Tag Archives: The Who

Rocks In The Attic #447: The Who – ‘A Quick One’ (1966)

RITA#447I think the first song I heard off this record was Boris The Spider, selected as the b-side to a mid-‘90s re-release of My Generation – used on a TV ad for ice cream if I remember correctly. That single led me to buy a CD compilation, which was more than enough Who for me at the time.

I’ve never been into bands where the vocalist isn’t the songwriter. I’m not sure why – it just feels a little bit fake. Strangely though, I don’t really notice it for some bands. Take the Kaiser Chiefs for example. As far as I know, original drummer Nick Hodgson was the primary lyricist for the band – yet I don’t really think anything less of them.

This album has two highlights for me – the studio version of A Quick One, While He’s Away, gloriously performed on the Live At Leeds album, and the band’s stunning cover of Heat Wave. I like to think that if I was in a band in the ‘60s, I would have pushed to do a cover of Heat Wave – it’s such a great song, with an eternally cool groove.

Hit: A Quick One, While He’s Away

Hidden Gem: Heat Wave

Rocks In The Attic #392: The Animals – ‘The Animals’ (1964)

RITA#392On opening track, Story Of Bo Diddley, it’s highly amusing that Eric Burdon refers to Richmond in Surrey as the deep south. Why not, eh? That would make the Animals hometown of Newcastle Upon Tyne equal to Chicago, wouldn’t it? They’d probably like that, given their love of Chicago blues.

Of all the British Invasion groups of the ‘60s, the Animals always get classified as a second-tier group. They didn’t come bursting out of the starting gates with their own compositions, like the Kinks or the Who, and unlike their closest rivals the Rolling Stones, they never made the leap from blues copyists to writing their own songs.

It’s a shame that they’ll forever be linked with House Of The Rising Sun rather than something of their own making. They deserve some respect for the arrangement of that song though, which takes the song somewhere special. In Dylan’s hands – and prior to him, in Dave Van Ronk’s hands – it sounded ordinary.

Hit: Memphis Tennessee

Hidden Gem: Story Of Bo Diddley

Rocks In The Attic #371: The Who – ‘Live At Leeds’ (1970)

RITA#371The quintessential single-disc live album, Live At Leeds needs no introduction. I first heard about it through a comedy show – Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s first series on the BBC (The Smell Of Reeves & Mortimer) – where it was featured in a novelty song: The Who, Live At Leeds / A Packet Of Seeds / And a top hat full of gloy, gloy, gloy. Once you start buying rock music though, you quickly learn about the high watermark this record is held up as.

There’s just something infinitely more attractive about a live set on just one record. Short, sharp and to the point. AC/DC’s If You Want Blood – You’ve Got It is another great example of capturing something so energetic in such a small timeframe. The antithesis would probably be something like Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive album, about as far away from the immediacy of the Who as you could imagine.

There are just six songs on this record, mainly taken up by the fifteen minute extended medley of My Generation and the eight minutes of Magic Bus. Looking at the full set list from the Leeds gig, it’s a wonder how they managed to reduce it down to just two sides of music – a staggering thirty three songs played on the night would have provided enough material for three or four discs.

Hit: My Generation

Hidden Gem: Magic Bus

Rocks In The Attic #350: Dexys Midnight Runners – ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ (1980)

RITA#350I love this album. No matter how ridiculous the band got with their gypsy look on Too Rye-Ay two years later (still a fantastic single in Come On Eileen, although seriously overplayed at every wedding reception since), this album is untouchable. I know bands need to evolve over time – well, some do and some don’t seem to bother – but if I could give any band a pill to stop them evolving and turning into something different, it would be this version of Kevin Rowland’s band, circa 1980.

I’ve always liked the sound of brass – it might be the proximity of Lancashire, my birthplace, to Yorkshire, the home of brass band music; it might be John Barry’s brass-heavy scores for the Connery Bond films; or it might just be that when you play brass over rock n’ roll – The Who’s 5:15, , Aerosmith’s Chiquita, The Beatles’ Savoy Truffle or Got To Get You Into My Life – it sounds absolutely awesome.

King of awesome is Geno. What a tune! I love the way it initially sounds like a boxing workout, with a speedy opening tempo, before slowing down into something else completely – a hybrid of soul, reggae, rock n’ roll, and Rowland’s intelligible crooning jazz vocal. What the f**k is he talking about? A sweaty club? The Rocksteady Rub? What the hell? In fact, if you look the lyrics up online, and remove the word ‘Geno’, you’d have a hard time convincing yourself you’d ever heard the song before.

In fact, if I could give the band a pill to stop them evolving, I’d give it to them just as they recorded Geno. We might lose Come On Eileen, but maybe they’d still write that song, just with horns instead of fiddles, and dockworkers uniforms instead of gypsy dungarees.

Hit: Geno

Hidden Gem: Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply

Rocks In The Attic #339: The Who – ‘Who Are You’ (1978)

RITA#339There was a promising time around ten years or so ago, when it seemed like they were going to extend the CSI TV show across every city in America. First there was CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (AKA CSI: Las Vegas), with The Who’s Who Are You as the opening theme. Then came CSI: Miami, with Won’t Get Fooled Again, and finally, CSI: New York with Baba O’Riley.

It almost seemed like there was going to be a different spin-off show for every city. But there’s only so many Who songs. Imagine CSI: Cleveland with Pictures Of Lily across the opening credits, or CSI: Atlanta with Happy Jack blaring out over a montage of moody looking detectives.

There’s a new spin-off in the making, called CSI: Cyber, which has been picked up for a full season. There’s no word on which Who song will be used, but I’m hopeful it will be Squeeze Box (seriously though, the slow burn of Eminence Front from 1982’s It’s Hard would be a perfect – and not too obvious – fit).

This is Who album number eight, and the last with Keith Moon on the drummer’s stool. I’m sure it must have been mentioned that on the cover he’s sat on a chair inscribed with ‘Not to be taken away’. Unfortunate. The album’s not one of their best – you can hardly tell Moon’s on the drums, and there’s so much synth across most of the tracks (sometimes overshadowing the guitar), it just sounds dated. By this point they’ve come a long, long way from their beat group days as the High Numbers. They’re no longer relevant, just a bloated British rock band churning out middle-of-the-road material, a million miles from their Mod beginnings.

Hit: Who Are You

Hidden Gem: 905

Rocks In The Attic #311: The Who – ‘It’s Hard’ (1982)

RITA#311Argh, the ‘80s! The cover of this record is a bit confused. Roger Daltrey looks like a real estate agent. Pete Townshend looks like a pre-op transsexual. John Entwistle looks bizarrely like Ringo Starr in a pinstripe suit. Kenney Jones looks like a waxwork. All four of them are facing away from a young boy playing a Space Invaders machine, his back to the camera, in a darkened room. Aside from the allusions to Pinball Wizard, I don’t know what this all means, but it feels dodgy. Don’t worry though; Townshend was just doing research, right?

Thankfully the album doesn’t sound as unnaturally ‘80s as they were trying to make themselves look on the cover. There’s a fair bit of synth on the album – but no more than say, Quadrophenia, and that always jarred slightly on that album anyway.

The reason I’ll put this album on will always be the last track on the first side – Eminence Front, with lead vocals by Townshend himself. I know the song from the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, so hearing its slow burn always reminds me of driving around Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas, knocking over pedestrians and doing drive-bys.

Hit: Athena

Hidden Gem: Eminence Front

Rocks In The Attic #289: The Clash – ‘Live At Shea Stadium’ (2008)

RITA#289I might get shot for this, for I’m just not a huge fan of The Clash. I find their supposed masterpiece London Calling to be bloated and dull, aside from the overlooked Train In Vain which almost seems to be tacked on to the end as an afterthought. They can write a decent tune though – and this great live album is a testament to that.

The album was recorded in 1982 at the famous New York baseball ground, with The Clash middle on the bill between an opening set by ex-New York Doll David Johansen and headliners The Who. It’s essentially a race through their greatest hits, and next to each other these songs – Should I Stay Or Should I Go, Rock The Casbah, London Calling – really highlight the strength of the band’s pop credentials.

Clash fans may be annoyed at the choice of set list – they don’t play much material from their punk beginnings, and they especially don’t have the balls to play I’m So Bored With The USA – but at the end of the day, the whole thing comes across simply as a promotional jaunt to sell records – a captive audience of teenage Who fans represents a great opportunity to grow your fanbase on that side of the Atlantic. History has painted Strummer and company as punk’s last flag bearers of art before commerce, but it looks here like they were just trying to sell as many records as everybody else.

Hit: Rock The Casbah

Hidden Gem: Clampdown