Who – Circles (Instant Party)

This song is for Song Lyric Sunday for Jim Adams’s blog. This week’s prompt is  Circle/Polygon/Square/Triangle…

The Who are my second favorite band…right behind the Beatles. This song is early Who at the time of My Generation. The song was known as “Circles (Instant Party)”, “Instant Party (Circles)” and “Instant Party”…the song has a complicated history. It was recorded during a time they were trying to leave their producer. The song was written by Pete Townshend and released in 1966.

Circles is an early example of what would become Power Pop. Pete Townshend was trying to write a song with a different sound. Pete found out that bassist John Entwistle could play trumpet, the band’s manager, Kit Lambert, decided to allow the band to try creating a song featuring Entwistle’s horns.

John Entwistle: When we recorded our first LP and wanted a bit of a different sound, Pete told our manager, Kit Lambert, that I could play trumpet. He thought Pete was joking at first but then said he’d give it a try. I showed him I could play the trumpet and in the end we used French horn.

The song was to be the follow up to the anthem My Generation…but the band was not happy with their producer Shel Talmy and secretly broke their contract with him and re-recorded Circles as the B-side to their new UK single “Substitute”.

Talmy sued the Who and a legal battle began.

Pete Townshend: We did two versions of “Circles”, which were both identical because they were both copies of my demo. Shel [Talmy] put in a High Court injunction, saying there was copyright in the recording. In other words, if you’re a record producer and you produce a song with a group, and you make a creative contribution, then you own that sound….He took it to the high-court judge and he said things like ‘And then on bar thirty-six I suggested to the lead guitarist that he play a diminuendo, forget the adagio, and play thirty-six bars modulating to the key of E flat,’ which was all total bullshit — he used to fall asleep at the desk…

They did get away from Talmy but it cost them dearly. It was agreed that Talmy would receive a percentage of each album going forward until the early seventies. So Talmy made a huge amount of money off of their best known albums that he had nothing at all to do with…like Tommy, Live At Leeds, and  Who’s Next.

Circles (Instant Party)

Circles, my head is going round in circles
My mind is caught up in a whirlpool
Dragging me down

Time will tell if I’ll take the homeward track
Dizziness will make my feet walk back
Walk right back to you

Everything I do, I think of you
No matter how I try, I can’t get by
These circles, leading me back to you

Round and around and around and around and around
and around and around and around and around

And round and round like a fool I go
Down and down in the pool I go
Dragging me down


There one thing could kill the pain of losing you
But it gets me so dizzy then I’m walking right back again
Back to you

Time will tell if these dreams are nearly fact
Don’t know why I left, I’m coming back
Coming on back to you

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Who – Circles (Instant Party)”

  1. When I saw Jim’s theme, this was the song that was in my head, only I could not remember whose track it was! I am so glad you featured it because you have solved the mystery for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was too long and complicated to write up all what happened but it was a mess. What is ironic is Shel Talmy was not really an album guy…he thought about singles. There was no way he would have produced Tommy or the others…yet he got paid really well for those albums he never had a thing to do with.


  2. I’d never heard that one before, I quite like it – better than some of their iconic hits, actually – sounds almost Beatlesque, although the mix perhaps could have been made a wee bit better still.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: