The Who

Highly Appreciated

The Who  are an English rock band that formed in 1964.  They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide and establishing their reputation equally on live shows and studio work.  The group's fourth album, 1969's rock opera Tommy, included the single "Pinball Wizard" and was a critical and commercial success.  Live appearances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, along with the live album Live at Leeds, cemented their reputation as a respected rock act.  Songs from a planned follow-up to Tommy made up 1971's Who's Next, which included the hit "Won't Get Fooled Again".  The group released the album Quadrophenia in 1973 as a celebration of their mod roots, and oversaw the film adaptation of Tommy in 1975.  Their songs still receive regular exposure, and they continue to play live regularly.  (More from Wikipedia)
Beast – also called the Beast and the Incredible Beast – was formed in Colorado Springs in 1968 and opened for the Who there in August 1968
(December 2009)
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Greg Shaw put his faith in what he called "power-pop":  teenage pop music in the standard 3-minute format but backed up with a hard-edged punk rock aesthetic.  Pete Townshend coined the term power pop in a 1967 interview to describe the music that his band the Who and Small Faces played; many of the Beatles' mid-period singles are also in that style, such as "Paperback Writer" and "Day Tripper".  Among American bands, "Time Won't Let Me" by the Outsiders and "Go All the Way" by the Raspberries are early power-pop hit songs.
(April 2010)
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A side man can be a wonderful thing for a musician.  For rock bands without keyboard players (and that was true of many in the 1960's), Nicky Hopkins was the go-to guy if you wanted a pianist:  He played with everybody from Jefferson Airplane to Jeff Beck Group to Steve Miller Band, and with simply every big British Invasion group:  the Beatles, the Kinksthe Who, and especially the Rolling Stones.  His name appears on dozens of albums from the late 1960's into the 1980's.  Hopkins released a couple of solo albums that I have never gotten around to buying, but I sure remember one of the first songs that I heard on college radio at North Carolina State University.  It was "Edward the Mad Shirt Grinder"; Hopkins was officially a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service at that time, and the song was the final track on their album, Shady Grove (1969).  Hopkins wrote it, and it was all his piano work along with a backing band.
(August 2011)
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Sam Ugly (who was only 16) and Tony Torcher had played together in a Anglophile band called the Markeys that played a lot of early Stones, Yardbirds, AnimalsKinks, and Who songs.  After they heard the first Ramones album, and after several of the early punkers came through town – Patti SmithTalking Heads, and Iggy Pop – a new direction was clear; and the band brought in lead singer Mike Nightmare and his brother Raymi Gutter (when original Markeys guitarist Brian Vadders wouldn't cut his hair) – good thing, too, because it is Gutter's guitar that really stands out here.   The band started out with the name Rotten and changed it to the Ugly when they heard about Johnny Rotten.  
 (November 2011)
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Other widely bootlegged rock artists have similarly acknowledged the bootlegging world; Aerosmith even called their first official live album (in 1978) Live! Bootleg.  The cheap-looking printing on the cover perfectly mimicked bootleg albums, and the back cover featured a couple of faux coffee stains.  There were even deliberate errors in the song listing.  The cover of the Who's first live album, Live at Leeds (1970) also looks like a bootleg album; ironically, the recording quality on Live at Leeds is the best of any live album that I had previously heard. 
(August 2012)
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Link Wray's influence is front and center on a good 50% of the records that I play, because he is credited with introducing the "power chord" on electric guitar to rock and roll, a technique whose effect is often enhanced by distortion. 


Writing for AllmusicCub Koda calls the power chord "the major modus operandi of modern rock guitarists".  I will spare you the technical details – not least because I don't really understand them myself – but Ray Davies of the Kinks (in their classic "You Really Got Me") and Pete Townshend of the Who (in "My Generation") helped popularize the power chord in the early years of the British Invasion.  When Townshend is performing his famous windmill guitar technique, he is typically playing power chords. 


(February 2013)

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The next album by Les Sinners (though with the name shortened to just Sinners) for JupiterVox Populi (Latin for "Voice of the People") came out in 1968 and is among the crush of "concept albums" that followed in the wake of the Beatles' 1967 masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The album has acquired legendary status among fans of Quebec's musical scene.  The album is entirely in French and is probably the first and certainly one of the best French Canadian concept albums ever released.  A whole barrel of musical influences are present:  the Beatlesthe Monkeesthe Byrds, the WhoIndian music, etc.  The cover appears to show Jesus speaking in a snowy cemetery. 


(April 2013)


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The Rolling Stones were from London, as were the Kinksthe Who and the Yardbirds.  The Animals came from Newcastle, an industrial backwater like Liverpool, though on the opposite coast.  The Hollies were formed in Manchester, though the bandmembers came from East Lancashire.  The Moody Blues were from the Birmingham area; Birmingham, Alabama (one of the first major industrialized cities in the American South) is named for the British city. 


(July 2013)


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First on the agenda for Mick Farren as the Sixties came to a close was to fulfill his recording contract after he was thrown out of his own band.  In March 1970, Farren released Mona – The Carnivorous Circus; essentially, this was Mick Farren's first solo album, although the album is often credited to the Deviants.  The album is bookended by the great Bo Diddley song "Mona", though the largest part of the album was the meandering two-part "Carnivorous Circus".  There is also a rendition of the great Eddie Cochran song that was later made famous by the Who, "Summertime Blues"; their first release of "Summertime Blues" was on their 1970 Live at Leeds album. 

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In 1969Mick Farren "liberated" the earliest large-scale rock concert in the U.K., the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival by encouraging the fences to be torn down.  This concert – which took place the month after Woodstock (and with many of the same acts) – featured the Whothe BandFreeJoe Cocker, and the Moody Blues.  But the real excitement was caused by the inclusion on the bill of Bob Dylan, who had been little seen since his near-fatal motorcycle accident in July 1966.  When Dylan took the stage, audience members included three of the Beatles, three of the Beatle wives, three of the Rolling StonesEric Clapton, Liz TaylorRichard BurtonJane FondaRoger VadimSyd Barrett, and Elton John  


One of the main reasons for the location of the original Woodstock was to lure Bob Dylan out of hiding – the idea was to throw a huge party practically on his doorstep that surely he couldn't resist attending.  Woodstock is the name of the town where Dylan lived (and also members of the Band); the festival itself was in Bethel.  But resist he did; Bob Dylan instead signed up to appear at the Isle of Wight Festival and set sail for England on August 15, 1969, the day that Woodstock opened.

(March 2014/1)
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By the time the Faces album Ooh La La came out in 1973Rod Stewart's superstar status was wearing on the other bandmembers; Ronnie Lane left the band right after that.  Ron Wood was lured to the Rolling Stones, drummer Kenney Jones eventually joined the Who, and Ian McLagan became a sought-after session keyboard player. 


(April 2014)

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After appearing only at the Concert for Bangladesh that George Harrison organized in 1972Pete Townshend of the Who brought together an allstar line-up for a 1973 concert intended to bring Eric Clapton out of hiding and to help him kick his habit.  Known as the Rainbow Concert, musicians on hand include Rick Grech and Stevie Winwood from Blind FaithJim Capaldi (who had co-founded Traffic with Winwood), Anthony "Reebop" Kwaku Baah (a percussionist from Ghana who played with Traffic and also the German band Can), Ron Wood (then in Faces), and drummer Jimmy Karstein (who was on hand for the final album by Buffalo Springfield). 


(May 2014)


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Manfred Mann always had a chameleon quality and, unlike the top-flight British Invasion bands like the Beatles, the Who and the Rolling Stones, had frequent changes in their line-up.  As I noted last month, Jack Bruce, later of Cream was a member in the mid-1960's.  


(June 2014)


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Masquerading as the Wonder Who? – at the same time that the Who and the Guess Who were current – the Four Seasons released a version of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" with Frankie Valli singing an exaggerated falsetto.  And there is the excellent cover by the Jimi Hendrix Experience of "All Along the Watchtower", which seems to be on everyone's short list of the greatest Bob Dylan covers of all time. 


(March 2015)


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The October 1964 single by the Beatles, "I Feel Fine" (included on their album Beatles '65) is credited as the first song to use feedback in a rock recording.  The band was about to leave the recording studio when John Lennon left his guitar resting against his amplifier, only to be greeted by a whine of sound.  A feedback note was then added to the very beginning of the song.  In one of his last interviews, John Lennon spoke proudly of this musical innovation:  "I defy anybody to find a record . . . unless it is some old blues record from 1922 . . . that uses feedback that way.  So I claim it for the Beatles.  Before [Jimi] Hendrix, before the Who, before anybody.  The first feedback on record." 


(July 2015)


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Writing for the Detroit Metro Times website, Ben Blackwell writes of the Gimme Some Action CD: “The Ramrods are the name of Detroit frontline punk warriors. . . . Ramrods lead howler Mark J. Norton barks like a bored kid with an armload of bulldogs while guitarist Peter James’s scarred-yet-smooth soloing informs us that [the Stooges album] Raw Power was safely tucked under his pillow. While the 'Rods studio output is brief, the highlight of the disc is easily their 1977 live medley: ‘Helter Skelter’ [by the Beatles] catapults into a punk-painted ‘My Generation’ [by the Who] and declares the obvious in ‘Search and Destroy’ [by the Stooges] and cements its place in rock lore by adding the archetypical ‘I’m a Ramrod’.”
(March 2016)
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For some reason, over the years the 1970’s have gotten a reputation as a poor decade for music. (So do the 1950’s, for that matter, even though that is where rock and roll came from). It certainly cannot be because everything sounded the same. Most of the British Invasion bands were still active, from the Rolling Stones, to the Whoto the Kinks, to the Moody Blues, to the Hollies – to this day, even Herman's Hermits has never broken up. Among the big English bands, only the Beatles and the Animals were gone by the end of the 1960’s.  The top American acts were still going strong as well, and many major stars arrived in the 1970’s. Anyone who says they are a music fan has to be able to find someone, and probably several someones on that list that they like a lot.
(December 2016)
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While I was living in New York City, the rock opera Tommy (1969) by the Who, under the name The Who’s Tommy had an acclaimed run on Broadway from 1993 to 1995. It was a great show, and the critics had fun imagining that the album’s original fans were finally getting to listen to the songs, since they were so stoned when the album first came out. 
I figured that the Who would not be the only rock band to make it to Broadway; after all, even the Warner Bros. cartoons gang landed there in a show that I also saw when I was living in New York, Bugs Bunny on Broadway, with a limited run in October 1990.  
(June 2017)
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The Rolling Stones’ bootleg album, The Greatest Group on Earth is mostly familiar material as might be expected in a live concert.  However, until I got this album, I did not know or at least remember the song “I’m Free” (a different song from the well-known track, I’m Free from the Who’s album Tommy); it had been the b-side for the Stones’ second #1 song, “Get off of My Cloud”.  The album also includes two Chuck Berry songs, Carol and “Little Queenie”.  “Carol” was released as a single in January 1964, charting only in France, and was also on their first album, The Rolling Stones.  While Little Queenie was never recorded by the Stones on a single or a studio album as far as I have been able to tell, Carol as well as Little Queenie are included on their second live album, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert (1970).  According to Wikipedia:  “It [Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!] was reported to have been issued in response to the well known bootleg Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be” (the alternate name of The Greatest Group on Earth). 
(September 2017)
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I was finally unable to keep up the monthly schedule earlier this year. I could see it coming; issuing the Notes was taking longer and longer, with my August post not coming out until after Halloween. I had decided earlier in the summer that I am going to try to keep up a quarterly schedule after this year: December, March, June, and September. They are just taking too much time to write and are coming out too long. I was also getting sloppy: There was a perfectly good Wikipedia article on Haymarket Square, but I hadn’t even bothered to look there to see if there was one until I had already finished writing that post. Additionally, I was having trouble keeping up the enthusiasm; for instance, after writing about the songwriting angle on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, I knew that I should follow up with posts on the Who and the Kinks. Maybe that will come at a later date. I am more than halfway through the post for December 2015, so it won’t be long before that one comes out.
(Year 6 Review)
Last edited: March 22, 2021