Who – Getting In Tune

This song was originally on the Who’s Next album released in 1971…my favorite album of that year and maybe of the seventies. That year was an incredible time for albums. Led Zeppelin would release their most remembered album Led Zeppelin IV a few months after Who’s Next.

There is not a bad song on the album. Roger excels on this song and it builds up in the middle for good dynamics. In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked Getting In Tune number 8 on its list of the 50 greatest songs by The Who. Nicky Hopkins plays piano on this song.

The Who’s Next album is one of the most sonic-sounding albums I’ve ever heard. Glyn Johns produced it and said this: “I have a residing memory of sitting in the truck, my hair being parted by what was coming out of the speakers, a massive amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins. There have been a few occasions over the years when I have been completely blown away, believing without a doubt that what I was listening to would become much more than just commercially successful but also a marker in the evolution of popular music, and this was one of those moments.”

Pete Townshend originally wrote this about a character in his “Lifehouse” project, which was going to be a film similar to The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia. Townshend never finished “Lifehouse,” but the songs ended up on the great album Who’s Next.

Pete Townshend wrote this as part of his “Lifehouse” project. He wanted to release a film about a futuristic world where the people are enslaved… but saved by a rock concert. Pete couldn’t get enough support to finish the project, but most of the songs he wrote were used on the Who’s Next album.

ARP Synth

Townshend’s use of the ARP synthesizer on Who’s Next was groundbreaking. He didn’t just add texture to it but the ARP became part of the structure of the songs. This was not like today’s synthesizer where you just took it out of the box. It had to be programmed and connected together…and not many people knew how to do it. He took a risk using it because technology in general always moving ahead, Who’s Next could have sounded dated a few years afterward but it still sounds fresh and interesting today…unlike some 1980s synth music.

The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in the UK, and #5 in Canada in 1971. It also peaked at #7 on the US Billboard Top Pop Catalog in 2014.

Getting In Tune

I’m singing this note ’cause it fits in well with the chords I’m playing
I can’t pretend there’s any meaning hidden in the things I’m saying

But I’m in tune
Right in tune
I’m in tune
And I’m gonna tune
Right in on you
Right in on you
Right in on you

I get a little tired of having to say
“Do you come here often?”
But when I look in your eyes, I see the harmonies
And the heartaches soften

I’m getting in tune
Right in tune
I’m in tune
And I’m gonna tune
Right in on you (right in on you)
Right in on you (right in on you)
Right in on you

I got it all here in my head
There’s nothing more needs to be said
I’m just bangin’ on my old piano
I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
Getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
Yeah, I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow)

I’m singing this note ’cause it fits in well with the way I’m feeling
There’s a symphony that I hear in your heart, sets my head a-reeling

But I’m in tune
Right in tune
I’m in tune
And I’m gonna tune
Right in on you (right in on you)
Right in on you (right in on you)
Right in on you

Baby, with you
(Baby, with you)
Baby, with you
(Baby, with you)
Baby, with you

I’ve got it all here in my head
There’s nothing more needs to be said
I’m just bangin’ on my old piano
I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow

Getting in tune to the straight and narrow
I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
Getting in tune to the straight and narrow
I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
Yeah, I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
Yeah, I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
Yeah, I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow, yeah
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
(Getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
(I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
Yeah, I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow
(I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow)
(I’m getting in tune to the straight and narrow)

Who – Live At Leeds

My friend Dave first posted this article I wrote here on an episode of Turntable Talk. For those who didn’t see it…here it is.  Cincinnati Babyhead also reviewed this on Hanspostcard’s site. 

Dave asked a question:  Is there an act that actually comes out better on live releases than studio ones?

First, let me say…overall I’m more of a record guy…I usually like the studio version of songs but yes there are some bands that can come off better. I would say The Who, Allman Brothers, Cream, The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, The Stones (1969-1972), and Bob Dylan’s “1966 tour.” However, there is one condition to this.

I think you have to take into consideration the era you are talking about with each band or artist. If we are talking about the peak years then yes. The Rolling Stones for instance…for me it would be 1969 through 1974. When they had Mick Taylor on guitar…they had a huge raw sound live they haven’t had since. With Dylan, the 66 tour for me was the top and I could listen to those versions all day. The Who it would be 1969 through 1976 when they were untouchable live. But I’m not saying I don’t like other years with these artists…but those are known as the peak years.

When the Who took Tommy on tour I think the live recordings beat the studio album by a long shot. That leads me to…my favorite live rock album of all time.

From Classic Rock website ranking Who albums:We usually don’t include live albums in our rankings, but ‘Live at Leeds’ is no ordinary live album. Like ‘Live at the Apollo,’ ‘At Fillmore East,’ ‘At Folsom Prison’ and a handful of other classic concert records, it transcends the genre, turning a quick record-company cash turnaround into a statement of purpose.”

The Who: Live at Leads. If you are a rock and roll fan, a rock fan, or even a heavy metal fan…everyone can find something on that album. This is guitar rock at its best. Listening to the sound of that record, it’s no telling how loud they played. They weren’t the loudest in the Guinness Book of World Records for nothing! When Pete hit a power chord you could almost feel your eardrums retract in and out like a speaker.

It’s not being loud though that makes it so great. Personally, I’ve never heard a band as tight as they were during this tour. They wanted to release a live album and soundman Bob Pridden had 38 shows taped. Pete wanted Pridden to go through all shows and tell him which one was best. Because of constant touring Pridden could never get through all of the shows. The day came and Pete asked him ok…which shows. He couldn’t give Pete an answer.

They had a show at Leeds and Hull coming up on the schedule. In a move he’d later label one of the stupidest decisions of my life,” Townshend told Pridden to burn the tapes so that they’d never wind up in the hands of bootleggers. So, instead of more shows from that era…we have very few.

So…now the tapes were burned and the Leeds and Hull concert was coming up. They had a lot of pressure to get it right for the live album.

Pete Townshend: “I played more carefully than usual and tried to avoid the careless bum notes that often occurred because I was trying to play and jump around at the same time. The next day we played a similar set in City Hall in Hull. This was another venue with good acoustics for loud rock, but it felt less intense than the previous night.”

They played most of the Tommy album and their “oldies” on this tour, which was songs only around 5-6 years old. The original Live at Leeds didn’t have any Tommy songs on it. This album was like a marker for the pre-Tommy Who coming to an end. The deluxe re-released version had the complete show full of Tommy material

The recordings had a few clicks in the tape and Townshend tried to maneuver around them.

Townshend tried slicing out the clicks with a razor blade and quickly realized it would be impossible to get all of them. But subpar-sounding bootlegs were flooding the market at this time, so the band just added a note to the label saying the clicks were intentional! The album cover was a faded stamp reading “The Who: Live at Leeds” on brown paper, mirroring the look of illegal vinyl bootlegs of the era. Later on, Aerosmith had a similar live bootleg album cover.

What impresses me is the only overdubbing on the album was the backup vocals because they were poorly recorded. John Entwistle and Pete did the backup vocals in one take in the studio to stay true to the live album. What you hear on the album is what the good people at Leeds heard that night. No massive overdubbing to tighten anything up.

By 1970 The Who had been touring almost non-stop since 1964 and it showed on this album. After the album, the band didn’t tour as much as before. They worked in the studio on more complex albums Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. Their tours were not the marathon tours of the sixties.

This was before Won’t Get Fooled Again, Baba O’Riley, and  Quadrophenia’s complex music that required backing tapes live. This album was The Who as nature intended… a very loud tight rock band and possibly the best live rock album.

BTW…Bob Pridden worked as The Who’s soundman until 2016 when he retired.

Here are three examples. Young Man Blues. Listen to Moon and Entwistle intertwine with each other. You also have Summertime Blues and A Quick One, While He’s Away.

The Who : Maximum R&B at it’s best.

Guess Who – No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature

I grew up with the Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive on AM radio. I always thought these two songs flowed together well.

Randy Bachman wrote No Sugar Tonight. When he presented the song to the band he was told the song was too short. To solve the problem they pieced the Burton Cummings song New Mother Nature together with this one on the album American Woman.

This is the last hit song that Randy Bachman played on with The Guess Who. He would leave soon after because of his Mormon beliefs didn’t go with the Guess Who’s touring rock lifestyle. They wouldn’t play together again until 13 years later in 1983.

The song peaked at #1 in Canada, #13 on the Billboard 100, and #19 in the UK in 1970.

Before I knew about the Who or Guess Who…when I heard the name I thought they were the same band. Their name came about when their label Quality Records released their first hit single (“Shakin’ All Over”) credited only to “Guess Who?” in an attempt to build a mystique around the band. They wanted the public to believe that this was a possible British band. The real name of the band was “Chad Allan & The Expressions,” but radio station DJs continued to refer to them as “The Guess Who.” when playing subsequent singles.

The Guess Who tried to get The Who to change their name.

Randy Bachman: “When I was in the Guess Who, we found out about this English band called the Who and were determined to force them to change their name, so, we were in London, and the Who were playing at the Marquee club. Down we went to confront them. They were being filmed for German TV at that show, so we had to wait around for about four hours. Eventually, we get to meet them and say: ‘Look, we were here before you. So, change your name, it’s confusing people, Pete Townshend looked at us and replied: ‘There’s the Yardbirds and the Byrds. Nobody’s confused by that. So bugger off.'”

The two bands became friends after that according to Bachman. . “And that phrase ‘bugger off’ was our in-joke, We’d check into a hotel and find out the Who were there, so we’d call up one of the guys at 3AM and when they answered we would say: ‘Bugger off!’ then hang up. They’d do the same to us.”

John Presho…security for Randy Bachman: “Randy told me that the inspiration for writing ‘No Sugar Tonight’ came to him from an experience he had walking in downtown Berkeley, California. Randy was walking and talking with a bandmate when he looked up and saw four big biker guys walking on the same sidewalk approaching them. Randy made up his mind to cross the street rather than confront the bikers, then he heard the skidding of car tires. Just as Randy was stepping off the sidewalk the car came to a skidding stop and a biker lady got out of the car, walked over to one of the bikers and engaged in a heated conversation with him. When the argument ended the biker lady walked back to the car, opened the door, turned around, then shouted to the biker, ‘One more thing honey, you’re not getting any sugar tonight’ indicating he was not going to get any sex that night from her. The car took off, Randy crossed the street went back to his hotel and started writing the song based on that experience.”

No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature

Lonely feeling
Deep inside
Find a corner
Where I can hide
Silent footsteps
Crowding me
Sudden darkness
But I can see

No sugar tonight in my coffee
No sugar tonight in my tea
No sugar to stand beside me
No sugar to run with me

Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dow-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow

In the silence
Of her mind
Quiet movements
Where I can find
Grabbing for me
With her eyes
Now I’m falling
From her skies

No sugar tonight in my coffee
No sugar tonight in my tea
No sugar to stand beside me
No sugar to run with me

Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dow-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow

Jocko says “Yes” and I believe him
When we talk about the things I say
She hasn’t got the faith or the guts to leave him
When they’re standing in each other’s way
You’re tripping back now to places you’ve been to
You wonder what you’re gonna find
You know you’ve been wrong but it won’t be long
Before you leave ’em all far behind

‘Cause it’s the new mother nature taking over
It’s the new splendid lady come to call
It’s the new mother nature taking over
She’s gettin’ us all
She’s gettin’ us all

Jocko said “No” when I came back last time
It’s looking like I lost a friend
No use callin’ ’cause the sky is fallin’
And I’m getting pretty near the end
A smoke-filled room in a corner basement
The situation must be right
A bag of goodies and a bottle of wine
We’re gonna get it on right tonight

‘Cause it’s the new mother nature taking over
It’s the new splendid lady come to call
It’s the new mother nature taking over
She’s gettin’ us all
She’s gettin’ us all

(Lonely feeling) Jocko says “Yes” and I believe him
(Deep inside) When we talk about the things I say
(Find a corner) She hasn’t got the faith or the guts to leave him
(Where I can hide) When they’re standing in each other’s way
(Silent footsteps) You’re tripping back now to places you’ve been to
(Crowding me) You wonder what you’re gonna find
(Sudden darkness) You know you’ve been wrong and it won’t be long
(But I can see) Before you leave ’em all far behind

‘Cause it’s the new mother nature taking over
It’s the new splendid lady come to call
It’s the new mother nature taking over
She’s gettin’ us all
She’s gettin’ us all

Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dow-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow
Dat’n-doo-dow dow

Dat’n-doo-dow dow-dat’n-doo-dow

Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane – My Baby Gives It Away

I have often wondered why this album wasn’t more popular. It features The Who’s Pete Townshend and The Small Faces/Faces Ronnie Lane who then was leading his own band, Slim Chance. The album is full of great songs and is worth a listen. The guest musicians include Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, John “Rabbit” Bundrick, and more.

In October of 1976, the Who closed a North American tour in Toronto, a show that would be the last with Keith Moon before a paying audience. The band took a break to pursue individual projects. Ronnie Lane had wanted Townshend to produce his album but he then wanted Townshend to collaborate writing on the songs. Townshend declined because he had never written with anyone before but they did manage to write the title track, Rough Mix, together.

The album ended up with Townsend songs and Lane songs. They did do a cover of a Don Williams song called Till All The Rivers Run Dry. Rough Mix didn’t draw a lot of attention at the time but is now considered a lost gem. Townshend has said in his book that there was a big argument where he shoved Ronnie Lane. He said it felt like he didn’t know his own strength because Lane felt like he was made out of paper. Later Pete found out about Lane’s multiple sclerosis.

Lane was already showing the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis (tremors, slurred speech), which others sometimes interpreted as a sign he was drunk. He didn’t tell Townshend, or very many others, about his medical diagnosis.

Townshend’s liner notes eventually read, “Ron and Pete play various acoustic & electric guitars, mandolins & bass guitars, banjos, ukuleles & very involved mind games.”

The album peaked at #44 in the Billboard Album Charts, #70 in Canada, and #45 in the UK in 1977.

Pete Townshend: The recording of Rough Mix with Ronnie is now a blur, but I remember some special moments. I played live guitar with a large string orchestra for the first time, my father-in-law Ted Astley arranging and conducting on ‘Street in the City’. I was surprised at the respect given me by the orchestral musicians. Playing with Charlie Watts on ‘My Baby Gives It Away’ was also very cool, making me aware that his jazz-influenced style was essential to the Stones’ success, the hi-hat always trailing the beat a little to create that vital swing.

Meeting John Bundrick (Rabbit) was also an important event in my life as a musician. He wandered into the Rough Mix studio one day looking for session work. Here was a Hammond player who had worked with Bob Marley, and could play as well as Billy Preston. Offstage he could be reckless and impulsive, drinking too much, asking for drugs and telling crazy stories, but musicians of his calibre didn’t come around very often.

My Baby Gives It Away

My baby wakes in the deep of the nightShe doesn’t need itBut she says it’s all rightMy baby digs it, just a Rollin’ away

My baby gives it up every dayMy baby gives it, she gives it awayMy baby gives it up every dayMy baby She just gives it away

When you’re alone in some city hotelYou can get company by ringing a bellYou might go pick up a girlOn the street

But my baby gives it up totally freeMy baby’s counting’ on, ’cause you aloneMy baby’s brother never break a your armMy baby ha, ha, I love her

She’s cheepOoh yeahMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy baby

You better buy yourself an new pair of shoesAnd walk for a lifetime on that bad newsYou better buy an electric guitarThere’s no better way to beat the blues, I beat ’em

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

She give it way, every day, every wayMy baby just gives it away

My baby’s momma is a singular girlShe brought up her daughter and brought her up wellI’m breathing no more‘Cause she took it away

My baby gives it up every dayMy baby gives itShe gives it awayMy baby gives it up every day

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy baby

How I love her, yeahMy baby, my baby, she just gives it awayMy baby, my baby, she just gives it awayMy baby, my baby, gives it away

Let me tell you, my baby, she just give it awayMy baby, every dayMy baby gives it up every dayMy baby give itJust gives it away

Who – Love Ain’t For Keeping

The Who’s Next album was released in 1971 and is one of the greatest classic rock albums ever released. This song is a song one clocking in at a short 2:11 and unlike most of the album…this one is softer. Pete Townshend originally wrote this for his Lifehouse project, where the character of Ray, a Scottish farmer, was intended to sing the song, which expresses the sentiment that love is meant to be shared.

The song was originally recorded several months prior to Who’s Next, as a four-minute electric version with Townshend singing lead and playing rhythm guitar, and the lead solos performed by Leslie West, the guitarist for New York power trio Mountain. The Who was recording at the Record Plant in New York, and Townshend reportedly didn’t want to spend time on overdubs, so West was called in to play on the track.

After a falling out with producer Kit Lambert, the band recorded an acoustic version that was used on the album. The Who often played the harder Rock version at their concerts. This version can be heard on their 1974 Odds & Sods album.

If two versions weren’t enough…  Townshend’s original demo of the song appears on the six-disc Lifehouse Chronicles, songs from Townshend’s never fully-completed Lifehouse rock opera. This demo clocks in at 1:31, with no solo and Townshend taking advantage of the then-novel oscillator bank on his Arp synthesizer.

The album peaked at #4 in the Billboard Album Charts, #5 in Canada, and #1 in New Zealand in 1971.

Love Ain’t For Keeping

Layin’ on my back
In the newly mown grass
Rain is coming down
But I know the clouds will pass
You bring me tea
Say “the babe’s a-sleepin'”
Lay down beside me
Love ain’t for keeping

Black ash from the foundry
Hangs like a hood
But the air is perfumed
By the burning firewood
The seeds are bursting
The spring is a-seeping
Lay down my darling
Love ain’t for keeping
Lay down beside me
Love ain’t for keeping

Lay down beside me
Love ain’t for keeping
Lay down my darling
Love ain’t for keeping

Who – Young Man Blues

Young Man Blues was written by jazz artist Mose Allison in 1957. Mose’s version is jazzy and smooth. The Who took the song and set it afire with an explosive charge. Mose Allison called The Who’s version The “Command Performance” of his song. That’s a great compliment from the author. Pete was a big fan of Mose Allison. He has said that if he never heard this song he would not have written My Generation.

The Who version has great dynamics. The bass and drums are all over the place and yet perfect. The Who sound like they are driving near a cliff and you know the song is going to fall off but they save it at the last moment time after time. The song was on the Live At Leeds album released in 1970.

The key to this song and most Who songs was the rhythm section. Keith Moon and John Entwistle pushed each other to greatness. The frenetic chaotic bass and drums made it exciting. You had the lead guitar player punching in licks between the lead bass and drums. Later on, when Keith passed away and Kenney Jones took his place…they were not the same. That is nothing against Jones…he was one of the best British drummers at that time but that touch of insanity was gone permanently.

A year or so before John Entwistle died, Roger Daltrey was complaining about John’s volume on stage to Pete. Pete replied that without that volume and John’s style…they are not the Who. That was a true statement. I saw the Who with John and later on without him. It wasn’t the same. Was it a great show without him? Yes, the songs were great but that element of danger was gone. That is what both Keith and John added to the Who.

So I’ll take this note for myself… February 14, 1970… I’ll buy a ticket for Leeds University when I get my time machine working…I’ll take some cotton balls though.

Young Man Blues

Oh well a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
I said a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days

You know in the old days
When a young man was a strong man
All the people they’d step back
When a young man walked by

But you know nowadays
It’s the old man,
He’s got all the money
And a young man ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
I said nothing

Everybody knows that a young man ain’t got nothin’
Everybody!
Everybody knows that a young man ain’t got nothin’
He got nothin’
Nothin’

Take it easy on the young man
They ain’t got nothin’ in the world these days
I said they ain’t got nothin’!
They got sweet fuck-all!

….

Who – Slip Kid

I have a bootleg concert of The Who in 1976 in Houston. This song is very dynamic and powerful live. This was released in August 1976 in Canada and the US with “Dreaming From The Waist” as its B side. It was on the album The Who By Numbers and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album charts, #7 in the UK, #9 in Canada and #29 in New Zealand in 1976.

The Who played this song in 1976 but after they didn’t play it much at all until the 50h anniversary tour.

Pete Townshend wrote this song, which uses imagery as metaphor for life in the music business. Much of the album deals with his frustrations with the industry, of being obsolete as a 30-year-old rock star. Oh, how times have changed now.

Pete usually wrote a lot of songs for the band to pick from for an album. This time they recorded everything he wrote because he was going through writer’s block at the time.

It’s one of my favorite Who album covers. They usually took turns on who would think of the album cover. It was John Entwistle’s turn and he drew the album cover along with numbers.

John Entwistle on the cover

“The first piece of artwork released is The Who by Numbers cover, which I never got paid for, so now I’m going to get paid. We were taking it in turns to do the covers. It was Pete’s turn before me and we did the Quadrophenia cover, which cost about the same as a small house back then, about £16,000. My cover cost £32

The Who By Numbers': An Album Of 'Group Unity And Love' | uDiscover

Pete Townshend: “‘Slip Kid’ came across as a warning to young kids getting into music that it would hurt them – it was almost parental in its assumed wisdom.”

Pete Townshend on The Who By Numbers: I felt partly responsible because the Who recording schedule had, as usual, dragged on and on, sweeping all individuals and their needs aside. Glyn worked harder on The Who by Numbers than I’ve ever seen him. He had to, not because the tracks were weak or the music poor but because the group was so useless. We played cricket between takes or went to the pub. I personally had never done that before. I felt detached from my own songs, from the whole record. Recording the album seemed to take me nowhere. Roger [Daltrey] was angry with the world at the time. Keith [Moon] seemed as impetuous as ever, on the wagon one minute, off the next. John [Entwistle] was obviously gathering strength throughout the whole period; the great thing about it was he seemed to know we were going to need him more than ever before in the coming year

Slip Kid

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight …

I’ve got my clipboard, text books
Lead me to the station
Yeah, I’m off to the civil war
I’ve got my kit bag, my heavy boots
I’m runnin’ in the rain
Gonna run till my feet are raw

Slip kid, slip kid, second generation
And I’m a soldier at thirteen
Slip kid, slip kid, realization
There’s no easy way to be free
No easy way to be free

It’s a hard, hard world

I left my doctor’s prescription bungalow behind me
I left the door ajar
I left my vacuum flask
Full of hot tea and sugar
Left the keys right in my car

Slip kid, slip kid, second generation
Only half way up the tree
Slip kid, slip kid, I’m a relation
I’m a soldier at sixty-three
No easy way to be free

Slip kid, slip kid

Keep away old man, you won’t fool me
You and your history won’t rule me
You might have been a fighter, but admit you failed
I’m not affected by your blackmail
You won’t blackmail me

I’ve got my clipboard, text books
Lead me to the station
Yeah, I’m off to the civil war
I’ve got my kit bag, my heavy boots
I’m runnin’ in the rain
Gonna run till my feet are raw

Slip kid, slip kid, slip out of trouble
Slip over here and set me free
Slip kid, slip kid, second generation
You’re slidin’ down the hill like me
No easy way to be free
No easy way to be free
No easy way to be free

Who – Tommy Can You Hear Me

A short song off of their 1968 album Tommy.

The rock opera Tommy tells the story of a “deaf, dumb, and blind” kid who becomes a Pinball Wizard and then a spiritual leader. The double album was The Who’s break though album. They performed the album in concert halls and opera theaters.

On their second album A Quick One, they were short of material, Kit Lambert (manager) encouraged Pete to create a mini-opera called A Quick One, While He’s Away by combining a suite of song snippets. By 1968 he was developing a full-album concept called Deaf, Dumb And Blind Boy, inspired by Indian spiritual mentor Meher Baba.

When the album was released to the world it was a huge hit… It was their first album to get into the top ten or the top forty for that matter in America. It wasn’t for the lack of trying. They released some great albums that only the UK enjoyed..they also had singles that rivaled the Kinks, Beatles, and Stones but were not heard here until the compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy was released in 1971.

I like the Tommy album although it’s not my favorite Who album…that would be Who’s Next. I always thought the album sounded thin compared to the live version they played in 1969 and 70.

Unlike other bands such as the Stones…Townshend encouraged the others to write because he carried most of the burden. Entwistle was the most prolific writer next to Townshend. Daltrey and Moon only wrote occasionally.

All of them contributed vocals to this one.

From Songfacts

“Tommy Can You Hear Me?” is the sixth track on the first side of the second album (third side overall) and acts as a transition between two narratively important songs, “Go To The Mirror!” and “Smash the Mirror.”

In “Go to the Mirror!” a doctor (played by Jack Nicholson in the film version) tells Tommy’s parents that their son’s lifelong handicap is entirely psychosomatic, basically meaning it’s all in his head. That song leads into “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” In this track, the lyrics are meant to be the words of Tommy’s mother, who is extra frustrated by Tommy’s inability to hear her now that she knows it’s all in his head.

“Tommy Can You Hear Me” leads into “Smash the Mirror,” in which Tommy can indeed see his own reflection, but still doesn’t register seeing his mother, which enrages her so much, she shoves Tommy through a mirror. This scene leads to Tommy’s eventual awakening as a spiritual figure..

Bob Dylan references this song in “Murder Most Foul” with the lyric, “Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen.” That line also mentions “The Acid Queen,” which is another track on Tommy.

Tommy Can You Hear Me

Tommy can you hear me?
Can you feel me near you?
Tommy can you see me?
Can I help to cheer you?
Ooooh Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Tommy can you hear me?
Can you feel me near you?
Tommy can you see me?
Can I help to cheer you?
Ooooh Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Tommy can you hear me?
Can you feel me near you?
Tommy can you see me?
Can I help to cheer you?
Ooooh Tommy

Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy
Tommy

Who – 5:15

A good song off of the Quadrophenia album.

This was a rare Who song that had no demo made of it. Townshend’s demo’s were sometimes just as good as the studio versions the band recorded. The whistle on the song came about after Townshend’s driver bribed a British train driver with five pounds to sound the train’s whistle as it pulled out, despite breaking the station rules.

This song was not released as a single in America…at the time of the album release in 1973 they released it in Europe and Germany.

In 1979 the soundtrack from the movie came out and it was released as a single in America. It charted at #45 in the Billboard 100.

The Who had a contest in 2011 for someone to make a video for this song.

It was announced :

To commemorate the album’s release and pay homage to 1960s mod culture — Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are launching a “5:15” video contest, inviting filmmakers and animators to submit a music video for “5:15” that “does for the track what the Quadrophenia film did for the album.”

Townshend and Daltrey say the video should “reflect the 1960s mod culture and show inspiration from the musical and visionary journey portrayed in that era. The winning video will be produced as the official video for ‘5.15’.”

I have the winner at the bottom and it is a really cool video. The winning video was directed by Jeff Rodenberg. The George Harrison estate did the same thing for the song What Is Life.

Roger Daltrey: Ron Nevison, who was the producer at the time with Pete, recorded it with echo on the vocal which can never be removed now,” he explained. “It just makes the vocal sound thin. It was the biggest recording mistake we ever made. The echo diminishes the character as far as I’m concerned. It always pissed me off. From day one I just f—ing hated the sound of it. He did that to my voice and I’ve never forgiven Ron for it.”

From Songfacts

This is the first track on the second disc of Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend’s rock opera about Jimmy, a pill-popping mod cockney who tries to find reality from sexual encounters, the company he keeps, and the clothes he wears. Only when he drowns in the ocean does he discover himself.

In this song, Jimmy The Mod takes the train (the 5:15) back to Brighton, once the site of the Mods’ triumph against the Rockers, and en route he remembers various experiences of himself and his fellow Mods. Jimmy’s recollections are in the main unhappy – anger, confusion, violence, sexual frustration, and rootlessness dominate his thoughts as he keeps returning to the thought: “Inside, outside, leave me alone. Inside, outside, nowhere is home.”

The term “Quadrophenia” was coined by Pete Townshend, referring to schizophrenia, times two. The character Jimmy The Mod was a quadrophenic: Townshend wanted each of his four personalities to represent one of the four band members. This didn’t work as planned, as he was so much more involved in the project than the other members.

During an infamous performance of the song on BBC’s Top Of The Pops, Townshend demolished the Gretsch guitar that he’d used for the bulk of Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. The Who went on to earn a life ban from BBC premises after Townshend flicked two fingers at the show’s producer and Keith Moon attacked a steward who refused him entry to the bar.

Townshend’s rage was genuine: The BBC, enforcing union rules, made the group record a new track for their lip-synched performance. The Who recorded their segment on October 3, 1973, which was broadcast on the 500th Edition special of the show the the next evening with the offensive gestures edited out. The ban was lifted after representatives for The Who sent a letter of apology to the BBC.

5:15

Why should I care, why should I care?

Girls of fifteen
Sexually knowing
The ushers are sniffing
Eau-de-coloning
The seats are seductive
Celibate sitting
Pretty girls digging
Prettier women

Magically bored
On a quiet street corner
Free frustration
In our minds and our toes
Quiet storm water
M-m-my generation

Uppers and downers
Either way blood flows

Inside outside, leave me alone
Inside outside, nowhere is home
Inside outside, where have I been?
Out of my brain on the five fifteen

Out of my brain on the train
Out of my brain on the train
On a raft in the quarry
Slowly sinking
Back of a lorry
Holy hitching
Dreadfully sorry
Apple scrumping
Born in the war
Birthday punching

He man drag
In the glittering ballroom
Gravely outrageous
In my high heel shoes
Tightly undone
They know what they’re showing
Sadly ecstatic
That their heroes are news

Inside outside, leave me alone
Inside outside, nowhere is home
Inside outside, where have I been?
Out of my brain on the five fifteen

Out of my brain on the train
Out of my brain on the train, on the train, out of my brain
Woo
Out of my brain on the train
Here it comes
Woo
Out of my brain on the train, on the train
Out of my brain on the train
Why should I care?
Why should I care

Who – I’m A Boy

My name is Bill, and I’m a head case

Now THAT is a lyric worth exploring.

Pete Townshend wrote this for a Rock Opera he was composing called “Quads,” which was about a future where parents could choose the sex of their children. That opera never happened. I have to wonder if Townshend had this old title in mind when a few years later he came up with the title for “Quadrophenia.”

I’m A Boy was released as a single in 1966. The song peaked at #2 in the UK and #2 in New Zealand. The song was not heard much in America or Canada at the time. Many of their singles would finally come to the light when the great compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy was released in 1971. They did a live version and included it on the live album Live At Leeds released in 1970.

Released as the B-side of the single was “In the City”, the first and last song credited to the songwriting collaboration of John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Entwistle referred to it as rip-off of Jan and Dean, a group that was a favorite of Moon’s.

Roger Daltrey: “I always thought The Who went through a weird period after ‘My Generation’ (November 1965) that lasted until we did ‘Magic Bus’ (October 1968). I thought it all went a bit sloppy. But ‘I’m A Boy’ and ‘Pictures Of Lily’ were from that period when I’d been allowed back into the band (Daltrey had been asked to leave after beating up Keith Moon over his heavy use of amphetamines). My ego had been crushed. I was insecure and it showed in my voice. When I first heard those songs, I was like, ‘Oi, what’s this all about?’ I didn’t think I could find the right voice for them. You can hear it when you listen to them now, but my insecurity made those songs sound better. It was a happy accident.”

From Songfacts

This is about a boy whose mother wants him to be a girl, while the boy longs to assert his real sexual identity. The controversial subject of cross-dressing was probably the reason why this failed to reach the American Top 100.

Daltrey told Uncut magazine: “On ‘I’m A Boy’, I tried to sing it like a really, really young kid, like an eight-year-old. Not the voice of an eight-year-old but the sentiment – and I think that came across.”

I’m A Boy

One girl was called Jean Marie
Another little girl was called Felicity
Another little girl was Sally Joy
The other was me, and I’m a boy

My name is Bill, and I’m a head case
They practice making up on my face
Yeah, I feel lucky if I get trousers to wear
Spend evenings taking hairpins from my hair

I’m a boy, I’m a boy
But my ma won’t admit it
I’m a boy, I’m a boy
But if I say I am, I get it

Put your frock on, Jean Marie
Plait your hair, Felicity
Paint your nails, little Sally Joy
Put this wig on, little boy

I’m a boy, I’m a boy
But my ma won’t admit it
I’m a boy, I’m a boy
But if I say I am, I get it

I want to play cricket on the green
Ride my bike across the street
Cut myself and see my blood
I want to come home all covered in mud

I’m a boy, I’m a boy
But my ma won’t admit it
I’m a boy, I’m a boy, I’m a boy
I’m a boy, I’m a boy, I’m a boy, I’m a boy
I’m a boy, I’m a boy, I’m a boy

Who – Sally Simpson

This song is one of my favorite songs off the 1969 Tommy album along with the song Christmas. I never thought Tommy was their best album by any means but it is the one that broke them to a mass audience.

While Townshend was backstage at a Door’s concert, a security guard roughly handled a girl who was attempting to touch Jim Morrison, just as Sally was attempting to touch Tommy. There is a video of the real “Sally Simpson” back stage and Jim Morrison is trying to help her. I have the video at the bottom. I never knew a video existed of this until recently. 

The song was never released as a single but is a great section of the story of Tommy. In Baba O’Riley there is a lyric that mentions Sally or a different Sally. “Sally, take my hand we’ll travel south ‘cross land”…could it be? I doubt it but you never know. 

The Who during this time were touring and including opera houses. They were as tight as a band can be…it was soon after that they released what I think is the greatest live album ever…Live At Leeds. 

Here is video of Jim Morrison tending to “Sally” backstage. Yep, real footage of the girl that inspired Pete to write Sally Simpson.

 

Sally Simpson

Outside the house Mr. Simpson announced
that Sally couldn’t go to the meeting.
He went on cleaning his blue Rolls Royce
and she ran inside weeping.
She got to her room and tears splashed the picture
of the new Messiah.
She picked up a book of her fathers life
and threw it on the fire!

She knew from the start
Deep down in her heart
That she and Tommy were worlds apart,
But her Mother said never mind your part…
Is to be what you’ll be.

The theme of the sermon was come unto me,
Love will find a way,
So Sally decided to ignore her dad,
and sneak out anyway!
She spent all afternoon getting ready,
and decided she’d try to touch him,
Maybe he’d see that she was free
and talk to her this Sunday.

She knew from the start
Deep down in her heart
That she and Tommy were worlds apart,
But her Mother said never mind your part…
Is to be what you’ll be.

She arrived at six and the place was swinging
to gospel music by nine.
Group after group appeared on the stage
and Sally just sat there crying.
She bit her nails looking pretty as a picture
right in the very front row
And then a DJ wearing a blazer with a badge
ran on and said ‘here we go!’

The crowd went crazy
As Tommy hit the stage!
Little Sally got lost as the police bossed
The crowd back in a rage!

But soon the atmosphere was cooler
as Tommy gave a lesson.
Sally just had to let him know she loved him
and leapt up on the rostrum!
She ran cross stage to the spotlit figure
and touched him on the face
Tommy whirled around as a uniformed man,
threw her of the stage.

She knew from the start
Deep down in her heart
That she and Tommy were worlds apart,
But her Mother said never mind your part…
Is to be what you’ll be.
Her cheek hit a chair and blood trickled down,
mingling with her tears,
Tommy carried on preaching
and his voice filled Sally’s ear
She caught his eye she had to try
but couldn’t see through the lights
Her face was gashed and the ambulance men
had to carry her out that night.

The crowd went crazy
As Tommy left the stage!
Little Sally was lost for the price of a touch
And a gash across her face! OOoooh.

Sixteen stitches put her right and her Dad said
‘don’t say I didn’t warn yer’.
Sally got married to a rock musician
she met in California
Tommy always talks about the day
the disciples all went wild!
Sally still carries a scar on her cheek
to remind her of his smile.

She knew from the start
Deep down in her heart
That she and Tommy were worlds apart,
But her Mother said never mind your part…
Is to be what you’ll be.

Who – A Legal Matter

The early Who singles were first heard in the UK much more than America. They were really exciting and raw and different from anyone else. I first heard this song on the great compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. The album was made up of singles and many of them were not heard in America much at all when they were originally released.

It was released both as the B-side to “The Kids Are Alright” in the U.S., and as the A-side of a single that peaked at #32 in the UK in 1965. Both singles were released by Shel Talmy without the permission of the Who and were a result of a legal dispute between Talmy and the band at the time and an attempt to sabotage the release of the band’s chosen single “Substitute”.

This was the first song that Pete Townshend took the lead vocal on.

Pete Townshend on the song: “is about a guy on the run from a chick about to pin him down for breach of contract. What this song was screaming from behind lines like ‘It’s a legal matter, baby, marrying’s no fun/It’s a legal matter, baby, you got me on the run’ was, “I’m lonely, I’m hungry, the bed needs making.’ I wanted a maid, I suppose.”

A Legal Matter

I told you why I changed my mind
I got bored by playing with time
I know you thought you had me nailed
But I’ve freed my head from your garden rails

Now it’s a legal matter, baby
You got me on the run
It’s a legal matter, baby
A legal matter from now on

My mind’s lost in a household fog
Wedding gowns and catalogs
Kitchen furnishings and houses
Maternity clothes and baby’s trousers

Now it’s a legal matter, baby
Marryin’s no fun
It’s a legal matter, baby
A legal matter from now on

I told you why I changed my mind
I got bored by playing with time
I know you thought you had me nailed
Well, I’ve freed my head from your garden rails

Now it’s a legal matter, baby
You got me on the run
It’s a legal matter, baby
A legal matter from now on

You ain’t the first and you ain’t the last
I gain and lose my women fast
I never want to make them cry
I just get bored, don’t ask me why

Just wanna keep doing all the dirty little things I do
And not work all day in an office just to bring my money back to you
Sorry, baby

Who – The Quiet One…Sunday Album Cut

I posted a song from Face Dances a little while ago and Deke brought up a song on that album called The Quiet One. I really like that song also. It was written by who I think was the best bass player in rock ever…John Entwistle.

When I bought the album this is one of the songs I zeroed in on. I’ve always liked John’s writing that got overshadowed by Pete. John had had some black humor and wit in his songs.

This song was the B side to the hit You Better You Bet released in 1981. On their farewell tour in 1982 he replaced his older song “My Wife” with this one on stage.  In the later tours, this song was never played again… “My Wife” was brought back.

John Entwistle: “It’s me trying to explain that I’m not really quiet. I started off being quiet and that’s the pigeon hole I’ve been stuck in all these years. It started when I heard Kenney playing a drum riff and I thought ‘that would be really great for a song and give Kenney a chance to play that on stage.’ So I got Kenney to put down about three minutes of that and I worked along with it and came up with the chorus of ‘The Quiet One.’ I wrote ‘Quiet One’ especially to replace ‘My Wife’ onstage. I had gotten tired of singing that and ‘Boris the Spider.'”

The Quiet One

Everybody calls me the quiet one
You can see but you can’t hear me
Everybody calls me the quiet one
You can try but you can’t get near me
I ain’t never had the gift of gab
But I can’t talk with my eyes
When words fail me you won’t nail me
My eyes can tell you lies

Still waters run deep so be careful I don’t drown you
You’ve got nothing to hear I’ve got nothing to say
Sticks and stones may break your bones
But names can never down you
It only takes two words to blow you away

Everybody calls me the quiet one
But you just don’t understand
You can’t listen you won’t hear me
With your head stuck in the sand
I ain’t never had time for words that don’t rhyme
My headd is in a cloud
I ain’t quiet – everybody else is too loud

Still waters run deep so be careful I don’t drown you
You’ve got nothing to hear I’ve got nothing to say
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names can never down you
It only takes two words to blow you away.

Who – Another Tricky Day

This was the first album the Who made without Keith Moon called Face Dances. Kenney Jones was playing drums and the album had a substantial hit with You Better You Bet. It was also the first new Who album I ever bought. The other ones had been collections of their older hits. I can’t say that I don’t the Moon version of the Who but the album did have some good songs on it.

This song is one of the best songs off of Face Dances. To my surprise it was not released as a single.

The album peaked at #4 in the Billboard Album Charts, #2 in the UK, and #1 in Canada in 1981.

Roger Daltrey: “Pete’s a very complicated bunch of people… And you never know which one of him you’re going to get. There’s one that’s so wonderful, so caring, so spiritual. But there are others that are horrendous-and I mean horrendous…. That’s the madness of genius, so I accept it. I don’t judge him. I love him. I love all of hims.”

Another Tricky Day

You can’t always get it
When you really want it
You can’t always get it at all
Just because there’s space
In your life it’s a waste
To spend your time why don’t you wait for the call

(Just gotta get used to it)
We all get it in the end
(Just gotta get used to it)
We go down and we come up again
(Just gotta get used to it)
You irritate me my friend
(This is no social crisis)
This is you having fun
(No crisis)
Getting burned by the sun
(This is true)
This is no social crisis
Just another tricky day for you

You can always get higher
Just because you aspire
You could expire even knowing.
Don’t push the hands
Just hang on to the band
You can dance while your knowledge is growing

(It could happen anytime)
You can’t expect to never cry
(Patience is priceless)
Not when you try to fly so high
(Just stay on that line)
Rock and roll will never die
(This is no social crisis)
[etc.]

Another tricky day
Another gently nagging pain
What the papers say
Just seems to bring down heavier rain
The world seems in a spiral
Life seems such a worthless title
But break out and start a fire y’all
It’s all here on the vinyl
(No crisis)
[etc.]

[Repeat verse 1.]

(Just gotta get used to it)
Gotta get used to waiting
(Just gotta get used to it)
You know how the ice is
(Just gotta get used to it)
It’s thin where you’re skating
(This is no social crisis)
[etc.]

Just another tricky day for you fellah

The Kids Are Alright Documentary…Desert Island Music Films

We wrapped up Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days. We are going into extra innings and extending three more picks from these categories… favorite Soundtracks, Greatest Hits, and a music related movie. This is my pick for a music related movie: The Who in The Kids Are Alright.

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 13 PICK 5- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

I acquired a VHS copy of this in the mid-eighties. It wasn’t a great copy but my friends and I wore it out. One of them worked at a small cable station. The station was in a small county that usually aired farm reports and advertisements. Basically, it was a very small building in the middle of nowhere. All they would do there is broadcast videos.

We had the tape in hand and wanted to see it so we went there one afternoon. He popped it in the VHS player and played it. He had no idea but it was going out live all over the region. Near the end of the film, he took a phone call from his boss. I didn’t think anyone ever watched that station…but it turns out they did and they were not fans of The Who. He didn’t get fired but they took his key for the door for a little while. It was a big subject the next day at school as some teenagers loved it but their parents didn’t appreciate their farm reports being interrupted by My Generation and Keith Moon in bondage.

I’ve seen this film so many times I can almost quote it while it’s playing. The Who albums made me a huge fan of their music…this film made me a huge fan of band.

This film covers the original Who and being such a Who fan I’m glad Jeff Stein (director) was so persistent in doing this because many of the tapes he was able to borrow probably would have been erased and used again by the BBC as was their policy.

Jeff was a fan of the band and pestered them until they let him do this. He had no prior experience in filmmaking but this was the 1970s and he got the gig. His timing was eerily perfect. He caught the original band at the very end of their tenure with Keith Moon.

He searched high and low for clips of the band in earlier years. Stein keeps the appearance mostly in order. There is sadness in this. You see the band through the years from 1964 to 1978… you see all of them gradually age of course but Keith Moon ages faster than any of them. I’ve read where it hit him hard while watching the rough cut right before he died. His lifestyle had taken its toll on him. He saw himself as a young energetic kid that looked like Paul McCartney’s younger brother to a man who was 32 and looked like he was in his 40s at least.

This may be the first or one of the first film bios on a major rock band. Led Zeppelin had The Song Remains the Same but it focused on one concert in New York… The Beatles had Let It Be but those films didn’t show their history like The Kids Are Alright.

The Who - Wikipedia

In this film you see a band that is fun… unlike their peers Zeppelin and Sabbath the Who were more open to their audience and didn’t have a dark mystique hanging over them. They would crack jokes from the stage…Moon and Townshend treated it like a High School talent show until they started to play…then they got serious.

You see film segments that were fun like the video of Happy Jack, the interview on the Russell Harty Show, Keith with Ringo, and Keith and Pete sharing a joke that only they could understand. One of my favorite segments is The Who playing Barbara Ann with Keith singing and the band having a good time. They also played I Saw Her Standing There but it didn’t make the final cut…you can watch it in the outtakes. I can’t imagine the big bands of that time doing Barbara Ann and goofing for the camera.

The Who did a couple of live shows for the film besides being interviewed. Stein mostly used old clips but he convinced the band to do a couple of free concerts in May of 1978 where he could get a definitive version of Won’t Get Fooled Again… which personally I think is the greatest live performance song live you will ever hear. You see Keith’s last performance as he is looking pudgy, older, and slower but still pulls it off. Pete wasn’t too thrilled about doing the concerts for the film but it turned out good. They ended up only using a version Won’t Get Fooled Again and Baba O’Riley from the 78 live show.

Keith died a few months before The Kids Are Alright debuted on June 15, 1979. The film showed The Who at it’s best. Kenney Jones from the Faces replaced him but it was never the same. You cannot replace Moon…he was the engine that drove the Who. Later on in the 90s Zak Starkey…who was Ringo’s son and Keith’s God son played drums for the Who and still does.

If you haven’t watched the film…stop what you are doing and watch it. It still holds up as one of the best music documentaries that rock has produced.

Zak Starkey and Keith Moon

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