The Who : Classic or Dud

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Cool mod icons? Overblown pomp? Cute formalists?

You know what to do.

Also, how about a Search and Destroy?

Dr. C, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I once tried to lik e them,but I think they just dont write good music. And ROger Dahltry seems like he feel slike its his job to be some sort of messiah of rock of bacchanal preist or something. And Pete Thownsend seems bitchy and unlikeable.

Mike Hanley, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Classic THEN Dud. The early Who had it all - one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time, Townsend's frenzied experiments with feedback/noise, his brilliant, funny, twisted lyrics full of class/sexual/psychological angst ("the simple things you see are all complicated"), art school look/style/theory and speed freak mod aggro (Townsend hated hippies), some surprisingly gorgeous melodies that productively rubbed against Moon's desire to EXPLODE at all times. Daltrey's singing and macho posturing have always been problematic, but he does a surprisingly good James Brown impression on the 'My Generation' alb, his bullish confidence gave the Who a frontman/performer they would have otherwise lacked, and the long-running antagonism with Townsend (brawn v. brains) added an extra frisson to their best music. SEARCH: 'The Who Sell Out' (first alb that addresses the commodification of pop?), 'A Quick One' (esp. 'So Sad About Us'), their appearances on 'Rock'n'Roll Circus', and 'Monterey Pop', 'Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy' ('Substitute'!), the first disc of the Who Box Set, 'The Kids Are Alright' movie, and the CD version of 'Odds and Sods' ('Glowgirl' and 'Little Billy'!). DESTROY: It's a bit too easy to say "all of the rock operas" - but I'm going to, anyway. Townsend's over-earnest need to analyse and (can't) explain fed into Kit Lambert's disdain for the three minute pop song (hence the weedy production on 'Tommy' - the live versions on the recentish 'Isle of White' alb are miles better), and the group's occasional attempts to recover their rock'n'roll 'power' always seemed slightly over-determined to me - 'Live at Leeds' is all blast and no beauty, and Moon's painful descent into rock star caricature can be traced through the disintegration of his angel face. Daltrey just looked a bigger and bigger prick as the years went on. 'Who's Next' , 'Quadrophenia' and even 'Who by Numbers' all have their moments, but often seem paralysed by fear - of no longer being 'relevant', of the limits of boy gangdom, and of all the compromises and untruths that stem from being billed as the loudest, hardest etc. rock band in the world. Pete's inability to call it day, even now, is sad and a bit pitiful, as is his determination to flog dead horses like 'Lighthouse'.

Andrew L, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Dude... I hope I DIE BEFORE I GET OLD. Dude...

Classic. Join the cult of the band, won't you?

Search: all boots from 1969-1976. You only really understand how good this band was by hearing them live. Search specifically the Rock Circus vers. of A Quick One, Dreaming From The Waist from 1976 Swansea, Live At Leeds Complete and Woodstock. Quadrophenia.

Destroy: All post Keith material, the 'complete' BBC sessions, 'cause they're not complete. The Tommy movie.

JM, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I've been getting into the Who recently, so I say the Who are CLASSIC.

The film of "Quadrophenia" is great. The album "Who's Next?" is great, with its total yeow! rock antics. And "Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy" has all your old Who favourites. I don't know anything else.

The Dirty Vicar, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I don't know much of their later work or any of their albums, but the first seven UK Top 10 singles ("I Can't Explain" to "Pictures of Lily") are among the very highest peaks of this country at that time. For those alone, classic.

I find what I've heard of the later stuff ("Who Are You", "You Better You Bet") obviously tedious and banal, like any other plodding rock band.

Robin Carmody, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Pete Townshend being a bitchy bastard is exactly why he's likable.

The Who are classic for their Keith-era work. The best of it is completely untouchable raw power. Their post Keith work is patchy (mostly bad - no, GODAWFUL - patches), and some of their reaches didn't quite make it (Tommy is ridiculous). But as I always say, no great band has ever not made something, or many somethings, of complete toss. Being the greatest makes you more likely to fall because you reach too far, IMO.

Search: Who's Next. Okay, scratch that cos if you haven't already searched that you're just completely behind. So, instead: He's a Boy, for being the funniest song.

Destroy: The belief that the Who were still the Who without Keith Moon.

Ally, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Classic, sure, why not. But isn't it interesting how The Who somehow, somewhere down the line, became the "acceptable" classic-rock band for the indiefolk to like? How did this occur? Is Bob Pollard somehow responsible?

Always thought Who's Next was overrated though -- "Won't Get Fooled Again" is great, "Baba O'Reilly" is very good, but all the other songs on that album underwhelm me. I guess I just don't like classic rock enough.

Search for Live at Leeds and Quadrophenia and all the early singles.

Destroy Tommy in its many incarnations.

Ian White, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Why indiefolk -- and Pollard is a good person to credit/blame (delete where applicable) -- aprrove of them is probably more for that incredible run of singles that Robin mentioned than anything else. But, unfortunately, Pop Who doesn't slot into classic rock radio, and has been chucked from most people's memory in favor of Ponderous Who. (See also: the Kinks.)

search: A Quick One, Sell Out, My Generation: The Very Best of... (which hits the mark more than most 'best of's'), Who's Next

destroy: the other compilations (Sheesh, are they the most overly anthologized group ever?), all films and film-related music (except the r'n'r circus performance), Squeeze Box (NOW!), hell, most anything post-Who's Next, and even Live at Leeds (*checks watch* Still playing that one guys?)

Apropos to nothing, I once worked with a guy who insisted on a dramatic reading of the lines "She comes to me with open arms (preganant pause) / And open legs" every time You Better, You Bet came on the radio. Yes, yes, it's very clever. Now go away. Please.

scott p., Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

'she ripped her glittering gown / couldn't face another show, no / her deodorant had let her down / she should have used odorono'

ethan, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Pre-Tommy (plus Live at Leeds and Who's Next): classic. Post-Tommy: dud. The cliche answer, but it's my answer nonetheless.

IMHO, the Who are the most problematic of the Sixties acts. As indisputably great as they were, there was always someone better at some element of their game. Lennon/McCartney, Jaggers/Richards, and Ray Davies were better songwriters than Townshend. The Velvet Underground, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, and the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds did more with feedback and distortion. Townshend basically stole his earliest songs from the Kinks and his early guitar sound from Dave Davies, while Ray Davies wrote funnier lyrics and better rock operas (he even beat Townshend chronologically since Arthur was written, though not recorded, before Tommy). Hendrix, Beck, Jimmy Page, etc., were better guitarists than Townshend. Barrett, early Jefferson Airplane, the Mothers of Invention, and countless others did psychedelica better. Jagger, Lennon and McCartney were better singers than Daltrey. Charlie Watts was at least as good a drummer as Keith Moon. And the Stones (who were the Who's real competitors) were just flat out better.

That said, their early stuff was still pretty damn great.

Tadeusz Suchodolski, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Watts is not as good a drummer as Keith. End of discussion.

JM, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Tadeusz - which songs did The Who rip-ff from The Kinks? There's a similarity between "You Really Got Me" and "I Can't Explain" sure, but come on - both relate back to the "Louie Louie" riff , amd they weren't alone. Any others? I don't think so.

As for the Watts v Moon argument - it's kinda pointless. Both of them contributed perfectly to the kind of material that their band was playing. Sure - few drummers could've played like Moon, but does that make him *better*? Just different, I'd say. Keith could never have complemented Keef n' BJ like Charlie did, but without Keith The Who wouldn't have had their explosive impact.

Dr. C, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

It's all just a matter of perspective: I think Paul McCartney is a godawful songwriter, and I find Jagger/Richards to be okay-to-good at best. Therefore, I'm going to tell you that you're wrong, Townshend is easily the better songwriter. I still think Daltrey had the most impressive voice of the old-skool Britpop bunch too.

As for Watts vs. Moon...well. I'm with da Mod, yo. Moon could've kicked Watts ass from here to Whoville, but the point being made that they were both perfect for their band is true too. Just look at the Beatles versus the Who. Ringo wasn't really the greatest drummer ever, but if Keith was with the Beatles, he would've absolutely destroyed (which some might say is an improvement, but that's a different story) their sound.

Ally, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

It is a matter of perspective, but I would say, too, that the Who were getting it right far more often than their contemporaries until, say, 1966 or 67 when it all got a bit pompous.

scott p., Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

And, on "I Can See For Miles" (their first non-classic single), you can hear the pomposity setting in.

My favourite Kinks single, "See My Friend", seems to get virtually no airplay whatsoever in the UK, so well done to Scott, though I suspect he was referring to a radio format that doesn't exist here.

Of course I would be very interested in what David the Huntsman could say to this thread since as some of us know he was very much the childhood Who obsessive.

Robin Carmody, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

"I Can See For Miles" non-classic ?!?! Pompous ?!?!?! *beating my head on my desk until it bleeds*

Patrick, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

1) 'i can see for miles' is the best who single that there ever was.

2) wasn't 'see my friend' the first psychedelic song or something?

ethan, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

robin, could it only be a coincidence that you deem "i can see for miles" the beginning of their pomposity and the end of their classic singles when it also happens to mark their entry into the world of amp-shredding hard rock? ;)

i think tad hits upon something when he implies that there was always something second-best about the group, moon and the great songs notwithstanding. was it reynolds who said that there's something unloveable about them?

give me "i can't explain"; the rest of those early singles might as well have been performed by the later kinks, which means that they can take a flying leap. and then give me "baba o'riley" and "won't get fooled again" and any of their really hard-rocking moments, their CLASSIC ROCK moments, if you will. at their core, they formed a great rock band and so it's a shame that they didn't indulge that side more.

fred solinger, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

And, on "I Can See For Miles" (their first non-classic single), you can hear the pomposity setting in. (Robin)

I know what you mean Robin. Their early singles were more pithy, r&b- ish. As they went on, the hyped-up guitar powerchords came more and more to the fore, to the point of deliberate self-pastiche by the time of tracks like "In A Hand Or A Face" (1975).

Having said that, I have to disagree with you about their best period, preferring the years 1970-75. My favourite album is "Who's Next" which I think you should check out because, apart from anything else, you may find the background to it interesting. For what it's worth (nothing), it's probably my all-time favourite album (by anybody). "Quadrophenia" is also quite good, although over-repetitive musically. "The Who By Numbers" has some good songs on it, but you can hear Townshend's guitar playing changing as he starts to incorporate slightly funky American styles (rather derivative and dreary to my ears).

The worst thing about the Who, and something that worried me slightly even at the time, is the sense that everything is incredibly male- centred (and verging on the thuggish at times eg glorification of Moon's antics).

David, Friday, 25 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Agreed. In The Who's world, women were mothers, gypsy queens, pictures on walls, et cet. However, there is no denying that The Who rocked, partly at least because there was no room for gooey love songs in their world. Their ballads, such as theyt were, were in fact epics of self-discovery.

Sterling Clover, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

I love 'Baba O'Reilly'. I'm not sure I can spell it, though.

the pinefox, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

the who are the reservoir dogs of pop.

ethan, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

"I Can See For Miles" was their biggest ever US hit so no wonder Ethan and Fred love it :). Though, seriously, yes it was Reynolds who made that "unlovable" comment, and one I've always been able to sympathise with (though, as I said a while ago, I'd apply it more to the Rolling Stones).

I've always wondered why the run of singles from "I Can't Explain" to "Pictures Of Lily" did very little in the US at a time when the American charts were at their most open ever towards British acts. My glib guess would be that, in the sense of irony and sexual innuendo and various allusions in the lyrics, they were very "English" in a sense that didn't really appeal to mainstream US audiences and radio programmers (as opposed to the stereotypical sense of Herman's Hermits, the Dave Clark Five, or Paul McCartney in "When I'm 64" mode). There's something slightly camp about the high-pitched backing vocals on "I Can't Explain", and it didn't have the undercurrent of de-ironised rockism that I can always detect in Mick Jagger (who is always a terrible disappointment to me when judged by the "campness" criterion).

David, given that I once constructed an entire email to you around the *context* of "Won't Get Fooled Again" (an awesomely brilliant song BTW) rather than the song itself, I can see what you mean about my finding the context of "Who's Next" interesting. And you are right; I feel extremely guilty that I haven't heard it.

Robin Carmody, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Some interesting posts! For me the "early" singles (I Can't Explain/..Kids../Happy Jack/...Lily/Substitute/I Can See for Miles/I'm A Boy/My Generation/Anyway,Anyhow../Magic Bus) are the best, with the better album tracks from My Generation/A Quick One/Who Sell Out close behind. Other than the fact that each band had a brilliant songwriter, I feel that Kinks comparisons are fairly redundant beyond early '65. As well as a great singles band, the Who were a great live band (Live at Leeds, Isle of Wight, any number of bootlegs).

Ihave no problems with Townshend's need to break free from conventional song and album structures - in the main it works, but I strongly disagree that Who's Next is their best work. IMHO the middle of this album is as weak (from My Wife to Going Mobile) as the rest (Baba/Bargain/Love ain't.../Behind Blue../Won't Get...) is monumental. If pushed I could let My Wife through for the wierd brass stabs, but I can't accept that The Song is Over/Getting in Tune/Going Mobile are worth anything. Townshend seems to be trying to wrestle the sons away from Daltrey - either by taking over the vocals, or by chucking in key shifts that aren't needed (The Song is Over). It feels like he's still trying to get to whatever "Lifehouse" was supposed to be Also, two songs *about* songs or using songs as metaphors is pretty damn close to bands writing songs about being in bands. Daltry's leather-lunged vocals get pretty close to unpleasant also, again the tension between him and Townshend seems to come to the fore - it's like he's trying too hard to outdo Pete's reedy whine when he really doesn't need to try AT ALL. I much prefer Rog's R+B voice of 1964-7. So "Who's Next" is fatally flawed in my book, but still clearly essential for the 5 good tracks. My Search would include all the singles mentioned above, Live At Leeds, Who Sell-Out, BBC Sessions (Fantastic!), and I'd Destroy everything after Keith. The truth is that the rot set in in 1971 though.

Dr. C, Sunday, 27 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Townshend seems to be trying to wrestle the sons away from Daltrey - either by taking over the vocals... (Dr C)

Well it depends if you like Townshend's vocals or not. I do, so I have no complaint. In fact Townshend's demo of "Pure & Easy" (on his solo album "Who Came First") is much better than the Who's version, sung by Daltrey (to be found on the "Odds & Sods" compilation and the remastered/repackaged CD of "Who's Next"). I have often wondered though what the criteria were for lead vocal parts being assigned to Townshend.

...or by chucking in key shifts that aren't needed (The Song is Over). It feels like he's still trying to get to whatever "Lifehouse" was supposed to be...

Of course "Who's Next" was something of a rescue job after the failed attempt to make a coherent double album/conceptual work of "Lifehouse". So "Song Is Over", which I love btw, is very much a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, and can seem confusing because its intended context is missing.

David, Sunday, 27 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Dr C says:

>>> IMHO the middle of this album is as weak (from My Wife to Going Mobile) as the rest (Baba/Bargain/Love ain't.../Behind Blue../Won't Get...) is monumental.

But... well, that's quite a bit of Monumentality. For me the first two tracks alone justify the enterprise. Monumental indeed.

>>> If pushed I could let My Wife through for the wierd brass stabs,

Hey - those weird brass stabs!! And what about that vast menacing undercurrent of brass as the song heads out?

>>> It feels like he's still trying to get to whatever "Lifehouse" was supposed to be.

Well - it was Daltrey (!) who said that the greatness of the LP maybe came from the unrealized 'conceptualism' behind it - from the failure, but residual presence, of Lifehouse. Interesting, I think - more perceptive than I'd expect from the old trout.

>>> Also, two songs *about* songs or using songs as metaphors is pretty damn close to bands writing songs about being in bands.

This ought to be a thread: songs about songs - search & destroy...

the pinefox, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Hey - those weird brass stabs!! And what about that vast menacing undercurrent of brass as the song heads out?

And the absurd lyrics.

David, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Ah yes The Who. There's some stuff on Tommy that is absolutely amazing (I'm Free, We're not gonna take it) and that stutter in My Generation is after these years still the epitome of cool. But somehow in the end I'm sort of indifferent about them. There's something cold about them. Unlike say...Rolling Stones. Should investigate why that is.

Omar, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

As some might know, I hold the reverse feelings to Omar about the Who and the Stones (with the Stones being, for me, impossible to love and difficult to even like).

Robin Carmody, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

'i can see for miles' their biggest US hit? dude, all their 70s hard rock stuff was like, hugely popular over here. i think a lot of americans had never even heard of the who until 1972, or whenever the hell 'tommy' came out.

ethan, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

"I Can See For Miles" peaked at # 9 in Billboard, and is indeed the Who's highest charting single in the US. Their subsequent *albums* were indeed much bigger sellers, but not their singles.

Patrick, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Pinefox - interesting comments from Daltrey. I hadn't heard them before. The kind of tension indicated he means can often *make* an album. In this case it narrowly fails IMHO.

Dr. C, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

The Who were my first musical love, so a big classic for me. I loved just about everything through Who By Numbers. None of the other 60s icons could match Townshend for capturing the feeling of being lonely & out of place. His big conk pushed his artistic muse in the right direction, in terms of getting teenagers to understand. See "I'm One." That's the proto-Morrissey shit right there!

Plus, they rock. Live at Leeds is just so fun for the power chords and crazy drumming.

Mark, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

two months pass...
i just picked up 'a quick one' yesterday, and i thought, hmm, perhaps the people on the forum would like to talk about it? and here goes. so far, it certainly supports my long held favorite member of the who being john entwistle (whch was originally influenced by hearing 'boris the spider', which i finally own, yay), but also am now fully appreciating keith moon's work, with fuckin-a loud drum fills and two great songs to his name. daltrey's still wack though. what should i get next? backtrack to 'the who sings my generation' or move ahead to the infamous 'tommy'? all i know is that i don't want anything after 1971.

ethan, Wednesday, 1 August 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Ethan -- Go with Tommy, esp. if you're interested in Entwhistle & the instrumental side of the band. They're hitting on all cylinders there, lots of instrumental passages where they stretch out and do good things. The "story" on the album is very corny if you look at it one way, but I love it. Looking at this thread now, I realize why the Who means so much more to me than the other band mentioned here. Townshend writes from a *personal* POV so much more than The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc. He foreshadowed the "confessional singer/songwriter" thing much more than Dylan. That sounds like a terrible thing (visions of Jackson Browne et. al.) but if you relate to where the writer is coming from that kind of connection can be so deep. He understood awkwardness, sadness, etc. and conveyed same in a very direct way.

The one post-71 thing you should definitely check out is Odds & Sods. There singles/B-sides thing that has some great moments, many dating from the period you like best (also some more classic rock stuff like "Long Live Rock," but hey.)

Mark, Wednesday, 1 August 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

Also consider the expanded CDs of "The Who Sell Out" (ridiculous, camp, overblown, wonderful) and of course "Live at Leeds" (loud n' hard as nails). If you think Entwistle and Moon sound good on "A Quick One" wait until you hear them live.

As for "A Quick One" - it seems fairly fashionable to riducule the Moon songs and Daltrey's "See My Way", all of which are in fact ace and a nice counterpoint to Townshend's 'before your very eyes' transformation from Mod-man (Run, Run, Run, So Sad About Us) to concept-man (A Quick One). That makes "The Who Sell Out" the best next step, IMHO.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 1 August 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

i already have the who sell out, and love it. i think in the next month or so i'll take the plunge and get tommy as well. and then i'll let my hair grow out and drive a van around town for a while, perhaps picking up a mattress from the side of a dumpster.

ethan, Wednesday, 1 August 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

one month passes...
Anyone who thinks that punk "re-energized" Rock N' Roll needs to sit down and watch their 1970 Isle Of Wight performance. Raging, sloppy, chaotic and very loud, they really out-Stooged the Stooges at that performance.

Jack Redelfs, Sunday, 23 September 2001 00:00 (twenty years ago) link

four years pass...
what's the dealy with the 'my generation' special-ed elpee? has it been badly remixed or goodly remixed?

25 yr old slacker cokehead (Enrique), Monday, 24 April 2006 10:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Obviously classic, although I like their 60s material better than I like the generally more heralded early 70s material.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 24 April 2006 11:41 (sixteen years ago) link

The My Gen de-luxe is stereo, which some say dilutes the impact compare with the original in yer mush mono mix. I say they're both fine. It hasn't been remixed as far as I know - they're remastered original stero mixes. I'm going to put it on now.....

Dr. C (Dr. C), Monday, 24 April 2006 12:00 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I just finally picked up the Special Edition of My Generation last week. I can't believe I waited so long. It's by far my favorite Who album. The one I've listened to most is Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy -- next to The Buzzcocks' Singles Going Steady, the most essential compilation.

But my god, the remaster of My Generation sounds perfect to me. It pops and cracks whereas the crap mono version clanged and fizzed. It sounds so good cranked up, and having all the B-sides together is revalatory (some of them were actually meant to be released on the original album, until they were encouraged to write some more originals). "Heat Wave," "I'm A Man," "Shout And Shimmy," "Anytime You Want Me" are all great. Check out Daltrey's a-capella version of "Anytime You Want Me." He was already a really strong singer, rivalled only by The Small Faces' Steve Marriott. I'd go so far as to say it's the ONLY Who album that's listenable all the way through. Later singles are generally perfect, but otherwise, Townsend over reaches and loses what made The Who so exciting -- the immediacy of their hooks, the surprisingly pretty melodies that were always given an explosive beat-down by Moon before they've overstayed their welcome.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Sunday, 4 June 2006 15:40 (fifteen years ago) link

I completely agree with that assessment. Plus, dude, "Leaving Here"! That shit kicks it!

I am ready to kill myself and eat my dog (teenagequiet), Sunday, 4 June 2006 15:53 (fifteen years ago) link

But it sounds like shit!

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Monday, 5 June 2006 00:23 (fifteen years ago) link

Compared to what? Sounds better to my ears than anything from the Stones or Kinks that year. I'm listening to the A Quick One and Sell Out remasters again, and they just sound muted and emaciated in comparison.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Monday, 5 June 2006 01:16 (fifteen years ago) link

I gotta say "I Can See For Miles" truly thunders. Wish they could have given the rest of the songs that kind of production.

Fastnbulbous (Fastnbulbous), Monday, 5 June 2006 02:25 (fifteen years ago) link

I remember Townshend was supposedly very disappointed that song didn't do better in the charts. I think it's almost too subtle for most people.

I didn't know there was a special edition of My Generation. I think I only have the Mono one, and haven't played it in about 10 years.

Has-been Hash Brown (Bimble...), Tuesday, 6 June 2006 03:16 (fifteen years ago) link

They were classic up to and including "The Who By Numbers". Only dud thereafter.

Never bettered "The Who Sellout" though.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 6 June 2006 09:30 (fifteen years ago) link

YOU COME TO ME WITH OPEN ARMS....AND OPEN LEGS

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 June 2006 11:47 (fifteen years ago) link

For sure the Beggars-Let It Bleed-Sticky Fingers-Exile years are peak/ur Stones. I just don't think there's as sharp a cut-off for the earlier stuff.

I was talking to someone about this shift in recent years, where early Who and early Stones have sort of been steamrolled into relative obscurity compared to the '70s stuff. Like, when people generally think of the Who, I think they're thinking the arena rock sound of "Who's Next." When people think of the Stones, they're thinking of, like, "Brown Sugar," that sort of similar arena, Keith in open G riffing thing. The Beatles might have escaped this, but I'm trying to think of the last time I heard anything from their early records in the wild.

Personally, I'm good with "Live at Leeds" and "Quadrophenia."

That sounds like a US phenomenon.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 18:39 (one year ago) link

You've got all that Classc Rock nonsense to put up with.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 18:40 (one year ago) link

For sure. Classic rock radio in its current form pretty much ignores anything before 1970. (Even the early '70s are starting to get squeezed out, though things like Zep and Lynyrd Skynyrd will stay forever.)

Wait, so you don’t have that nonsense? And you hear the early Who singles played upon occasion?

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 18:48 (one year ago) link

I don't listen to the radio and I'm sure there are classic rock stations in the UK these days but it's not a something with any kind of history in the UK.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:01 (one year ago) link

Generally speaking, then, how often do you hear those early Who songs without seeking them out?

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:02 (one year ago) link

I don’t want to get too sentimental like those others sticky Valentines whilst my immune system is fighting off the Rona, but I do often feel a sense of loss when I think about the way love the radio used to be when I could hear all the different decades of the rock era going back to the 50s with just a slight shift of the dial.

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:06 (one year ago) link

I don't know where I would hear the Who anyway tbh? The Who are very closely associated with the mod thing in the UK - I imagine that is not the case in the US! So, when I went to see them a couple of years ago, there was a sizable contingent of mod types, of various ages, in the audience.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:08 (one year ago) link

In fact the only reason I was there was because my sister, who is a member of a (Mod) scooter club, was given the tickets by a guy who'd won them in a competition or something but she couldn't go.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:10 (one year ago) link

It's worth remembering that, in the late 70s, the most popular band in the UK was the Jam, who were fairly obviously influenced by 60s Who and not at all influenced by the 70s Who, and that association has stuck.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:17 (one year ago) link

Well I guess I can call myself an honorary U.K. Who fan, then. Because I also love both '60s Who and the Jam.

I thought for years I was sick of Who's Next--I played it to death in high school--but I gave it a listen a few years back and most of it still sounded great. ("Won't Get Fooled Again" is pretty much dead to me.) Live at Leeds I never liked, and with Quadrophenia, even though I think it's objectively great, I can't get past the horns or Daltrey's over-emoting.

clemenza, Sunday, 24 January 2021 19:52 (one year ago) link

Objectively I can acknowledge Who's Next is a solid record, but man, "Behind Blue Eyes" came on the radio the other week and I changed stations. That song seemed quasi-deep to me when I was 15, now it just seems like a lot of whinging.

I stopped listening to classic rock radio a long time ago. It wasn't really a conscious choice - I listened to the radio every day when I drove a car, but once I moved to the city, I stopped driving and had no reason to listen anymore (i.e. it was now an iPod on the subway or bus). But I remember when the Drive and other Chicago stations played the shit out of Who's Next, so I get how fans can grow sick of it if you wind up hearing it all the time in exclusion to any other Who music. I still love it, it's always been my favorite Who album, but I generally don't hear it unless I put it on. (I should add that I don't watch network TV anymore - commercials and TV shows used to license the shit out of Who's Next, and I'm sure that doesn't help matters either.)

I would steer any new listeners towards Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy before anything else though. It's still missing some essentials from the '60s - the Rock & Roll Circus performance of "A Quick One" that's on The Kids Are Alright, "So Sad About Us," some favorites from The Who Sell Out which is arguably their best album - but the Who distinguished themselves with hilariously weird and insane shit that took a back seat to pretentiousness after Tommy, and as much as I love Who's Next, I miss that aspect of their music.

birdistheword, Sunday, 24 January 2021 20:42 (one year ago) link

Yep, exactly.

Thirded

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 20:55 (one year ago) link

Tommy’s pretentiousness is still to some degree laced or connected with that earlier weirdness. Either that or I give it a pass because it is the album I knew best first.

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 20:59 (one year ago) link

Also, don’t know if I should scratch this itch or not, but there is also the delicate question of whether The Ox started overplaying at some point.

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:13 (one year ago) link

You'll be accusing Keith Moon of overplaying next.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:15 (one year ago) link

Ha, that’s different

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:17 (one year ago) link

as a teen in Australia in the late 80’s early 90s the only Who i ever heard was 60’s Who - substitute, my gen, i’m a boy, kids are alright, happy jack, all that stuff —- but there are was a lot of early Kinks in the mix too, all that mod/teddy stuff was kinda cool for some reason, mixed w sex pistols & british punk for reasons i am not sure of

i didnt really encounter late Who ~in the wild~ until i moved to the US, radio was always playing Who Are You or Eminence Front which seemed v weird to me, like why do they play THIS and none of the cool stuff

maybe the 60’s stuff just hit better in Australia bc of british invasion Easybeats & all that idk

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:31 (one year ago) link

Tommy is completely absurd, being about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who becomes a messiah via pinball. I can see how Who’s Next might be seen as lacking in humor, but then there’s “Goin’ Mobile” and “My Wife.” Quadrophenia has “Bell Boy,” but the inclusion of “We Close Tonight” and/or “Four Faces” would’ve taken a big chunk out of that record’s heaviness. By Numbers has “Squeeze Box” and “Success Story,” and while Who Are You is probably their most po-faced record, “Guitar And Pen” is certainly absurd (and doesn’t quite work), and “Who Are You” has some funny lines.

But there wasn’t going to be another “I’m A Boy” or “Dogs” after Tommy, it’s true. And “classic rock” radio has all but erased that side of them for US listeners. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” or Sell Out for friends who only know The Heavy Seventies Hits; the reaction is always, “That’s the Who?!”

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:36 (one year ago) link

I'm totally a '65-67 Who lover (extending to some songs from '68) these days, and have been for quite some time. But one thing that keeps Who's Next alive for me are the songs that aren't one of the overplayed three (and for some reason, I've never gotten tired of "Baba O'Riley"): "My Wife," "Going Mobile," and "Bargain" especially. I think the only song I've never cared for, not now and not back in high school, is "The Song Is Over."

clemenza, Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:39 (one year ago) link

In addition to The Jam there were also other explicit and implicit connections between the punk/New Wave and Mods/British Invasion.

xp 2 VG

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:47 (one year ago) link

The punkfox

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:48 (one year ago) link

i didnt really encounter late Who ~in the wild~ until i moved to the US, radio was always playing Who Are You or Eminence Front which seemed v weird to me, like why do they play THIS and none of the cool stuff


One thing is that, apart from “I Can See For Miles,” none of the early Who singles were big hits in the US. Some, like “Anyway,” didn’t chart here at all, and others, like “Dogs,” weren’t even released in the US at the time. That said, I do remember hearing some of the ‘65-‘68 songs regularly on the radio in the late ‘70s - mid ‘80s but haven’t heard them in the wild in at least 20 years.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:49 (one year ago) link

Yeah, “I Can See For Miles” you would hear quite often on US radio. Whereas for “My Generation” you really needed an edgier show or station.

A lot of the music on Tommy still sounds something like the earlier stuff. “Rael” and “Sparks” obviously, but even beyond that.

Next Time Might Be Hammer Time (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:54 (one year ago) link

a guy in my year 10 art class had I WAS BORN WITH A PLASTIC SPOON IN MY MOUTH scrawled on his pencil case in white-out

the who were fkn cool as shit to us 90’s teens lol

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:55 (one year ago) link

i still love their 60’s stuff the best

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 24 January 2021 21:55 (one year ago) link

I would suggest that the erasure of the '60s era Who in the US mostly happened after the mid '80s. Yes, US Decca famously mishandled the early Who records and they weren't the hits they should've been, but in the late '70s you could find those double album reissues of their pre-Tommy LPs in every record store; they'd been reissued in that form in '74 but were still in print into the early '80s. Also both Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy and Odds and Sods sold very well in the '70s and The Kids Are Alright soundtrack went platinum. I guess it was the increasingly exclusionary AOR/Classic Rock playlists plus the lack of mod tradition in the US that eventually buried that early material.

Josefa, Sunday, 24 January 2021 22:28 (one year ago) link

One thing is that, apart from “I Can See For Miles,” none of the early Who singles were big hits in the US. Some, like “Anyway,” didn’t chart here at all, and others, like “Dogs,” weren’t even released in the US at the time. That said, I do remember hearing some of the ‘65-‘68 songs regularly on the radio in the late ‘70s - mid ‘80s but haven’t heard them in the wild in at least 20 years.

I was going to mention the fact that they 9 Top 10 hits in the UK so they were a pretty successful pop group.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 22:44 (one year ago) link

.., in the 60s that is.

Waterloo Subset (Tom D.), Sunday, 24 January 2021 22:46 (one year ago) link

Their US label, Decca, had no idea how to promote them (or any other rock band, for that matter) here. Their early singles got a lot of airplay in the industrial Midwest — Detroit embraced them immediately — but they didn’t make a national splash until they’d done a couple of coast-to-coast tours and appeared on the Smothers Brothers TV show. And even then, Sell Out’s chart peak in the US was #48.

The interesting thing is that — as Dave Marsh has pointed out — in the US in the ‘60s, the Who were seen as part of a nebulous “UK underground” scene, with Cream and Hendrix; but in the UK at the time, they were a pop singles band, and no threat to the Heaviness of Cream or Hendrix.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 24 January 2021 23:15 (one year ago) link

I count "Substitute"/"Circles" as the greatest two-sided single ever.

clemenza, Monday, 25 January 2021 21:30 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

Nice interview by Kenney Jones on his time with the Who, which makes it a rarity. Some very sweet anecdotes:

From the last time he saw Keith Moon, who was a close friend:

Afterwards, we met each other in the lobby, and I said, “See you later, Keith. See you soon.” And he went, “Yeah, great, see you Kenney my friend, bye-bye.” That was it. In the morning, the news came on straight away on the television and reported he died of a drug overdose. I thought, What’s he up to now? He’s playing another bloody joke. He can’t be, because I’ve just been with him. Sure enough, it was true and I could not believe it. Absolutely could not believe it. It’s only when I joined the Who when I found out exactly what happened...He went home, took his nighttime pill (Heminevrin), which was prescribed to Moon by his doctor., and went to bed. He woke up a couple of hours later and thought it was morning, so he took another pill. If you take too many pills close together, it slows your heart down. That’s what happened. It’s terrible. It all happened so fast. I’ll never forget the next few days. Near my home was where he was cremated, and I wanted to get to the crematorium before anyone, no press or anything, so I went earlier in the morning with a little wreath and a note, and I said good-bye to him on my own.

His friendship with Roger Daltrey - even though Daltrey has criticized Jones's drumming, Jones was friends with all of them, long before he joined the Who:

I used to see Pete a lot. Roger, not that often because he was living in the countryside that was outside of London. I went to see him a few times there. He had a fantastic trout farm...Every time I visited he would go, “Get in the boat,” and we went out in a row boat and fed the fish. I remember one day we boated out to the middle of the water with food and a bunch of piranhas circled the boat. He just went, “Don’t fall over the edge, they’re going to bite your leg off.” How the hell did they get into the trout farm? [Laughs.]

On Zak Starkey:

I was already doing stuff with Paul Rodgers and various other bands. I’d made my break from the Who and that was that. We were moving on. I wasn’t surprised that Zak joined. I virtually taught him how to play the drums when he was a little kid. I was great friends with Ringo StarrOne of the most amusing rock facts (to this writer, anyway) is that Ringo, noted famous drummer for another band, is Zak’s father. and his wife, Maureen, even though they were separated when Zak was young. When I joined the Who, I got Keith’s white drum kit out of storage and gave it to Zak. He had told me as a little boy that Keith had always promised him that drum kit. So I put it in a van and surprised him after school with it one day. I did my bit for him. I like him. I think Zak’s done a wonderful job with the Who. It’s a great thing and I think it’s lovely. They needed a young drummer, someone fit.

birdistheword, Friday, 9 July 2021 15:48 (ten months ago) link

Didn't realize this, but some of the pop-up footnotes in that interview actually got copied into the main body of the text.

birdistheword, Friday, 9 July 2021 15:50 (ten months ago) link

Great drummer; I'd pick Ogden's Nut Gone Flake over any Who album except Quadrophenia.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 9 July 2021 16:12 (ten months ago) link

Yes, he's a fantastic drummer.

Wouldn't disgrace a Michael Jackson (Tom D.), Friday, 9 July 2021 16:13 (ten months ago) link

ten months pass...

Dunno how to link to it, but there’s a great new Townshend thing on Audible called Somebody Saved Me. It’s focused on 1978-2002, bookended by the deaths of Moon and Entwistle, and includes solo re-recordings of some ‘80-‘82 songs.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 9 May 2022 02:36 (one week ago) link

Thanks for the tip!

Re: 80-82 songs, I've actually grown to like Empty Glass quite a bit, which seemed to have a good number of fans anyway. But I've also come around to the idea that Face Dances could've been a good and commendable album. The 1997 remix actually rectifies the soft, muted sound of the original mix - Kenney Jones's drums really did sound like "pudding" on the original LP (his words at the time) and that alone is a big improvement on the remix. Better still are the bonus tracks included with the remix, and at least a couple of them should have made the album - I would replace "Cache Cache" and "Did You Steal My Money" with "It's In You" and "Somebody Saved Me" respectively. Throw in the Pete Townshend B-side "Dance It Away" to open side B, and the final 10-track album would have been a good one to go out on. (Even though "Dance It Away" was released as a Townshend B-side, it may have been a Who outtake - notice that Jones and Entwistle are the only players besides Townshend, and from what I can tell there were no sessions for Townshend's solo recordings back then that had the three of them booked.

birdistheword, Monday, 9 May 2022 03:20 (one week ago) link

“Cache” is one of my favorites on Face Dances, and “Steal” has really grown on me over the years — a weird Police/Steely Dan pastiche that I can imagine Donald Fagen singing. The weakest song for me has always been “You” — I don’t know if it’s on this or another Who thread, but I wondered why/how Entwistle’s writing went from wry and funny to crushingly generic.

That said, yeah, Face Dances would’ve been improved by the inclusion of a couple of the then-unreleased songs (“I Like Nightmares” is my favorite of those). But apparently the rest of the band made the decisions about what should or shouldn’t be included (they had previously rejected “Empty Glass” and “No Road Romance” for Who Are You). If Daltrey was the one who rejected “Somebody Saved Me,” I’d be surprised, since he sang it on solo tours.

Ultimately, the biggest problem with Face Dances is the horrible production. Bill Szymczyk made some comment along the lines of, “Entwistle needs to understand that he’s the bassist, not a lead player.” I mean, had Szymczyk even heard the Who before?

The “Dance It Away” that came out as a Townshend b-side is a different recording from the Face Dances outtake, and was recorded with either Mark Brzezicki or Simon Phillips on drums, and Tony Butler on bass. Here’s the Who version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDJtJp359dY

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 9 May 2022 13:17 (one week ago) link

Interesting, where did you get that info on "Dance It Away"? I know that version posted in the YouTube link, it was shared on the Hoffman forum, and in the same thread the consensus seemed to be that the personnel for the Townshend B-side had Entwistle on bass and Jones on drums.

birdistheword, Monday, 9 May 2022 13:46 (one week ago) link

I'm still searching, but while there are a ton of blog posts and a reddit thread that credits Entwistle and Jones to that B-side recording, I still haven't found a definitive sessionography. I know it was included as a bonus track to the 2006 reissue of All the Best Cowboys since it was a B-side to one of its albums tracks - for that reason, it would make sense for either Mark Brzezicki or Simon Phillips to be on drums and for Tony Butler to be on bass, but there doesn't seem to be credits that confirm this either.

birdistheword, Monday, 9 May 2022 13:59 (one week ago) link

Honestly, it just doesn't sound like Jones and Entwistle to me. It sounds too slightly-ahead-of-the-beat for Jones, and I don't hear any of Entwistle's trademark fingertaps/slaps. And the 16th-note figure on the bass drum that I hear in the verses (starting at 0:23) has much more pop than any recording of Jones' bass drum that I've heard. Also, what would've been the occasion for the session/recording? The Who were waiting around for Pete to get out of rehab, and actually started It's Hard without him ("It's Your Turn" has Andy Fairweather-Low in Townshend's place). So why would Pete have recorded "Dance It Away" with John and Kenney during the Cowboys sessions (it definitely sounds like a Chris Thomas production) in lieu of a Who session?

To be sure, I could be completely wrong about this, and Kenney had played on Townshend solo records before -- he's on "Rough Boys," but compare the drumming and sound on that track to "Dance It Away." They don't sound like the same drummer to me.

Further muddying the waters, there are supposedly tracks on the 1980 McVicar soundtrack that have everyone in the Who, but a) I've never done a serious dive into that album to try to find out, and b) I haven't seen any documentation saying who's on which tracks on that record.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 9 May 2022 14:13 (one week ago) link

Also, what would've been the occasion for the session/recording? The Who were waiting around for Pete to get out of rehab, and actually started It's Hard without him ("It's Your Turn" has Andy Fairweather-Low in Townshend's place). So why would Pete have recorded "Dance It Away" with John and Kenney during the Cowboys sessions (it definitely sounds like a Chris Thomas production) in lieu of a Who session?

It sounds like those who say it's Entwistle and Jones are arguing that it could very well have been another take from Face Dances. Honestly can't say myself, I just put my trust in their judgment since they seem to know the Who far more than I will ever know.

birdistheword, Monday, 9 May 2022 14:55 (one week ago) link

(the Face Dances sessions that is)

birdistheword, Monday, 9 May 2022 14:55 (one week ago) link

Unless there's anecdotal evidence and reliable documentation (and I have no idea if there is or isn't), I'm inclined to go with your argument just from past experience on these matters. If no one remembers recording it with those three and there's not even documentation of a session with those three (especially one that produced more than that recording), it's likely they didn't record the B-side. But the fine details of that era of the Who are virtually unknown to me beyond what I'd read on a record sleeve.

birdistheword, Monday, 9 May 2022 15:00 (one week ago) link

Given how different it sounds from the Daltrey-sung version, I don’t think it was recorded at the Face Dances sessions. And the production styles are almost the opposite of one another (the flumpfiness of Face Dances vs. Chris Thomas’s sharp, vibrant sound on Cowboys/the b-side).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 9 May 2022 15:23 (one week ago) link

First show in Cincinnati last night since 1979:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELtzqT53DBk

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 16 May 2022 21:20 (three days ago) link


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