitory collage of sketchy snippets from Townshend’s notebooks, even to the extent of offering an early glimpse of Tommy’s Sparks. A tentative Daltrey is yet to find his voice, there’s way too much growing up in public on display, and for all its courageous intentions it often sounds contrived, hurried and half-formed.

Strong tracks are Armenia City In The Sky, Tatto, Our Love Was, Relax. and Rael and of course the masterpiece I Can See For Miles.

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Tommy – 1969

This Rock Opera left a huge dent in pop culture and left its imprint on rock history. I like the album but the production leaves a lot to be desired. This album made the Who rock gods. There are some great songs on this album like Pinball Wizard, We’re Not Going To Take It, I’m Free, and The Acid Queen.

Always more ‘important’ than satisfying, Tommy talks a better game than it delivers. Again produced under enormous pressure, while the band teetered on the brink of onstage auto-destruction hastened bankruptcy (all that smashed gear, much of it hired, racked up king’s ransoms of debt) the creative hothouse of the late sixties demanded back-to-back releases and full-tilt progression as standard. The band’s instrumental interplay is nothing short of electrifying and Michael McInnerney’s game-changing cover art stunning. Pinball Wizard swiftly captured the public’s imagination and Townshend’s grand, Kit Lambert-encouraged operatic vision gradually came to full fruition in the live arena, saved The Who financially and broadened rock’s scope with an ambitious high concept that brought sixties pop to adulthood and presaged seventies prog.

I personally like Sally Simpson and Christmas. Pete Townshend and Kit Lambert worked together on this album and Kit helped Pete shape it into a concept album. I wished Kit would have let someone else engineer and mix it. I’m mostly a studio album guy but I think this album works better live than the record. Listening to the live version of this album around that time for me beats the album.

There is no denying that it is a landmark album in Rock.

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Quadrophenia – 1973

Touching on real-life incidents – like the Brighton Beach brawl between mods and rockers – the double album Quadrophenia was a worthy follow-up to Tommy, though this time, kids all around the world related to Jimmy and his intense feelings of isolation. It proved too difficult to play onstage in 1973, but they revived it in 1996 and 2012 to much acclaim.

This kick-started the Mod revival of the 70s. The concept album is about a teenager mod (Jimmy) coming of age in the 60s…It is also about the band itself and it’s four different personalities and also their fans. It is much more cohesive than Tommy and Pete’s use of synthesizers on this is incredible.

The band are on fire. The ensemble interplay that accompanies Roger Daltrey’s bullish. career-topping vocal performance is only ever stunning. Quadrophenia is Townshend’s masterpiece, his most convincing and engaging rock opera by some distance. Based in mod though eternally relevant, it’s bolstered by a vast, cinematic production and is utterly huge in every given sense of the word: in vision, scope, concept and enduring influence.

The Real Me, Doctor Jimmy, Love Reign O’er Me, Bell Boy, 5.15; compositions that don’t just represent The Who at their best, but rock at its best. Townshend’s writing has matured almost beyond recognition – even since Tommy – and considering that he’s progressed from I Can’t Explain’s surly proto-punk inarticulacy to a work of such depth, sophistication, magnitude and brilliance in under a decade is astonishing. Quadrophenia then, a standout album from a standout year, an undiminished juggernaut of epic proportions. Rock really doesn’t get any more classic than this.

The high spot for me is hearing Entwistle and Moon play “The Real Me.”

Some of the many great songs are Love, Reign O’er Me, The Real Me, The Punk and The Godfather, Drowned, 5:15.

Whosnext.jpg

Who’s Next -1971

There was really no suspense to this album being number one Who album. This arguably could be the best rock album of the 70s. Instead of Kit Lambert The Who hired Glyn Johns to help produce and it showed. The sound quality difference between this and Tommy is day and night. This album has a sonic quality like no other.

Having ultimately abandoned his long-promised Meher Baba-inspired Lifehouse project, Townshend asset-stripped its constituent parts for Who’s Next, and while it’s tempting to harbour a romantic notion of what could have been, the relative simplicity of a traditional nine-track album setting seems to suit the proposed Lifehouse material perfectly well. Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again (the latter released in a chart-troubling single edit) stand strong on their own merits and, bookending the album, have come to define the band in their prime. Roger Daltrey’s vocal performance is astonishing. Behind Blue Eyes seems to serve as signature piece for both Daltrey and Townshend, while Entwistle’s My Wife blazes with cannily deployed brass. A vast evolutionary leap forward that set the band’s reputation in stone as one of rock’s very best.

The album came out of a failed attempt at a rock concept album by Pete called Lifehouse that apparently no one but Pete understood. Classic radio stations use this album as their foundation. An incredible album with no weak songs.

These songs live work so well. Won’t Get Fooled Again maybe has the best line in Rock… “Meet the new boss, Same as the Old boss” . Pete Townshend released Lifehouse under his own name in 2000 as The Lifehouse Chronicles. It wasn’t nearly as good as Who’s Next. Not even close.

thanks in part to powerpop.blog, Rolling Stone and others.

The Albums
My Generation (1965)
A Quick One (1966)
The Who Sell Out (1967)
Tommy (1969)
Who’s Next (1971)
Quadrophenia (1973)
The Who by Numbers (1975)
Who Are You (1978)
Face Dances (1981)
It’s Hard (1982)
Endless Wire (2006)

Image result for The Who at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton UK on May 25th, 1978

The Who recorded live footage at Shepperton Studios in 1977 and 1978 for their documentary “The Kids are Alright”. Keith Moon’s final performance with The Who before his death was at these studios on May 25th, 1978.

Keith Moon climbed over his drum kit, took a bow, shook hands with fans and then walked off stage, unaware it would be the last time he would play live with the Who. The band had reconvened (after two years of not touring) at Shepperton Studios in England to record some pick-up footage for their documentary movie The Kids Are Alright. Some tension had surrounded the sessions, which was performed in front of a small invited audience, because director Jeff Stein was unhappy with a take of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

He wanted the band to play it again, and after some complaints, they did, giving it the bombastic ending Stein wanted. But no one could have predicted Keith Moon would be dead within four months, at age 32, a victim of his larger-than-life lifestyle. Moon suffered a number of setbacks during the 1970s, most notably the accidental death of chauffeur Neil Boland and the breakdown of his marriage. He became addicted to alcohol, particularly brandy and champagne, and acquired a reputation for decadence and dark humour.  After moving to Los Angeles with personal assistant Peter “Dougal” Butler during the mid-1970s, While touring with the Who, on several occasions he passed out on stage and was hospitalised. By their final tour with him in 1976, and particularly during production of The Kids Are Alrightand Who Are You, the drummer’s deterioration was evident. Moon moved back to London in 1978, dying in September of that year from an overdose of Heminevrin, a drug intended to treat or prevent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Scottish bassist Chris Glen of Michael Schenker Group, who knew Moon during the last decade of his life, says he still finds the footage difficult to watch. The pair first met when the Who played the Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland, around 1969, and Glen’s band Tear Gas — which later morphed into the Sensational Alex Harvey Band  were the support act. The Who and SAHB would later tour the U.K. together.

“It’s very emotional, and sadly it’s far from his best,” Glen says of the filmed performance, “He’d put on a lot of weight by that time … and the worst bit was that the Who hadn’t been together for a while. I saw him the week after the recording and he told me, ‘I wish we’d got together before it, just hung out together for a bit, and that would have made it better.’”

In spite of all Moon’s much-documented antics, Glen says the drummer “cared an awful lot about their music.”

“As a bass player,” he notes, “I was impressed with John Entwistle, of course, and one of the most impressive things was that it was John’s problem to take what Pete Townshend and Keith were doing and pull it together. That’s not easy and God knows how Roger Daltrey managed to find a place to fit in! But Keith really cared about what he did, and I think it’s a shame that’s ignored by the general populace.”

Glen had first-hand experience of Moon’s legendary eccentricities, and recounts a number of the drummer’s outlandish moments in his memoir Chris Glen: The Bass Business. In one instance, they were in a penthouse suite in a hotel in Glasgow, when Moon, who’d stolen a megaphone, opened the window and announced that there was a bomb scare in the building, leading to a police raid. Moon was arrested but released with a caution. Glen also remembers a story about Moon leaving a U.S. hotel only to return an hour later, because he’d forgotten to throw the TV out of his room window.

But Glen insists that not all of the drummer’s legendary antics were Moon’s idea. “Keith was a nicer, quieter guy than people think he was,” Glen says. “He was just easily led. You hear stories, like he drove his car into the swimming pool, but it wasn’t his idea. People would say, ‘Come on, Keith, do a Keith Moon thing! Drive your car into the swimming pool!’ and he’d go, ‘Okay, I will then.’ It’s not that he didn’t find it funny, or that he regretted it, it was just that if no one had asked him to do it, he wouldn’t have done it.”

tommy

Pete Townshend‘s masterpiece is as much a defining part of the late ’60s as Vietnam and Woodstock. Its story — about a deaf, dumb and blind boy  turns hippie idealism into a messianic fable of acceptance and rejection. But it’s the music, constructed as a rock opera complete with an overture and recurring musical themes, that holds together this double-record epic.

Perhaps it’s the original rock opera “Tommy”, released in 1969, composed by Pete Townshend and performed by The Who. This acclaimed work was presented over two LPs and it took the idea of thematically based albums to a much higher appreciation by both critics and the public. It was also the first story-based concept album of the rock era to enjoy commercial success. The Who went on to further explorations of the concept album format with their follow-up project “Lifehouse”, which was abandoned before completion, and with their 1973 rock opera, “Quadrophenia”.

After the witty, but flawed The Who Sell Out, The Who still hadn’t been really accepted as a serious album act. That was it, if they were going to conquer the world, they were going to have to use the big guns. It was time for the rock opera. While there had been concept albums before, none of them had been on this scale, Tommy was a double album meditation on loneliness, murder, child abuse, spritual guff, rejection and and a whole host of other weird stuff. On top of this it also had some fantastic tunes and was easily the best Who album to date.

Tommy as a little boy see’s his father murdered by his mother and her lover. He is told to never say he saw it or heard it. Tommy, being deaf, dumb, and blind learns to play pinball by sense of smell and touch soon master’s the game.
Tommy as an adult becomes famous for his pinball prowess and quickly gains a mass following. By the end of the Opera Tommy’s follower’s turn on him, as they get sick of all of the rules he give’s.

Townshend’s desire for this album to be taken seriously is underlined by the instrumental passages “Overture” and “Sparks”, though admittedly the ambitious “Underture” was far too long for its own good. Most of the characters in this cantata are given voice by Roger Daltrey, though each member of the band seems to get to voice at least one character. As many of the songs on Tommy are a part of the much bigger narrative, there’s actually not that many songs that work well as stand-alone tunes, with only the rocking “Pinball Wizard” and to a lesser extent “Sally Simpson” able to thrive outside of the confines of the parent album.

Tommy is an album you have to listen in totality. There’s no point in which you can happily let your mind wander, other than “Underture”, which probably explains why it is one of the most popular tracks on the album (i.e. it gives you chance to put the kettle on). Arguably the thing that makes Tommy work was the drive and ambition of Pete Townshend and the fact at this stage in their career, The Who were a particularly well-drilled band, capable of making a good job of almost anything thrown at them.

Of course since its release Tommy has inspired countless bands to attempt ill-conceived and frankly tedious concept albums, all trying to be hugely significant and open the doors of perception. Ultimately Tommy is a much more intelligent and creative album than its questionable legacy suggests.

On (May 23rd) in 1969: The Who released their classic album ‘Tommy’ (Track Records in the UK/Decca Records in the US), a full-blown ‘rock opera’ about a deaf, dumb & blind boy that launched the band to international superstardom; written almost entirely by Pete Townshend, his ability to construct a lengthy conceptual narrative brought new possibilities to rock music; despite the complexity involved, he & the band never lost sight of solid pop melodies, harmonies & forceful instrumentation, imbuing the material with a suitably powerful grace the album has sold over 20 million copies worldwide…

The Who – Rock Opera Tommy – Full Concert – 1989 – Live performance in Los Angeles at the Universal Amphitheater The Los Angeles version of this show featured Phil Collins as Uncle Ernie, Patti LaBelle as the Acid Queen, Steve Winwood as the Hawker, Elton John as the Pinball Wizard and Billy Idol as Cousin Kevin

The Band

Roger Daltry (Vocals) Peter Townsend (Vocals/ Guitar) John Entwistle (Vocals Bass) Phil Collins, Billy Idol, Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Steve Winwood Simon Phillips (drums) Steve Boltz Bolton (Guitar) John Rabbit Bundrick (Keyboards) Roddy Lorimor (trumpet) Jody Linscott (Percussion) Simon Clarke (Saxophone) Tim Sanders (Saxophone) Niel Sidwell (Trombone) Simon Gardner (Trumpet) Chyna (Vocals) Cleveland (Vocals) Billy Nichols (Vocals)

Image result for the who my generation record sleeve images

The Who have long held a reputation for being a ferocious live band, but a performance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour back in the ’60s resulted in one of the most memorable performances of all time. See, drummer Keith Moon always had a penchant for the extreme, but it was during this performance that he decided the band needed to end their live show with a bang… literally.

Bribing a stage hand to fill his drum kit with explosives, Keith Moon was set to make his drum kit explode at the end of the song. However, unbeknownst to almost everyone, the stagehand filled the drum kit with more than ten times the amount of explosives required. The resulting detonation was enough to almost destroy the stage, and to give guitarist Pete Townshend permanent hearing loss in one ear.

Along with tracks like ‘You Really Got Me’ by The Kinks, ‘My Generation’ was instrumental in forging the foundation for garage and punk rock. The dirty production, garagey arrangement, and defiant lyrics make this slice of proto-punk one of modern music’s most enduring youth anthems.

My Generation” by the English rock band The Who, which became a hit and one of their most recognisable songs. The song was named the 11th greatest song and among 100 greatest songs of all time. 

The song has been said to have “encapsulated the angst of being a teenager,” and has been characterized as a “nod to the mod counterculture” Originally released as a single on 29th October 1965, reaching No. 2 in the UK, The Who’s highest charting single in their home country,  “My Generation” also appeared on The Who’s 1965 debut titled album, My Generation  and The Who Sings My Generation in the United States , and in greatly extended form on their live album Live at Leeds (1970). The Who re-recorded the song for the Ready Steady Who! EP in 1966, but it was not included on the EP, and this version was released only in 1995 on the remastered version of the A Quick One album. The main difference between this version and the original is that instead of the hail of feedback which ends the original, the band play a chaotic rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory.” In the album’s liner notes the song is credited to both Townshend and Elgar.

But when guitarist and songwriter Pete Townsend was first penning the classic tune, it sounded more akin to later hit ‘Magic Bus’, consisting of shuffling acoustic guitar and a reverb-laden call-and-response section. Townshend reportedly wrote the song on a train and is said to have been inspired by the Queen Mother who is alleged to have had Townshend’s 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street in Belgravia because she was offended by the sight of it during her daily drive through the neighbourhood. Townshend has also credited Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues” as the inspiration for the song, saying “Without Mose I wouldn’t have written ‘My Generation’.”  Townshend  said that “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society.

An aspect of The Who’s “My Generation” is Daltrey’s delivery: an angry and frustrated stutter. Various stories exist as to the reason for this distinct delivery. One is that the song began as a slow talking blues number without the stutter (in the 1970s it was sometimes performed as such, but with the stutter, as “My Generation Blues” , but after being inspired by John Lee Hooker’s “Stuttering Blues,” Townshend reworked the song into its present form. Another reason is that it was suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British mod on speed. It is also proposed, albeit less frequently, that the stutter was introduced to give the group a framework for implying an expletive in the lyrics: “Why don’t you all fff… fade away!” However, producer Shel Talmy insisted it was simply “one of those happy accidents” that he thought they should keep. Roger Daltrey has also commented that he had not rehearsed the song prior to the recording, was nervous, and he was unable to hear his own voice through the monitors. The stutter came about as he tried to fit the lyrics to the music as best he could, and the band decided it worked well enough to keep. The BBC initially refused to play “My Generation” because it did not want to offend people who stutter, but it reversed its decision after the song became more popular.

The instrumentation of the song duly reflects the lyrics: fast and aggressive. Significantly, “My Generation” also featured one of the first bass solos in rock history. This was played by Entwistle on his Fender Jazz Bass, rather than the Danelectro bass he wanted to use; after buying three Danelectros with rare thin strings that kept breaking easily (and were not available separately), a frustrated Entwistle used his Fender strung with nylon tapewound strings and was forced to simplify the solo. The song’s coda features drumming from Keith Moon, as well, whereupon the song breaks down in spurts of guitar feedback from Townshend’s Rickenbacker, rather than fading out or ending cleanly on the tonic. There are two guitar parts. The basic instrumental track (as reflected on the instrumental version on the My Generation Deluxe edition) followed by Townshend’s overdubs including the furious feedback on the outro.

The Who
  • Roger Daltrey – lead vocals
  • Pete Townshend – guitar, backing vocals
  • John Entwistle – bass, backing vocals
  • Keith Moon – drums

Image result for the who roger daltrey 1973 images

The final night of the North American tour, was when The Who took to the stage of the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland before another sold-out house. This show, like the preceding show in Philadelphia two nights prior, was recorded by the King Biscuit Flower Hour. These historical recordings have been the source of collector confusion and the subject of debate for nearly 35 years. While PA system issues are apparent and the band is struggling with problems both on and off the stage, here for the first time ever, are the nearly complete direct recordings from this final night of The North American tour, including all the Quadrophenia songs performed that evening. Much like the Philadelphia gig two nights prior, this performance kicks off with a double dose of primal Who, first with the opener “I Can’t Explain” followed by a ferocious “Summertime Blues” to warm things up. Next up is another enjoyably expanded version of John Entwhistle’s “My Wife,” before they cap off this initial segment with the signature song, “My Generation.” Both feature impressive instrumental exchanges between Townshend, Entwhistle and Moon, with the latter taken at a furious tempo and pummeling in its delivery.

The next hour is devoted exclusively to Quadrophenia or as Daltrey jokingly mentions in his introduction, “what’s left of it.” The band had been trimming it down since the tour began and the opening “I Am The Sea” tape sequences had been problematic. On this final night in America, they forego it completely and instead launch directly into “The Real Me” to kick it off, followed by “The Punk And The Godfather.” As the storyline progresses, the crowd continues to surge toward the stage, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the band. Several times during Quadrophenia both Daltrey and Townshend implore the audience to relax and move back as fans were being crushed against the stage. After addressing this, Townshend continues with his introduction to “I’m One.” Similar in structure to “Behind Blue Eyes,” this begins as a solo vehicle for Townshend’s voice and guitar alone, before the entire group kicks in to dramatic effect. The remainder of the Quadrophenia material features plenty of great ensemble playing, but the problems continue in front of the stage and one can sense the band is distracted. The performance of “5:15” is quite good and a marathon take of “Drowned” never loses its energy. “Bell Boy,” again features Keith Moon altering his lyrics to recall the hotel room destroyed in Montreal earlier that week. Despite the technical limitations of the equipment, which are more prominent during this latter part of the Quadrophenia presentation, the band concludes with a fine performance of “Dr. Jimmy” followed by a majestic “Love, Reign O’er Me” that has Daltrey’s raw vocals echoing throughout the mammoth hall. It’s a strong finale to a difficult performance. As the audience roars, Daltrey addresses them in regards to this being their last night in America. He mentions the ups and downs of this tour and makes a point to debunk then prominent press rumors that this would be The Who’s last tour. As if to hammer this message home, they launch into a powerful “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” As icing on the cake, they cap it all off with two classic tracks from Townshend’s earlier magnum opus, Tommy. First by way of a frenetic rendition of “Pinball Wizard,” followed by a wild finale of “See Me Feel Me” to end the night and the 1973 North American tour.

King Biscuit Introduction

Setlist:

I Can’t Explain Summertime Blues My Wife My Generation Quadrophenia Introduction The Real Me I’m One Sea And Sand Drowned Bell Boy Doctor Jimmy Won’t Get Fooled Again Pinball Wizard See Me Feel Me

Roger Daltrey – vocals, harmonica; John Entwistle – vocals, bass; Keith Moon – vocals, drums; Pete Townshend – vocals, guitar

Universal Music will issue The Who “Live at the Fillmore East 1968” in April, a set of unreleased recordings from the second of two nights played at Bill Graham’s legendary, but short-lived, venue in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. An oft-bootleg concert by the Who will soon gets its first official release. Live at the Fillmore East 1968, which documents the last show of a two-night stand at the New York venue.

The two-disc, three-LP set, whose track listing is below, focuses largely on material from their two previous records, The Who Sell Out and A Quick One. But there are also three Eddie Cochran covers — “Summertime Blues,” “C’mon Everybody” and “My Way” plus takes on Benny Spellman’s Allen Toussaint-penned “Fortune Teller” and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ “Shakin’ All Over,” and a lengthy version of “My Generation.”.
The Who’s manager Kit Lambert had recorded both the 5th and 6th of April shows of ’68 with a view to issuing as The Who’s fourth album after “The Who Sell Out”That never happened, but 50 years later sound engineer Bob Pridden (who was there in 1968) has restored and mixed songs from the 6 April show for this new archival release.

The Who headlined the Fillmore East with Free Spirits and Buddy Guy opening.

The second night of The Who’s first run ever playing at the Fillmore East is an unbelievably great document of the band in its early prime, still full of the punk attitude that they would initially define while beginning to venture off into more artistic and experimental territory. Every minute of this performance is fascinating and much of this material has never been released, This set captures the entire band fully engaged in their music. Although many songs were still short and concise during this stage of their career, the intensity level is undeniable. Opening the show with Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” they immediately set a bar that most other bands could never even approach.

Their second song of this set is the Stones‘ cover of the Allen Toussaint penned “Fortune Teller” which they had just performed for the first time ever the previous night.

They continue with “I Can’t Explain,” one of the few songs American audiences were familiar with at the time, but with a new level of aggression that wasn’t apparent on that early single. Next up is their current single at the time, “Happy Jack,” a tune that found them exploring new directions and beginning to experiment with dynamic changes. Extremely rare live performances of “Relax” and “My Way” follow and continue to explore and expand on the boundaries within the band’s music. “Relax” surprisingly turns out to be one of the heavier numbers on this set and the band takes flight into some inspired jamming following the verses. Unfortunately, the jam fades out and is incomplete.

John Entwistle then steps up for his defining song, “Boris The Spider,” lending his dark sense of humor to the proceedings. At this point, the band launches into “My Generation” and this version is amazing. The improvisational section following the verses is a great early example of the band letting the music propel itself. Although at times it seems like they are on the verge of being out of control, they never are, and early signs of Townshend developing themes within a jam are also surfacing. The approach to their instruments and the sound they create as a unit is utterly unique and unlike any other band at that time. The reels were changed during this jam, so a small part of it is missing on this recording.

This surely must have left the audience breathless, so while they were recovering, the band embarks on their most experimental composition yet, “A Quick One While He’s Away,” which is incomplete and begins in the middle of the song. This adventurous suite of songs, loosely tied together, is a hint at Townshend’s future aspirations that would eventually be realized in his first full-blown rock opera, Tommy. This is a fascinating performance for its entire eight minutes.

They close their set this night with another propulsive jam on “Shakin’ All Over,” again letting the music propel the band through several pulverizing jams, including spontaneous flailing of riffs familiar from other songs. Again, the raw energy is astounding. This and the previous night’s performance must have gone a long way towards cementing their reputation in New York City. This should be required listening for anyone interested in that era of rock music and especially for anyone interested in The Who this is absolutely essential.

Pete Townshend – guitar, vocals; Roger Daltrey – vocals; John Entwistle – bass; Keith Moon – drums

The Who Live at Fillmore East 1968 will be released on 20th April 2018. Amazon UK have a remarkably cheap pre-order price for the 2CD edition. Who fans should also note that an expanded 2CD deluxe edition of Pete Townshend‘s solo album “Who Came First” will be issued a week earlier on 13th April.

A Quick One (Remastered)

Not long after The Who’s debut album was released, Pete Townshend was already moving on. “My Generation”, which had arrived at the tail end of 1965, was mostly made up of R&B covers, garage-rock rave-ups and guitar-powered pop that pretty much sounded like every other above-average British rock LP of the period, but louder. Their second record, “A Quick One”, showed a glimpse of Pete Townshend’s ambition, wit and skewed sense of what rock music should sound like in the mid-’60s when it was released on December 9th, 1966.

So when the group assembled in IBC Studios and Pye Studios in London late in the year to lay down tracks for its second album, Townshend  with the other band members dutifully along for the ride by contributing their own material . A Quick One is the Who’s most delightfully unfocused album,  weaving through the band’s most democratic period. Bassist John Entwistle contributed two songs (including “Boris the Spider,” probably his most well known composition); drummer Keith Moon did (the instrumental “Cobwebs and Strange” encapsulates his boozy, woozy charm in two and a half minutes). Vocalist Roger Daltrey wrote one song, plus there’s a cover of the Martha & the Vandellas hit “Heat Wave.”

That left the remaining four tracks to Townshend, who, by comparison to most of his bandmates’ contributions, sounds rather conventional on three songs, although “So Sad About Us” is one of his most underrated. But it’s his final number, and the album’s closer and de facto title track, that dominates the LP and sets up the Who’s future and legacy. Clocking in at more than nine minutes, “A Quick One, While He’s Away” distills six separate songs into one cohesive track. It was Townshend’s first attempt at a rock opera, prefiguring future classic Who albums like Tommy and Quadrophenia. And it’s a masterpiece of tension and release, the story of a woman who has an affair after her boyfriend goes missing, told through various song movements that shift through moods and tempos.

Today, the album is viewed as the link between the band’s more traditional early years and the start of the ambitious period that followed with 1967’s The Who Sell Out .

Recorded at IBC Studios, Pye Studios and Regent Sound, London in the autumn of 1966. Pete’s first rock opera contains six separate songs, ‘Her Man’s Gone’, ‘Crying Town’, ‘We Have A Remedy’, ‘Ivor The Engine Driver’, ‘Soon Be Home’, and ‘You Are Forgiven’. Along the way the unnamed heroine pines for her absent lover, selects Ivor as a substitute, regrets her folly when her man returns, confesses her indiscretion and is ultimately forgiven. John:”We wanted to put ‘cellos on the track but Kit Lambert said we couldn’t afford it. That’s why we sing ‘cello, cello, cello, cello,’…where we thought they should be.”

Who at Fillmore East 10/20-25/69 by David Byrd

This recording captures much of the third night of a weeklong engagement The Who performing their rock opera Tommy at the Fillmore East, with Bay Area band AUM opening, followed by fellow Brits King Crimson.

Following the band intro, they kick the show off with John Entwistle’s “Heaven and Hell,” their standard opener at the time. “I Can’t Explain” and “Fortune Teller” hark back to older times, as does “Young Man Blues,” but all three are played with a renewed ferocity, not apparent on the studio recordings.

Thundering bass and drumming that’s on the verge of being out of control combine with Townshend’s power chords to create a sound that is unmistakably The Who. It’s remarkable that only three musicians can create such a powerful sound, particularly on the latter song. Following a monologue by Townshend, preparing the audience for the long haul of their new rock opera, Tommy, they launch into a condensed version of the “Overture.” Although shorter than usual, the anchoring musical themes of the piece are introduced before the storyline begins with “It’s A Boy.”

The highlight of what exists here from the opera is probably “Sparks,” where the band really cuts loose into a pulverizing jam. Townshend’s guitar howls through the unique powerhouse rhythms created by Entwistle and Moon. The opera continues with the bluesy “Eyesight To The Blind” which segues into “Christmas” as the first tape runs out. Unfortunately, the recording misses most of the rest of Tommy, resuming as they are reaching the end of “See Me Feel Me” coda’s finale sequence.

The band ends the show with the double whammy of “Summertime Blues” followed by an unusually slow-paced “Shakin’ All Over” that features themes from several other songs drifting in and out, including “Smokestack Lightning.”

Pete Townshend – guitar, vocals; Roger Daltrey – vocals; John Entwistle – bass; Keith Moon – drums

The second night of The Who’s first run ever playing at the Fillmore East is an unbelievably great document of the band in its early prime, still full of the punk attitude that they would initially define while beginning to venture off into more artistic and experimental territory. Every minute of this performance is fascinating and much of this material cannot be found, in better quality or at all, on any other Who recordings. This set captures the entire band fully engaged in their music. Although many songs were still short and concise during this stage of their career, the intensity level is undeniable. Opening the show with Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” they immediately set a bar that most other bands could never even approach.

The previous year, two members of The Rolling Stones were arrested on drug charges under questionable circumstances, and were victimized by the U.K. courts. They were harshly sentenced in an attempt to make an example out of them, which immediately caused an uproar that shook London to the core. Following Jagger and Richards’ ridiculous sentencing, The Who quickly recorded two of their more popular songs in support and vowed to record nothing but Stones songs until the two were released. Their second song of this set is the Stones’ cover of the Allen Toussaint penned “Fortune Teller,” which they had just performed for the first time ever the previous night.

They continue with “I Can’t Explain,” one of the few songs American audiences were familiar with at the time, but with a new level of aggression that wasn’t apparent on that early single. Next up is their current single at the time, “Happy Jack,” a tune that found them exploring new directions and beginning to experiment with dynamic changes. Extremely rare live performances of “Relax” and “My Way” follow and continue to explore and expand on the boundaries within the band’s music. “Relax” surprisingly turns out to be one of the heavier numbers on this set and the band takes flight into some inspired jamming following the verses. Unfortunately, the jam fades out and is incomplete.

John Entwistle then steps up for his defining song, “Boris The Spider,” lending his dark sense of humor to the proceedings. At this point, the band launches into “My Generation” and this version is amazing. The improvisational section following the verses is a great early example of the band letting the music propel itself. Although at times it seems like they are on the verge of being out of control, they never are, and early signs of Townshend developing themes within a jam are also surfacing. The approach to their instruments and the sound they create as a unit is utterly unique and unlike any other band at that time. The reels were changed during this jam, so a small part of it is missing on this recording.

This surely must have left the audience breathless, so while they were recovering, the band embarks on their most experimental composition yet, “A Quick One While He’s Away,” which is incomplete and begins in the middle of the song. This adventurous suite of songs, loosely tied together, is a hint at Townshend’s future aspirations that would eventually be realized in his first full-blown rock opera, Tommy. This is a fascinating performance for its entire eight minutes.

Who at Fillmore East 4/5-6/68 by Helen Hersh

They close their set this night with another propulsive jam on “Shakin’ All Over,” again letting the music propel the band through several pulverizing jams, including spontaneous flailing of riffs familiar from other songs. Again, the raw energy is astounding. This and the previous night’s performance must have gone a long way towards cementing their reputation in New York City. This should be required listening for anyone interested in that era of rock music and especially for anyone interested in The Who

The lead guitar Pete Townshend plays on “Can’t Explain” is ridiculously on point. Phenomenal guitar playing

Pete Townshend – guitar, vocals; Roger Daltrey – vocals; John Entwistle – bass; Keith Moon – drums