Posts Tagged ‘Pete Townshend’

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The Who has one of the greatest rock legacies in music history, they’re one of the all-time great live bands, have sold over 100 million records world including 9 US and 10 UK top ten albums and 14 UK top ten singles in a career spanning six decades. Now Fifty-five years after they made their first recordings, The Who is back with their first new album in thirteen years entitled Who.

Not in a million, trillion years would I have expected to love a new Who record as much as I love “WHO.” Is it “The Who Sell Out?” Of course not. Nothing is, damnit! NOTHING IS! Is it “Who’s Next?” No, not even close. But it is truly wonderful, because of what it isn’t and that is trying too hard. This is a collection of solid Pete Townshend songs, played with mature restraint, and sung by one of the greatest voices in rock and roll, Roger Daltrey. There are just enough elements of The Who you’ve grown to love scattered throughout, and when you notice them, the record gets even better. I am both thrilled and relieved by “WHO.”

The eleven-track album was mostly recorded in London and Los Angeles during Spring and Summer 2019 and was co-produced by Pete Townshend and D. Sardy (who has worked with Noel Gallagher, Oasis, LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz) with vocal production by Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Roger Daltrey, Wilko Johnson). Singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend are joined on the album by long-time Who drummer Zak Starkey, bassist Pino Palladino along with contributions from Simon Townshend, Benmont Tench, Carla Azar, Joey Waronker and Gordon Giltrap.

All This Music Must Fade‘ from The Who’s new studio album WHO, released on 6th December 2019.

The Who - WHO

The Who has shared another new original single to appear on the veteran rock band’s forthcoming studio album, simply titled Who, which is set to arrive on November 22nd via Polydor Records. Titled “All This Music Must Fade”, the new recording follows the previously-shared “Ball & Chain” as the second single which will appear on the band’s first studio effort since 2006’s Endless Wire.

The recording starts out hot with a burst of sonic energy which is followed by singer Roger Daltrey‘s cheeky and honest opening lyrics of, “I don’t care, I know you’re gonna hate this song/And that’s it, We never really got along/It’s not new, not diverse/It won’t light up your parade, It’s just simple verse.”

While many older artists of the “Classic Rock” era take pleasure in the shower of praise which critics and fans offer in regards to their hit singles of the past, The Who share more of a realistic, selfless point of view on their new music, as Daltrey is also heard belting out the repeated chorus lines of, “All this music will fade/Just like the edge of a blade.”

According to a statement shared by The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, “All This Music Must Fade” is “Dedicated to every artist who has ever been accused of ripping off someone else’s song. Seriously? Our musical palette is limited enough in the 21st century without some dork claiming to have invented a common chord scheme.”

All This Music Must Fade’ from The Who’s new studio album WHO, released on 6th December 2019.

 

Roger Daltrey did not mince words when sharing his excitement for the Who’s upcoming LP. “I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia,” the legendary singer proclaimed during a recent Q&A with fans.  The Who will release ‘WHO’ their first studio album in thirteen years, this November.

Mentioning the new material in the same breath as the band’s vaunted 1973 concept album is high praise, indeed. The comment also represents an about-face for the Who frontman. The eleven-track album features the talents of long established Who musical stalwarts Zak Starkey (drums) and Pino Palladino (bass) along with Simon Townshend, Benmont Tench, Carla Azar, Joey Waronker and Gordon Giltrap. The record was co-produced by Pete Townshend & D. Sardy with ‘vocal production’ by Dave Eringa (best known perhaps for his work with Manic Street Preachers).

Earlier this year, guitarist and cofounder Pete Townshend revealed that he didn’t even get a response from Daltrey after sending the singer 15 demos. “Just silence from Roger,” Townshend said. “I had to bully him to respond, and then it wasn’t the response I wanted. He just blathered for a while and in the end I really stamped my foot and said, ‘Roger, I don’t care if you really like this stuff. You have to sing it. You’ll like it in 10 years time.'”

Even after giving the new music his attention, Daltrey only felt a connection with a handful of tracks. “When I first heard the songs I was very skeptical as I didn’t think I could do it,” the singer explained. “I thought Pete had written a really great solo album and I said to him, ‘Pete, what do you need to do this for? Release it as a solo album, it’s great.’ But he said he wanted it to be a Who album.

The artwork is of course immediately recognisable as the work of Sir Peter Blake, The Who’s relationship with Blake actually pre-dates that period; they met him in 1964 at a taping of the legendary TV show Ready Steady Go. Sir Peter also designed and contributed a painting to the sleeve of The Who’s album Face Dances in 1981.

Pete Townshend is refreshingly candid about the new work and his and Roger’s place in the world in 2019. He says:

“This album is almost all new songs written last year, with just two exceptions. There is no theme, no concept, no story, just a set of songs that I (and my brother Simon) wrote to give Roger Daltrey some inspiration, challenges and scope for his newly revived singing voice. Roger and I are both old men now, by any measure, so I’ve tried to stay away from romance, but also from nostalgia if I can. I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Memories are OK, and some of the songs refer to the explosive state of things today. I made new home studio demos of all these songs in the summer of 2018 using a wide collection of instruments old and new. We started recording as The Who in March 2019, and have finished now in late August just in time to make some vinyl………maybe even some cassettes……ready for release in November”.

“So I took the songs away and I listened to them, and listened to them some more, and I had some ideas. [Pete] let me have a bit of freedom with changing a few things, changing the tenses of songs and other little things. And he gave me complete melodic freedom. And I gotta tell you that after being very skeptical I’m now incredibly optimistic.” “I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia,” he continued. “Pete hasn’t lost it, he’s still a fabulous songwriter and he’s still got that cutting edge, man.”

The band is in the midst of their orchestral ‘Moving On’ North American tour. Townshend only agreed to the trek, which keeps the group on the road through October, on the condition that the Who release a new album. The as-yet untitled LP will be the band’s first new studio material since 2006.

For over two decades, “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” was a lost film, unfinished and unseen, more rumor than pop culture memory. In theory, it captured a lot of what anyone might desire in a rock ‘n’ roll movie from London circa 1968: the Stones, the Who, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and more.

On a sound stage designed like the inside of a circus big top, each of the musicians performed at the height of their powers while mingling with trapeze artists, fire-eaters and other semi-dazzling acts from a traveling circus. “The clowns and the Rolling Stones got along very well,” recalls the film’s director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 78.

Yet the film’s planned television premiere was delayed indefinitely for one reason: The Stones thought the Who’s performance was better.

It took 28 years, but the Stones came around in time for Lindsay-Hogg to finish the legendary rock film for a 1996 premiere at the New York Film Festival and release on home video. “You had these little explosions of greatness in the room,” says Lindsay-Hogg of the two-day shoot, “and the Rolling Stones recognized that.”

Now, in time for the North American leg of the Stones’ ongoing No Filter Tour, “Circus” has been remastered for a limited U.S. theatrical run during the first week of April. Last week, Lindsay-Hogg, who now lives in Los Angeles, attended a private screening in Hollywood of the film, recast in vivid Dolby Vision color and Dolby Atmos sound.

“I was thrilled by it anew, which I hadn’t been for a long time,” says Lindsay-Hogg, whose career began in England as director on the ’60s music show “Ready Steady Go!,” where the camerawork could be as frenzied as the acts onstage.

He also directed music videos for the Stones, Beatles and the Who, and made the intimate Beatles documentary “Let It Be.” In the pipeline is a long-awaited restoration of the 1970 Beatles film, which will follow an entirely new film being assembled from the same 55 hours of footage by New Zealand director Peter Jackson. Attending the “Circus” screening was Brett Morgen, director of 2015’s acclaimed “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” and his own Stones documentary, 2012’s “Crossfire Hurricane.” In an onstage Q&A with Lindsay-Hogg following the film, Morgen celebrated the filmmaker’s essential work with these epochal musical figures.

“The man defined the image that so many of us have of the Stones and the Beatles,” Morgen said in an interview with The Times. “He created a new language. You look at the ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ video and what he did is as innovative as what Busby Berkeley did to the musical.”

In “Circus,” the Stones performed several songs from the just-completed “Beggar’s Banquet,” the first of four consecutive album milestones that defined the band’s greatest work. There was also Lennon leading a supergroup he called the Dirty Mac, with Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richards on bass, and drummer Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience performing a new Beatles song, “Yer Blues.” Yoko Ono then joined for an improvisational jam. Other performers included Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal and Jethro Tull. The Who’s playful reading of the mini-rock opera “A Quick One While He’s Away” was close to perfect. Jagger had personally invited all of them.

“In those days, rock ‘n’ roll bands would arrive late. You’d schedule something for 1 and they’d arrive at 4,” recalls Lindsay-Hogg. “But on this particular day, because they all respected each other, everybody was on time.”

A London sound stage was rented and Lindsay-Hogg hired the best camera operators from “Ready Steady Go!” The production also used experimental cameras from France, which shot both 16mm film and provided a video feed to the control room. Aside from having to change film canisters every 10 minutes, the new cameras frequently stopped working. “When one of the cameras had broken down for the 11th time that day, we had a little break,” the director recalls. The musicians would then retreat to their dressing rooms. “I went backstage to see how everybody was, and they were all sitting in a room – John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton – playing blues on guitar and harmonica. Keith Moon was playing spoons on a table.”

The Stones didn’t get onstage to perform until 2 a.m. It was the final live appearance of guitarist Brian Jones, dazed and fading from drug abuse, but still able to re-create his heartbreaking slide guitar lines on “No Expectations.”

Within months of filming, Jones left the band and drowned soon after. Jagger went to Australia to star in “Ned Kelly.” Lindsay-Hogg traveled to California to work on a film. The momentum of the era pushed its participants forward, but somehow left “Circus” behind until the footage was rediscovered in the ’90s.

Lindsay-Hogg continued working with the Stones through the early 1980s, directing several music videos, from “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” to “Waiting on a Friend.” He turned his attention to feature films, TV specials and directing theater, though he remains friendly with the Stones. “We knew each other when we were kids,” he says now. “It wasn’t my nature to hang ’round if I didn’t have to. In a funny way, I think they respected that. I was happy to just be working with them.”

I first saw The Who perform this on The Kids Are Alright movie soundtrack. The performance was electric. I liked the studio version but the live versions they push the song a little harder. The song didn’t chart being so long. The album “A Quick One” peaked at Number 4 in the UK charts. The hit song of that album was “Happy Jack”.

The Who had 10 minutes left to fill on the album. Kit Lambert, The Who’s manager, suggested to Pete Townshend that he write “something linear… perhaps a 10-minute song.” Townshend responded by saying that rock songs are “2:50 by tradition!” Lambert then told Townshend that he should write a 10-minute story comprised of 2:50 songs.

The song was a “mini-opera,” paving the way for the other mini-opera “Rael” and eventually full-length rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.

The plot of the story is simple. A girl is sad that her boyfriend is away. Her friends suggest that she take a substitute lover, Ivor The Engine Driver. When the boyfriend returns, she confesses her infidelity and is forgiven.

The Who performed this on the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus, which was going to be a TV special. It never aired on television but it was released on VHS in 1996 and DVD in 2004. The Who’s performance of this was included in The Kids Are Alright, a 1979 film about The Who.

According to legend, Rock And Roll Circus didn’t air because the Rolling Stones felt that they were showed up by The Who. Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithful, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, and Mitch Mitchell all appeared on Rock And Roll Circus.

A live version of this song appears on Live At Leeds and the soundtrack for The Kids Are Alright.

The Who wanted to put Cellos on the track but Kit Lambert said they couldn’t afford it. So they sang “cello, cello, cello, cello,” where the Who thought they should go. >>

It was used in the Wes Anderson film Rushmore starring Jason Shwartzman and Bill Murray

The Who have announced a symphonic show at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday 6th July 2019.

Part of the band’s Moving On! tour, which also includes shows in North America in the summer and autumn, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and co. will be joined by an orchestra at the special concert.

Alongside Daltrey and TownshendThe Who line-up will also feature guitarist/backup singer Simon Townshend, keyboardist Loren Gold, bassist Jon Button and drummer Zak Starkey. Together with celebrating The Who’s legendary back catalogue, the show supports their first new studio album in 13 years, which is due to land at some point in 2019.

The very special guest at the show will be Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, along with Kaiser Chiefs and more acts to be announced.

Pete Townshend says: “The Who are touring again in 2019.  Roger christened this tour Moving On! I love it. It is what both of us want to do. Move on, with new music, classic Who music, all performed in new and exciting ways. Taking risks, nothing to lose. Looking forward to seeing you all.  Are you ready?” . Roger Daltrey adds: “Be aware Who fans! Just because it’s The Who with an orchestra, in no way will it compromise the way Pete and I deliver our music. This will be full throttle Who with horns and bells on.”

Tickets to The Who at Wembley Stadium go on sale from 10am on Friday 1st February. JULY 2019 
London Wembley Stadium – Sat 6th

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.”

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)

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On 1st June a week before Roger Daltrey begins a tour where he’ll perform Tommy with an orchestra, the Who vocalist will release “As Long as I Have You”. This will be Daltrey’s first record  in four years since Going Back Home, his collaboration with Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson.

The album is a mixture of self-penned tracks such as ‘Certified Rose’ and the soulful ballad ‘Always Heading Home’ along with songs that have inspired Daltrey over the years including Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’, ‘You Haven’t Done Nothing’ by Stevie Wonder, Stephen Stills’ ‘How Far’ and the title track originally recorded by Garnet Mimms in 1964; the year that Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon changed their name from The High Numbers and became The Who.

It’s a return to his roots mixed with the wisdom that can only come with age. “This is a return to the very beginning, to the time before Pete [Townshend] started writing our songs to a time when we were a teenage band playing soul music to small crowds in church halls.

Daltrey said in a statement. “That’s what we were, a soul band,” he continued. “And now, I can sing soul with all the experience you need to sing it. Life puts the soul in. I’ve always sung from the heart but when you’re 19, you haven’t had the life experience with all its emotional trials and traumas that you have by the time you get to my age. You carry all the emotional bruises of life and when you sing these songs, those emotions are in your voice. You feel the pain of a lost love. You feel it and you sing it and that’s soul. For a long time, I’ve wanted to return to the simplicity of these songs, to show people my voice, a voice they won’t have heard before. It felt like the right time. It’s where I am, looking back to that time, looking across all those years but also being here, now, in the soulful moment”

Daltrey worked with a band that includes former Style Council keyboardist Mick Talbot and Sean Genockey on lead guitar. Townshend contributed guitar on seven tracks, and noted that the record “shows Roger at the height of his powers as a vocalist.” .

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