Monday, 28 August 2017

The Who: Pete Townshend's 'Scoop' Demo Series 1-3

You can now buy 'Gettin' In Tune - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of...The Who' in e-book form by clicking here!

Though The Who are rightly thought of as a collaborative band, it's interesting just how much of their signature sound exists on the hundreds of demos Pete Townshend recorded in his home studio. Until the late 1980s their existence was something of a holy grail among Who fans, boosted by the presence of a small handful of them on Pete's Meher Baba tribute 'solo' album 'Who I Am' in 1972. Deciding reluctantly that The Who were over in 1982, Pete decided to soften the blow for his many fans by releasing the first of a series of 'scoops' from his collection of thousands of demo tapes to keep the band's music alive (Pete meticulously catalogued them all, giving even random instrumental fragments their own number and theme - has there ever been a more INFJ musician?) Two more volumes followed in 1987 and 2001, with a 'highlights' compilation 'Scooped' put together in 2002 - in truth the series could run to another twenty double-CD sets if Pete so wanted them to. We've already covered them as the three sets appeared originally elsewhere in this book, as three similarly sprawling compilation of favourites, rarities, early versions of songs that became unrecognisable in the finished product, beautiful unfinished songs that could have been as worthy as anything else in the Who canon, brief little silly oddities made up on the spot to keep Pete's compositional hand in and a few snippet fragments of themes that happened to be running through Pete's head he never got back to doing anything with. Made up of stand-alone songs bashed out in a few minutes, extracts from mammoth epic concepts that were either made or unmade or a bit of silly nonsense that were never meant to be taken seriously, all three albums are a pretty 'quadrophonic' listening experience, darting about being extremes. A good third of the sets make you wonder why Pete ever agreed to their release at all they seem so fragmented and unlike his usual perfectionist self, although these are intriguing as a rare insight into his creative impulses. The other two thirds are fascinating, shedding new light onto Who and solo songs that might have been, with Pete playing not only his parts but rough versions of Roger's roar, Keith's klatter and Entwistle's energy too. Certainly these demos are worthy of more attention, hence this brief article which feels like an alternate timeline for The Who - especially as, rather than go through everything in the same jumbled up way as the original 'Scoop' albums (where Pete covers everything quite extensively with his sleevenotes anyway), we've chosen to look at these demos in the 'proper' order they were made - and which all to often get overlooked by Who fans. Is that a 'scoop' for us? We hope so! To help you find these songs if you only own one or two of the sets and not all three we've colour-coded them for you: 'Scoop 1' is in yellow, 'Scoop 2' is in green and 'Scoop 3' is in blue!

1.    Call Me Lightning ('Winter' 1964) - Scoop 2 1987
The earliest Townshend demo is understandably primitive in form and really features three Pete's singing against one guitar rather than the elaborate productions of later years. The interesting thing is that Pete clearly had this quirky blues homage in his repertoire for many years before The Who released it in their big 'missing' year of 1968 (when they were preparing 'Tommy' and didn't release a full LP). What sounded so out of kilter with anything else in the charts that year makes a lot more sense in the context of the R and B boom of 1964 and you can imagine The Animals or The Stones having a go at this song. Pete's eccentric guitar flourish in the middle is highly exciting, even if you can tell that he's getting bored of singing so many backing vocals, messing up the last note in two of his vocals in his haste to move onto something else. This is, by the way, marked the 'second version' of the song on the tapebox but so far the first has never been heard.

2.    Circles (1965) - Scoop 1 1983
An instant party - at home! Pete's psychedelic masterpiece sounds even weirder when heard as a demo on a tinny guitar and with three Pete's all wailing behind the main vocal atonally. Though you miss the power of the full band version, this one is still pretty darn great and is more like one of those hypnotic Bo Diddley numbers high on the echo, at least until the ending when a second guitar part fizzles into psychedelic life and a mass sea of Townshends chant 'round and around and around and around...' One of the better Scoop demos and with a 'natural' tin pan alley ending, very different to the guitar squeals of the record.

3.    Things Have Changed (1965) - Scoop 1
The earliest of the unused songs sounds perhaps a little bit retro for 1965 - at least compared to the songs Pete wrote for the 'My Generation' debut. This track is still fascinating though as proof that The Who could have done Merseybeat as well as anybody else had they been 'born' just a year earlier (and no The High Numbers don't count!), with some delightful 'dit-de-dit-de-doo' backing vocals. The lyrics are simplistic, bordering on stupid, but even then are just so 'Who' like, perhaps an early try-out for the likes of 'Substitute' and 'Disguises' as Pete's narrator complains that the girl he loves isn't acting the way she used to.

4.    La La La Lies (1965) - Scoop 2
This 'My Generation' demo is rather lighter on it's feet than the claustrophobic band version, with a single staccato guitar track and an emphasis on the 'shoop shoop' Cher like backing vocals. Pete plays bass for the first time and adds some hand-claps in place of drums, but this still comes over more like a demo and less like the elaborate recordings of later. The song is all here already, the only real difference being that Pete 'sings' the instrumental break, with a 'dooby dooby doo' part very different to the sharp tone of his guitar and the thunder of Keith's drums heard on the record. The track ends suddenly too, without sinking into the soft minor key harmonies of the finished product, as if the phone rang or something ('Kit? I've just taped another one! No it probably won't work as the basis of a rock-opera, give us a minute')

5.    The Kids Are Alright (1965) - Scoop 2
'Kids' sounds more than alright, this second 'My Generation' demo showing off even more of a Motown-meets-Mod feel than the finished product. Multiple Pete's sing round a simple acoustic guitar and while the performance lacks Roger's boisterous grit and enthusiasm it still sounds rather lovely. Pete plays the grungy feedback-drenched guitar break on acoustic - and it still sounds fabulous!

6.    So Sad (About Us)-Brrrr (1966) - Scoop 1
'This is a valuable Pete Townshend recording - with traffic noises in the back - and it's a collector's item that should be treasured!' runs Pete's self-mocking introduction as, unusually, he sings alone without any overdubbing. Sounding like a folk lament ballad, 'So Sad' is very different to the ferocious charge brought to the song on the 'A Quick One' LP, slow and quite genuinely sad rather than the yippee-I'm-free! punkish sarcasm of the band version. Pete sounds great here, his voice dripping with hurt and unfulfilled longing. I'm less impressed with the instrumental 'Brrrr' though, which was clearly stapled on afterwards and really doesn't fit

7.    Substitute (1966) - Scoop 2
Though no substitute for the final record, Pete's simple demo for one of his best known songs is sweet. Pete sings both 'his' part and Roger's, while trying to move his acoustic with the same 'sneer' as his electric which doesn't quite work, especially as the tempo is slower and the tone less harsh. Still a fascinating listen though - and it's a shame The Who didn't keep the sour 'awooooah' backing vocals heard in the second half.

8.    Happy Jack (1966) - Scoop 2
'Happy Jack' feels rather underpowered as a 'boy' too, with a very different sadder feel to it as Pete plays more like a folk minstrel and sounds as if he's about to break into tears throughout. There's less going on than in the band version, but the instrumental break is fun with multiple Pete Townshends turning it into a Greek party complete with catcalls, whistles and cheering!

9.    Pictures Of Lily (1967) - Scoop 2
'Lily' sounds in good health, though, with Pete capturing the song's wit and underlying naughtiness even without Roger Daltrey winking to the microphone. Like many of these demos this song also has a melancholic feel to it though, with Pete also expressing his sadness at both the narrator's loneliness and his later discovery that the girl of his dreams 'has been dead since 1929!' The middle eight ('Lily oh Lily...') harks back to the blues again, while Pete briefly attempts to sound like a trumpet!

10. Politician (1967?) - Scoop 1
A quite fascinating song from the 'Sell Out' period, with the same psychedelic twinges and underlying anger of many of those songs. The demo is much louder and more polished than the others from this era, suggesting Pete spent a lot of time on it. Pete sings about the summer of love being 'the age of intuition' and though the 'politician' of the title isn't mentioned, the hint is clear: hippies aren't going to take all that war-mongering nonsense from their leaders anymore. A nice piano part and some pretty good attempts at capturing Keith's drumming style along with Pete's usual purring guitar adds to up to a song that desperately deserved a release in 1967. After all, how Who-ish this song is, taking the side of peace and love, but through anger and outrage and power instead of sitars and flowers. 'I know when I'm right and I know when I'm wrong' runs the lyric, because Pete can 'feel it'. This might just be the most INFJ song ev-uh...

11. Melancholia (1967?) - Scoop 1
many of Pete's demos sound more melancholic than the finished product - make that a hundred times for 'Melancholia', which is desperate and on the edge of a nervous breakdown even compared to the 'Sell Outtake' version. Pete is calmer and more 'in tune' than Roger, but that only makes this performance of the song scarier. Another of the better 'Scoop' demos, ironically released before most fans had heard the 'band' version (which only came out on CD in the 1990s).

12. Magic Bus (1967?) - Scoop 1
Bootlegs of the Pete Townshend demos used to sell in poor quality for several English pounds so to be able to hear so many famous Who songs in early form in decent quality officially is priceless. Especially 'Magic Bus' which is both very much like the finished record and very different to it. The sea of echoey production, clashing rhythm sticks and slightly scary harmony vocals is much the same, but the song is much tighter for the most part - at least until the end when it drifts away in a tuneless psychedelic fog and Pete's 'ad libs' sound even more laboured (the song fades down at one stage so we can hear two Petes tell each other 'what they going on about?' 'God knows!') The 'magic' is already there though, even with a one-chord song, and the suspicion is that Pete was almost certainly tripping when he recorded this (1967 being the only year Pete really took drugs - which he stopped after tripping on an airplane that hit engine trouble at the end of the year and which made everybody think briefly they were all going to die, scaring Pete silly).

13. Christmas (1968) - Scoop 2
'Tommy' is the Who album best catered for in terms of demos, with a set on the 'deluxe' edition CD set ('It's A Boy' 'Amazing Journey' and 'Do You Think IT's Alright' in addition to the two premiered here). Simpler than the earlier Who demos (oddly given what happens to the arrangements on the record!), this one features Pete plonking simple chords on the piano and singing higher than usual, straining for the lines which only makes this song about missing out on things even more affecting. A nice Christmas present to Who fans.

14. Pinball Wizard (1969?) - Scoop 2
'Pinball' is pretty close to what will turn up on the album though with Pete's reflective vocal instead of Roger's bark and the lack of bass and drums the only real difference. The guitar 'pings' are also a little more laboured here, but then that's demos for you. Considering that this song was written at the last minute to impress reviewer and pinball lover Nick Kent into giving 'Tommy' a good review, it sounds remarkably good and energetic already.

15. Begin The Beguine (1969) - Scoop 2
This song almost certainly wasn't intended for The Who but for the Meher Baba album 'Happy Birthday' in 1970 (where Pete sings it again with a fuller backing). Townshend seems to have liked this Cole Porter song, even bringing it back into his solo set in recent years, which is a surprise because it's not a very Pete-like song, about peace and quiet and solitude rather than belonging to part of a noisy mod crowd. In truth he doesn't sing this demo all that well ever, though the finished product isn't bad.

16. Bargain (1971?) - Scoop 1
One of the more fascinating demos, being so close and yet so different to the finished recording on 'Who's Next'. Roger sings that version as if his life depends on it - Pete's version is fluffier and happier, enjoying the fact that he's getting the perfect prize with only having to sacrifice things that don't really matter. With joyous hand-claps filling in for Keith's drums, a more spacious guitar sound and a slower, more in-control tempo 'Bargain' sounds mighty healthy. The pained 'aaaah' Pete sings just before the instrumental before the last verse says it all - longing, desperation and fulfilment, it's a shame Daltrey didn't copy it but then he clearly had his own identification with this Mehre Baba-inspired song. Buying the first scoop to hear this demo is one of the best bargains I ever had - well more of a bargain that buying deluxe deluxe deluxe 'Tommy' and 'Live At Leeds' sets anway!

17. Behind Blue Eyes (1971?) - Scoop 1
Another towering achievement, Pete's demo for this song is chilling even compared to the lush harmonies of the finished version. Stark, austere and so cold compared to his usual emotional warmth, Pete's narrator is clearly crying out for warmth he cannot express and dreaming of someone not just to love but to feel what he feels(I take it back - this is the most INFJ ever song!) Even the lack of the final-verse-push doesn't seem to matter, with Pete breaking the song up anyway by playing his guitar staccato rather than with the flowing melody of the first half. Heard in extract from in the 'Lifehouse' radio play of 1999 and the 'Lifehouse Chronicles' set too, but in most complete form here.

18. Mary (1971?) - Scoop 1
Easily the best of the handful of 'Lifehouse' tracks that were dropped when 'Who's Next' became more about song and less about plot, 'Mary' is a beautiful love song from a writer who didn't come up with many of them. The narrator is desperately trying to 'connect' with a girl he's met through the Lifehouse/internet but she can't decide and runs both towards and away from him. A lovely guitar break mimics this dance between the partners, but you also sense Townshend is going to catch her in the end, as he coos 'you're everything a man can want'. he doesn't even care about the poverty and the holes in her coat she tries to hide from him. At the same time though he sighs that not everyone is destined to 'get who they want' and that he wants her anyway. Another highlight with more production values than most of Pete's demos, with full electric guitar, bass and drums joining in near the end.

19. Parvardigar (German Version) (1971) - Scoop 3 2001
Pete first recorded his traditional Meher Baba prayer for his first solo album 'Who I Am'. Though the record wasn't a big hit commercially, it caused a big stir within the Baba community and soon Pete was getting requests from fans to re-record his spiritual prayers in different languages. With 'Lifehouse/Who's Next' needing work, though, this German-language version was as far as he got. Much like the finished product, but in German (obviously) this song is sweet but not that spectacularly different. It even reuses the same backing track - and a few of the English backing vocals on thanks to a bit of Townshend 'multicultural remixing'.

20. Long Live Rock! (1972) - Scoop 2
A bit clumsier than the outtake heard on 'Odds and Sods' (and most famously on the celebratory end credits of 'The Kids Are Alright' film), 'Long Live Rock' still dances with an energy and enthusiasm as Pete enjoys playing some Chuck Berry riffs for a change. Otherwise this song isn't that different, certainly closer than most of these demos.

21. Sea and Sand (1972) - Scoop 3
A fascinating demo of one of the more complex songs from arguably Pete's most complex work, 'Quadrophenia'. Pete's piano playing is extraordinary and while his vocal doesn't quite have the power Roger will bring to it, it's still a thing of beauty brimming with incoming helplessness and one last spirited attempt to go back to being cool and trendy in the middle eight. Pete speaks in detail in the CD booklet about the lengths he went to in order to 'compress' the vocal and bring out more of the vulnerability of the track - despite being more low budget, this sparse take on 'Sea and Sand' may well be even more emotional than the finished product. One lyric change: instead of 'I'm feeling so high with you here' we get 'I just want to die with you here'. And, yes, the false ending is already here intact, complete with Pete's whispered count-in. All together now: 'I'm the face if you want it babe, I'm the face if you want it....', complete with an extra ad lib on the same lines 'I'm a real snappy dresser!'

22. Unused Piano: Quadrophenia (1972/73) - Scoop 1
A haunting refrain that was maybe just a little too close to 'Love Reign O'er Me' to stand out, nevertheless this unused two and a half minute instrumental shares the same passion and depth of much of the parent work. My guess (and it's only a guess) is that this song comes from near the end, when Jimmy the Mod is feeling guilty and sad about everything he's lost and wondering whether it's worth coming off his 'rock' and facing the world again or whether it isn't better just to dive into the sea and drown.

23. Recorders (1972/1973) - Scoop 1
80 seconds worth of the seagull cry from 'Quadrophenia' (the opening to 'Sea and Sand' as it happens) which grows into a rather atonal improvisation on a 'recorders' setting on Pete's synthesiser. One of many discarded passages for 'Quadrophenia', it's clear that Pete was already thinking of this as a bigger work than just an album - this piece in particular sounds like background music for an unmade film.

24. You Came Back (1972/1973) - Scoop 1
Also re-mixed and re-released on the 'Quadrophenia' deluxe box set, this 'missing' song from the work finds Jimmy the Mod returning to the scene of his childhood and enjoying the memories of a time without the pressures of trying to grow into adulthood. It's an unusually sweet and loved-up song for the 'Quadrophenia' period, with a past lover telling the mod how much she's missed him and hoping he comes back again. Not really up to the first tier of 'Quadrophenia' works but then what is? This is still a pretty song too good to lie in the vaults for so long, especially the yearning middle eight that suggests Jimmy was always bleeding quadrophonic even before his teens ('Putting names to the faces...remembering being dead and alive!')

25. Love Reign O'er Me (1972/1973) - Scoop 1
The big finale of 'Quadrophenia' is one of the bigger disappointment of the 'Scoop' set - on the one hand it sounds so much like the finished product as to make no difference (albeit with Pete playing piano and drums rather than Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon) and on the other Pete simply doesn't have the power in his lungs this song needs (if ever a performance showed up just how Roger Daltrey is it's this one). Pete sounds almost asleep in fact, despite the fact that the song clearly meant a lot to him too, while the song only has one ending, not lots of crashing chords and Keith Moon hurling a gong into his drum-kit. The track plays out with the 'here on the beach deep within my reach' snippet of Pete's home-made sound effects, interestingly, which is heard on the album just before 'Sea and Sand'.

26. Can You See The Real Me? (1973) - Scoop 3
Recorded a few months later than the other Quadrophenia demos here, Pete was clearly still fiddling with his story as there's a whole final verse/storyline cut from the final recording: 'Rock and roll's going to do me an evil wrong, funny how your best friends turn was good for so long, it's stopped myself getting letters than the people trying to turn me back, my publisher wants my memoirs and the limousines are black!' The backing is actually rather prog-rockish and much more like the sound of 1978 album 'Who Are You?' than the punkish energy of the album cut. Clearly not as good or as powerful as the finished product and Pete's bass 'n' drums really aren't a substitute for John and Keith this time around, but like most of these demos still fascinating to compare and contrast with.

27. Squeezebox (1975) - Scoop 1
Moving on to 'Who BY Numbers', the bit of light innuendo relief that was 'Squeezebox' sounds jollier than ever here with an actual accordion playing the song's wheezy riff. Pete's gruff vocal is a lot more serious than Roger's future vocal-twinkle though and Pete's getting worse at mimicking Keith's drums, funnily enough at just the point when Moon was having problems with them himself. One slight lyrical change too: 'Mama's got a squeezebox so you ain't going to sleep tonight!'

28. To Barney Kessell (1975?) - Scoop 1
A suitably jazzy guitar-based instrumental written in tribute to the jazz guitarist Barney Kessell who played with Artie Shaw, Charlie Parker and Bing Crosby as well as fellow AAA-ers The Beach Boys (specifically 'Good Vibrations') before becoming an A&R man for Liberty Records. Pete gets close to his idol's style and you can tell that he's justly proud of this two minute snippet, but it's a shame in a way that the 'Scoop' CDs feature so many bits of fluff like these rather than the demos for key Townshend songs.

29. Girl In A Suitcase (1975) - Scoop 2
'Girl In A Suitcase' has something of a patchy history - as a composition it dates back to 'Lifehouse' in 1971 and eventually found release as one of the many B-sides of Pete's 1980 single 'Let My Love Open The Door'. This second go in 1975 is strangely happy for such a 'down' period and lacks the excitement of that 1971-released in 1980 version. It's harmless enough though as Pete wishes he could take his soulmate with him on a suitcase around the world and feels a bit guilty for leaving her at home (or, alternatively, is it a song about a groupie always with him on the road?)

30. No Way Out aka However Much I Booze (1975) - Scoop 3
One of the real gems of this series (why did it take until volume three to hear it?!), Pete's original take on his boozy song of regret is even more extraordinary and denial-filled than the version on 'Who By Numbers'. Pete screams the song in his 'happy' voice as if he's high on the booze and isn't really thinking about the tough words he's singing, while his backing band (Phil Chen on bass, Andrew Bailey on drums and Phillip Bailey on keyboards) gives him the energy and excitement many of these overdub fests don't possess. The best moment comes with a forgotten verse, needlessly cut from the end of the lengthy instrumental break, instead of the 'cell door closing' bit: 'I walk into a club and no one seems to know, I have to tell the story of my life to be stopped from being thrown out there and then, it all seems so can't face the fact that once you open up you become ambivalent, but once they let you in? There ain't no way out!' This sounds suspiciously like the story Pete tells about the 1977 debacle when he met The Sex Pistols and told them to 'finish' rock and roll while they wondered who he was, falling asleep, drunk, in the doorway and being woken up by a policeman (the inspiration for the 1978 single 'Who Are You?', about the only big Who seller not in these sets - yet). Did Pete stick the two incidents together? This song certainly fits with the idea of a musician taking up alcohol after a bruise to the ego. A glorious, under-rated, honest song in the 'By Numbers' version anyway but this demo version borders on drunken genius.

31. Never Ask Me (1977) - Scoop 2
Recorded in the 'missing' year of 1977 before The Who returned and Pete's solo career took off, you could imagine this floaty understated song appearing on the similarly laidback 'Rough Mix' record made with Ronnie Lane. However it's clearly not quite as good, being merely a clichéd love song where the narrator's girlfriend asks her boyfriend to show her he loves her rather than tell her.

32. Brooklyn Kids (1978) - Scoop 2
One of the better unreleased Townshend songs, this would have been one of the better songs on 'Who Are You' if finished, albeit a little wet. Thematically it's more of a 'White City Fighting' song, re-telling Romeo and Juliet between two working class people from different 'tribes' and postcodes, where 'there might as well be an ocean between them'. The orchestration recalls 'Street In The City', suggesting a similar setting and again features Pete's brother-in-law as arranger and is rather lovely - it's the basic keyboard and Pete's vocal that aren't quite as strong as some of these other demos.

33. Football Fugue (1978) - Scoop 2
An early go at the staccato strings heard on 'The Iron Giant' soundtrack, this is a real oddity. Two Townshends argue over what appears to be a football match (one of them simply goiung 'what???' over and over), but the tables are turned when Pete reveals they're arguing over a classical concert and whose got the best violinists. A sneaky protest against class divides, but it's all a little too wacky to work.

34. Praying The Game (1978) - Scoop 2
A light ballad with a nicely flowing melody and lyrics that have Pete trying desperately to stay in a happy place where he won't need the help of God or Meher Baba or drinking or any of his usual props, whilst knowingly sighing that life doesn't work like that and will always have ups and downs. Pete's guitar playing set against yet another orchestra is the best thing about this song, which clearly wasn't intended for The Who.

35. The Ferryman (1978) - Scoop 2
Another orchestral piece, this one is eerier than the others and features some nice use of harmonics as the strings weave in and out. A shame about the spoken word recitative though, which is a bit clumsy by Pete standards, even if it returns to the idea of water and drowning as re-birth and baptism as heard in many Meher Baba teachings and especially 'Quadrophenia'. It takes 100 seconds for the song to get going, though it's worth it when it does with Pete playing the part of a spiritual traveller taking souls across to their death.

36. I Like It The Way It Is (1978) - Scoop 3
One of the greatest 'unreleased' songs in Pete's back catalogue and one he admits in the sleevenotes to 'Scoop 3' was only ever unreleased because he was ashamed of the thought behind it, not the song. Pete's been caught by his wife Karen with a string of groupies and it's the last straw - Pete feels genuinely guilty and tries to do right by her and his jaw-dropping heartfelt vocal is painful enough to show he means it. However it all comes down to that title line at the end of each verse, after Pete has promised to change his ways - he won't really change, because he kind of likes his life the way it is, even with everything else at stake. One of the most beautiful Townshend melodies of them all tries hard to put on a smiley face for the world with its la-da-da-da opening offering up completely the wrong impression, but it's also clear that the character is crushed and guilty for passing on 'so many words untrue'. Pete's brother-in-law Ted Astley again arranged the song and it's one of his best, matching Pete heartbreak for heartbreak, which is all the more poignant given that Pete is effectively singing about hurting his sister.

37. Zelda (1979) - Scoop 1
'Zelda' is horrid, definitely a song to keep in the vaults and a candidate for the worst thing Pete ever wrote. Three Petes scrape away at his guitar strings while a synth on strings also plays a horrid noise. The lyrics aren't any better: Zelda is wooed in the back seat of a car after a date which goes about the way you'd expect: 'When you're at the movies don't pretend you're groovy...'  Pete's high-pitched vocal, which gets higher with every verse, completes the nails-on-a-blackboard effect. To think this awful noise made it out as earlier as volume one of 'Scoop'...

38. Cache Cache (1979?) - Scoop 1
Pete's invested in a drum machine and invested in some new wave records in time for the demos from the 'Face Dances' period. 'Cache Cache' sounds even more of an ugly song with Pete singing and, well, groaning the backing vocals rather than Roger. Pete does at least understand his own lyrics about Meher Baba metaphors for animals in cages and his own nocturnal drunken visit to a zoo late one night though, which is more than Roger ever did. I'll tell you something for nothing: there ain't no bears in there - and you really don't need to hear this demo.

39. Dirty Water (1979) - Scoop 1 and 3
Pete was having so much fun with the 50s rockabilly of 'Dirty Water' (clearly inspired by the finger-picking groove of the first Dire Straits album) that he's included two versions of this song on 'Scoop' (so far!) The demo appears on volume three and is a typical demo: basic, scratchy and unfinished, with Pete simply trying to get his first instincts on tape. The full band version on Scoop 1 is much better, with a nice groove and Pete having a lot of fun on the tongue-twisting lyrics. This is another of those 'Meher Baba' metaphor songs that use 'water' as a synonym for 'love' - the idea being that pure water/love maintains life whereas poisoned water/life kills. Pete will return to this idea after a lot more thinking on 'The Sea Refuses No River', a track from his 1982 album 'All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes'.

40. How Can You Do It Alone? (1979?) - Scoop 3
A lengthy, 6:30ish demo for a song that got substantially cut down and diluted for 'Face Dances' a couple of years later. Pete is enjoying the slow groove of this one as he tells the tale of a teenage shoplifter and a flasher, wondering how such misfits cope in a world that doesn't understand them. The switch between the cold 'n' cool detachment of the verses and the emotional anger of the choruses is better handled here and Pete reverts to a cockney accent for comedy effect, while the spaced-out middle is much more impressive than the record. You do miss Roger though, more than on most of these demos, so in answer to Pete's sleevenote about wondering which version fans would like best I still have to say The Who's. As the title says, how can you do a song like this alone without any help and all by yourself?

41. Tough Boys (aka Rough Boys) (1979) - Scoop 3
The punkish safety-pinned opener to Pete's 'Empty Glass' solo LP sounded even more aggressive and brutal in demo form. Pete sings a vocal that's so loud it's popping the microphone while two guitar lines bubble about underneath him. Much more energetic and appealing than the full band version, it's a shame the guitarist didn't release the song in this state where it would have turned even more heads.

42. You're So Clever (1980?) - Scoop 1
With synthesisers that sound like croaking frogs, you can already tell Pete is singing this song sarcastically even before he opens his voice. The OTT lyrics try a little too hard to be humble ('I feel busted by your charms when we're together and you're so perfect you always choose the best wine, while on the dance floor you keep perfect time!') but as with so many other songs in this period ('A Little Is Enough' 'Let My Love Open The Door') the sarcasm and nastiness is hiding a very tender heart. The way the chorus sweeps in and washes away all that cynicism is beautiful as Pete switches to a minor key and earnestly exclaims 'there's no one I want but you - and I mean forever!' This song would have been a nice addition to 'Empty Glass' with a similar mix of brains and beauty.

43. Don't Let Go The Coat (1980) - Scoop 2
The Face Dances version of this mystical Meher Baba tribute didn't make much sense so I was hoping the demo would shed new light on one of The Who's poppier tracks, but no - this is even more impenetrable. Interestingly, while the band version came out sounding much like every other Who song, this version sounds much more new wave and less old fashioned with an almost ska arrangement. It still sounds like a below-par song though.

44. You Better You Bet (1980) - Scoop 2
However that same record's hit single sounds much better. As usual the arrangement isn't actually that different, with Pete's impression of the rest of the band down pat by now. However his vocal is a revelation - sarcastic, whining and yet full of heart he rivals Roger's warm-hearted bloke-next-door part on the finished product, suddenly breaking off into moments of pure emotion. His multiple backing vocals are good fun too. The one lyrical change: the narrator's only getting drunk to 'the sound of old T Rex' not 'Who's Next!'

45. Did You Steal My Money? (1980) - Scoop 3
A mad demo of a fairly mad song, Pete's vocals intoning each word in turn are even more histrionic than the ones on 'Face Dances', while both the backing and vocal owe a lot more to jazz than the rock of the finished version. Pete sounds much more comfortable tackling this song than Roger did and this is another demo that's arguably better than the full band recording. The middle eight ('How can we forgive our grievance now that we all live with demons?') is much more affecting too for some reason even though it's not really all that different.

46. Teresa (1980) - Scoop 3
'Teresa' is better known as 'Athena', the rocky opening to final original Who album 'It's Hard' - which curiously seems to have been passed over for 'Face Dances' despite being better than most of that album's songs. Written as Pete later admitted after falling in love with actress Theresa Russell and in his frustration at being turned down when she learnt he was married, the lust and excitement are still very much in the room on both recordings (Theresa requested the name-change after hearing the song in case that gave the game away!) Not that different to the final version, except that Pete gets carried away in the middle screams to himself in confusion that 'she's just a f!"£in' girl!' and wonders why he's getting so carried away, while there are no backing singers to intone 'she's a bomb!' Roger suited this rather well on the record and so the band version just about wins, but it's close.

47. Popular aka 'It's Hard' (1981?) - Scoop 1
A fascinating demo combining the 'any fool can...' lines from the title track of The Who's 1982 album and a whole new sweeter chorus that returns to the 'bullied' feel of the early Who singles and claims that the narrator will do anything if it means he can be popular with his peers. We haven't had a Who song about fitting in since 'Quadrophenia' and while this song isn't up to that standard, it still sounds rather good in this form and you wonder why Pete changed it for the album.

48. Driftin' Blues (1981) - Scoop 2
One of the lesser 'Scoop' moments, this lazy derivative blues features Pete singing about his loneliness ('Nobody seems to want me but the wide and open sea!') in a vocal that's a pretty good pastiche of Howlin' Wolf. His acoustic flourishes are pretty special too - it's just a shame that Pete couldn't find a more interesting vehicle for them as you can hear this sort of thing so much better in so many other places.

49. It's In Ya (1981) - Scoop 3
The final track on the last 'Scoop' set (to date, anyway), Who fans know this better from a band version that's a bonus track on the 'Face Dances' CD re-issue. This is a very early version that features the 'extra' Who members like Rabbit Bundrick and Peter Hope-Evans performing a powerful version of the song's angular riff but Pete's vocal is rather lost with so much happening and this is clearly a rehearsal rather than a 'proper' take. Sadly in retrospect, this ad hoc Who sounds more like the 'old' band than the real thing will on the record.

50. Body Language (1981) - Scoop 1
A 'Chinese Eyes' style backing track recalls 'Stardom In Acton' and 'Uniforms' with Pete adding another contemporary-style almost spoken vocal that delivers a lyric about all the hidden messages he feels from people. Worth releasing on 'Scoop', but not good enough to make an album proper.

51. Cache Cache (1981?) - Scoop 1
This demo version of one of the weirder songs off 'Face Dances' sounds, rather aptly, as if it was recorded in a bear pit and features a bunch of drunken Pete's in the background sounding not unlike bears. Pete's used a drum track on this one that sounds unbearably tinny and false for a Who recording, but is having great fun on the punkish vocal - more than Roger will anyway. Did you ever wonder why music hurts...?

52. Holly Like Ivy (1982) - Scoop 2
An unreleased song that again fits the sound of 'Chinese Eyes' rather than 'The Who', Pete tries to argue that black is white - and that two similar girls named Holly and Ivy are the same too, even though they clearly aren't. No I haven't got a clue what he's going on about either and the vocals are too muffled to hear properly anyway, but Pete's stinging guitar playing is worth a listen.

53. Prelude 556 (1982) - Scoop 2
Nice opening, shame it doesn't go anywhere - that's what we'll be saying about quite a few of the instrumental snippets that fill up the 'Scoop' discs and this is the first, sounding like a snatch of incidental music from the 'Narnia' films. Knowing Pete, yes there probably are at least 555 others sitting in a vault somewhere.

54. Baroque Ippanese (1982) - Scoop 2
These are the only two tracks that appear on the 'Scoop' sets in the 'right' order next to each other and they are quite similar in sound, even if the last track was all but swaying melody and this one is all about angles and rhythm. It would be quite nice if it had some words and sounds more like the incidental music from a Peter Davison-era Doctor Who.

55. Cat Snatch (1982-1983) - Scoop 2
More random fun with synthesisers, with Pete coming up with a riff not unlike 'Baba O'#Riley' though nowhere near as memorable. It makes sense that someone who helped pioneer the synth would still be interested in them a decade on, but the trouble is this could be anyone with half an ear for music and a synthesiser, there's nothing very Townshendesque about this recording at all.

56. Prelude: The Right To Write (1983) - Scoop 2
More instrumental synthesiser fun, with a similarly large canvas to 'Prelude 556' without being quite as memorable. It sounds like one of those moments in Midsomer Murders where you think 'hang on, the composer's gone a bit mad here hasn't he? Why are we getting all this sudden noise when nothing's bleeding happened for the past half hour - or is this a clue?' (Usually it isn't by the way).

57. Ask Yourself (1983) - Scoop 2
At last vocals - sort of!... 'Ask yourself do I really understand?' is as much as we get though over a busy and ever-changing backing that sounds a little like the finished version of 'Eminence Front'. Pete's clearly been keeping up on the synthesiser skills and his occasional guitar stings sound rather good too on a song that seems to be another INFJ cry from his sub-conscious. There's a sudden change of pace two and a half minutes in, though not for the better, before the song goes back to where it came.

58. Maxims For Lunch (1983) - Scoop 3
Proof of how far we've come from 'Hope I die before I get old!', this track is written around a pun that nobody else would get involving a middle-class French restaurant and the linguistic joke that a 'maxim' is a 'short pithy statement'. Pete sings about falling out of love but that 'time heals while we're eating our meals' and decides to talk openly about what's gone wrong over lunch. In short, 'now we've both eaten we can both say what the hell we like!'
59. All Lovers Are Deranged (1983) - Scoop 3
One of two songs co-written with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and released on his solo 'About Face' record, Pete's version is far softer and gentler than his counterparts. In Gilmour's hands the song is an angry snarl, commemorating the end of his first marriage to Ginger Gilmour and his heartbroken cynicism that 'you don't really fall in love - unless you're seventeen!' Pete's take is quirkier, looking in shock and awe at the way people are 'determined' to 'revive the pain' of past relationships with another person after being hurt. Pete's is an easier listen, but David's is the more powerful.

60. The Shout (1984) - Scoop 2
Recorded in another 'nothing' year between projects, this slow ballad is clearly still 'in the ether' as Pete tries to put it down on tape and he's singing vowel sounds rather than full lyrics. That's a shame because this song sounds worthy of further study, the few lyrics that are finished following the narrator and his lover from paradise to 'the day you walked out'.
61. Commonwealth Boys (1984) - Scoop 3
A very Who-like song recorded for the working class solo set 'White City', with a breathless riff and a real sense of frustration, Pete 'doesn't want to be called a boy anymore' before moving onto a wider subject matter of commonwealth countries trying to step out of the shadow of the British Empire. Sadly after an intriguing beginning this song doesn't really go anywhere - it sounds a little better and a lot more developed as 'Come To Mama' from the 'White City' record.
62. Marty Robbins (1984) - Scoop 3
Marty Robbins was a Country 'n' Western star in the 1950s wo swapped careers to race in Nascar in his fifties. This pretty but also pretty undistinguished instrumental doesn't really sound much like either career, being too fast for the former and slow for the latter. It's pleasant enough though.

63. Elephants (1984) - Scoop 3
Pete waxes lyrical about the 'Prophet 10' model synthesiser in the CD booklet for 'Scoop 3' ('if you are a keyboard player and you see one of these on sale for less than $5000 then buy it - it will take you to a piece of heaven reserved for Hammond players who have taken too much acid') but this is perhaps the weakest of the many synth instrumentals clogging up the trio of 'Scoops'. It sounds like the instrumental music to some weird children's series that had a very small budget and scared everyone under the age of ten (and quite a few over). It also doesn't sound at all like elephants.

64. Lonely Words (1985) - Scoop 3
At last, an actual song again. Pete is feeling guilty after another row he didn't really mean and he desperately wants to take back what he said about a loved one. Just as if it was 1966 all over again, Pete admitted later he'd written a whole script around this idea - and then promptly lost it (which is deeply unusual for him and suggests he didn't think enough of it to keep it safe). It's kind of middling, with a nice tune and a fuller production than most of the 'Scoop' stuff but it's nowhere near as memorable as Pete's best work.

65. Man and Machines (1985) - Scoop 3
A demo of a song from 'The Iron Man', Pete wanted Lou Reed to sing this before taking it on himself and sings in a deeper growlier voice than normal. There are quite a few differences here, though this home-made version may well have the edge over the more elaborate future version - especially the mixture of drum machines and sound effects at the beginning for which Pete is justly proud.

66. Theme 015 (1987) - Scoop 3
There were apparently 30 of these synclavier 'experiments'  taped in 1987 - so far we've only heard three. All of them are similar and similarly short, so much so that you have to ask why yourself why they saw the light of day before the many hundreds of other more interesting demos in Pete's tape vaults. Pete wanted to tie all these leitmotifs together and sadly says in the sleevenotes that 'such a work is beyond me'. Hardly - the over and under-tures on 'Tommy' and the instrumentals on 'Quadrophenia' are testament to how great a Townshend symphonic work could be, but he needs better material than this brief folk lament.
67. Theme 016 (1987) - Scoop 3
Theme 16 is much like theme 15, except for the fact that we've wandered on to what sounds like a synth-harmonica to go with the strings. This one is a bit longer but is still basically a fragment.
68. Theme 017 (1987?) - Scoop 3
Interestingly 'Theme 017' - or so it says on the back of the CD box - is listed as 'Theme 017' in the booklet, suggesting Pete changed his mind about which to release late on. This is the most colourful and substantial of the three pieces, with synth-trombones sounding like some sci-fi circus, but it's still far from essential.
69. Can You Really Dance? (1988) - Scoop 3
Pete's intended follow-up to 'White City Fighting' sounds rather like The Kinks' 'Come Dancing', a series of vignettes set in the ballroom dance halls of the 1950s and which the guitarist - characteristically! - never finished. This is one of the few recordings to make its way out (in truth it's one of the few band recordings here rather than a demo) and sounds much like the lumpier, MOR side of 'White City Fighting' with that usual Townshend sense of injustice and raging anger turned into a funky dancehall strut and a saxophone solo. 'Start walking in the real world' intone a bunch of backing girl singers for no apparent reason without access to the 'score' - though very much of its day this song is quite painful to listen to now and one of the weaker recordings here.   
70. I Am Afraid (1990) - Scoop 3
At last a piece of 'realism' as Pete sings a slow sad blues number to the sound of his own banjo playing, hidden away in the middle of all this 1980s high production values. Sounding not unlike the more scared songs from 'Empty Glass', Pete sings that he's not running, or fighting, or hiding and yet nevertheless there are things in life he doesn't want to face and he is very much afraid. Sadly the vocals aren't miked as loud as the banjo, though, so they're heard to hear. This song sounds worth returning to though and maybe Pete will one day - let's hope so!
71. Squirm Squirm (1990) - Scoop 3
A Pete Townshend children's song - can it be possible? Yes. Pete was rather shocked to find himself a father again in his mid-forties and wrote the silly but sweet 'Squirm Squirm' after improvising a song to get his baby Joseph off to sleep. Feeling his child wriggling in his arms reminded him of a worm (what is it with The Who and insects?!) and his tale merges with a counting game ('Here is message number one, I am your beloved son, here is message number two, I'm in love with only you, here is message number three, you cannot escape from me!') and some prog rockish lyrics about flying away with doves and seeing the world from above. Apparently Pete can't count above number eight or maybe that was just when his baby fell asleep?
72. Outlive The Dinosaur (1990) - Scoop 3
A demo of the 'Psychoderelict' song that sounds atypically basic and demo-ish given some of the elaborate recordings elsewhere on 'Scoop'. The tale of a rockstar trapped in his lonely mansion and cut off from life, Pete sounds far more isolated here than on the record but his words are hard to hear and the band version is much more interesting even if this solo version is more 'apt'.

73. Wistful (1991)- Scoop 3
A simple three minute's worth of acoustic strumming, intended to run underneath one of the many interminable dialogue passages on 'Psychoderelict'. Good as Pete's playing is - and great as it is to hear him playing in the 'Bert Jansch' style - this is a song with not much happening that you really don't need to hear.
74. Iron Man Recitative (1993) - Scoop 3
My love for Pete Townshend and my absolute hatred for Ted Hughes meet up here and I'm afraid hate wins this game. Pete is practising for his future album based on 'The Iron Man' and simply sits down with the book and improvises a tune around the words with his synthesiser in one go. Given that Pete is effectively making this up as he goes along this is impressive, but good God those words are awful - they don't deserve any time spent on them. Plus given that this is a Ted Hughes work I keep waiting for a crow (metaphor = death, as per 99% of other Ted Hughes works) to come out of nowhere. Yuck!
75. Poem Disturbed (1994) - Scoop 3
The 'poem' is actually a rather lovely lyrical flowing melody played on piano that has hints of 'Love Reign O'er Me' about it; the 'disturbed' bit is a phone that rings just after Pete's got going. He says in the sleevenotes that 'I knew who it was - my then girlfriend - these were strange times for me'; and he simply ignores the mess of his life in order to go back to his muse.
76. Eminence Front (1995) - Scoop 3
One of the highlights of 'It's Hard', 'Eminence Front' is re-recorded here as a 'practice' session for Pete's first solo concert as he tries to see one of The Who's busier arrangements would sound reduced into solo form. The answer is 'very different' as here the piece is less about twinkling modern synths and power and more about crashing 'Quadrophenia' style piano chords. Slow and bluesy, this 'Eminence Front' is more lament than protest and the mood is sad rather than angry. Who fans would have been very confused if Pete had kept this arrangement and the song drags across six minutes without much in the way of variety, but Pete's vocal is so warm and the piano so intoxicating this ends up a tie for best version.

77. Prelude 970519 (1997) - Scoop 3
Recorded on Pete's 52nd birthday, this instrumental piece is notably happier than many of the others and suggests things are looking better in Pete's home life. Pete recorded it as part of a 12 week course to get him interested in writing again after some time away and was taped without any intention of release.
78. 971104 Arpeggio Piano (1997) - Scoop 3
A whole lot of instrumentals composed on the 'Kurzweil Midiboard 88' that have been strung together to sound like a surprisingly cohesive whole by Pete's assistant Helen Wilkins who helped compile these sets (and is, as she admits, definitely not a Who fan). Pete's clearly in a 'staccato' mood and his stabbing rhythms will be familiar to anyone whose watched him hurl an electric guitar about on stage, albeit not quite as convincing.
79. Dirty Jobs (Variations) (1997) - Scoop 3
Don't get too excited - despite the title hint that this piece is based around one of the 'Quadrophenia' highlights, in actual fact this composition at best shares the same key for a few seconds somewhere in the middle. Pete says it was a practice for an orchestral version of 'Quadrophenia' (a dirty job, but someone has to do it!) - when 'Scoop 3' was released in 2001 I hoped that was just a joke but no, there really was an orchestral production of 'Quadrophenia' in 2015 and yes it was all as bad as this.
80. Wired To The Moon (1997) - Scoop 3
Sadly this is not the original and much more interesting sound collage Pete posted on his website in the mid 1990s but a short 'prequel' he wrote to extend the work sometime later. It's nowhere near as inspired, but then Pete was further away from what caused him to create the piece anyway - a nightmare in which he remembered multiple nightmares all at once. Here Pete doesn't sound wired, just tired.

81. Collings (2000) - Scoop 3
The second Townshend 'song' to be named after the make of guitar he was using to compose it (see 'Sheraton Gibson' on 'Who I Am' in 1972), 'Collings' returns to the Bert Jansch school of guitar playing for a finger-flying warm-up exercise that's pretty but not particularly memorable.
82. Brrr (unknown) - Scoop 1
Stapled onto the timeless 'So Sad About Us', 'Brrr' is a dated,  noisy two minute instrumental that sounds as if dates from much later (details are sketchy but I'm guessing the early 1980s,probably pretty close to 'Scoop One's release date in 1983) and really doesn't go with 'Sad' at all. Like many instrumentals it's crying out for words.

83. Cookin' (Unknown) - Scoop 1
Pete can't remember when he wrote or recorded the sly good humoured 'Cookin' but I'm willing to bet it was the early 1970s (this song just feels like 'I Don't Even Know Myself' 'Water' Naked Eye' and 'Now I'm A Farmer' from that abandoned EP of the period). It's hilarious: Pete spends three verses getting increasingly OTT as he promises to do certain things in return for his girlfriend's cooking (''cut my hair...and even work!') The last verse has him joke though that he's lying through his teeth in order to spare her feelings and that 'I didn't know I was such a liar till I wrote this song!' Suddenly the chorus 'I didn't know how much I loved you till I tastes your cooking' takes on a new meaning: staying together when your partner poisons you every night is true love! Great fun and one of the better songs here.
84. Gone Fishin' (Unknown) - Scoop 1
I'm guessing 'Rough Mix' period (1977) for this sweet low-key ballad which also has shades of the 'Tommy' film re-recording. Pete's 'throwing stones into the river' and meditating over the ripples, enjoying his day out in the country but worrying about what direction to take in his life when he gets home. That's all for later though - for now he's got a thermosflask and is up for catching fish, which he admits he's 'surely missed' because his mind's not on the task. Though this song has a touch of the magic of pretty much all 1970s Who recordings, this song isn't quite as developed as some and was probably right to be left behind - it's hard to imagine Roger staying quiet enough to sing this peaceful song as well!
85. Initial Machine Experiments (Unknown) - Scoop 1
Another undated song that sounds as if it belongs with the 1981 run of similarly noisy instrumentals. This 'experiment' is equally as unlistenable and unnecessary and doesn't add much at all to be honest.
86. Vicious Interlude (Unknown) - Scoop 2

Finally, this 'vicious' interlude is indeed vicious, as scary Daddy Townshend interrupts writing his latest magnum opus (which sounds like a flamenco version of 'Pinball Wiuzard') to tell his eldest daughter Emma off. What has she done? Nothing - yet - but 'you have a mischievous look in your eye...and if you've done something to that wall I'll smack you!' A curious fragment to release for posterity - and an equally curious end to this list! 

A complete collection of Who reviews:

'The Who Sing My Generation' (1965)

'Sell Out' (1967)

‘Tommy’ (1969)

'Live At Leeds' (1970)

'Lifehouse' (As It Might Have Been) (1971)

'Who's Next' ('Lifehouse' As It Became) (1971)

'Quadrophenia' (1973)

'The Who By Numbers' (1975)

'Who Are You' (1978)

'Face Dances' (1979)

'Empty Glass' (Townshend solo 1980)

'It's Hard' (1982)

Surviving Who TV Clips 1965-2015

Non-Album Recordings Part One 1964-1967

Non-Album Recordings Part Two 1968-2014

Pete Townshend “Scoop” 1-3

The Best Unreleased Who Recordings

Live/Solo/Rarities/Competition Albums Part One 1965-1972

Live/Solo/Rarities/Competition Albums Part Two 1972-1975

Live/Solo/Rarities/Compilation Albums Part Three 1976-1982

Live/Solo/Rarities/Compilation Albums Part Four 1983-1990

Live/Solo/Rarities/Compilation Albums Part Five 1991-2000

Essay: Who Are You And Who Am I?:


  1. Great write-up! The chronological overview is especially helpful for these sprawling album. A few notes:
    "Brrr" was re-recorded during the Rough Mix sessions, and released as a bonus track 30 years later as "Good Question", so it likely dates from about 1975 or so.
    He says "Cookin'" was an "early experiment" on pedal steel, which he'd learned around the Lifehouse era, so I put that at around 1970.
    "Goin' Fishin'" was recorded on Revoxes, in a house where he could put drums in a bathroom, and inspired by the Beach Boys' Smiley Smile, so that's likely 1969 or so.

    1. Those are very helpful comments, thanks Wardo! I wonder if they will ever re-issue the Scoop serie sin the 'proper' order one day? It kinda makes more sense heard like that I think. Thanks for taking the time to post! 8>)