Posts Tagged ‘The Who’

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.

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

The looming dissolution of the Beatles, after a stirring run of creative genius, signaled that everything would be different in the ’70s. They released their final album in Abbey Road, though the earlier-recorded Let It Be would follow, after some post-session doctoring from Phil Spector. They weren’t the only ones who departed: The original Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon and the Animals and the Jeff Beck Group fell apart, even as Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones died. The warm feelings of Woodstock were quickly forgotten in the bloody aftermath of Altamont.

The death of Brian Jones, July 3rd , Brian Jones had long since relinquished his role as a major contributor to the band he founded, the Rolling Stones, when he drowned in his swimming pool at his home in Cotchford Farm, the estate formerly owned by A.A. Milnes, author of the ever popular children’s book, Winnie the Pooh. He had been fired by the Stones the month before due to drug use and increasingly erratic behavior, leaving Jones more or less out in the cold as far as any further recording ventures were concerned. Initially ruled “death by misadventure,” the verdict was later questioned when rumors spread that a construction worker named Frank Thorogood actually murdered Jones and had made a deathbed confession to a confidante. In 2008, the Sussex police department declared it was no longer investigating the claim. Nevertheless, Jones became the first member of the so-called 27 club, whose membership now includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Whitehouse and a number of other artists whose lives ended at the fateful age of 27. His death also ended a prolific and profound era for the Stones, which many still argue, was the most creative period of their collective career.

At the same time, bands appeared that would dominate the decade to come. Led Zeppelin released their acclaimed first and second albums in ’69, laying a sturdy foundation for superstardom. Zeppelin seemed to arrive as a fully formed new blues-rock variant, harder and louder than anything that had come before. In fact, after touring together extensively, the band arrived in the studio with this material so well rehearsed that they only needed 36 hours spread out over two weeks to complete the album. Its influence, however, has endured – not just as a template for their own career, but also for untold legions of soon-to-be-famous heavy-metal purveyors.

In the summer of 1969, Zeppelin was a band on the rise. Its self-titled first album, released in January of that year, reached Number 10 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., and peaked at Number 6 in the U.K. The band’s pairing of blues, folk and psychedelia eventually would make it the biggest band of the 1970s, “as influential in that decade as The Beatles were in the previous one,”  Zeppelin would play more than 40 gigs on their Summer of 69 tour of U.S.A.

Chicago issued the first of what will eventually be four straight multi-album projects, A band with a bright horn section and a scalding guitarist, Chicago was really all about dichotomy back then. Four songs from their introductory double album would enter the charts, through to 1972’s Chicago V. 

Mick Taylor joined The Stones, sparking their most heralded period – though one that was marked by a turn toward darker subject matter. Rolling Stones, ‘Let It Bleed’ was aptly titled, the second in a quartet of genius albums by the Stones echoed all of the very real apprehensions surrounding this era – like a gritty yin to the Beatles’ utopian yang on ‘Abbey Road.’ Mick Taylor’s arrival also ushered in a harder-edged sound, which combined to create one of rock’s most visceral triumphs. It’s sexy, foreboding, topical and dangerous, sometimes all at once.

Altamont – December 6th was one of the darkest days in music history, Altamont sealed the lid on the promise of peace and love that was capped by Woodstock, and did so within mere months following that celebratory event itself. The Stones, who headlined the sprawling festival in the California desert, may have had good intentions to offer a free concert, but enlisting the Hell’s Angels as security was a terrible idea. Though the line-up was stellar—CSNY, Santana and Jefferson Airplane reprised their roles from Woodstock, along with the Flying Burrito Brothers providing an excellent add-on—an aura of violence and uncertainty pervaded the proceedings. Both Jagger and Airplane singer Marty Balin were accosted the former as he left his chopper, the latter onstage and the death of concert goer Meredith Hunter by a pack of Angels who claimed they saw him wielding a gun, ensured the fact that an idyllic utopian era of the ’60s was quickly come to an end.

‘Abbey Road’ was always a far more fitting send off for the Beatles than ‘Let It Be’ could have ever been. It’s among Paul McCartney’s brightest, most artistically satisfying, moments. But John Lennon’s punctuations (and, to a quickly emerging degree, George Harrison’s) undoubtably make it so. Moments away from imploding, they arrived for these sessions as distinct individuals, rather than stylized mop-topped group. Yet, for a moment in time and for this one last time, the Beatles’ separate personalities seemed to work again in service of the whole.

The Beatles Final Concert, January 30th, Although the Beatles’ impromptu performance on the rooftop of their Apple headquarters in London’s central environs was rumored to be a tryout for a return to live concerts, it was in fact part of the band’s final hurrah. The tumultuous sessions for their album Let It Be exposed a group in disarray, and indeed, a mere nine months after this live six song set—all culled from tracks they had been working on at the time The Beatles were officially broken. Filmed to provide a cap on the ill-fated Let It Be film, it’s still an exhilarating experience to watch the four former Fabs giving it a final go for the curious crowds below. “Hope we passed the audition,” John says before vacating the premises on orders from the police. Yes, Mr. Lennon, indeed you did.

Nick Drake, ‘Five Leaves Left’ was an autumnal yearning which surrounds these folk-rock recordings, and that’s likely the reason Drake was overlooked in his time. Even smart assists from Richard Thompson, then of Fairport Convention fame, couldn’t push this delicately conveyed album into the public consciousness back then. Sadly, Drake only had five years left. He died at age 26 in 1974 of an overdose.

This daring debut by prog rock band King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ still remains prog’s standard bearer, the best example of a then-emerging movement that sought to combine musical concepts with rock. ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ was also a template for how this seemingly ever-evolving band would operate, as their lineup almost immediately flew apart. The core pair of Robert Fripp and Greg Lake was all that remained by the time King Crimson set about recording a follow-up.

The Kinks ‘Arthur,’ a triumph of rock with a British sensibility subtitled “Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire,” never gets the short-hand praise of contemporary works like the Who’s ‘Tommy.’ That’s likely because it’s less ambitious. But it’s also far more listenable – like a rock musical, rather than a rock opera. Hailed as one of rock’s first great concept albums, ‘Tommy’ – like so many examples in that genre – sometimes suffers creatively at the expense of furthering the plot. But at its best, this represents the Who at their finest. And there’s no questioning how the album opened up new narrative possibilities for pop composers.

The Who Performed Tommy for the First Time, April 22nd Notably, the concert in Devon, England, preceded the album’s official release by a month. Although other offerings can claim to be the first real rock operas—The Pretty Things’ S.F, Sorrow and the Kinks’ Arthur, among them—The Who were the only band to take the unusual step of performing an album in its entirety. They’d later take Tommy to some of the world’s great opera houses, elevating rock in both intellect and intent.

The debut of supergroup Blind Faith, June 7th, Heralded as the first true “super group”—a term that would resurface continuously in the years that followed Blind Faith was based on an all-star union between guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker of Cream and vocalist/keyboard player Steve Winwood of Traffic, with bassist Ric Grech, formerly of Family, added later on. Although Clapton in particular was wary of the implications involved in such a high profile ensemble and equally concerned about inviting the tempestuous Baker into the fold—he agreed to pursue the possibilities, owing in small part to the fact that he and Winwood had worked together in a short-lived ad hoc outfit called Powerhouse a few years before. The group’s less than spectacular live debut at Hyde Park further exacerbated Clapton’s concerns, and after a single spotty album and tours of Scandinavia and the U.S., the group disbanded later that year.

Dylan Reemerges at the Isle of Wight, August 31st, Dylan had been largely absent from public view since a 1966 motorcycle accident drove him into self-imposed seclusion. Other than his work with the Band at Big Pink, he chose to spend time with his family and record an album, Nashville Skyline, a shocking departure from any album he had offered before. Consequently, the announcement of his appearance at England’s Isle of Wight Festival attracted an extraordinary amount of interest, including the curiosity of various Beatles, a Stone, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and a still gestating Elton John. Rumor had it that Lennon, Harrison and Starr might join Dylan onstage, and although that proved false, Dylan alone was enough to mesmerize the masses. Dressed in a beige suit, his hair cut short, he performed a 17-song set with backing from the Band, a concert that included several classics from his catalog as well as tracks from Nashville Skyline and its immediate predecessor, John Wesley Harding. It’s still considered a landmark performance today.

That was probably to be expected for a generation still reeling from shocking assassinations and an ever-escalating war. So, too, was a move toward nostalgia for the old ways. Bob Dylan Having hinted at his intentions on the more rustic ‘John Wesley Harding,’ Dylan definitively left behind protest music for a head-long dive into deep country for the charming, determinedly happy ‘Nashville Skyline.’ In its own way, this was revolutionary too as he went country, even as his old backing musicians in The Band released a determinedly homespun self-titled masterpiece. The Byrds also splintered, with two members Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman left to dive deeper into their passion for country and western music. The resulting album, unfortunately, did little on the charts – but it proved to be a well-spring of inspiration for descendent bands like the Eagles. breaking away to form the Americana-focused Flying Burrito Brothers.

Although there had been several gingerly moves to find common ground between the disparate realms of country music and rock ’n’ roll early rock pioneers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Rick Nelson all had claims on country—in the divided America of the late ’60s, followers of the two styles were decidedly distinct. Nevertheless, the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield effectively made efforts to narrow that divide, making it only natural that the two groups they spawned, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco respectively, would, to paraphrase the title of the latter’s debut album, pick up the pieces. As a result of releases like The Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, in February 1969, country-rock blossomed, spearheaded by the influence of “cosmic cowboy” Gram Parsons (a member of both the Byrds and the Burritos) before later finding a permanent bond with the release of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, featuring members of both the new guard and the old, two years later.

The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’ This album’s wiry, first-take feel was no put on: Three songs from the Stooges‘ titanic debut were written in a single day, after their label said the album needed more material, then banged them out live. The ferocious results gave the nascent heavy metal genre new fire, presupposed far-off punk, and scared the hell out of parents everywhere.

Creedence Clearwater Revival began to come into their own here, reaching heralded high points with “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” The rest of ‘Bayou Country’ doesn’t always reach that level, but the album is nevertheless surrounded by a sense of expectancy. They’re discovering themselves with every revolution of this album, and it’s a fizzy joy to hear. The second of an incredible run of three CCR albums from 1969 codifies every great thing the earlier ‘Bayou Country’ pointed toward. Sharply drawn, ‘Green River’ is just as sharply played – with none of the period-piece noodling that had occasionally seeped into their first two albums. John Fogerty dilated his muse on ageless cuts like “Bad Moon Rising,” the title track and “Lodi,” and Creedence finally found its true voice.

The Allman Brothers Band an accomplished debut as they blended rock, blues, jazz and a distinctly Southern sensibility to came up with something uniquely and forever their own. Taken for granted in today’s multi-cultural melting pot, ‘Santana’ marked the big bang of Latin rock. Within a year, congas and timbales had found their way into the music of the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, among many others. But it all started here, as ‘Santana’ blended mind-blowing, genre-bending musical explorations with more compact songs like the rambunctious Top 10 hit ‘Evil Ways’.

Jimi Hendrix forms the Band of Gypsies, October and with the release of Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his prowess, but the break-up of the Experience left him without a band and bereft of new recordings. His band at Woodstock, ostensively dubbed “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows,” found him expanding his original trio concept and reuniting with his former army buddy, Billy Cox. The aggregate, which Hendrix referred to as “a band of gypsies” when interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show, fell apart soon after, although Cox continued on bass and joined Hendrix for some informal recording dates with Buddy Miles. It was a natural combination; Miles had subbed for Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell on two tracks used for Electric Ladyland, and the trio went on to record a few demos and rehearse for an upcoming concert at the Fillmore East that would span New Year’s Eve. The self-titled album, released on Capitol Records to satisfy a contractual obligation, became the band’s only official recording, but clearly pointed the way to a more racially charged sound Hendrix was working on for the future.

Woodstock, August 15th-18th, If ever there was a single gathering that served to define the spirit of the ’60s, those three days spent in the muddy fields of Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York takes the prize. It wasn’t always pleasant—despite an amazing array of rock’s most influential artists (Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, CSNY, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens, et. al.), the traffic, the mud and the scarcity of supplies (other than the acid of course) tended to test the resolve of all involved. Still, it was that spirit of love, peace and music that pervaded the proceedings over all, assuring a communal embrace while setting the precedent for festival gatherings, a basic blueprint that remains relevant to this day.

Jefferson Airplane, ‘Volunteers’ was the last album to feature both Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden, ‘Volunteers’ blended a few bucolic moments (featuring guest stars Jerry Garcia and members of CSNY) in with the now-expected psychedelic rock – but that’s not this album’s best-remembered legacy. Instead, it’s a series of molten, occasionally profanity-laced rebukes of the American status quo. They left the ’60s with a bang.

Joining together for the first of what would become a string of free-wheeling, muscular successes alongside his band Crazy Horse, Neil Young blows a hole in the comfy folk-rock conventions of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ in fact, has a lot more in common with the wild eclecticism of his work with Buffalo Springfield, but with a new tone that’s both sharper and looser.

Records in  heavy rotation in my bedroom included the debut album from Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, The Beatles Abbey Road , The Who’s Tommy, King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King a great record,one that for its time was truly unique, The Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet which never left my turntable and the follow-up release Let It Bleed, Neil Young’s masterpiece Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Zappa’s Hot Rats which help change my musical perspective, Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On, CSN debut, Blind Faith’s one and only official release which is also a very strange record, Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan, The MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul which arrived unexpectedly when I did not respond in time to a record company selection deadline and glad I got this gem,Chicago Transit Authority double set before they shortened their name to Chicago,  Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, Live Dead, The Doors Soft Parade, Pink Floyd’s Live Ummagumma, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers, and Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog.

Few events in American history caused as much upheaval as the war in Vietnam. Young people took to streets and college campuses, protesting a conflict that they viewed as little more than an excuse for a murder machine entangling thousands of young draftees. Not surprisingly, musicians supplied the soundtrack against which protest was pursued. With the sound and imagery flashing across television screens night after night, it was only natural that people would find respite in an array of anthems—“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Street Fighting Man from the Rolling Stones,” “For What It’s Worth (written about the riots on Sunset Strip) by Buffalo Springfield, “Machine Gun” from Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish’s “Vietnam Song” and “Volunteers” which came courtesy of Jefferson Airplane. All served to remind the youth of the country that they weren’t alone in their determination to sway some sentiment and avoid the bloodshed overseas.

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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)

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Mobile recording studios have a longer history than you might think. As early as the 1920s, record companies in both the U.K. and the U.S. were experimenting with location recording, albeit with incredibly primitive equipment. This was the pre-magnetic tape era, after all.

In the U.K., the pioneer was EMI, closely followed by its chief rival, Decca. The purpose, for the most part, was to record live concerts of classical music, and while the equipment changed out of recognition during the following 30 years or so, that purpose remained: to capture live performances.

By the time rock music arrived around the mid ’60s, a new generation of mobile studios appeared that would capture some of the most important recordings of the era. And curiously, most of them were not recordings of live gigs. That was because the mobile studio soon became used as much for the freedom it offered artists to record in domestic locations as for capturing their stage performances.

Digital technology has helped bring about the demise of the mobile truck since the turn of the millennium. Now, artists can of course record on devices as small as an iPad (to name but one famous example, Damon Albarn recorded the Gorillaz album The Fall in just that way). Even if you don’t want to be quite as stripped-down as Albarn, a laptop armed with plugins and a small digital mixer can offer almost as much as a fully fledged mobile studio at far less cost.

However, before the mobile trucks rumbled off into the distance, the freedom they provided in that short period produced some remarkable recordings. Here are six of them.

The Who, Live at Leeds (1970)

This album, still regarded by many critics as the finest live rock LP ever, was originally designed to be Live at Hull and Leeds. It was recorded by the Pye Records mobile on eight-track analogue tape machines installed beneath the auditorium in a cloakroom. At this stage, mobile trucks were used simply to carry recording equipment to a gig. That equipment then had to be removed, assembled, and used in whatever space could be found.

With nothing more than split cables from the vocal, speaker, and drum microphones, the two recordings were plagued with technical problems. Some of the bass track from Hull was lost, and the Leeds concert suffered from crackles, which have caused controversy ever since. Years later, when the crackles were erased using digital wizardry, some fans objected that they removed the authenticity of the recordings.

Originally released as a single six-track vinyl LP, Live At Leeds has since appeared in many incarnations, some with and some without the infamous crackles. The Hull gig recorded the night before (February 13th) has been released, too, with John Entwistle’s missing bass parts replaced with carefully synced recordings from Leeds. There are those who claim that Live At Hull 1970 is even better than the raw and powerful Live At Leeds. They can both be heard on the 40th Anniversary collectors’ edition.

Led Zeppelin, IV (1971)

You could toss a coin over whether Led Zeppelin’s III or IV was the more significant album, but it doesn’t really matter for our purposes—both made very extensive use of the Rolling Stones Mobile (RSM) and were released before two other other landmark RSM recordings, the Stones’ Exile On Main St. and Deep Purple’s Machine Head.

A former 18th-century poorhouse, Headley Grange in Hampshire was the chosen venue, as it had been for much of Zeppelin III. The majestic sound of John Bonham’s drums—sampled a thousand times and still used today—was created in wood-paneled Headley Grange with a pair of distant Neumann condenser mics. It has probably never been equalled.

The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St. (1972)

Just as The Who’s Live At Leeds is regarded by some as their finest hour, so the Stones’ Exile On Main St. stands as a testament to the band at its peak—even if a wobbly one at times.

In 1970, Mick Jagger bought Stargroves, a country house in Hampshire. The band’s pianist and tour manager, Ian Stewart, suggested that in order to make full use of it, they needed their own mobile studio. This saw the birth of the most famous truck of them all, the Rolling Stones Mobile. It is one of the few things you can use the word legendary about without risk of exaggeration.

Unlike earlier trucks, the Stones Mobile had a control room inside the vehicle, so it really could go anywhere and do almost anything. The band used it to record most of the Sticky Fingers album, and a year later, beset with taxation problems, they decamped to the Villa Nellcôte in the South of France, with the RSM following.

The sessions that followed have become the stuff of rock legend and lore. Beside the technical problems imposed by an unsuitable recording environment—a cramped, damp basement—and compounded by an erratic power supply, the band’s “personal issues” should have made the resulting album a shambles. Indeed, engineer Andy Johns described them as “the worst band in the world” for much of the time. But somehow, in true Stones fashion, what emerged from the chaos was one of rock’s most memorable and charismatic albums. It just reeks of authenticity thanks, at least in part, to the location and the way in which most of it was recorded.

Deep Purple, Machine Head 1972

If Exile On Main St. really put the Stones Mobile on the map, it was Deep Purple who immortalized it in “Smoke On The Water.” The song recalls the night in 1971 when the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland burned down following a gig by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention.

The plan had been to record the next Deep Purple album in the Casino, but the fire put paid to that. A couple of other venues in the town were hastily found for the recording sessions, which produced, among others, “Smoke On The Water,” the lyrics of which refer to the RSM as “the Rolling truck Stones thing.”

The Who, Quadrophenia 1973

On the face of it, this seems an unlikely album to have emerged from a mobile studio, and in fact it was made at an unlikely location, too. Ronnie Lane’s Mobile (known as the LMS) was parked in Battersea, south-west London for much of the recording of Quadrophenia, in an urban jungle outside a still uncompleted Ramport Studios, which The Who were in the process of building.

Ronnie Lane, the ex-Faces bass player, had chosen an American Airstream trailer for his mobile studio, and Bad Company, Led Zeppelin (notably on Physical Graffiti), Rick Wakeman, and Eric Clapton were just some of the musicians who would make excellent use of it. Of all the British golden-era mobiles, Lane’s was one of the most successful.

Radiohead, OK Computer 1997

There were many impressive albums recorded using mobile studios between The Who’s Live At Leeds in 1970 and Radiohead’s OK Computer in 1997, and there were more mobiles than we have space to include here, among them Jethro Tull’s Maison Rouge, Virgin’s Manor Mobile, and Mickie Most’s RAK.

By the late ’90s, however, the era of the truck was coming to an end—and OK Computer provides fitting mood music. Relatively inexpensive and highly portable digital equipment and computers meant that the need for a large studio on wheels was passing.

In fact, OK Computer wasn’t recorded using a truck at all, but it epitomizes why mobile trucks had been so popular: location recording enabled a band to work at their own pace, in their own way, in an environment completely unlike an essentially sterile fixed-site studio.

For this album, which Rolling Stone described as “the last masterpiece of the alt-rock movement,” Radiohead were given a reputed £100,000 by their record company. Their producer Nigel Goodrich used it to buy recording equipment for use in St Catherine’s Court, a spectacular manor house near Bath in Somerset, owned at the time by actress Jane Seymour. In the same way that the natural acoustics of Headley Grange helped Led Zeppelin achieve astonishing looseness, vitality, and depth, so St Catherine’s Court added its brooding presence to a haunted, dark, and troubled album.

One thing binds together the albums featured here: none of them could have been made in a traditional fixed-location recording studio. In the case of recordings of gigs, it’s obvious why that should be. But a common quality shared by the albums featured here is the live ambience of an environment that wasn’t carefully designed to sound neutral. In the age of Pro Tools sameness, that is definitely something to be cherished.

There is another angle, too. Musicians often complain that “clocking in” to record every day is too much like going to work, especially in a traditional city-center studio. In a residential location, they can not only experiment with different sounds but also socialize and make music in a freer and more creative way. You may not be able to quantify that.

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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)