Tag Archives: The Who

“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

Continue reading The Who Recording Pictures of Lily

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.

Continue reading The Who, The Mods and the Quadrophenia Connection

The Clash – Live At Shea Stadium

The Clash - Live At Shea StadiumThe ClashLive At Shea Stadium (Legacy)

Back in 1984, the Who released one of those “cleverly” titled Who albums called Who’s Last. It was a posthumous attempt by MCA records to cash in on The Who after the announcement that the band would call it quits. The album was a lackluster affair that later turned out to be a bit premature with the entire farewell connotation.

The idea of The Clash playing at Shea Stadium is a bit misleading too as they were on the bill after David Johansen‘s set and just before, you guessed it, The Who. The entire “passing the torch” motif looked good on paper, but the unfortunate reality was that The Clash themselves were also reaching the end of their career. It’s also important to note that, despite initial reports that The Clash’s fans rivaled The Who’s in actual numbers, most people in attendance remember a pretty hostile Who crowd, booing the opening act in the hopes that they would get off the stage.

The reality then must come from the content, and when you compare the audio evidence, you hear immediately that the band with the tightest set was the band that still had something to prove.

Continue reading The Clash – Live At Shea Stadium

Who's First?

Pete and RogerLet’s say that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr decided that they’d kick off 2009 with a worldwide tour, starting in Liverpool, moving on to Hamburg, then going everywhere else. Would this be a “Beatles‘ Reunion”? I don’t think so. Even though it represents 50% of the band, even though Paul was certainly as integral to the group as John Lennon was, and even though, it must be admitted, it was pretty much a toss up between George Harrison and Ringo, the two members of the band don’t constitute the band, period.

So consider the case of the band currently known as “The Who.” Which includes Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Keith Moon is long passed; he hasn’t been a member of the band for 30 years. John Entwistle has been gone for six. And, arguably, The Who stopped being The Who as the members went on to do other things (including Entwistle playing in the “All Starr Band”).

Continue reading Who's First?

Quadrophenia Recording Notes by Pete Townshend

QuadropheniaA cool discovery! GLONO message board regular DJ Murphy has dug up Pete Townshend‘s Quadrophenia Recording Notes from 1973 that were included with promo copies of the album sent to reviewers. Pete, a notorious over-explainer desperate to be understood, certainly can’t just let the music speak for itself:

Learning, very much the hard way, about making albums that “flow” I have decided, after listening and listening, that your first listen might be aided by a bit of preamble. It would probably be aided by a stiff drink and a comfy chair as the album is long and we want you to hear it all.

The concept of the album is pretty simple. It’s really a series of reflections and memories that a young mod kid is having while sitting on a rock he has ended up on after a miserable and disturbing week. The boy whose name, hold your breath, is Jimmy, has four distinct sides to his personality. Each one bothers him in a different way. One side of him is violent and determined, aggressive and unshakeable. Another side is quiet and romantic, tender and doubting. Another side is insane and devil-may-care, unreasoning and bravado. The last side of him is insecure and spiritually desperate, searching and questioning.

Each facet of the boy’s personality was adopted by a member of the band, originally with a little type casting, we thought we might all play “parts.” This didn’t happen in the final version, although the type casting still fits. Roger is the first, John the second, Keith the third and myself the last. […]

Each facet of his character also represents what I feel to be a particularly marked trait of the “Rock” generation.

The whole thing is definitely worth reading for any fan of The Who.

Previously: This is a Modern World (2001), Is It Me, For A Moment? (2001), Blame Pete! (2005).

Continue reading Quadrophenia Recording Notes by Pete Townshend

1968 Pete Townshend Interview

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Rolling Stone is posting audio from some of its classic interviews, including this excerpt from Pete Townshend’s famous 1968 sit-down with Jann Wenner.

MP3: 1968 Pete Townsend interview.

Who Are They Kidding?

“Roger Daltrey has been a world-famous star since the early 1960s when he began his career as the lead singer of The Who, and has since become one of the most popular vocalists in rock music history.” So claims a press release from CBS Entertainment, which draws attention to the fact that Daltrey is going to have a role on a forthcoming episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. “World-famous star.” “Most popular vocalists in rock music history.” Well, it would be hard to disprove that, although the pneumatic praise is a little humid and musty.

“Daltrey is currently on a major worldwide tour with The Who, promoting their current album, Endless Wire,” the release notes. Here is something that can be completely disproved. When Daltrey became a “world-famous star” it was with a band consisting of four people. Two of the four are dead. Now Daltrey and one of them, the guy who wrote the song that’s used as the theme song for CSI, are out touring. That’s 50%. Which effectively makes it a duo. “The Who” does not exist, marketing notwithstanding. “The Who” is effectively a part of “rock music history.”

[To put Daltrey’s appearance on CSI in perspective, consider this: Mr. Britney Spears, Kevin Federline will be guest starring in tonight’s episode – ed.]