Tag Archives: The Who

The Question of Spending During a Pandemic

This week I received another offer. This time, it wasn’t for a tote bag. Rather, it was a picture, an 11 x 14-inch print. It was clearly one hell of a deal in that there on the page was $433 and directly beneath it “Only $39.”

A couple of points about that. First of all, who comes up with a price like $433 for something, in this case a photographic print. Obviously the print as object doesn’t cost $433, as there is a piece of paper, 5.5 inches wider than a piece of what has historically been known as “typewriter paper,” and some glossy ink on it. Now the photo as subject and as execution certainly might have some value, but again, given that this is a proposal that was widely emailed out to who knows how many people, it is not as though there is some sort of exclusivity to it, unless you think that ordering a McDonald’s without pickles makes it somehow different than the billions sold. Then there is the question of going from $433 to $39. That is a $394 difference. Or approximately a 90% discount. What can you buy that has a 90% discount? It all seems rather bizarre, and all the more so when you know that if you buy the photo for $39 you get (actually this should be in the past tense because by the time you see this the “deal” will have expired) something that the purveyor says is worth $39, so your effective cost is $0, which is a whole lot less than $433 or even $39.

The picture is that of The Who, taken in 1971 at the Oval Cricket Ground, Kensington, London. There’s Roger with his hands above his head in the foreground, with the Ox slightly behind him to the left, presumably moving nothing but his fingers. Between them in the background is Keith, holding a pair of drumsticks crossed above his head. And to Roger’s right and several feet behind him is Pete in flight. It is an oddly static black-and-white photo, and as it is shot from stage left across the stage rather than from the front of the stage, there isn’t a particularly good sense of the musicians at that particular moment.

Which leads me to wonder about who is going to be interested in that picture of The Who, whether it is for $433, $39 or $0. I suspect that it might be people in my generation (no allusion there) who might want it, but then I wonder. I had the opportunity to see The Who—yes, the real The Who, in that it had that lineup, which is the only authentic one in my estimation, though I will accept the post-Moon Kenney Jones band as somewhat legit—and have an interest in music (or so it seems) yet that photo would hold no value for me. Perhaps had I been at that show on September 18 , which was in support of the people of Bangladesh, I would have been interested in the picture, but having learned that the lineup also included The Faces, I might be a bit more interested in a photo of that, though that is unlikely, too. Presumably some fans would be interested.

Continue reading The Question of Spending During a Pandemic

“They Got the Steely Dan T-shirts. . . .”

A friend who moved out of state keeps tabs on what’s going on in Michigan as those moving from one place to another are wont to do. Whenever I’m in a hotel and get a copy of USA Today outside the door I always look at the weather for Illinois, even though it has been a long time since I lived there and I’m not likely to go back, so the climate is irrelevant. But still. . .

She sent me an email letting me know that Steely Dan is scheduled to play at the Meadowbrook Amphitheater this summer, which is north of Detroit.

My response to her, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading what I’ve been writing here for quite some time, was simply: “Steely Dan no longer exists.”

When Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017, the proverbial last nail in the coffin of the band was hammered in place: requiescat in pace.

Of course, as seems to be de rigueur for musicians who were once on top of the world and are now trying to desperately stay at least near the bottom, Donald Fagen is having none of that, so he sued Walter Becker’s estate, and the band, such as it is, continues on. If “Steely Dan” was Becker and Fagen, and there is no Becker, then how is that still the band? Certainly it can be labeled as the band—unless that lawsuit comes out against Fagen’s wishes—and let’s face it: nowadays truth and falsehood seem to be exchangeable.

Continue reading “They Got the Steely Dan T-shirts. . . .”

Boo Who

Many years ago, when I was perhaps 5 years old, my dad was driving my brother and me somewhere in downtown Detroit, which, in retrospect, I realize was somewhere near Woodward Avenue and Campus Martius, where there is planned slowing due to a circular pattern to streets in that area (an interesting fun fact about the street layout in downtown Detroit, it was designed by Augustus B. Woodward, who used Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s model for Washington DC, meaning that this is not a grid pattern, as is the case in cities like New York and Chicago).

I looked out the window of the Pontiac Catalina and saw something that I will not forget: There was a black horse pulling a black wagon being driven by a man dressed all in black, including a black stovepipe hat. The wagon was carrying a black. . .casket.

This, I was to learn, was a stunt for a movie that was being shown at the Fox Theatre, The Premature Burial, which was based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe.

Appropriate. Memorable. And the sort of thing that isn’t executed much or as well today.

Which brings us back to The Who. Or, as previously indicated, the brand known as “The Who.”

In support of the Moving On! Tour there are three buses—the sorts of things that are the jump-on, jump-off tourist variety—that are painted with a scheme that resembles the bus on the cover of the 1968 album Magic Bus—The Who On Tour that are rolling in Chicago, New York and LA for the next couple weeks.

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Who Do They Think They Are?

Although I have been MIA from this page for some time now, something that needs to be addressed has come to my attention, something far worse than I had originally thought as I looked into things a bit more.

As you are probably aware, “The Who” are going back on tour. It is called “Moving On!” Odds are that they’re moving on to still another tour.

As you are probably also aware, I put “The Who” in quotes because while half a band may be better than none, as I’ve argued many times, when you have half a loaf you have, well, half a loaf, not the whole thing. Daltrey and Townshend are certainly much of the substance of the mix, but let’s not kid ourselves: that label is about marketing. That is, while there are probably people who have picked up The Who T-shirts at their local Target and who are wearing them proudly, were you to ask them who Daltrey and Townshend are, they might answer, “Uh, law firm . . .?”

No, I am not going to go down that well-rutted road again.

But I am going to express my dismay at what it has come to for those veteran performers.

Upon receiving an email from Ticketmaster announcing the opportunity to getting tickets for “The Who” sooner rather than later, I looked into the “VIP Packages.” Go big or don’t go, right?

There are three packages.

And at this point, I must warn you: If you are a fan of The Who you might want to stop reading right now because otherwise you may be so disturbed that you will bin, erase or otherwise dispose of your collection.

The packages are, from top to bottom: “Baba O’ Riley Ultimate Soundcheck,” “My Generation Soundcheck” and “Who Are You Premium Seat.”

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Who’s Left?

When I saw that the Who had recently performed a couple of classics on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon I immediately forwarded the link to Stephen Macaulay. Mac has a long history with the Who, dating back to seeing them at Cobo Hall in Detroit when he and the band were all scruffy young guys. He’s been quite vocal over the years on his disappointment over what they have become. -ed.

Video: The Who: “I Can See for Miles” (live on the Tonight Show)

The Who: I Can See for Miles

Imagine listening to “I Can See for Miles” with your eyes closed. Wouldn’t you imagine that this was a good cover band, but something sounds slightly off on the lead vocals, as though the singer was trying too hard or having too difficult a time?

And then you open your eyes and watch.

It’s him.

But what the hell is Daltrey doing with that acoustic guitar? Does he really think that Pete and Simon can’t handle it? Or is it that he doesn’t quite have the confident moves anymore and so the guitar becomes a prop that keeps him from having to make those moves. Plus, with Pete teasing and doing the windmills is physically distracting.

(There is no crutch for the vocal cords, however, at least not, apparently, in this venue.)

Continue reading Who’s Left?

“Black Hills that I ain’t never seen”

As long-time readers of this site may recall, there was once a tagline used to describe the ethos of Glorious Noise: “Rock and roll can change your life.”

And now I must report with some sadness that it can change lives in a way that I’d prefer not to imagine.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Ray Davies becoming knighted by the Queen.

And a couple weeks before that I wrote about how Roger Daltrey was working with Rolls-Royce to create a bespoke version of the Wraith motorcar.

Now the two subjects have come together.

The Who version of the Rolls Wraith has come out. It features the artwork of Mike McInnery: the album cover of Tommy is painted on the hood and the birds that are also part of the cover art flit about on the fenders and C-pillars.

But that is but one of nine “Inspired by British Music” cars that has been developed.

Continue reading “Black Hills that I ain’t never seen”

To a Musician Not Dying Young

Recently I was with a few people from southern California who had come to musical maturity in the ‘70s. I learned that there is a robust “tribute” or “cover” band scene there. One of the women I was with had been a backup singer in a Segar tribute band. It seems, she explained, that many of the people in these bands are unsuccessful in getting their own music to break and so they perform—or could that be “pretend”—as others.

So there are bands like the Dark Star Orchestra, the Australian Pink Floyd Show, The Fab Four, Nervana, and multitudes more.

In many cases it is not enough to have a note-for-note rendition of the original band in question, but some of these tribute bands cover themselves in the clothing and the hairstyle of the individual musicians making up the bands in question.

(Of course, the Iron Maidens have a look that doesn’t duplicate the original for obvious reasons.)

We will not see the Beatles again. Not Pink Floyd or Nirvana. And while the situation with the Dead is uncertain, Jerry’s not going to be on stage.

And the music created by the originals is often so good that it exists independently of the people who made it in the first case, so it could be the case that there are several people who go to the clubs who have no idea of what’s being covered and when they leave they go home and download “Katmandu.”

Which is certainly a good thing for all concerned, be it the tribute band, the listener or, in this case, Seger.

But there was a comment that one of the people made that struck me as being odd and in some ways unsettling, a comment that was agreed to by the others in attendance: “Well, we can’t see the originals any more so this is just as good.”

Is it? Really?

Without going all Walter Benjamin and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical [Digital] Reproduction,” doesn’t authenticity matter?

Continue reading To a Musician Not Dying Young

Can’t Explain: Roger Daltrey Designs Rolls-Royce for Charity

Roger Daltrey was a member of The Who, a band that he fundamentally established in 1964 with John Entwistle, Keith Moon and Pete Townshend.

Some people might argue that Roger Daltrey is a member of The Who, given that at the recent Desert Trip concert (a.k.a., Oldchella), a band named “The Who” performed.

Without going all Abbott & Costello (or a Hortonesque Dr. Seuss) about it, how can there be The Who when 50% of the band no longer exists: who’s left? Keith Moon died in 1978. John Entwistle died in 2002. (Daltrey had a bad case of meningitis last year and it almost seemed as though he’d be the answer to who’s next; fortunately he recovered and seems to be back on his game).

If we look at the band that is masquerading as The Who, know that Keith Moon was replaced by Kenny Jones, who was with the three original members starting in 1978. He was replaced in 1988 by Zack Starkey.

As for the bass position, that was taken up in 2002 by Pino Palladino.

So when does a specific “band” stop being that band in more than a marketing sense?

Isn’t the elimination of 50% of the musicians—especially musicians of the caliber of Moon and Entwistle, and with all due respect, does anyone actually think that Jones, Starkey and Palladeno are as good as those two were?—good enough to argue that it is something other than it once was?

After all, if you heard that a band was “decimated,” you’d probably think, “Geeze, there must not be much left.”

But that would mean that only 10% was eliminated, a far cry from the 50% of The Who (and it could be reckoned that with the replacement of Jones by Starkey, it would be a change of on the order of 65%).

Would Paul McCartney and Richard Starkey—I mean Ringo Starr—constitute “The Beatles”? Even at his most mendacious, it seems that McCartney doesn’t think so, either.

But now in their 52nd year of playing together, Daltrey and Townshend soldier on.

To be sure, they’ve done things other than play in the cover band known as “The Who.”

Ever since he appeared in Ken Russell’s 1975 film Tommy, Daltrey has been an actor, a performer on stage and screen (Who music isn’t just used as theme music for the various C.S.I.s; Daltrey has performed on the show as many characters, including playing, for reasons I can’t begin to understand, a middle-aged African-American woman).

Perhaps even more remarkable than that bit of acting is the fact that in 2008, late-middle aged American president George W. Bush awarded Daltrey and Townshend with the Kennedy Center Honors.

My interest in Daltrey was piqued by the recent announcement that he is collaborating with Rolls-Royce on the car manufacturer’s “Inspired by British Music” vehicles. It won’t be a “Roger Daltrey” edition, but “The Who” edition.

Continue reading Can’t Explain: Roger Daltrey Designs Rolls-Royce for Charity

The Who Recording Pictures of Lily

Video: The Who recording “Pictures of Lily”

This is really cool footage of the Who laying down one of their best songs— and arguably the best song about masturbation ever recorded by anybody, although there are too many great ones to say for sure. The most surprising thing to me is seeing how hard Keith Moon is concentrating on his parts, both on vocals and behind his drums. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I had always pictured Moonie just flailing around in the studio like Animal from “The Muppet Show.” I suppose it takes a lot of work to sound that maniacal.

The Who: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, MOG, wiki

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The Who, The Mods and the Quadrophenia Connection

The Who, The Mods and the Quadrophenia ConnectionThe Who, The Mods and the Quadrophenia Connection (Sexy Intellectual)

Like most youth movements, Mod fashion and culture is cyclical. What started as a response to traditionalist jazzboes has been hashed and rehashed again and re-imagined every ten years or so. While some of the music and fashion designers change from one wave to the next, the one thing that doesn’t is the pure Britishness of it all.

As an artist, Pete Townshend has a particular eye for revision. He also has a particular eye for trends and the Mod movements have been critical to The Who‘s development and legacy over the years. The band’s initial rise in England can be traced to its adoption of Mod clothing and attitudes. It’s ability to not simply wash out to sea like so many of its British Invasion contemporaries in the early 70s can be traced to it’s masterful recording of the era in another Townshend “rock opera” that helped spawn another Mod wave in 1973.

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