Their records reviewed
Here are some of my random thoughts and words about The Who over the years. All of the original Who blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from ’60s music magazine ‘Beat Instrumental’.
THE WHO – ”Happy Jack” / ”I’ve Been Away” (Reaction 591010) December 1966
This is a Pete Townshend composition all about a small man who lives in the sand in the Isle of Man. So work than one out. Roger Daltrey’s singing gets plenty of help from a ”la-la-la-ing” chorus, and there are shades of the old Who as Keith Moon really gives his drums a bashing in the background. Great disc.
(Rave magazine review – January, 1967)
UK Chart Position: 3
THE WHO – ’So Sad About Us’ (Polydor 2383 147) December 1966
My somewhat irregular trip through my album collection continues with The Who’s second studio long player ”A Quick One” released on the 3rd December 1966. It more or less coincided with the release of their EP ”Ready Steady Who” which came out on 11th December 1966 on Reaction Records.
My copy of the album is the limited edition stereo re-issue released in West Germany on Polydor during 1981. The LP sleeve was designed by Alan Aldridge who was an exponent of the Pop Art movement.
The album has been reviewed hundreds of times over the years and information exists in music guides, online sites, blogs and magazines. My aim is to focus on one particular song from the set and provide as much information about it here as I can. My song of choice and one which has been one of my very favourite Who songs is the Pete Townshend composed ”So Sad About Us”, his poignant pop song about a break up and the emotions he experienced, common with us all during such a moment.
”Apologies mean nothing
When the damage is done
But I can’t switch off my loving
Like you can’t switch off the sun.”
THE WHO – ’Substitute’/’Instant Party’ (Reaction 591001) March 1966
1966 was the year when The Who left Brunswick Records and Shel Talmy behind, although the drawn-out battle over the recording contract became a complicated mess. The Reaction label was set up by Managers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert as an independent label within the Polydor organisation and the newly recorded ’Substitute’ was to be their first 45 for the new label.
’Substitute’ is such a great pop song by Townshend. As soon as the opening acoustic guitar hook bursts from the speakers and is joined by that clattering tambourine, well it’s just a treat for the ears. The lyrics are clever and funny in equal measure.
The flip ’Instant Party’ is a re-recorded version of ’Circles’ and is a faster take. According to my reference guide Pete Townshend took over as The Who producer although the label indicates ’A New Action Production’
The single was a top 5 hit in England and numerous TV performances exist of The Who performing the song.
THE WHO – ’The Kids Are Alright’/’The Ox’ (Brunswick 05965) August 1966
By the time Brunswick released ’The Kids Are Alright’ in August 1966, The Who had moved on musically. Both of these songs were recorded in October ’65 and were stage favourites but mysteriously the public failed to respond by purchasing the single and it flopped to number 41 in the charts.
’The Ox’ is a frantic instrumental mainly showing off John Entwistle’s powerful and loud bass runs. It featured Nicky Hopkins on piano. According to reference guide ’The Complete Who Chronicle’ it was based on ’Waikiki Run’ by The Surfaris.
THE WHO – ’A Legal Matter’/’Instant Party’ (Brunswick 05956) March 1966
The later Who releases on Brunswick including ’A Legal Matter’ are now highly sought after by collectors. This 1966 single written by Pete Townshend is average by mid 60s Who standards (the version by The Litter is superior) and only crawled to number 32 in the UK charts but the B-side is the Shel Talmy produced ’Instant Party’ re-recorded for the Reaction label and renamed ’Circles’.
THE WHO – ’My Generation’/’Shout And Shimmy’ (Brunswick 05944) Nov 1965
’My Generation’ ensured The Who’s immortality. The song is a very provocative statement and explodes with fucked off teen rebellion. The sound is washed in distortion and feedback.
I’ve got a really great Who book called ’The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978’ and it comes highly recommended. A funny story is retold confirming that just before the release of this 45, Roger Daltrey had a punch up with Keith Moon after he flushed The Loons stash of drugs down the toilet. Daltrey was then fired from the group but was re-instated weeks later after he meekly apologised
’My Generation’ rose quickly up the charts, eventually reaching it’s highest position of number 2.
I’ll not post the hit side because if you don’t know this song you shouldn’t be on my blog. So, here’s the flip ’Shout And Shimmy’ which was written by James Brown and was indeed a single he released in 1962.
THE WHO – ’Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’/’Daddy Rolling Stone’ (Brunswick 05935) May 1965
The follow up Who single was the aggressive pop art number ’Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’ which is full of arrogance and bravado. Check out the song credit (Townsend, Daltrey) because this was their first and last collaboration. From what I’ve read in the past Daltrey changed Townsend’s verses to toughen the song up to suit his pissed off temperament, hence his co-credit!
The Who started wearing ’pop art’ clothes around this time, Townsend in his Union Jack(et), medals and badges, Moon with his target T-Shirts and Daltrey created makeshift designs on his sweaters using black tape. They also draped Union Jack flags over their speaker cabinets.
The flip ’Daddy Rolling Stone’ probably suited their soul crowd more than the disorder and chaos of ’Anyway’.
THE WHO – ’I Can’t Explain’/’Bald Headed Woman’ (Brunswick 05926) Jan 1965
I can’t believe it’s taken me three and a half years to make my first blog entry regarding London group The Who. Now that’s a crime. So the first place to start will be with their debut 45 as The Who, they had a 1964 single as The High Numbers called ’Zoot Suit’.
Pete Townsend wrote ’I Can’t Explain’ when he was 18 years old and according to the man himself it was more or less based on The Kinks klassic ’All Day And All Of The Night’. That may be so but ’I Can’t Explain’ is a powerful introduction to Who music and the mod kids thought so to by buying plenty of copies to land the disc a Top 10 place in the charts.
Townsend has also admitted that Jimmy Page laid down rhythm guitar. Shel Talmy produced although his name credit is not on the label.