Record Boy Ink:
The Who are back so I’m back to talk about the Who.
First off, BBC SESSIONS (MCA) is a valuable document for Who fans. For one thing, it explains why they described their mid-sixties music as “Maximum R&B”. I mean to the American listener, “Substitute,” “My Generation” and “I Can See For Miles,” while great rock, hardly qualified as even minimum R&B. But the Who were a bar band first and they did indeed play a lot of R&B covers live, they just rarely recorded it. On the BBC Sessions however you will hear the Who cover “Good Lovin’” (about the same time the Rascals were popularizing it), James Brown’s “Just You and Me Darling” and two Motown tracks “Leaving Here” and “Dancing In The Street”. With Keith Moon flailing in the background, Townsend and Entwistle driving the band and Daltrey screaming, this is indeed Maximum R&B!
This album covers the band’s various BBC outings from 1965 to 1973. “Substitute” is on here twice, once from 1966 and then four years later. Interesting to hear how much recording techniques changed in that time span and how much sonic power the band added to the latter version after playing it so many times! A lot of great songs on this collection from their early days through “Happy Jack” and then post Tommy stuff like “The Seeker.” Also included is a live “Relay” which was part of Townsend’s much-ballyhooed “Lifehouse” project and “Long Live Rock” which was supposed to be part of Quadrophenia but didn’t make it. Townsend screws up the last verse of “Rock” so you know it’s live! This is a great band at the height of their powers and this record is so enjoyable that you even forgive Roger Daltry his ‘70s tambourine excesses!
Secondly, flash forward some 25 years after the last BBC Session and you can listen to Pete Townshend performing live at the House of Blues in Chicago on PETE TOWNSHEND LIVE (Platinum). This two-disc set is a benefit album for the Maryville Academy (they treat abused children).
Pete reworks two Who classics “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the same manner Dylan reconstructs his older material. It’s always a pleasure to hear Pete’s pleasant tenor on songs in which the listener is accustomed to hearing Roger Daltry’s gruff vocals. Particularly affecting is Pete’s version here of “Drowned” from the Quadrophenia album. It’s a personal song of Pete’s and a personal favorite of Record Boy’s. Pete offers up his solo “hits” like “A Little Is Enough” and “Let My Love Open The Door.” “Now and Then” is a great Townsend gem that recalls another Peter - - Gabriel. Those two guys should work together, it would be more interesting than what you’ll hear on the upcoming 97th Who reunion tour! Anyway a big shout out to Townsend’s band on the “Live” album, particularly Jon Carin and long time Townsend cohort Peter Hope-Evans who plays some of the most tasteful harmonica you will ever hear.
The second disc features two tracks featuring guest vocalist Eddie Vedder. I like Eddie a lot but redoing “Magic Bus” after Pete’s rousing version on the first disc doesn’t add anything to this package. It is great however to hear them do “Heart To Hang Onto.” the late Ronnie Lane would be proud.
Pete’s legend as one of the greats is firmly established. Record boy bets he’s got a lot of great music left in him. Hope he gets old before he dies!