Posts Tagged ‘The Who’

The Who will bring their archival “Join Together @ Home” concert series to a close over the next two weeks with a rare 2006 show from the Moon and Stars Festival at the Piazza Grande in Locarno, Switzerland. Rounding off our Join Together @ Home series we have two very special performances for you for the next two weeks. We scoured the archives for this one!.

The concert’s pro-shot video will be split over a pair of free broadcasts on Saturday, September. 5th and Saturday, September 12th (airing at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET).“It’s a very special show,” frontman Roger Daltrey said in an official statement. “I didn’t even remember this film existed! We were getting together after a three-year hiatus. The show was in an extraordinary place, in the town square, with people dancing on their balconies. I have very fond memories of it.” The 2006 gig also includes the live debut of “Greyhound Girl,” a Pete Townshend track that was only played one additional time in the band’s history. “Greyhound Girl,” was originally supposed to be a part of the infamous Lifehouse sessions which was never happened unless you have all the songs that was supposed to make it in the Lifehouse collection and piece them together. They recorded this and Mary but the tape was damaged beyond repair. I think it could have been repaired like Time is passing but version of that song that exists as a studio demo.

Pete Townshend performs Greyhound Girl in Switzerland. By request.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of the British rock group The Who, appears on a giant video screen in the outfield of Shea Stadium in New York, October13, 1982, as the band tours for the last time in America. (AP Photo/Paul Burnett)

The Who may have been forced to delay their 2020 tour plans due to the pandemic, but they’re trying to make it up to fans by launching Join Together @ Home on YouTube this weekend. It’s a six-week series that will showcase “live and rarely seen footage, mini videos and special screen footage, culminating with a performance from a previously unreleased show,” according to a press release.

The series kicks off on Saturday August 8th at 1:00 pm EST with five songs from the Who’s 1982 show at Shea Stadium, a legendary gig from their “farewell” tour that featured the Clash as their opening act. It will begin with a “red carpet premiere clip from Roger Daltrey.” The videos will be free of charge, but viewers will be encouraged to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust and Teen Cancer America.

Late last year, the Who released “Who”, their first collection of original material since 2006’s Endless Wire and only their second since 1982’s It’s Hard. They supported it with a tour where they were backed by local symphonies and a set that was heavy on tunes from Tommy and Quadrophenia.

The Who kicked off 2020 by celebrating the 50th anniversary of their historic show at Leeds University, playing a series of intimate, acoustic concerts at PRYZM in London. It was meant to be the kickoff event for a big year, but everything else was delayed due to the pandemic. Their plan now is to resume touring in March 2021 with a run of European arena dates, but that is obviously contingent on the live music business resuming by that point.

The band has yet to announce any of the subsequent videos for the Join Together Youtube series, but they have been filming select concerts going back to the Sixties and have an extensive vault. The Who – Live At Shea Stadium 1982 ‘Join Together @ Home’ is a new series of special performances from The Who streaming worldwide exclusively on YouTube. The first set features some very special performances from our show at Shea Stadium in 1982 and will be live from 6pm UK time for 7 days.

 

One of the very first ‘rarities’ collections, released to try and defeat the bootleggers, the original 11-track album was released on the Track Records label in September 1974.Compiled in band down-time by bass guitarist John Entwistle, it includes the single ‘Long Live Rock’, the unedited unreleased version of ‘The Seeker’, the studio version of ‘Young Man Blues’, alternative versions of ‘Dogs Part Two’ and ‘Water’, amongst many other gems. This reissue includes the original LP sequence on disc one and adds 14 bonus tracks – B-sides, rarities & extras on disc two, ‘Odds & Sods Too’ – to create a definitive, 25-track double LP.

The stunning artwork and design restore the original ‘die-cut’ front sleeve and includes all Pete Townshend’s original track annotation. Graham Hughes shot the cover for Odds and Sods – “I’d stayed up the night before with Letterset, designing the letters on the American football helmets with each of the band’s names printed on. When I finally managed to get them together in one place, which happened to be the bathroom, Pete and Roger’s helmets didn’t quite fit so that’s why their wearing each other’s. That Quadrophenia tour wasn’t very pleasant and the band were arguing a lot. When I showed Pete the blow-up of the cover, he didn’t like it and told me so. I was so frustrated by this time, I started ripping it up . . . That’s when he decided he liked it! I stuck it back together with adhesive tape and Roger said, ‘call it a bunch of odds and sods.”

Tracklisting:

LP1 / SIDE A –
1. Postcard, 2. Now I’m A Farmer, 3. Put The Money Down, 4. Little Billy, 5. Too Much Of Anything, 6. Glow Girl

LP1 / SIDE B –
1. Pure And Easy, 2. Faith In Something Bigger, 3. I’m The Face, 4. Naked Eye, 5. Long Live Rock

LP2 / SIDE A –
1. Zoot Suit (remix with fade), 2. Here Tis (only previously released on 30 Years… box set), 3. Leaving Here (from ‘Pye’ acetate), 4. Baby Don’t You Do It (from ‘Pye’ acetate), 5. Young Man Blues (alternate studio version, included on 1998 CD), 6. Dogs Part Two (B-side, the single mix; included on Tommy SDE), 7. Here For More (B-side single mix), 8. The Seeker (long unedited version; unreleased)

LP2 / SIDE B –
1. Heaven And Hell (B-side single mix), 2. Don’t Know Myself (B-side single mix), 3. When I Was A Boy (B-side single mix), 4. Waspman (B-side single mix), 5. We Close Tonight (included on 1998 CD), 6. Water (B-side single mix

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The Who’s American Album Chart Debut

The American market wasn’t fully ready for The Who when they made their album debut with ‘My Generation’ at the end of 1965. Second time around, they cracked it, winning their first appearance on the US album chart 48 years ago today, on May 20th, 1967 — but only after a delayed release and a title change.

With the US release coming five months after the UK, The Who’s American label, Decca Records, decided that the band’s second LP ‘A Quick One’ should be renamed there for their song that was climbing the Hot 100 at the time. ‘Happy Jack’ had been a top three UK hit in January, but wasn’t included on the album ‘A Quick One.’ That wouldn’t do for Decca, who removed the album’s one cover a nod back to their soul and R&B roots with a cover of Martha Reeves & the Vandellas ‘Heat Wave’ — and replaced it with ‘Happy Jack,’ which would become The Who’s first US top 30 hit in early June. The song features Roger Daltrey on lead vocals with John Entwistle singing the first verse, making it one of the few songs composed by Pete Townshend to feature Entwistle on lead vocals. Author Mike Segretto describes Daltrey’s vocal as “imitating Burl Ives”. At the tail end of “Happy Jack”, Townshend can be heard shouting “I saw you!”; it is said that he had noticed drummer Keith Moon trying to join in surreptitiously to add his voice to the recording, something the rest of the band would try to prevent (Moon had a habit of making the other members laugh). critic Dave Marsh calls this line “the hippest thing” about the song.

According to some sources, Townshend reported the song is about a man who slept on the beach near where Townshend vacationed as a child. Children on the beach would laugh at the man and once buried him in the sand. However, the man never seemed to mind and only smiled in response. According to Marsh, “the lyric is basically a fairy tale, not surprisingly, given the links to Pete’s childhood”.

Daltrey reportedly thought the song sounded like a “German oompah song”. But Chris Charlesworth praised the “high quirky subject matter” and “fat bass and drums that suspend belief”. Charlesworth particularly praised Moon’s drumming for carrying not just the beat, but also the itself, in what he calls “startlingly original fashion”.

The album also featured one of John Entwistle’s best-loved songs, ‘Boris The Spider’ (a title that he and Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman came up with after a night out drinking); two Keith Moon compositions, ‘I Need You’ (his first-ever song for the band) and the highly percussive ‘Cobwebs and Strange’; and a mod favourite that the band are currently reviving on their ‘Who Hits 50’ anniversary tour, ‘So Sad About Us.’

Happy Jack back

After ‘A Quick One’ reached No. 4 in the UK in January, the ‘Happy Jack’ version opened on Billboard’s Top LPs at No. 184, in between albums by Jimmy Ruffin and Dean Martin. It climbed steadily for the next nine weeks, peaking at No. 67 in June.

 

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Unlike ‘Quadrophenia’ and ‘Tommy,The Who’s other celebrated concept albums, ‘The Who Sell Out’ doesn’t tell a story. Instead, the album weaves together songs (like ‘I Can See for Miles’) with fake commercials (like for deodorant) so that the whole thing plays like 40 minutes of a pirate radio station. It’s pop-art filtered through the era’s psychedelic shadings.by The Who followed with its concept of a pirate radio broadcast. Within the record, joke commercials recorded by the band and actual jingles from recently outlawed pirate radio station Radio London were interspersed between the songs, ranging from pop songs to hard rock and psychedelic rock, culminating with a mini-opera titled “Rael.”

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Their 1967 psychedelic statement ‘The Who Sell Out’. Complete with radio ads linking the songs this is as swinging as the 60s got, plus my favourite ever Who 45 was contained within the grooves… ‘I Can See For Miles’.
Original copies of the album, issued on the Track label, came in Mono and Stereo and if you were lucky enough there was a sticker on the sleeve promising a ‘Free Psychedelic Poster Inside’. If you have the complete item with unblemished poster you are sitting on a £500+ record!

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When you think about the most important rock bands in history, The Who is undoubtedly in the conversation for many different reasons. One of those reasons is their incredible live performances – which they are still doing to this day.

Take a trip in the Iconic by Collectionzz time machine all the way back to 1970. The Who were looking for a way to follow up their 1969 album TommyThey had recorded several shows for a live album on tours supporting Tommy in the United States, but didn’t like the sound on any of the recordings. The Who decided to book two shows in early 1970 (on Valentines Day weekend) to record the live album. The first show at University of Leeds on February 14th, 1970 was planned to be the warm up show; and the second show at City Hall in Hull on February 15th, 1970 was planned to be the record. The recording equipment was rolling for both shows though, just in case.

According to The Who’s sound engineer, John Entwistle’s bass was not recorded for the first few tracks at Hull, and Pete Townshend didn’t even listen to the whole recording once he realized that. It didn’t matter though, they had made history the night before at the University of Leeds in front of 2,000 ravenous fans. Pete Townshend called it “the greatest audience we’ve ever played to.”

The Who released part of concert at University of Leeds on February 14th, 1970 as their now legendary live album “Live at Leeds.” It was the only live album that was released while the group were still actively recording and performing with their best known line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon.

If Tommy announced the Who’s ascent to rock-band immortality, Live at Leeds was the headline’s exclamation point. The live album cemented their distinction as one of the world’s most powerful acts, yet it came together almost by accident.
The 1969 Tommy tour saw the Who performing to massive audiences across the globe, including a historic stop at Woodstock. Keenly aware of its popularity, and having seen the success of live albums from many rock contemporaries, the band decided to record its performances during the trek. By the end of 1969, the Who had recorded 30 shows in the U.S. and an additional eight in the U.K.

While the abundance of material seemed like a blessing at first, it was actually too much of a good thing. Poring through all the hours of music was a daunting task, one the band could not feasibly do considering the amount of time it would necessitate. Frustrated, Pete Townshend took a scorched earth approach; the guitarist instructed his audio engineer to burn all of the concert recordings. The Who would instead book two shows from which a live album would be constructed. Without the previous tapes to fall back on, the band was bravely performing without a net.

The group wanted to capture the ferocity of its live shows, something Tommy’s high-art concept had briefly taken them away from. “We were better known for doing Tommy than we were for all the rest of the stuff,” bassist John Entwistle noted in the book The Complete Chronicle of the Who. “I mean, all the guitar smashing and stuff went completely out of the window. We’d turned into snob rock. We were the kind of band that Jackie Onassis would come and see.”

The band planned one concert for February 14th, 1970, at the University of Leeds, with a second the following day in Hull. As fate would have it, the Hull performance was plagued with technical problems. Thankfully, the Who needed only the first show to make history.

The Leeds concert saw the band play more than 30 songs, including the earlier hit “My Generation” and almost all of the songs from Tommy. More than 2,000 students – many of whom had been lining up since 6AM that day – filled the capacity of the University’s refectory. Their energy was palpable.

“The students there were a great audience for us,” Roger Datrey later recalled to the BBC. “It was packed to the rafters and then some more. I heard there was a thousand fans on the roof!”

Keith Moon echoed similar sentiments. “We fed on the audience as much as they fed on us,” the drummer explained to the University’s student newspaper. “They were just too incredible.”

Though the Who initially planned on releasing a double live album from the set, they honed Live at Leeds to a powerful six-song LP. The track listing would go as follows: “Young Man Blues,” “Substitute,” “Summertime Blues,” “Shakin’ All Over,” “My Generation” and “Magic Bus.”

Originally released on May 23rd, 1970,Live at Leeds was quickly hailed as a triumph and has sealed its legacy as one of the Who’s best albums and one of the greatest live records ever made. The complete Leeds and Hull shows were eventually released on various expanded editions of the album.

In celebration of Live at Leeds’ 50th anniversary, Collectionzz is releasing officially licensed concert posters for the University of Leeds concert. The images feature the faces of Daltrey, Townshend, Moon and Entwistle cloaked by the Union Jack. The design also includes the Who’s trippy logo, psychedelic trim and original concert details. Two versions of the poster are available: a glow-in-the-dark edition and a black metallic edition. They go on sale May 15th exclusively through the Collectionzz website.

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Pete Townshend’s “Empty Glass” Turns 40 years old, In 1980, the Who guitarist’s cup overflowed as the finest solo outing of his career. Although a true solo album from The Who’s wunderkind might have been eagerly anticipated at the time, Empty Glass–Pete Townshend’s first fully fleshed out album outside the boundaries of his band–still begs the question of why he didn’t opt to record these songs with the Who.

The album was written and recorded between 1978 and 1980, when activity with the Who had started to pick up again, and Townshend found himself having to write for both his solo project and his band. After all, Face Dances, the album the group released shortly thereafter, was, by all estimations, an inferior effort, widely derided as one of the weakest releases of the Who’s career. Roger Daltrey himself claimed he was disappointed that Townshend denied the group the opportunity to take a shot at Empty Glass and make it a masterpiece the band could claim as its own.

Some could consider the singer’s resentment a matter of professional jealousy. If so, it’s easily dismissed. Where Townshend’s first nominal effort on his own, “Who Came First”, was essentially a grab bag of demos and solo sketches, Empty Glass is a masterpiece even by the Who’s exacting standards.

The album title alludes to Townshend’s eternal search for spiritual salvation, particularly at a time where he was beset by an array of issues that had all but consumed him — among them, alcoholism, substance abuse, marital difficulties, and the death of his friend and bandmate Keith Moon two years before. Symbolically, “Empty Glass” refers to an analogy that compares a bar patron passing a bartender an “empty glass” in hopes it will be filled, and a seeker of spiritual redemption approaching God with an open heart, looking for the solace only the Almighty can provide. Townshend was finding further inspiration in the works of a Persian poet named Hafez, who drew the musician’s interest in the wake of  his fascination with his personal guru, Meher Baba.

Indeed, the songs offered such a sense of reflection and rumination, it’s hard to imagine Empty Glass being delivered from anything other than his personal perspective. The song that emerged as the album’s initial hit, “Rough Boys,” bows to Townshend’s unresolved sexual ambiguity. Although he dedicated it to his children Emma and Minta, it made more sense as a shout-out to the Sex Pistols who, at the time, represented punk’s brooding, blistering upending of traditional rock norms. Years later, Townshend himself alluded to its alleged homosexual references, noting that he knew members of the gay community but was not gay himself. Given that some saw the song as a coming out of sorts a decidedly wrong assumption, Townshend assured them — it would have been an awkward choice for the macho Daltrey to voice. Nevertheless, The Who did eventually include it in their live sets, a wise choice considering that it ranked among their strongest contemporary material at the time. It also hit America in the top ten, the only Townshend solo song ever to achieve that distinction.

The rest of the album is similarly introspective. “Let My Love Open the Door,” the second single from the album, made its way up the charts, although both Townshend and his management allegedly expressed some misgivings about the song. A third single, the similarly philosophical “A Little Is Enough,” which Townshend acknowledged was his bow to the Kinks’ Ray Davies, failed to make any impact at all, although Townshend considered it a better bid for chart success than the aforementioned “Let My Love Open the Door.”

While several songs could have been compelling candidates for inclusion on a new Who album — “And I Moved,” “Empty Glass,” “Gonna Get Ya,” “A Little Is Enough,” and “I Am an Animal” would have been fine fits for Daltrey’s vocals — Townshend surrounded himself with an able support cast. Producer Chris Thomas, best known for his work with the Pretenders, Procol Harum, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Pink Floyd, helped manage his client’s blend of pomp and poignancy, while four different drummers — recent Who recruit Kenney Jones, all-star session man Simon Phillips, Big Country’s Mark Brezicki and James Asher — as well as the Who’s erstwhile keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick, Medicine Head’s Peter Hope-Evans on harp, and another Big Country stalwart, bassist Tony Butler provided the instrumental underpinnings.

Townshend once claimed he wanted Todd Rundgren to oversee the proceedings, but changed his mind, fearing Rundgren’s abilities as a singer and guitarist would steal the album’s focus.

Regardless, Empty Glass still ranks as the best individual effort of Townshend’s career and a worthy companion piece to his Who resume. In this case, the glass was more than half full.

Who the a quick live one

The Who’s incendiary live performance at the legendary 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, available for the first time on vinyl LP: Red / White / Blue striped vinyl. Fancy old fashioned high-gloss tip-on style jacket. Printed inner sleeve. The Who’s set at the Monterey festival in 1967, including tales of psychological warfare with Jimi Hendrix, upsetting Ravi Shankar and more…On June 18th 1967, The Who brought what Rolling Stone magazine called their “pulverising music” to the Monterey International Pop Music Festival at the Monterey County fairground, California. As The Who had only just dented the US market, co-manager Chris Stamp agreed to the group playing for nothing. Stamp had recently permed his hair to look more like his hero Jimi Hendrix, discovered LSD and embraced what he called “love and communication… and all that shit.” But he was still compos mentis enough to know this was a good opportunity for The Who.

The Animals‘ frontman Eric Burdon, his Newcastle accent now softened by California or drugs or both, introduced The Who as “a group that will destroy you completely in more ways than one”. Behind him, the band crashed into Substitute followed by Summertime Blues. It was hard to imagine anything more removed from The Mamas And Papas’ passive California Dreaming or anything else played that weekend.

The other acts on the Monterey bill included Country Joe And The Fish, Jefferson Airplane and Scott McKenzie, whose hit San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) was now an anthem for what critics were calling ‘the summer of love’. The stage was wide open for a loud, aggressive group from England.

The Who were due to play on Sunday evening and arrived the day before. Pete Townshend watched Otis Redding work his magic on Saturday night,

Among the festival’s organisers were John Phillips of the harmony group The Mamas And The Papas and The Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor. The organisers had pledged the festival’s profits to charity, and asked the bands to perform for free. Most accepted, albeit grudgingly, except Indian composer and sitar player Ravi Shankar who pocketed $3,000 for his afternoon performance. The Who tore through Pictures Of Lily, A Quick One, While He’s Away, Happy Jack, and My Generation. Instead of peace, love and flowers, Pete Townshend hacking away at the stage with his guitar, like a lumberjack trying to dismember a log with a blunt axe. In the subsequent Monterey Pop movie, you can hear the gasps from the audience as stagehands rush on to salvage the broken equipment. Ravi Shankar watched the performance and was disgusted by “their lack of respect for their music and their instruments.”

If ever The Who had the opportunity to, as Townshend put it, “leave a wound” it was now. But they weren’t the only Track Records act on the bill. “The Who paid my fare home,” says Keith Altham, who covered the festival for New Musical Express, “but Jimi Hendrix had paid for my flight out.” To add to the frisson, The Who and fellow Track act Hendrix were both due to play on Sunday evening. By then, as many 80,000 people had passed through the gates into the fairground or congregated outside, hoping to see and hear something, anything. The festival had also attracted unprecedented media coverage, with over 1,000 journalists besieging Derek Taylor’s press tent.

“I wasn’t wearing a psychedelic shawl. It was a tablecloth I bought in Shepherd’s Bush.” Roger Daltrey

Backstage, the Grateful Dead’s sound engineer turned chemist, Owsley Stanley, was distributing free LSD trips and Rolling Stone Brian Jones was drifting around dressed like a Regency prince, but looking, as Keith Richards once said, “like a ghost about to leave a séance”. Roger Daltrey recalls Jones joining him, Janis Joplin, The Mamas And The Papas’ Mama Cass and Jimi Hendrix for a jam session in the dressing room under the stage.

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“Jimi was playing Sgt. Pepper on his guitar,” said Daltrey. “But, and this was the amazing thing, he was playing all the parts. He would go from a bit of orchestration, to a vocal part, to a solo – the whole thing on one guitar.” The others stood and watched, accompanying Hendrix by beating out a rhythm on anything close to hand.

Others remember it differently. Pete Townshend recalled arguing with Hendrix about who would go on first, as neither wanted to follow the other. At one point Hendrix stood on a stool in front of Townshend to show off on the guitar, as if to say, “Don’t fuck with me, you little shit.” In the end, John Phillips suggested they toss a coin. Townshend won.

This is a Record Store Day 2020 item. It will be available to purchase from 8am 20th June. 

Setlist:
Eric Burdon Introduction
Substitute
Summertime Blues
Pictures of Lily
A Quick One, While Hes Away
Happy Jack
My Generation

All songs written by Pete Townshend except Summertime Blues, written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart.

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Released just over 45 years ago, The Who “By Numbers” has some of Pete Townshend’s most personal and saddest lyrics and is hence a passionate and emotional album with the help of Roger John and Keith. Their last classic album? maybe.

After releasing two of the greatest rock concept albums of all time in Tommy and Quadrophenia, the Who had nowhere to go but down, at least in terms of overweening ambition, anyway. The result released in 1975 The Who by Numbers, proved a critical and commercial triumph in the face of personal adversity.

At the time, the band were battling demons on two fronts. On one hand, they felt somewhat boxed in after setting the template for rock concept records. As singer Roger Daltrey complained, fans and critics expected the band’s albums to come with a certain amount of heft, to the point that they sometimes weren’t willing to give non-concept efforts their proper due. Grumbling that “nobody wanted to listen to what [else] we were doing” after Tommy came out, Daltrey argued  “Who’s Next” holds up much better, but nobody wanted to take it seriously because it was just nine songs.

Further complicating things was the band members’ increasingly critical view of where the Who stood — or should stand in a turbulent musical landscape that had grown to encompass styles that seemed to exist in contrast to the growing complexity and maturity of the band’s own work. For guitarist Pete Townshend, who wrote the bulk of the material, the question proved particularly vexing.

“Before the emergence of punk, the Who were the only band who actually sat round a table to decide ‘Should we go on or not?’ Would we be doing music a favour if we just f—ing stopped? We actually considered that,” Townshend told NME Magazine.

“Around the time of The Who by Numbers we used to have really quite heavy conversations about where music was going to go – particularly in this country – and whether we should be involved in it, and the problem with [drummer Keith Moon] living in America and living that Hollywood lifestyle and whether we should try and force him to come back to England … all those kind of things. Whether our music should change, whether we should let the Who tradition just bash on until it got really boring, whether we should try and force change by starting labels and working with other bands.”

As Who fans are well aware, the band opted to forge ahead with their seventh studio album, The Who by Numbers, which arrived in stores on October. 3rd, 1975 . It was nearly two years after Quadrophenia, and a relative eternity during the speedier release cycle that was the norm at the time. Realizing their rather chaotic state would make recording more of a slog than normal, they enlisted producer Glyn Johns to help wrangle the sessions into shape, and as the weeks dragged into months, Johns earned every penny of his paycheck even though the album’s aesthetics were less intricate and synthesizer-driven than the recordings that had preceded it.

Glyn worked harder on The Who by Numbers than I’ve ever seen him. He had to, not because the tracks were weak or the music poor but because the group was so useless,” Townshend’s quoted as saying in Alan G. Parker and Steve Grantley’s The Who by Numbers. “We played cricket between takes or went to the pub. I personally had never done that before. I felt detached from my own songs, from the whole record. Recording the album seemed to take me nowhere. Roger was angry with the world at the time. Keith seemed as impetuous as ever, on the wagon one minute, off the next. [Bassist John Entwistle] was obviously gathering strength throughout the whole period; the great thing about it was he seemed to know we were going to need him more than ever before in the coming year.”

The end result, unsurprisingly, was a collection of moody, introspective, and fairly dark songs; although tracks like the opening cut “Slip Kid” and double entendre-laden “Squeeze Box” went down easy enough, The Who by Numbers is more strongly defined by self-critical Townshend compositions like “However Much I Booze” and “Dreaming from the Waist”; even the lighter-sounding “Blue, Red and Grey,” which found Townshend strumming a ukulele on top of a brass section overdubbed by Entwistle, was later described by Townshend in a Numbers reissue’s liner notes as “me wanting to kill myself.”

Between the subject matter and the rumors of band strife that pervaded the music press at the time, the popular opinion was that The Who by Numbers offered a sort of grim personal manifesto from Townshend as he approached middle age  and although he’s more or less confirmed that point of view a number of times over the years, he’s also cautioned that listeners shouldn’t try to read too much into the songs, insisting what he was really trying to do was put himself in his audience’s shoes.

“There are a couple of really politically incorrect lines on Quadrophenia, but I thought I could get away with it because I was writing for a character. But on By Numbers, everybody took everything really literally. I don’t know. It’s interesting,” Townshend . “I certainly didn’t feel a lack of friendship and I certainly didn’t feel suicidal. I think I may have been a bit angry occasionally. I think I need to go to the great journalistic psychiatrist and have it explained to me, why I was wrong and they were right.”

Perhaps more importantly, according to Townshend, Daltrey was actually more responsible for the overall theme of the album. “The songs are about being older, feeling lost, losing your way,” Townshend has said. “Changing fashions, being sentimental, looking at the sunrise. What’s that got to do with being a young man? You don’t start looking at the sunrise until you’re dying. But,” he added, “Roger picked those songs from my demos.”

The end result, pointed out Townshend, was an album of songs in which one artist interpreted the words of another  which were themselves interpretations of Townshend’s efforts to put music to what his audience was going through. “Roger’s an actor,” he argued. “I don’t think he realized that what he was doing all the time with my work was interpreting, acting and I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t be an actor and he could.”

Daltrey, for his part, still believes the album is more autobiographical than Townshend would perhaps like to admit. “Who by Numbers is very dark because Pete was going through some terrible agonies, but I didn’t realize this at the time,” he told Uncut. “We thought, if he wants space, we’ll give him some space – when what we should have done was been there saying, ‘You all right, Pete?’ But that’s just the way he was and still is. There’s a side to him that is like a stone wall and what he really wants you to do is knock down the f—ing wall and come through it, which takes a lot of effort all the time. I understand it now but I didn’t understand it then. So it led to this brooding, deep, introspective album. He was boozing a lot and I think he was having problems with his marriage, trying to balance that family life with rock’n’roll, ’cause they don’t balance. But I love that album.”

However you take the songs’ meaning, “The Who by Numbers” proved yet another hit for the Who, with “Squeeze Box” entering heavy rotation on both sides of the Atlantic while the album hit the Top 10 in the U.S. and U.K. on its way to RIAA certification for half a million in sales. And while Townshend may have sweated the songwriting during this period, other members of the band seemed perfectly content — including Entwistle, whose hand-drawn album art reflected the record’s scaled-down sensibilities.

“Squeeze Box” is a slang term for an accordion, but it is also slang for the vagina. The band just wanted to see if they could get away with singing about the joys of explicit sex.

In the liner notes to Pete Townshend’s compilation album Scoop, he wrote that he recorded the song for fun one day when he had bought himself an accordion. The accordion gave the song a polka-esque rhythm and the lyrics were “intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke.” Townshend had no thought of it ever becoming a hit.

The song is about an accordion (sort of), but there is hardly any of the instrument in the song. You can hear some in the section about 90 seconds in that goes, “squeeze me, come on and squeeze me,” but the subsequent instrumental section is mostly banjo. Pete Townshend played both instruments.

“The best we’ve done since the last one,” chuckled Entwistle when asked for his thoughts on The Who by Numbers in a 1976 interview with Sounds. “I like the cover. That’s pretty good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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