Posts Tagged ‘Keith Moon’

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The Who were scheduled as the second to last act (before Jefferson Airplane) to play on Saturday, August 16th. When they actually started playing it was already Sunday morning around 5:00. They played their exceptional Tommy album, a Rock Opera dealing with the struggle of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who later finds a cure and gains stardom with his messianic movement. The finale of this performance took place during sunrise which occured at 6:05 am, The story of a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who is cured of his ailments and gains stardom became a legendary performance. Although not an apex performance in the Who’s career, Woodstock helped solidify the band’s place in rock history.

In 1969 The Who performed most of the songs from “Tommy” with some modifications due to time constraints. During the set Abbie Hoffman took the stage and protested the imprisonment of MC5 member and White Panther leader John Sinclair on charges of marijuana possession. Hoffman was met with a few unfriendly words from Townshend as well as a guitar to the head. A clip of this can be heard the Who compilation “Thirty Years of Maximum R&B”. While Townshend has some rather strong words expressing dissatisfaction with the performance, it is still seen as a historical in the rock and roll world.  Townshend, angry that someone took the stage, yelled: “Fuck off! Fuck off my fucking stage!”, hit him with his guitar and sending him off stage again. Townshend then added: “I can dig it!”; And after the song “Do You Think It’s Alright?”: “The next fuckin’ person that walks across this stage is gonna get fuckin’ killed! [crowd cheers] You can laugh, I mean it!”  A 16 second sound bite of the incident can be heard on The Who compilation set entitled Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (Disc 2, Track 20, “Abbie Hoffman Incident”).

The lone highway that led to Woodstock was jammed with traffic, so the Who left the hotel early to play its Saturday night show. When the group arrived, word was out that bands weren’t getting paid; the promoters had decreed it a free show and stopped trying to collect tickets because so many people had turned up. The Who refused to go on until it received a cashier’s check, but all the banks were closed.

The Who have long expressed disdain for their Woodstock performance, and in a new interview, singer Roger Daltrey noted that a series of delays and equipment problems prevented them from playing until 5AM.

“You’ve got to remember, by the time we went onstage, we’d been standing in the mud for hours,” he told The New York Times. “Or laying in it, or doing whatever in it. It wasn’t actually that muddy backstage, but it wasn’t comfort, let’s put it that way. … That’s all you could do. Waiting, waiting, waiting. We were young, and life is a lot easier when you’re young. I wouldn’t do that show now. Sod that. I’d walk away from it. I’m joking. No, I’d walk away and come back 10 hours later.”

Daltrey said he has never listened to the Who’s set to reassess it with years of detachment. But, after noting it was the band’s worst gig, he still has vivid memories of what went wrong.

“It was a particularly hard one for me, because of the state of the equipment,” he said. “It was all breaking down. I’m standing in the middle of the stage with enormous Marshall 100-watt amps blasting my ears behind me. [Keith] Moon on the drums in the middle. I could barely hear what I was singing.”

While promoters scrambled to find money and the wait stretched out, the band found trouble, as it often did. The drummer Keith Moon and the bassist John Entwistle dropped acid and partied in the back of a station wagon with a pair of young female fans. The guitarist and chief songwriter Pete Townshend drank a cup of coffee backstage, and realized it was spiked with acid. When the singer Roger Daltrey took a break from his bottle of Southern Comfort to drink some tea, he, too, began to hallucinate.

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Finally, after a wait that totaled 14 hours, the Who went on early Sunday morning and played its new album, the epochal rock opera “Tommy.” Moments after the set finished, the activist-prankster Abbie Hoffman, also high on LSD, crashed the stage, and said, into Townshend’s microphone, that the focus shouldn’t be on music, but on the MC5 manager John Sinclair, who was in prison on a minor marijuana charge. Townshend, according to his memoir, “Who I Am,” “knocked Abbie aside” with his guitar. The crowd roared at Townshend’s act of non-nonviolence. After years of struggling commercially in the United States, the Who had found a way to establish who it was.

 

The Who have long expressed disdain for their Woodstock performance, and in a new interview, singer Roger Daltrey noted that a series of delays and equipment problems prevented them from playing until 5AM.

Pete Townshend

When it comes to chops and technique on the instrument, Pete Townshend is rarely thought of as a virtuoso, but he may just be the best guitarist in rock’s history. Townshend soloed infrequently during the Who’s glory run especially if we’re talking about studio albums but no player has used the guitar to build up so much of a band’s sonic architecture.

Pete Townshend (born 1945 Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend), lead guitarist and principal songwriter of one of the world’s most successful bands The Who, was also known for his extravagant stage style. The Who’s shows often culminated in him smashing his guitar.

Such on-stage equipment destruction has now become part of rock and roll tradition and while Jerry Lee Lewis may have been the first rock artist to destroy pianos on stage, Pete Townshend was the first guitar-smashing rock artist. Rolling Stone magazine included his guitar smashing at the Railway Hotel, Harrow in September of 1964 in their list of ’50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock & Roll’. The Who are the best known and most brilliant expression of the most influential “youth movement” ever to take Great Britain, the Mods. Their career began in Shepherd’s Bush, a lower-class suburb of London, and took them through such places as Brighton-by-the-sea, scene of the great Mod-Rocker battles several years ago. Their first recording was “My Generation.”.

Townshend’s career with The Who has spanned more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time. The author of most of the material, the composer of most of the music and the impetus behind the Who’s stylistic stance. It was he, for example, who is credited with initiating the Union Jack style in clothes.

Townshend was the primary songwriter for the group, writing over 100 songs on the band’s eleven studio albums, including the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus dozens of additional songs that appeared as non-album track singles, bonus tracks on re-issues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds and Sods.

A genius for overdubbing, with a sense of scale and shape that bordered on the Bachian, and an underrated acoustic player, Townshend used the guitar as a tool to abet his singular compositions, and as the director within the band’s dynamics and interplay. While there are also stellar moments within Townshend’s solo career as well, here are 10 cuts from the Who’s heyday that work as a primer for his guitar brilliance.

10. “Pictures of Lily” (1967)
One of the best written singles of its decade—it’s essentially a short story in song form about masturbation, a post-Mod bildungsroman—“Lily” is typical of Who songs of this vintage for not having a guitar solo. But listen to the intense, driving chording of the song. Townshend has the firmest of grips on his guitar, his central riff acting as a path for Keith Moon and John Entwistle to follow. There’s bounce in that riff, too, a playfulness that provides congruity with the oh-so-cheeky lyric that turns out to have the warmest of hearts at its core

9. “A Quick One (While He’s Away)” (1968)
The album version is pretty great, too, ditto the Leeds and Hull live renditions from 1970, but this performance from The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus stands as the best live Who cut of all. The band was tighter than a seaman’s knot thanks to working on Tommy in the studio. Townshend’s volume-swelling chords lend scope right from the opening section, which makes Moon’s fills feel all the more epic. Come the coda, as the power chords rain down and the intense hammer-ons come in clusters, it’s evident that here’s an artist who uses every last crayon in the tin.

8. “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (1965)
A strangely under-discussed early single, this is the Who growing up—fast—in large part thanks to Townshend’s guitar. Displeased with the feel of the preceding “I Can’t Explain”—they thought it wasn’t tough enough—the band boosted the energy quotient and Townshend decided to turn his guitar into a percussive element. Put simply, he bashes holy hell out of the thing on the instrumental blast-out-of-the-galaxy bit. What makes a guitarist think that way? See a rule, detonate a rule. This was a melding of avant-garde bona fides with a populist kick. Thrilling.

7. “My Way” (1968)
Finally receiving an official release in 2018, the Who’s April 1968 Fillmore East gig includes this Eddie Cochran cover, with Townshend’s tone blending rockabilly twang and proto-metal swagger. And lordy, that first guitar solo—distortion, a broad-assed tone, coppery sheen, a curl or two of vibrato. Then the second comes along and redoubles everything before some slashing power chords top us off.

6. “Pinball Wizard” (1969)
It’s a cool notion that one of the most indelible of all guitar tracks should feature both acoustic and electric guitars, and nary a solo in sight: how many other songs can you say that about? The opening riff is both easy to play and something that no one else would have thought of. Orson Welles would talk about the dozen or so ideas that might just come to a genius, like a gift from the gods, without laboring over them, and one has the sense that the song-starting guitar figure fit that bill for Townshend. It’s as central to rock riffology as the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” the Stones’ “Satisfaction” or the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” And that’s not even the guitar high point of the song. For that we have to turn to the over-loud—but pleasingly so—crunch that follows the “sure plays a mean pinball” line, especially on the second pass. You can just about feel Townshend’s entire body leaning into his instrument.

5. “5:15” (1973)
There may be no better guitar album in rock than Quadrophenia, the Who’s second double-album rock opera. The guitar textures are tapestries that could hang on a museum’s walls, were it possible to mount sound. This brassy strut of a song, with its angry-young-man lyrics about various boasts that, of course, will never be brought off, bubbles with aggression and ego, which is also to say, the insecurity of the hero of the piece, Jimmy the Mod. Townshend’s solo channels the energy of a Motown horn section, and Roger Daltrey can’t stop himself from vocalizing through it. It just feels good—like Jimmy does as he rides those rails.

4. “My Generation” (1970)
This fourteen-and-a-half-minute rendition of the Who’s unofficial anthem from Live at Leeds is practically an album unto itself. Townshend’s guitar has a lot of responsibility: it triggers the next spate of improvisations from the band, brings them to a stop so as to start something else, solos with gusto, and unleashes enough riffs to stock another guitarist’s career. A Townshend riff is never just a riff: it can double as the basis of a song that will be further fleshed out. Near the end of this performance, he starts playing against his own echo from the back of the hall. No guitarist was better at waiting than Townshend, allowing a sound or an idea to develop. He plays a figure, the echo repeats it, with the effect that it’s in a slightly different, more compressed key, and another cue for invention is taken from that.

3. “Overture” (1969)
The opening number from Tommy has a lot of instrumental high points—Moon’s drumming, for instance—but listen to the acoustic playing in the song’s segue sequence near the end. Arpeggios ripple outwards, delicate figures possessing almost flower-like forms dance, flamenco movements intercede and Townshend gives his guitar a couple of open-palmed whacks that produce echoes to further vibrate the strings.

2. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971)
An anthem in which a synthesizer and a power-chording guitar essentially duet, and drums pop from all directions, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is like two kinds of concertos in one. Again, no guitar solo, and so much of the guitar you do hear comes in impeccably placed staccato bursts. The tone is crucial to the overall sound design; and where else can you hear a tone that sounds like a tendril of frozen fire being dragged across a radiator grill?

1. “Quadrophenia” (1973)
There are moments in the title track from the Who’s second rock opera album that Townshend’s guitar so seamlessly assumes the characteristics of its surroundings that it doesn’t sound like a guitar at all. The lines are regularly pinched, tamped down, which lends them a greater reverby quality, and a greater sing-song one, too. No player had a more vocal guitar than Townshend, in terms of making the instrument sing. He varies his pacing throughout, so that when the synth goes faster it feels natural that the guitar should immediately start to dance alongside it. And when the cut slows down and the heavens feel as though they’re opening up, it’s the guitar that comes descending down from them.

Of all the shows on The Who’s legendary “Quardrophenia” tour in 1973, none stands out more than the penultimate show in Philadelphia on December 4th.  Parts of this show were broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and titles surfaced almost immediately taped directly from the radio broadcast.

The first is the famous “Tales From The Who” (TMOQ) which featured one of William Stout’s most well known covers featuring the band in cages a la a box of animal crackers cookies. Over half of this two-record set is devoted to selections from the then-new Quadrophenia, and there’s an amusing story about this recording. Normally when the King Biscuit producers put out live concerts for commercial broadcasts, they carefully bleeped out any obscenities, but in this case they overlooked some. The New Orleans radio station that aired this program was unaware, like the show’s producers, that “Dr. Jimmy” contained a four-letter word, and it was duly broadcast. However, whichever station provided the broadcast that served as the source material for this bootleg had a station manager or program director familiar with the song, so they duly dubbed the KBFH disc to reel-to-reel tape and spliced out the offending word prior to airing the program (producing the bizarre line “Her fella’s gonna kill me/Aww, f-ill he”), but even they missed another one slipped into “My Generation.” The bootleg label’s claim that this is a quadraphonic release was a bit laughable, because it couldn’t been taped off the radio in quadraphonic, and trying to convert it after the fact would have had all the success of the pseudo-stereo records of the 1960s. According to William Stout, who designed the colorful cover that was a knockoff of classic horror comic book covers, only 120 copies of this two-record set were released, as the operators of TMOQ knew that the FBI was on their trail and, in a fit of panic, they destroyed all other copies of the release (as quoted in Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry by Clinton Heylin).

Like most King Biscuit broadcasts, the sound isn’t quite as good as typical commercial live rock records, but this collectable is far better-sounding than any other bootlegs featuring the Who, and its extreme rarity makes it a very valuable recording to own, superseded only by the original King Biscuit Flower Hour LPs distributed to the network radio stations for the broadcast.

This release was copied on “Who Are You” (Ruthless Rhymes), copy of the TMQ release with five songs from a 1971 audience recording.  The Ruthless Rhymes release was copied on the German release “Mods & Rockers”(Ruthless Rhymes) and on another German title called Mods & Rockers (Slipped Disc) in 1974.

The final vinyl release  was Decidedly Belated Response (TAKRL). This new release contains the recently surfaced, more complete version of the Spectrum show for the first time ever. “Substitute,” “The Punk And The Godfather,” “5:15,” “Drowned,” “Naked Eye” are new to on this release with only “Love, Reign O’er Me” being the only song missing from the setlist.

The sound quality on this release is nothing short of phenomenal.  Given the phenomenal performance, this is  simply a fantastic release.  The set begins with a few older numbers to warm up the audience.  After a moment of audience buzz the band launch into “Substitute” and “I Can’t Explain.”

The Band:

Roger Daltrey: Vocals, Harmonica
John Entwistle: Vocals, Bass
Keith Moon: Vocals, Drums
Pete Townshend: Guitar, Vocals

The Setlist 00:01:00 “I Can’t Explain” 00:03:29 “Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehar) 00:07:32 “My Wife” (John Entwistle) 00:14:50 “My Generation/My Generation Blues” 00:21:46 Pete Introduces Quadrophenia 00:23:00 “I Am the Sea” 00:24:52 “The Real Me” 00:30:42 “The Punk and the Godfather” 00:36:47 “I’m One” 00:39:355:1500:46:28 “Sea and Sand” 00:53:35 “Drowned” 01:03:43 “Bell Boy” 01:09:05 “Doctor Jimmy” 01:17:43 “Won’t Get Fooled Again” 01:26:36 “Pinball Wizard” 01:29:32 “See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You” 01:43:14 Encore 01:43:33 “Naked Eye”

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The Who’s incendiary 1968 performance on “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” TV special. That article was all about the incredible power of the Who, and Townshend in particular, as live performers.

Pete Townshend’s stage antics were unparalleled (the leaps, the windmill, the guitar smashing), as was the sheer speed and energy of his playing. As another example, check out one of my all-time favorite Townshend live performances, him doing Quadrophenia’s “Drowned” by himself on acoustic guitar at the 1979 Secret Policeman’s Ball.

The entire performance is spellbinding, but the guitar flurry he unleashes at the 2:00 mark just blows me away every time. That technical dexterity combined with primal energy, top-notch songwriting, and heartbreaking pathos encapsulates the amazing creative mixture that was Pete Townshend.

Yet there’s a quieter, more private side of Pete Townshend that’s just as noteworthy. Beginning in the late 1960s, Townshend was on the forefront of the development of home studios. In a world before ProTools and GarageBand, the idea of having a recording studio in your own home was quite extraordinary, but Townshend took to it immediately and started producing amazingly rich demo recordings on which he sang and played every instrument (including drums and bass). For tracks that later found their way onto Who albums, these demos provided a template for the other members of the Who to flesh out with their individual parts, adding their own flourishes and touches.

It’s incredible, however, how fully Townshend had already worked out the arrangements of these future Who classics. In many respects he’d figured everything out ahead of time, and it was just up to The Who to lay it down in a professional studio, bringing to it the animal electricity that only The Who could.

The first album for which Townshend did extensive home demoing was 1969’s “Tommy”, and his demo of “Pinball Wizard” is a perfect example of his arranging genius, as his home recording maps out the song pretty much exactly in line with the Who version that would sweep the world by storm:

Despite the fact that Townshend could play every instrument and write every part, he never felt like he didn’t need the band. He heard in these demos exactly what we hear today—that Keith Moon’s manic drumming, John Entwhistle’s muscular bass, and Roger Daltrey’s guttural fury launch these songs to a whole other level.

It was in preparing for the Who’s next album—which started as the multimedia Lifehouse project but wound up as the Who’s Next collection released in 1971—that Townshend began producing stunningly complex and beautiful home demos, cuts that really demonstrate his multi-instrumental talent and sonic adventurousness. One of the most impressive tracks is “Baba O’Riley,” which is both like and quite unlike the eventually released Who version:

Townshend’s synthesizer part is mind-blowing in and of itself, revolutionary at the time and still impressive today. In fact, the part heard on this home demo is the very one the Who wound up using on the official recording (though they did muck around with it a bit once in a professional studio). “Baba O’Riley” gives a fascinating window into Townshend’s creative process. All the basic parts of the Who version are here, but this demo goes on for longer, and includes little passages here and there that eventually got cut from the Who’s Next arrangement. In this recording we get to hear all the ideas Townshend throws at the wall, and by comparing it to the released version he can hear what eventually stuck (though Townshend was reportedly unhappy with the released version of “Baba O’Riley,” feeling that he’d allowed too much material to be cut; he’s wrong, though, since The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” is pretty much perfect).

Another Who’s Next classic worth pointing out here is “Behind Blue Eyes.” Again, the demo mostly mirrors the Who version, but in this case it has an entirely different feel. Whereas the Who’s version is for the most part loud and bombastic, Townshend’s demo version is gentle, dark, and plaintive,  (Daltrey’s over-the-top vocals on this track have always bothered me):

These demos provide the listener a view into an alternate reality where Townshend rather than Daltrey is The Who’s primary vocalist. I mean, listen, for much of the Who’s material, Daltrey was the man for the job, and in certain instances, he laid down some of the best rock vocals ever, period. The first and last example anyone would need in that regard is “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from Who’s Next, aka “The Scream”:

Pete Townshend could never pull off that scream, nor could anyone else. But on some of the Who’s more gentle material, Daltrey’s approach can feel a little ham-fisted, so hearing Townshend sing some of these songs in demo form is a real treat. The song that stands out in this regard for me is one of my Who’s Next favorites, “Getting in Tune.” With Townshend at the mic, the song’s delicacy and fragility come to the front, causing my heart to break a little bit each time I hear it:

Speaking of Townshend’s gentle side, not all of his home demos were done with the Who in mind. Since the late 1960s Townshend had been a loyal disciple of the Indian spiritual leader Meher Baba, and a good portion of his home recordings were intended for release on Baba tribute and fund-raising albums, produced and released under the name “Pete Townshend” rather than “the Who.” This gave Townshend the chance to work out material not appropriate for the Who as a band, and which might confuse or anger the Who’s trill-seeking, head-banging audience.

Many of these tracks were very hard to track down until released on Townshend’s first solo album, 1972’s Who Came First, in their original demo form. The gentle yet bouncy “Mary Jane” is a great example of the type of material Townshend worked on without thinking of the Who eventually performing the song in a stadium setting:

While Townshend continued to produce home demos throughout the rest of the 1970s, I’ll end here with two choice cuts from the Who’s last significant record, 1973’s Quadrophenia. Breaking from the pattern of these home demos being very close in arrangement and spirit to the eventually released Who versions, “The Real Me” demo is vastly different. Whereas the Who version is a driving punch in the face—for my money one of the best things they ever recorded—Townshend’s home demo is a slower, funkier, almost dancey take. I don’t think it holds a candle to the Quadrophenia version, but it’s an interesting experiment nonetheless:

Another standout from the Quadrophenia double album was “Bell Boy”; as with “The Real Me,” the Who’s version of “Bell Boy” is a prolonged punch in the face, a monumental wave of sound and energy. Townshend’s home demo follows the same structure, but overall it’s quieter and gentler, especially with him on lead vocals for the entire song instead of drummer Keith Moon, whose vocal cameo on the album version is hilarious, intense, and unforgettable. In the home demo setting, you can here just how complex and lovely the song’s arrangement really is, having stripped away all the Who’s (admittedly great) rock and roll bombast:

And that’s just it—the Who as a band could melt your face, but obviously Pete Townshend’s vision and talent went beyond such histrionics, and it’s in these home demos that we hear him stretching out in all sorts of different directions. They’re certainly a mixed bag—sometimes these sketches are better than the eventual Who versions, sometimes they’re not, sometimes they allow us to hear material never performed or recorded by the Who or Townshend in any other arena, but they’re always revelatory, giving us a more intimate glimpse of the creative process of a man who could both windmill the shit out of a guitar but also play every instrument in the band and arrange complex rock operas while his tea steeped in the kitchen down the hall.

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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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“Live In Amsterdam 1969”. The Who’s performance at Amsterdam’s Opera House in September 1969 was remarkable in a number of ways. It was the first of a series of gigs in more formal surroundings and one of the longest live gigs the Who ever performed.

The recording was made by a Dutch radio/tv broadcast. It’s not 100% certain who did it, but it was probably done by the VPRO, who also did the Pink Floyd recording the same year at the same venue. And just like that Pink Floyd recording, this one was also bootlegged a million times from various very good to very poor sources. Alll of these sources were originated from radio broadcast/s. Back then, and today still, The Concertgebouw was not a place for rock bands but for opera’s and other classic music.

Mixed directly to 2-tracks, this may been one of the reasons why the mixing engineer had a hard time finding the right balance. The mix changes often, and sometimes the drums or the guitar just disappear or get buried for a while. It also must have been hard for the band to hear each other, because of the extremely reverbrating acoustics. Remember, this was 1969 and sound monitoring on stage was still a thing for the future.

When comparing this one to other Who shows from this period, this one probably isn’t the best. Roger Daltrey has once said that he didn’t think he sang very well this night. And playing the “Tommy” album on stage was obviously not a routine for the band yet. But, there is more than enough to enjoy here. It is the only complete soundboard recording from this year. It is also the only one with complete lineage, and it has the best sound. Beside that, all other Who ’69 board tapes are far from complete and don’t have most of Tommy.

Somewhere around 2000, a Pre-FM source of this show was unearthed. Funny enough, the same thing happended with the aforementioned Pink Floyd recording . They may have come from the same person though.

The recent boot “Amsterdam Journey” on the Hiwatt label is the one taken off his copy.

The Who – The Complete Amsterdam 1969 
Venue: Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Date: 29th September 1969

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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.

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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— JOIN TOGETHER/BABY DON'T YOU DO IT

The 1970-72 “Lifehouse”-era of post-“Tommy” and pre-“Quadrophenia” Who yielded a prolific amount of single-only tracks, but the one that stands out every time is the B-side to “Join Together” called “Baby Don’t You Do It.” It was the sole live recording of the series as well as being far and away the most abandoned, passionate and reckless of the bunch in terms of high energy Rock. ‘Letting one go,’ kicking out the jams, going for broke, fucking rockin’ out, call it whatever but remember it’s Rock’n’Roll. For here, The Who did it, baby and did it all over this six minute blast of unleashed whirlwind thrash from their collective outgrown Mod past. “Baby Don’t You Do It” and several other tempestuous highpoints and flashpoints (i.e.: “Sparks,” “Underture,” etc.) continued throughout both sides of the dividing line twixt the sixties and seventies when The Who’s tour schedule was as severe and intense as the band themselves.

“Baby Don’t You Do It” was first born in 1964 as a pleading ballad by Marvin Gaye and quickly thereafter became one of The Who’s earliest covers. Giving it seven years of rough handling in the studio and on the road, it mutated into an apocalyptic beast of heavy Rock. Their live rendition doesn’t sound remotely Tamla nor Motown: it sounds like “Live At Leeds” and the songwriting credits should’ve read Holland-Iommi-Holland instead. It’s a raging soul plea shot with a Benzedrine dart to its heart. It’s a flippin’ template for their forthcoming “The Real Me.” It’s heavy, it fucking moves and it’s got it all: Townshend’s SG guitar power chords roar through dominant HIWATT loudspeakers; pretzel-shaped bomb-bass-tic Entwistlian 4-string runs are tautly performed with the greatest of ease; Daltrey’s throat-tearing vox and the outbreak of Mooning drum frenzy that continues unabated throughout. There are several sections where Townshend’s guitar cuts out and stays that way to leave Moon’s unaccompanied ferocious riding of cymbals and rapid double bass drumming to briefly hiccough then regain their lunatic balance on its rhythmic tightrope. After ending the song with several synchronised band crescendos, Daltrey places the microphone gingerly on the stage floor and instead of clinking it sounds like an explosive-filled projectile going off. Luckily, he didn’t sneeze into it or the walls of the venue would’ve probably collapsed or at very least: rendered them structurally unsound.

“Baby Don’t You Do It” is quite possibly one of The Who’s most unknown B-sides. It hasn’t been available on CD unless if there happened to be a minor European reissue of one of the “Rarities” compilations. Dammit: it even missed the clarion call for the “Thirty Years of Maximum R&B” box set while the version on the over-amended CD version of “Odds & Sods” contains an earlier studio version and as for the double expanded “Who’s Next”? There’s a version of it, but it’s yet another studio take — with Leslie West on lead guitar, no less. Luckily, second-hand copies of this single have always been relatively available and trade for about the price of a new CD and it’s so worth it so jump on it NOW — before it gets remixed like the rest of their back catalogue has and all the dirt gets spot cleaned into far less demanding digi-perfection (Crackling Noises Rule OK — DO NOT CORRECT.)

Speaking of the digital domain, all the other non-LP sides from the first four years of the 1970’s (including this here A-side, “Join Together”) are available all over the place on CD: “The Seeker,” “Here For More,” “Heaven And Hell,” “I Don’t Even Know Myself,” “Let’s See Action,” “When I Was A Boy,” “Relay,” “Waspman,” and “Water.” ALL of them except for…yup, you got it: “Baby Don’t You Do It.” Since it’s a 45 B-side, it would logically wind up either on a compilation or as a bonus track tacked on to “Who’s Next” along with lots of the above-named tracks. So why is it missing? Is it because it was such a storming, sweaty and sloppy set-ending afterburner that it would make all tracks fore and aft seem like CSN&Y in comparison? I dunno, but I love it not because it represents everything The Who were about as they operated on a far wider scale than just putting the boot in. But I love it because it’s everything they were about that I always loved: an undiluted channelling of aggression, passion and no-bullshit energy. Period.

I wasn’t alone in this sentiment except (weirdly enough) in situations surrounded by Who fans. I first heard the track on a New York City radio station show in 1985 hosted by Bill Wyman. He did an admirable job in hitting a lot of his own fave raves, which turned out to be obscuroes like “Dogs Part 2” and so on. But when the first few power chords of the B-side of “Join Together” called “Baby Don’t You Do It” rippled out from across the airwaves, it flattened me. It sounded like a “Live At Leeds” outtake. THIS was a killer, yet none of my half-assed Mod revival pals who’d seen the “Quadrophenia” movie umpteen times who wore green parkas had any clue about it. They didn’t want to either, for these were the new mod cons who’d stifle a yawn and get up to leave with the onset of the live ‘69 “Young Man Blues” during late night videotape viewings of “Kids Are Alright.” “Hey, this is the best part!” I’d exclaim to no acknowledgement and the place would soon empty out to the front door for extended goodbyes and leaving yours truly alone to suck it all in within the confines of a darkened room littered with empty beer cans and only the flickering red and white from the images of Townshend’s SG, the highlights of Daltrey’s shaggy mane and Moon’s cymbals the only light. What gives: They were apparently big fans of The Who and they all had “Live At Leeds.” Only thing was that upon close inspection the discs within were always in pristine shape with all signs of wear upon the front cover (and THAT was only from repeated removal and reinsertion of the adjacent copy of “Who’s Next” on and off the shelf when they should’ve just filed it next to “White Light/White Heat” for all the walks around the block — side one AND two — their copies of THAT sick puppy got when it was just glue factory compost to their “Face Dances”-era sensibilities.)

While listening to this song, look at the Spanish picture sleeve of the single or Jeff Stein’s Who photo book for visuals of Townshend going airborne, windmilling his heart out and casting off all inhibitions. Not that the music needs any help, but you probably will after repeated plays of this gale force classic. Just try not to break anything, as I sometimes do when jolted into a higher level of sensation by The Who and therefore put the boot in everywhere to everything. Sticking your fork in the socket was never half as entertaining or painless as this, and probably a few volts short.

This and three other tracks were recorded live at the same gig in San Francisco at the Civic Auditorium on December 13th, 1971. The other trio of “My Wife,” “Bargain” and “Goin’ Down” have turned up on various Who compilations throughout the years and instead of being powerful fragments from a late night sortie upon the heads and hearts of teenage wasteland USA, perhaps it’s time to release the whole gig, master it loud as fuck and we’ll all be happy as clams…before we get much older.

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.”

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