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Monday, 9 October 2017
The Who: Live/Solo/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part Two 1973-1975
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!
(Track Records/MCA, April 1973)
One Man Band/The Way Of The World/You
Are Yourself/Thinking/You and Me/It's A Hard Life//Giving It All Away/The Story
So Far/When The Music Stops/Reasons/One Man Band (Reprise)
smile is a shadow, your eyes tell it all, but I suppose that's the way of the
first solo album was something of a shock to fans. To date we'd only ever heard
him as a rock singer, not the classical balladeer he was here, with perhaps the
sole exception being Roger's testing-the-waters B-side 'Here For More', the one
Who recording that sounds anything at all like his early solo career. It's all
part of Roger's re-grooming of himself in the wake of 'Tommy' as a household
name, free to be whatever he wants - including a pin-up young girls could swoon
to without worrying about his backing band. To be fair to him, Roger also made
it clear that he didn't feel right trying to sing rock and roll without his
colleagues there behind him so rather than make a weak-kneed Who record it made
more sense to go in completely the opposite direction. Where this album rises
or falls, depending on your opinion, is whether you're the sort of Who fan that
thinks that covering songs by a then-unknown Leo Sayer and singing in a soppy
voice represents a betrayal of all The Who's original ideas or whether you're
the sort of Who fan that thinks Roger has a very pretty voice. Even after years
of knowing this record I'm still not sure what I think - it's as if Roger made
up for recording the one type of album he knew would piss off Who fans the most
but compensated by making it really really good and making it with care. It's
no substitute for The Who and Roger would probabkly never have got a solo contract
singing songs like this without his reputation - but then, unlike what Rod
Stewart was up to outside The Faces, this was never meant to be a solo career
as such but more a chance to stretch the Who palette and keep fans interested
in the increasingly long gap between albums (managers Kit and Chris, worried
about just that, actively tried to sabotage this album's release, further
damaging their reputation with the group, but it sold well anyway - mainly to
teenage fans with a crush on Roger after seeing him in concert). Measured on
those terms it's a success, even if it won't please every Who collector out
some of the solo albums to come, Roger sticks to the orchestral ballad singing
all the way through and the chance to sing softer and with more control shows
once and for all what a great singer he is. Even when the song isn't much cop,
Roger's vocals manage to tease out enough emotion and warmth to make then sound
good, whereas the songs when Leo Sayer is on form sound spectacular. Leo was a vague
pal of Rogers who contacted him about asking for some studio time - Roger
replied that he would in return for a song for his album; Leo returned with
eight (including two never recorded for this album). What this album doesn't
have compared to later LPs is variety and if you hate one song on this album,
chances are you're going to hate them all. The great thing about this album is
that despite being the antithesis of everything The Who once stood for it's not
without bite or power on occasion. Though Leo Sayer has come to be associated
with everything slightly flat, wet and drippy about mid-1970s
singer-songwriters there is real drama behind some of these songs. Roger's
always proved he can handle emotion well and while Leo's songs are less subtle
than Pete's he offers plenty of emotion for the singer to draw on. Theirs is a
surprisingly strong partnership across the album, with Roger gentle enough to
echo leo's voice while giving added danger on occasion, while outside the band
that made his name Roger never found a better or more suitable songwriter than
here. 'Daltrey' isn't perfect, but with its dreamy mock-Edwardian cover, dreamy
mock-Edwardian strings and mock-Edwardian politeness, 'Daltrey' succeeds by
offering a side of Roger he could never reveal as part of The Who and appealing
to a whole new audience and for those who find Daltrey pretty dreamy anyway
this became many fans' favourite LP for several genuine reasons.
'One Man Band' is a fun opener, with the title referring to Daltrey stepping
out on his own. An unusual song for Leo Sayer it's the tale of a busker always
being moved on and ignored and asking for love and attention, yet still content
to play his songs whether anyone listens or not. Roger is perfectly cast as a
slightly sorry-for-himself yet still proud narrator. Leo's later re-recording
of this song became a big hit for him, though Roger sings it better.
Faith's 'Way Of The World'
features a slightly harder-edged vocal that doesn't quite suit the slowest and
least beautiful track here but the lyrics are strong, recalling Pete's more
self-doubting songs from 'Who By Numbers' as the narrator comes to the
realisation that he should stop being a loner and reach out for help from
another, 'unable to do it alone'. Russ Ballard turns in a fine languid guitar
solo, about as far away from Pete's manic style as it's possible to be but
still performed with emotion.
'You Are Yourself' is one of Leo Sayer's best songs on the album, with an opening
piano lick just like the opening to 'Gettin' In Tune' (a brand new song when
this album was being made so it wouldn't have been lost on Roger). The narrator
of this song comes to the conclusion that he doesn't know his partner despite
their years together but he doesn't mind - he loves her for who she is and
likes to imagine that she's a 'queen' anyway.
is a cute and catchy sort of song too, another Leo-David Courtney collaboration
that's folkier than most of the album though with a pedal-steel part closer to
country. Roger's been thinking about his girl with a dreamy look in his eyes
and wishing they could 'get back to before' when they were first dating and
Faith is back for 'You and Me',
a much prettier song which features Roger singing in a whisper over how he and
his girlfriend have changed during the time they've spent together and he now
feels 'complete'. Sadly this pretty ballad doesn't really go anywhere and the
treacly string solo in the middle really annoys, but the tune and message are
sweet and Roger sounds great singing - during the times when he's actually
allowed to sing anyway.
'It's A Hard Life' is the closest thing to a rock song here with some very exotic
and ear-catching instrumentation (the strings play like bagpipes here!) Roger
sounds great at full roar on a 'How Many Friends?' style song about 'wasting
your days' on other people who never repay your kindness. Roger sounds bitter
and depressed but still hopes for better days.
'Giving It All Away'
was sensibly chosen as the album single as it's arguably the best thing here.
The song starts as a slow and romantic ballad about being in love and switches
to a hard and punchy chorus as Roger reflects on where a relationship went all
wrong. He tried too hard and gave too much of 'it' away to his baby too quick (did
Pete hear this song when writing 'Rough Mix'?!), reflecting that he's learnt
from it and will do better next time. Memorable and grown-up, with a vocal that
ranges from loved-up to guilty to regretful and hopeful again, this is amongst
the best things Roger ever sang without a Townshend or Entwistle credit
'The Story So Far' is a 'She Loves You' style song that tries to offer advice to a
friend. Roger tells a girl to give up on her relationship without a friend
because she clearly doesn't love him and she'll hurt him - the unspoken message
being that he quite fancies her himself and would love her far more. There's a
hint of the Roger of old as he gets angry at her refusal in the last verse and
screams 'go back to those lonely streets!'
'When The Music Stops' is one of the lesser songs, simply because it's so dramatic and
false (which just makes Roger sound drunk). A shame because the sentiments fit
nicely into the Who tradition of putting songwriting metaphors in song. Roger
knows that his dance with a girl is coming to an end and asks for them both to
be free. With only strings to accompany his voice, though, this stop-start
ballad is more irritating than moving.
Roger feeling betrayed but still willing to forgive his lover for finding
another and finding reasons still to be with her. Which must have been quite a
laugh for his new wife Heather as the reality was very much the way around!
(She agreed to an 'open marriage' where Roger could be with groupies as long as
he still came home to her at the end of every tour; it's a pact that worked for
them as a couple as they recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary).
album then ends with an eighty second burst of 'One Man Band (Reprise)'sounding very much the way
it did last time we heard it.
then, 'Daltrey' isn't everything it could be - the Leo Sayer songs sound a bit
the same and Roger doesn't quite get the range of material he needs to show off
his voice. However as an exercise in proving that he could have an identity
outside The Who and taking the chance on an unknown songwriter he felt had
talent, 'Daltrey' is a big success. Though the album didn't quite sell as well
as recent Who releases (even 'Quadrophenia')
a #6 UK chart peak was nothing to be sneezed at and will remain the best any of
The Who manage with a solo release until Roger's own 'McVicar' soundtrack in
1980. A taught, emotional, melodic album it makes up for in ideas and lyrics
what it lacks in power or might but is something of an acquired taste. If
you're new to Roger's solo work I'd check out a compilation first to see if you
like it or look out for the 'Giving It All Away' single which, although the
very first, remains the best Daltrey solo release all these years on.
Entwistle "Rigor Mortis Sets In"
(Track Records, November 1973)
Gimme That Rock 'n' Roll/Mr Bassman/Do
The Dangle/Hound Dog/Made In Japan//My Wife/Roller Skate Kate/Peg Leg
Peggy/Lucille/Big Black Cadillac
CD Bonus Tracks: BP Jingle x 2/Made In
Japan (Early Take)/Peg Leg Peggy (Early Take)
give me no boogie woogie, I don't like big bands that swing, all I want to hear
is rock and roll - I kind of learned that thing"
third album is much like his first two, only a tad noisier. What with the
typically dark-humoured title and the coffin on the front cover, you could
argue that John all but invents heavy metal here as he comes off sounding more
and more like Black Sabbath, albeit one that grew up on rockabilly. This messy,
raggedy, rocky set is certainly a complete contrast to the carefully thought
out and erudite 'Quadrophenia' being recorded around the same time and this set
is especially weird when it gets to the sexual innuendo humour more common to
Roger's albums than John's usual work ('My Wife' - here in re-recorded form too
- has clearly gone to The Ox's head). However, treat this album as a snack
rather than a weighty piece of work and it makes more sense, with John sending
up the rockstar lifestyle the way he will on 'Success Story' with some digs at
what a ridiculous way it is to make a living and with lots of oldies treated as
daft fun (the comedy 'Mr Bassman' is such an obvious choice for a cover you almost
with John hadn't done it!) However it's two originals in the Showaddywaddy mode
that impress the most, with 'Roller Skate Kate' a love song on skates that ends
in an awful crash and 'Peg Leg Peggy' a screamed tribute to a pirate's bride.
John has, title aside, never sounded more alive or as if he's having as much
fun as on this album - whether you have fun as well really depends on how dark
your humour is and how badly you want this album to resemble The Who's normal
work. The album's tribute ('In loving memory of rock and roll, 1950 - , it
never really passed away, just ran out of time!') is either hilariously spot-on
or will have you nodding in agreement after hearing this slightly clumsy
record. The backing band this time includes a few AAA friends - George
Harrison's friend Tony Ashton (of 'The Remo Four' and the 'Wonderwall'
soundtrack album), Howie Casey (soon to be chief sax player in Wings' horn
section) and drummer Graham Deakin (who backed Moody Blues spin-off The Blue
Jays in 1977). Legend has it this album was cheap to make too at $10,000 - with
allegedly $4000 of that paying for the alcohol!
'Gimme That Rock and Roll!' is the messiest song on a messy album, a boozy tribute to the
power of rock and roll that sounds as if it took five minutes to write and less
to record. The band are going for a Jerry Lee Lewis-meets-Little Richard vibe,
but it just comes off as an Elton John B-side.
Cymbal's hilarious 'Mr
Bassman' is given a postmodern reading here, even though strictly
speaking it's about a bass singer not player. John grooves along anyway, adding
a sort of camp theatricality quite different to his normal style. In the end,
though, this comedy song just isn't funny enough.
'Do The Dangle' is pure Entwistle despite more 1950s stylings. John has invented
a new dance which you do while you're trying to hang yourself, with every
innuendo milked for all it's worth too. This is what you might call an
'acquired taste' and probably won't be played down the Samaritans hotline
features a great gritty lead (that out-Elvises Elvis for my money, not that I'm
a fan) and some great sax from Howie Casey but still falls a little bit flat -
more a Chihuahua than a hound dog.
'Made In Japan' is probably the best song here, a bit more substantial than most
of the jokes elsewhere. Consumer John is trying to look for quality and keeps
finding the label 'Made In Japan' everywhere on things he knows are going to
fall apart the next day. Though the song borders on racist ('Made In England'
isn't a phrase that inspires confidence either), John manages to skirt that
problem by taking a wider look at how we should be moving together globally as
one - or something like that. I was too busy trying to decipher the lyrics thanks to the ragged vocal and over the loud
guitars to be honest.
is clearly the best song here by a country mile and John's slower, groovier
version might not be up to the 'Who's Next' version but it still packs a
whallop and features a better, strangely sober vocal this time around.
'Roller Skate Kate' is a hilarious 1950s pastiche that takes in the three biggest
themes of the era: love, crashes and rollerskates. Poor Kate dies in a 'Leader
Of The Pack' style crash after being the narrator's true love (don't get too
sympathetic - she was going down the fast lane on the motorway!) and, impassioned, he burns his skates and vows
never to use them again. After 'Boris' and 'My Wife' probably John's funniest
'Peg Leg Peggy' starts with lots of out of control laughing as John tries to
'ooa-ar' laugh his way through the song's piano chords and gets hysterical. The
song itself is a good one though, a fast driving riff-heavy track that's
perhaps the most Who-like of this bunch. Peggy might only have one leg but
she's a great dancer - even when she 'sounds like a sewing machine she really
knows how to hop!'
Richard cover 'Lucille'
is rather brainless and pointless, slowed down to the point where the song has
lost all excitement and menace, though John's layered harmonies are actually
quite impressive (it's probably the similarly slow Everly Brothers arrangement
he had in mind).
album closes with that other 1950s favourite, the motor-car. 'Big Black Cadillac' also
deals with the idea of stars, as the narrator tries to hide from a gangster and
pretend that he hasn't seen a thing. John's take on needless bureaucracy and
the resulting humility has its moments, but the wild backing track doesn't
really come together and this song isn't as clever or detailed as some.
CD includes a number of even more sozzled bonus tracks: 'BP Jingle' is a 'Who
Sell Out' style advert for the petrol company that's performed like 'Jaguar' on
amphetamines (how did these two get together?!), an early go at 'Made In Japan'
is more in the style of the earlier albums and is much better without all the
surface noise and an equally early 'Peg Leg Peggy' is more focussed and less
then, 'Rigor Mortis Sets In' is having too much fun partying to offer the dark
complex thoughts about death and passing that many fans might have been
expecting. In many ways it's an album made in awfully bad taste, with silly
songs about suicide and offensive songs about disabilities and foreigners but
it's all done with affection too. If you're the sort of fan who thought 'My
Wife' was misogynistic rather than comedy gold then maybe this album is not for
you - but if you take this album in the spirit it was intended and treat it as
a boozy version of 'The Beach Boys Party' rather than a more arty 'Pet Sounds'
then you should find much to enjoy, even while you feel guilty for laughing.
Moon "Life With The Moons"
(Radio Broadcast 1973, partly available
on 'Thirty Years Of Maximum R and B' box set 1994)
Life With The Moons/University Clhallenged/Poetry
Cornered/Life With The Moons #2
Keith Moon, African road singer, going mixed infants, reading a comic upside
down and a script very badly!"
time off from being 'probably the best Keith Moon type drummer in the world'
wasn't in the end a good idea for The Who's powerhouse. Pete's need to work on
his concepts meant long stretches of time in the 1970s when The Who weren't
doing anything and whilst Roger and John could involve themselves with solo
albums, all the largely non-singing drummer had to keep him occupied was boozy
parties, nights out on the town and shocking the people in his neighbourhood by
dressing up as nuns and/or Hitler. In time The Who will learn how
self-destructive gaps will be for Keith and cater them accordingly, with acting
roles or 'The Other Side Of The Moon'
The first idea, though, was arguably the best and certainly the most Keith way
of keeping out of trouble: a radio sketch show where the drummer played what
would normally be described as a 'larger than life' version of himself, had
Keith's character not already been too large to get away with on public
primetime radio. It's like the Monty Python team being directed by Kenny
Everett via Keith's mate Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, only even
more weird than that.
meeting of the BBC and the Who's self-destructing drummer seems an unlikely one
but came about when producer John Walters was looking for a temporary
replacement for DJ John Peel, who'd booked a holiday from the long-running pop
programme 'Top Gear'. Figuring that a 'name' guest would be good for publicity,
he approached a few names in the music business and quickly found a sympathetic
ally in Moon who was, back in 1973, sober enough to get the job done but wild
enough to make it fun. Fans have long assumed that Keith improvised everything
as the material reflects so much of the drummer's free-wheeling style, but
actually Walters wrote a good 90% of the material as a script and then
encouraged Moon to make it sound as natural as possible (the producer repeated
much of the show on his own 'Walter's Weekly' spun-off series in 1981). And
largely speaking it does: Keith is a natural for the radio, with the twinkle in
his gruff voice still very much alive at this point in time and allowing him to
get away with good-natured snubs of all sorts of rock-star posing and the conformity
of period British radio. One wonders if Pete and John paid closer attention to
these sketches than we thought, given how closely parts of 'The Who By Numbers'
album of 1975 matches this radio show's disillusionment with fame and sarcastic
sideswipes at rockstar Gods.
it's likely more sketches were recorded (details are sketchy but it seems
likely Keith recorded enough sketches to pad out programmes between
Monday-Friday of a single week) so far four have been released into the public
domain on the 'Maximum R and B' box set of 1993 (where they sound mighty odd
interrupted by the music, but never mind), with at least one more widely
available on bootleg. For a time in the late 1970s there was talk about
recording a few more and releasing a full album, but Keith's death sadly put
paid to that. Taking these in order, 'Life With The Moon's is a parody of 'Life
With The Lyons', a long-running soap opera of everyday simple folk living in
America that ran between 1950 and 1961 and had already been spoofed by John 'n'
Yoko on their second avant garde album 'Life With The Lions' in 1969. Keith
plays a simple everyday rockstar returning home from the road to a sneezing
wife and joshing about a recent open-air festival where it rained all bloody
day. Praising the organisation, Keith tells his long-suffering and
long-sneezing wife 'pity the artist's wife's tent blew in the storm though
wasn't it?!' and laughing at Viv Stanshall's map-reading abilities. Keith then
spoofs Pete by claiming to have an idea for a rock opera based on 'Pilgrim's
Progress', misquoting it as a work by Geoffrey Chaucer (it's by John Bunyan)
and quipping 'Daltrey can help me with the hard bits!' Second and less funny is
'University Challenged', which is a parody of long-running fiendish UK TV quiz
'University Challenge' (where funnily enough they had a question about The Who
on the other day) and features Keith introducing himself as three different
characters with funny voices (Reg Blakensop, Amsel Nipples and Vince
McRaincoat) before appearing briefly as himself. This is 'Poetry Cornered' - ie
'Poetry Corner' - which has an earnest Keith telling his beloved his love is
like a dove' and will she be his, umm, 'vole' (he's really not very good at
this rhyming lark!) Finally, it's part two of 'Life With The Moons' with - in
the best gag of the series - special guest 'Fiddle Castrol' playing a
'revolutionary violinist!' This time Keith's wife has got the burps not the
sneezes and Keith is relaxing at home so wants to take his coat off - cue nineteen
full seconds of clinking bottles!
fifth skit heard on bootleg has Keith in charge of a cooking show 'to find a
snack that's both cheap and nourishing' and talks about how food has now been
proved to have feelings. Keith predicts that 'by the end of the century we
could well see a turnip running for president' (he was spot on with the younger
George Bush!) The probable reason this sketch isn't on the official box set
with the others and hasn't been heard since 1981 is because Keith insists on 'cooking
pussy' that 'tastes like chicken with a bit of fish' - he means a cat,
obviously, *ahem*, of course he does. Either that or his next idea about
'cooking Granny, which will help bridge the generation gap'. Hope I die before
I get eaten...An intriguing extra-curricular glimpse at Who humour, you don't
really need to own these sketches (and you will undoubtedly get sick of them
interrupting the flow of the fourth disc of the 'Maximum R and B' set) and like
Keith himself they're an acquired taste, but in the right mood this book's
comedy interlude is as funny as they come and Keith really should have been
encouraged to do more.
(Track Records, October 1974)
Postcard/Now I'm A Farmer/Put The Money
Down!/Little Billy/Too Much Of Anything/Glow Girl//Pure and Easy/Faith In
Something Bigger/I'm The Face/Naked Eye/Long Live Rock!
CD Re-Issue: I'm The Face/Leaving
Here/Baby Don't You Do It/Summertime Blues (Studio Take)/Under My Thumb/Mary
Anne With The Shaky Hand (Alternate Take)/My Way/Faith In Something Bigger/Glow
Girl/Little Billy/Young Man Blues (Studio Version)/Cousin Kevin Model
Child/Love Ain't For Keeping (Alternate Version)/Time Is Passing/Pure and
Easy/Too Much Of Anything/Long Live Rock/Put The Money Down/We Close
Tonight/Postcard/Now I'm A Farmer/Water/Naked Eye
goin' to my brain and easin' all my pain, I must hear the sound again!"
many of these AAA books have complained that our other 1960s stars were worked
to death by their management and record companies, that they had tight
deadlines with two albums a year plus singles (six in The Beach Boys' case!)
and that their work suffered unduly through the constant grind of having to
come up with something (anything!) for release. The Who had the opposite
problem: Townshend was such a prolific writer from 1965 onwards that the band
had way too much quality material than one album and a couple of singles a year
(going down to an album every other year from 1968-69 onwards) that inevitably
some really great things ended up on the cutting room floor. In 1974 The Who
had scattered in multiple directions, with - as Pete memorably put it in the
'Odds and Sods' sleevenotes - Roger busy filming Tommy, Pete 'ensconced in the
studio, fast asleep but pretending to work' and Keith was 'dressed in a dirty
raincoat drinking Guinness with a raw egg and flashing at passers-by'. John,
though was twiddling his thumbs, having already released numerous solo albums
to fill the time and badly needing something to occupy him. With even Track
Records beginning to ask nervously for some new product in the wake of
'Quadrophenia', Entwistle as the band's chief archivist offered to go through
all the tapes piling up in The Who's home studio and cobble up a filler LP. The
fact that John got to release one of his favourite songs into the bargain (1973
outtake 'Postcard', also released as the album's tie-in single in 1974) may
well have had something to do with this too. Roger, approached about the idea
on set, said 'Oos going to want to buy a collection of odds and sods then?',
giving the compilation it's perfect name into the bargain. Even the cover,
front and back, is worthy with an outtake from the 'Meaty, Beaty, Big and
Bouncy' of a group of young kids who really do look like The Who (but aren't -
Keith, of course, didn't know the others until he was nineteen) and the front
features the band looking surly in American Football crash helmets for a jokey
US photo-shoot that's both serious enough to do the set justice and gimmicky
enough to laugh at the idea of making money for old rope (note though that Pete
and Roger are both wearing each other's helmet, with the 'names' written on top
of the 'ROCK' letters - the costumer discovered to their horror that she'd
written the pair's head sized down wrong and got them muddled up!)
result is one of those outtakes sets which, along with The Hollies' 'Rarities'
and The Beach Boys' 'Endless Harmony', is far better than it has any right to
be. The Who were on such top form between 1964 (with The High Numbers' B-side
'I'm The Face' the earliest song here) and 1973 (when an entire EP of songs got
'cancelled' for not being strong enough) that this set is a dazzling array of
extras, all expertly chosen by Entwistle who really did seem to choose the pick
of what we now know, multiple deluxe CD re-issues later, was a large pile of
outtakes (only a few of the 'Who Sell Out' songs are conspicuous by their
absence). After a five year period when everything The Who released was related
to a concept somewhere, this was also a relief to many fans who simply thought
of The Who as a great songs band. And even those who loved the 'concept' Who
got to hear thrilling versions of three key 'Lifehouse' songs and 'Long Live
Rock!', an early prototype for 'Quadrophenia'.
are several highlights on the original LP as good as anything in The Who's
arsenal: 'Now I'm A Farmer' is the silly side of The Who and they've rarely
been funnier ('it's alarming how charming it is to be a-farming!'); 'Too Much
Of Anything' is a pretty warning over the dangers of excess that really
deserved a place on 'Who's Next'; 'Glow Girl's is the single best psychedelic
song The Who ever made and it was a tragedy that this song was lost from 'Who
Sell Out' combining as it does a plane crash, reincarnation and the future
'It's A Boy' theme from 'Tommy'; 'Pure and Easy' may well be the greatest
'Lifehouse' song of them all, a poetic take on the search for the 'lost chord'
designed to join humanity together that works equally well outside the plot as
it does within; 'Faith In Something Bigger' is a key and overlooked early
spiritual Townshend song that struggles to deal with all he's learnt from the
Meher Baba school of thought; 'I'm The Face' is a worthy career opener (even if
it should have been an album opener) full of Mod intent; 'Naked Eye' is an
early 1970s concert favourite about betrayal and naked intent that ends in a
whirling dervish of glorious noise and destruction and 'Long Live Rock' is a
worthy celebration of everything The Who and rock and roll were all about. All
these tracks are not just worthy of release but amongst the best things the
band ever did.
only negative point to make about the original album was that it was so short,
given how many glorious outtakes there still were in The Who's canon ripe for
picking. Thankfully the CD re-issue of 'Odds and Sods' released in 1999 makes
up for that, adding a further nine songs to the original twelve and
restructuring the album so that everything was presented (at last!) in glorious
chronological order. While some of these extras are just rare rather than
brilliant (the Stones cover of 'Under My Thumb' still sounds terrible, even in
a new mix!), there are any number of classics to pick from here as well: another
ridiculously early recording in a barnstorming cover of 'Leaving Here', John's
first playful take on 'Cousin Kevin', an equally glorious and thoughtful
'Lifehouse' outtake in 'Time Is Passing' and the fantastic Entwistle
'Quadrophenia' outtake 'We Close Tonight', which really nails Jimmy the Mod's
desperation to fit in and appeal to girls while revealing the detail that he
has a rather natty collection of jazz records at home. All are brilliant and
make you wonder why 'Odds and Sods' wasn't a double-disc collection from the
highlight of the CD version, though, is surely the earlier discarded take of
'Love Ain't For Keeping'. This electrified versions is different in every
conceivable way: Pete sings not Roger (who probably isn't even here), there's a
guest guitarist in Leslie West who plays the Mick Taylor-ish runs while Pete
thrashes wildly on rhythm and the song doubles in length thanks to a manic
false ending that just keeps on coming. The biggest difference is in mood
though: the acoustic version we've all known and loved is one of the sweetest
songs The Who ever performed, full of contentment and blessings as the narrator
relishes having found the love of his life. The manic electric version is much
more Who-like, being more about the pursuit than the goal itself and the
narrator sounds desperate to have the life he could only dream of, with the two
guitarists chasing each other on a glorious four minute suite of flying chords
and jaw-dropping runs. West plays out of his skin as he keeps reaching for one
more solo while everyone else valiantly keeps up on an ending they clearly haven't
worked out yet, while Pete's vocal is one of his best and full of such passion
and longing. 'Who's Next' is the sound of an older, maturer, quieter Who by and
large and 'Keeping' was singled out as the most representative track for many,
but this stunning version proves that even in 1971 the band could have sounded
like the old Who and they'd still have made a colossal impact. The band's best
outtake? In fact anyone's best outtake? Superb stuff.
then, 'Odds and Sods' is still worthy of your time even after all these years
and though The Who keep re-issuing albums with bonus tracks left, right and
centre the majority of this album is still surprisingly un-plundered. Only
'Glow Girl' (a sensible pick as the finale of the 'Who Sell Out' disc), 'I'm
The Face' (which is also on the 'Quadrophenia' film soundtrack) and 'Pure and Easy' and 'Naked Eye' ( obvious
choices for 'Who's Next') have so far been re-released elsewhere which means
that even if you own all those the CD has another nineteen glorious recordings
to wallow in. And then there's the sleevenotes, rubbishing the group, rubbishing his
songwriting, rubbishing his fanbase for collecting such rubbish – and still he
comes over as proud and justly arrogant. As only Pete Townshend can, alternating between embarrassment and egotistical brilliance
('I'm going to tell you why they were never released in the first place and
what a load of rubbish it is. Joking aside, it's all perfection. Are The Who
capable of anything less?') No in a word. Long live rock indeed - it's rarely
sounded better than here!
Entwistle's Ox "Mad Dog!"
(Track Records, February 1975)
I Fall To Pieces/Cell no 7/You Can Be
So Mean/Lady Killer/Who In The Hell?//Mad Dog/Jungle Bunny/I'm So
CD Bonus Tracks: Mad Dog! (Single
Mix)/Cell no 7 (Single Mix)
voice of doom was a-ringing in my head!"
fourth album in four years meant that he'd already got as far through his
studio solo career as The Who did after 'Who's Next' in 1971. Recorded in the
lengthy gap between 'Quadrophenia' and 'Who By Numbers' it's the point at which
he really begins stretching himself a bit thin, padding out albums with
tired-out blues and rock songs and simple obvious jokes not up to the wit of
old. However there's a case to be made
that John fares better than all but the 'main course' being offered to Who fans
in this busy year of 1975 with an album that's more rocking than Rogers, more
in tune than Keith's and less irritating all round than the Tommy film
soundtrack - even if it lacks the depth and sophistication of 'Who By Numbers'.
It's also an improvement, of sorts, on 'Rigor Mortis Sets In' given that it
features some actual songs this time rather than merely bad pastiches and a bit
of variety amongst the rock and roll (if still not quite enough). More or less
the same band appears on this track as before, with the addition of future Pink
Floyd sax player Dick Parry and Mike Wedgewood the string arranger and
conductor who adds a touch of class to songs that, frankly, often don't deserve
them. The biggest change, though, is the all girl chorus who add some heavenly
vibes to John's vocal hell and the result makes for a very striking if not
always a very musical mixture. What you get from this album really depends on
how much you enjoy Entwistle's bonkers brand of humour (sample topics this
album include paranoia, madness and domestic violence). The less said about the
cover the better too - a close-up of a mad dog about to bite. Things sure have
changed since the pretty Who single 'Dogs'!
'I Fall To Pieces' is one of the stronger songs, an angry snarling rocker about...being
madly and hopelessly in love! The narrator takes umbrage at the fact that he's
no longer in control of his senses and the fact he's now 'dangling like a
puppet on a string' worried about what his significant other might say or do next.
It's true love I tell you!
'Cell no 7'
is perhaps the most important song here. It sounds like a version of
just-released Who track 'Long Live Rock' with new words (John was lucky Pete
didn't sue!) with some generic 'Jailhouse Rock' type lyrics. However all the
details are accurate for an incident in 1974 when - after a night of
particularly busy Moon antics in an American hotel - the whole band were
arrested and charged with breaching the peace. Poor John wasn't aware of
anything going on - he'd gone to bed early with a cold - and was most put out
at being arrested for being asleep! The funny lyric includes such lines as 'The
lead singer of The Who was in cell number two - pacing up and down like a tiger
in a zoo' (Roger wasn't a part of the antics either!) and that John was paired
with Keith in his cell where he 'dribbled on my coat and snored like a goat!'
Hilarious, if a little rowdy and ragged musically.
'You Can Be So Mean' is a parody doo-wop song that sounds like 10cc on which John
reflects on a life long infatuation with a girl who keeps running off with
other boys before divorcing him and keeping John's kids, house and car. John is
at his prettiest here despite his anger and the female chorus and sax make more
sense here than on the rest of the album.
is one of the album's lesser songs, a noisy unfocussed song about a playboy
(Roger?) that's played somewhere between Broadway musical and Mariachi marching
song! It's all a bit shrill for me and lacks John's usual comedy or
'Who In The Hell?' is presumably the listeners' response when they hear this noisy,
messy, pure country tune. I'll throw in a couple of 'What the?'s as well. John,
by this point 31 years of age, angrily turns on his parents for making his
adult life miserable. He's joking. Umm, I think.
itself is one of the album's better songs, with the backing singers doing most
of the work. John's latest narrator, an adulterer, is told to run because his
new girl's husband is out of jail early and running after him with a gun.
Despite the story this song is quite calm by John's standards and strangely
'Jungle Bunny' is an irritatingly bland four minute instrumental that the band
attempt to liven up by rattling some weird percussion over the top and getting
some synthesisers out but 'Sparks' this isn't. Truly pointless.
'I'm So Scared' is a 'My Wife' style song in a Jerry Lee Lewis style about not
being scared of dying but being very afraid of the narrator's missus. It's
clearly not as good or as funny as the similar earlier song, but it does have a
good groove from the mammoth backing band and John is in good voice too.
album ends with the sweet ballad 'Drowning', a pure 50s throwback complete with boo-wop-shoo-dops,
strings and backing vocals as John drifts off to a lazy loved-up sleep. Funnily
enough Pete's song 'Drowned' was a serious take on exactly the same idea - that
love equates to water and that it's easy to 'drown' even though that's what you
secretly desire - like 'Success Story' sending up every moment on 'Who By
Numbers' by undercutting Pete's rockstar dramas, so this song goofily plays
around with the mainframe of 'Quadrophenia'. If taken in the right frame of
mind, it's hilarious - and quite pretty too!
ends 'Mad Dog', a mixed album not up to John's first and second but an improvement
on his last and better than the ones to come it has to be said. To a non-fan
it's a mess: noisy, weird and very much out of its time. However if you're a
fan of John's quirky B-sides you'll find much to love here. It's a shame John
isn't being as confessional and direct with his emotions anymore, however, and
'Mad Dog' is the start of a trend towards pure humour that's going to be the
undoing of many a future LP. Still, there's much to admire here.
The Original Soundtrack"
(Polydor, March 1975)
Disc One: Overture From
Tommy/Prologue(1945)/Captain Walker-It's A Boy/Bernie's Holiday Camp/1951-What
About The Boy?/Amazing Journey/Christmas/Eyesight To The Blind/Acid Queen/Do
You Think It's Alright? #1/Cousin Kevin/Do You Think It's Alright? #2/Fiddle
About/Do You Think It's Alright? #3/Sparks/Extra Extra/Pinball Wizard
Disc Two: Champagne/There's A Doctor/Go
To The Mirror!/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror/I'm Free!/Mother and
Son/Sensation/Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/Welcome/TV Studio/Tommy's Holiday
Camp/We're Not Gonna Take It!/See Me Feel Me (Listening To You)
so absurd to try to describe all the things you've done!"
that Ken Russell's film version of 'Tommy' is a 'bit weird' is a little like
saying The Lord of The Rings films are ' a little too long' (and basically a New Zealand travelogue with
hobbits) or that Braveheart 'got a few facts wrong'. That goes double for the
soundtrack album, which instead of featuring one of the world's best rock and
roll bands with one of the world's best rock and roll singers at his peak
features actor Oliver Reed pretending he can sing and Actress Ann Margret
pretending she can't. Even the instrumental passages are harder to take, with
this album arguably the first to make synthesisers the 'lead' instrument across
an entire work (and thus being responsible for most of the horrors of the 1970s
and 1980s to come). The soundtrack album has, much like the film, divided fans
ever since: it's nice to hear 'Tommy' being performed with a bigger budget
(there really is very little shade or colour on The Who's studio original)and
some of the guest stars are worthy (Tina Turner sounds more like 'The Acid
Queen' than Pete Townshend anyday, while Elton John is as good as he gets as
'The Pinball Wizard'), but to get to those moments you have to sit through an
awful lot of 'dear God, no!' moments whether it's a synthesised version of the
'Overture' (which sounds as if Tommy's being played on one of those pipe organs
that turn up at motorway service stations every so often), an Eric Clapton
funk-blues take on 'Eyesight To The Blind' or Oliver Reed getting increasingly
drunker and more out-of-tune every-time he asks 'Do You Think It's Alright?'
Thank goodness for Roger Daltrey, who rescues this album almost single-handedly
in the second half when Tommy 'wakes up' and the best songs here are all
stacked towards the end: a fierce 'I'm Free', a playful 'Welcome' and a surging
'We're Not Gonna Take It!' By contrast even Pete gets things wrong on his only
cameos, a nervous 'It's A Boy' and an overblown 'Sally Simpson', though at
least Keith has fun being the most outrageous of the many 'Uncle Ernie's out
there, complete with hysterical hyperventilating. The Who play on most of the
album, but you wouldn't know it given the dominance of Pete's synthesiser, with
the exception of Keith who only plays on part of it. His future successor
Kenney Jones plays instead while Keith Moon was busy filming or doing whatever
on earth it was Keith was doing in 1975 and sounds pretty good with The Who
providing a more, umm, 'controlled' sound than normal for this period, with
Ronnie Wood sometimes providing rhythm guitar. Pete's younger brother Simon
Townshend also makes his first appearance on a Who recording singing the 'Extra
Extra!' theme - he'll go on to be a part of the touring band in every
incarnation of The Who from 1989 to date. Pete also wrote three new 'songs' to
make the plot clearer, although of these
only 'Champagne' comes close to working as a proper track in its own
right (see below). Though far better than the hideously overblown orchestral
recording (at least some people here sing well some of the time), the film
soundtrack is something of a disappointment and not up to the studio original
or, better yet, the 1969-1971 period live performance of the work.
Non-Album Recordings Part #11: 1975
like a missing section from 'Quadrophenia' than 'Tommy', the first of the two
'new' songs written for Ken Russell's film soundtrack is  'Champagne' sung by Ann-Margret (as Tommy's mother).
This song takes place at the part of the film where Tommy is still 'asleep' but
has now become a millionaire, with people rushing the world over to see him
play football. Added to the film primarily to give Ann-Margret something to do
(both she and Oliver Reed's 'dad' rather disappear from the storyline after the
middle), this is an odd song in that it makes the one vaguely sympathetic
character in Tommy's life (his mother at least cares for his welfare, even if she's
hopeless at providing it and trusts all the wrong people) into something of a
monster. She's adoring this new lifestyle her son has - apparently unknowingly - brought her and is
becoming increasingly distanced from her roots and, it's hinted, slightly unhinged
(this is the sequence in the film where first champagne and then chocolate
pours from her TV set by the gallon; poor Ann-Margret cut her hand quite badly
in this scene when the TV set smashed 'early' and had to be rushed to hospital,
still in her chocolate-stained dress much to the shock of the hospital
receptionist and doctors; like a trooper she returned the next day to set to
finish the scene despite the very real chance she might get cut again). Until
Roger finally wakes up, Ann-Margret is by far the most accomplished 'singer' in
the film (her 1963 single 'I Just Don't Understand' was even covered by The
Beatles on a 1965 BBC session) and yet Pete tries to give her a very 'ugly'
passage to sing her, making her sing deep and gravelly on two notes a lyric
about deceived people getting their 'just desserts' - was this song originally
written for Oliver Reed? (did Oliver refuse to get drenched in chocolate and
fake champagne?!) Pete cleverly writes in yet another 'See Me, Feel Me' refrain
from Roger, however, hovering over his mother as her 'conscience' leading her
to finally see the error of her ways ('What's it all worth when my son is
blind? He can't hear the music nor enjoy what I'm buying') - well briefly (the
passage then ends 'His life is worthless - affecting mine, I'd do anything to
drive his face from my mind!' Charming - this is Tommy's mother, remember!)
Clearly here to embellish the plot rather than for its musical worth, this is a
funny start to the soundtrack album's second disc (coming in right after
'Pinball Wizard') and doesn't quite work. Find it
on: the 1975 Film Soundtrack version of 'Tommy'
 'Mother and Son' is another
new song written especially for the film soundtrack and once again here to give
Ann-Margret something to do in the movie's second half. Set in the film
immediately after Tommy's recovery ('I'm Free!') it's where the whole plot
moves around: from now on in Tommy's mum and dad will be the passive ones,
their lives changed by their son ('And you, dear mother, must be prepared...'
is an ominous line with which to leave the song). Rather neatly Ann-Margret now
gets to sing 'See Me, Feel Me' as she tries to re-connect with the now grown-up
song she doesn't know. Sadly the rest of the song is more ordinary, full of
clunky plot exposition for anyone who fell asleep at the start of the film
('You're adored and you're loved, thousands watch you play. pinball, it's a
fever and you're master of the game!') Roger clearly relishes the chance to
sing 'heavily' though and sings with great conviction and power - to be a
honest it's a shame he didn't wake up earlier. A nice backing 'fits' in neatly
with the 'Tommy' style, a cross between 'Sparks' and 'We're Not Gonna Take It',
but this is still a song rather clumsily shoe-horned into the song sequence to
help movie-goers make sense of the plot (we music-lovers 'knew' the plot
without such extra details the first time round, of course...) Find it on: the 1975 Film Soundtrack version of 'Tommy'
'TV Studio' is a brief 90 second addition to
the film soundtrack, shared between Tommy's mum and dad in which they plot his
- and their - future. A long list of places really tests Oliver Reed's
drink-sozzled memory, but apart from that not much is happening on this song
which is like a chirpier version of 'Champagne'. Find
it on: the 1975 Film Soundtrack version of 'Tommy'
Moon "Two Sides To The Moon"
(MCA/Polydor, March 1975)
Crazy Like A Fox/Solid Gold/Don't Worry
baby/One Night Stand/The Kids Are Alright//Move Over Ms L/Teenage Idol/Back
Door Sally/In My Life/Together
1997 CD Bonus Tracks: US Radio Spot/I
Don't Suppose/Naked Man/Do Me Good/Real Emotion/Don't Worry Baby (US
Mix)/Teenage Idol (US Mix)/Together Rap
Additional Tracks From 2006 Deluxe
Edition: Lies/Hot Rod Queen/ 6 x Mal Evans Mixes/We Wish You A Merry
Xmas/Together Session Dialogue/Don't Worry Baby (John Sebastian Guide Vocal and
Outtake)/Tracking Sessions for all ten studio songs/My Generation/A Touch Of
The Moon Madness/I'm Not Angry/Solid Gold Fade Ad Libs Composite/OK Mr
Starkey/Ringo and Keith Together...Again!/In My Life (Alternate Take)
think that covers it all" "Covers it? We buried it!"
Keith Moon doesn't really write much -
certainly nothing on this, his one and only solo record. Keith Moon isn't much
of a singer - and this album goes out of its way to prove why the band never
let him sing much on this record. The only thing Keith could really do was play
the drums - and he doesn't do that for the majority of this record, passing
most of the work over to session musician Jim Keltner, as well as one track
with his future Who successor Kenney Jones and a few recordings with his
drinking buddy Ringo Starr (Keith said drumming felt 'too much like work' and
he was on 'holiday' making this album, which explains a lot so he only plays on
the re-make of 'The Kids Are Alright'). So what does 'Two Sides Of The Moon'
have going for it? Well, big production values for one, with Keith taking up
his new mate's template of getting big name stars to mess around in front of big
glossy expensive backing tracks under the 'supervision' of an equally
inebriated Mal Evans, The Beatles' favourite roadie. Good song choices on the
other, as Keith had a real taste in music with tracks borrowed from his heroes
The Beach Boys, his other new drinking buddy John Lennon and even his old band
while the 'new' material written for Keith by some 'new' friends is remarkably
strong. Keith too is a character and this is a 'character's record, getting by
on enthusiasm and wacky good fun what it lacks in precision and beauty. Keith
always thought he was a good singer and that he had a really good solo album in
him to join the work of his Who members; neither are strictly true, but he
gives both ideas a good go all the same - though not always in the most musical
way. For all that, though, most fans sigh with relief when they learn that
Keith didn't make any more records after this one, because one edition of 'Two
Sides Of The Moon' really is enough - perhaps more than enough for most.
Basically, don't take this record seriously (because Keith didn't take anything
seriously, including his career) and treat it as a karaoke album made for fun
instead and you'll enjoy it more. Umm, maybe.
Traditionally fans are said to hate this album,
which is the sort of millionaire rockstar excess punk was out on this earth to
destroy. But if you love Keith (and who didn't? Unless it was your hotel room
he'd just blown up...) then you will love this album, eventually, when you
understand what it was all about. If you hear it in the context of what The Who
were up to in 1975 (depression and dark ballads full of philosophy) then 'Two
Sides' makes a lot more sense. Keith couldn't do sadness - or at least he
could, but it drove him even closer to the edge of madness and depression - so given
a bit of spare time he preferred to kick back and make fun of everything,
including himself. Most of his mates and fellow drinkers were musicians and few
people had a more packed phone book than Keith did, so it was natural to put
them all to work. This album might not be the most musical Who album out there
and no it lacks the real humour and joi de vivre fans were expecting from a
loony Moon LP, but it's an album Keith just had to make being the way he was.
You can learn a lot about Keith from this record with the 'comedy' moments with
Ringo geninely funny - once anyway. It's not just the humour though and Keith's
off-the-wall leeriness that come across (we all knew about that), but also the
passionate emotional heart rarely glimpsed behind the mask he always wore.
'Don't Worry Baby' and 'In My Life' may be sung as if with a sledgehammer but
in Keith's eyes you can tell he's trying to be beautiful and emotional and the
song choices alone (both handpicked by Keith) reveal a more sentimental side to
the drummer than we normally get to see. The country song 'One Night Stand' is
a genuinely sweet song about heartbreak that's sung with as much care as a
non-singing alcoholic could manage and actually quite affecting. The Lennon and
Nilsson covers, though sung for 'fun', show that Keith equally understands the
depth and 'primal scream' of both men's material so he doesn't throw the songs
away with a daft smile either. The result is a lot better than it has any right
to be - even if it's not necessarily of any musical worth either. I'm reliably
informed this album sounds better if you're drunk, which makes sense - so were
most of the people making it. A sober listen just reveals the many many
mistakes in this album and where's the fun in that?
This record was delayed being given a re-issue
for many years - to 'protect Keith's image' allegedly being one of them
(alongside the fact that this album wasn't issued on Track records in Europe
like most Who albums - they baulked at the 'expense' account and the final
recording so The Who's American label MCA released it instead), although
there's nothing on this album fans who loved the drummer didn't realise
already. Thankfully when the album did come out in 1997 it got an impressive
range of bonus material that ran to another seven tracks, although this was
topped again in 2006 when a whopping 41 bonus tracks in total were released.
Many of these are better than anything that made the album: a fierce early
Who-like attack on psychedelic garage classic 'Lies' by one-hit wonders The
Knickerbockers; the gorgeous Nicky Barclay ballad 'I Don't Suppose' 9so much
better than his song that made the album 'Solid Gold') where a nervous wannabe
lover plucks up the courage to ask his girl out which is so pretty even Keith
can't muck it up; the noisy uptempo rocker 'Hot Rod Queen' which is far more
Moon-like than most of the album with its daft Beach Boys-style lyrics; two
fine songs by Otis Redding's guitarist Steve Cropper - the poppy 'Do Me Good'
and the Music Hall style 'Real Emotion'
and best of all the charming Randy Newman song 'Naked Man' where Keith
almost sounds sober! That's alongside less vital but still occasionally
interesting extras like the full Keith-Ringo improvised dialogue released on
the Nilsson song 'Together', some funny promotional radio spots with Ringo
again taking the lead and a rehearsal take of 'My Generation' that's performed
like a drunk punk and great fun - far better, in fact, than the awful things
Keith does to 'The Kids Are Alright'. No you don't need to hear all this or own
it and on purely musical terms I'm not sure you need to own anything connected
with these album sessions at all, but there was only one Keith Moon and only
one Keith Moon solo album, so on those grounds alone it's all cautiously
'Hello everybody and welcome!' bids Keith at
the beginning of the nicely aggressive rock song 'Crazy Like A Fox' by The Spirit's Al Faehly. Keith
stumbles with his lyrics, is drowned out by the backing singers and doesn't
quite understand whether he's the fox or his girl is (it's his girl looking at
the lyrics), but it all sounds impressive and Joe Walsh turns in a great guitar
'Solid Gold' is perhaps a joke too
far: 'It's number one!' declares some gospel backing singers while Ringo and
Keith speak their lines in their best upper class twit accents, so a #1 hit is
clearly ambitious (in fact releasing this recording at all is ambitious!) This
'I'm The Greatest' clone (did we mention how much this was like the 'Ringo'
album?) isn't anywhere near as funny or self-deprecating as it should be and
only really comes alive on the fadeout when Keith starts getting the 'Uncle
Ernie' style breathing problems as he turns into a laughing miser. Writer
Barclay's 'I Don't Suppose', tried at the same sessions, was far more worthy
In 1976 a fragile Brian Wilson was forced
against his will back into the outside world for The Beach Boys 'comeback'
album '15 Big Ones'. He reportedly broke down and cried when he heard what
Keith had done to 'Don't Worry
Baby', one of his favourite of his own songs and the depression killed
off the album sessions for weeks. You can hear why: to untrained ears Keith
sounds as if he's wilfully destroying something heartfelt and poignant with
none of the sense of subtlety the song demands. But what Brian perhaps didn't
know was that Keith was his biggest fan and there just had to be a Beach Boys
song on this album somewhere. The song choice is more apt than it sounds too:
Keith was desperate to have someone in his life who told him not to 'worry' and
that his demons could be blotted out with humour, drink, drugs or funny
costumes. A song about being told he never had to worry is exactly what Keith
most needed to hear - and he means every word he sings, even if they're not
always in the same key.
Stand' is one of the album's
better ideas. Keith was perhaps taking more direction from Ringo than he should
have been in this period and probably heard the drummer discussing his
similarly drunken sessions in Nashville for the under-rated 'Beaucoups Of
Blues' album. Moon stagger-sings in much the same way Ringo did throughout that
record, capturing a rare sense of depression and melancholy along the way
that's quite affecting, while the double-tracking helps ease the rawness of his
was always one of Keith's favourite songs with its tale of teenage brotherhood
and solidarity. As one of The Who's simpler songs, it made sense as a choice to
sing, even if Keith struggles more than he should with the vocal and sounds
even worse than he does on the rest of the record (Pete Townshend didn't quite
weep when he heard this recording, but he admitted later this was the point
when he really became concerned about his friend). His drumming too is pitiful,
like the wonderful original played at slow speed (Pete deliberately wrote
slower songs between 1975 and 1978 so that Keith's abilities wouldn't be shown
up quite so badly, but no one seems to have warned Keith of that here). However
the arrangement is rather lovely, with a grungy guitar adding just enough bite,
while a sea of quite lovely harmonies add the beauty.
John Lennon's 'Move Over Ms L' is in many ways an apt choice for
this album. Written during Lennon's 'lost weekend' of drinking with many of the
people on this album, it's a cry for help masquerading as a song of escapism -
and Keith knew all about that. In many other ways though it's far too personal
- everyone knew who the 'Ms L' was (clue: it's Yoko) and John himself was so
nervous of his former wife's re-action that he 'hid' it as the B-side to one of
his 'Rock and Roll' singles, never putting it on an LP. Lennon's aggressive wit
is what Keith sings here in a Roger Daltrey-like bark, but this song's not
really about free-wheeling fun at all and Keith lacks it's creator's ability to
show off several emotions at once (just check out the line 'You may think
you're full of beans but you lost your mummy's roadmap!' - 'Mother' being a pet-name
for 'Yoko'). A bit of a noisy mess.
Jack Lewis' 'Teenage Idol' is Keith returning to his doo-wop
roots on another revealing song about being lonely and 'needing someone' (Keith
had split up with wife Kim not long before, which must have been awkward for
Kenney Jones - his bandmate in The Small Faces, 'Mac' McLagan, was going out
with her). Keith sounds morose, drunk and terribly upset for one surprise
moment on this laugh-a-minute album.
John Marascalo wrote several popular 1950s
numbers, most of them for Little Richard - however 'Back Door Sally' is one of his more obscure
tracks. Keith struggles to convey the revved up party style this song demands
and to be honest this song only gets going when he shuts up and lets the piano
Against the odds, 'In My Life' ends up being a rather good cover.
Keith sings this one straight - or at least fairly straight - and his fading,
croaky voice actually suits this song of regret and aging. This time it's the
arrangement that palls: we didn't really need all those singers, while the
piano part is a little bit formal and floral all at the same time.
The album ends with Harry Nilsson's 'Together', a comedy song that
was more in the vein that most fans probably expected this album to be like.
Though in Harry's mind this song was all about the togetherness of a
partnership, in Keith's mind it becomes a good opportunity to talk about his
mates with Ringo popping up for some truly awful corny gags in the middle eight
('I don't give my dog meat' 'Why not?' 'He's been dead for two years now!',
though sadly it missed out their spitfire pilot impersonations, which was the
funniest moment on the full unedited song patter included on the 2006 CD
re-issue). The song then ends with a curious cross-fade back to the poignancy
of 'In My Life' for one last line, which is like being expected to be hit by a
knockout gag and told to cry instead. It's almost as if the 'real' Keith was
peeking through his persona at the every end and admitting that if he carried
on the way he was he might not be long for this world; indeed the drummer died
almost three years to the day after this album came out.
Overall, then, there are probably more than
just Two Sides to Keith Moon and we get them all here: the defiant drunk, the
genuinely funny comic, the gentle romanticist and philosopher, the party animal
and the desperate, needy, attention-seeking little boy who refused to grow up.
The song choices on this album alone are a psychiatrist's field day and the end
result is one of confusion: should we laugh or cry? In music terms it's easy to
dismiss 'Two Sides' as the work of a drunk with more time on his hands than he
should ever have been allowed and a lot more money than sense. But somehow,
beneath the laughter, this record sounds deeper than that and is a lot more
poignant and heartfelt than fans were expecting. Keith can't sing and he's
clearly in freefall as far as his abilities went, but to dismiss this record as
a failed comedy karaoke record would be to dismiss Keith as a failed comedy act
and this album is, at its best, a lot more than that. There's a lot more to
this record than meets the eye and it's better than it should be in so many
ways, even if it's booze-sodden edges and continuous party spirit also make it
a poorly judged record in many ways and one that's far more difficult to listen
to than it ever was to make. Well, well, well, I could write about this album
all week, but I have a bed to catch. And far more important albums to write
about. It was good fun though!
Daltrey "Ride A Rock Horse"
(Track Records/MCA, July 1975)
Come And Get Your Love/Heart's
Right/Ocean's Away/Proud/World Over/Near To Surrender/Feeling/Waking The
Dog/Milk Train/I Was Born To Sing Your Song
was born to sing your song and if sometimes the tune sounds wrong I'm going to
change it, re-arrange it all"
Roger's second solo effort
was released three months before 'The Who By Numbers' and shares that record's
sense of tuneful melancholia but without any of the inherent bitterness, anger
or alcoholism. In fact 'Rock Horse' is an oddly sober album considering it was
made by one of rock and roll's biggest hell-raisers and considering that the
front cover features a memorable image of Roger as an indestructible-looking
centaur with a horse's body (it was designed and shot by Roger's cousin Graham
Hughes who also designed Entwistle's first solo album cover - and makes you
wonder what Christmas dressing-up get-togethers were like in the Dakltrey
family household!) And no, this album most definitely doesn't rock - even
compared to 'Daltrey' few songs go above a whisper and even the hardest-edged
songs come over sounding quite inhibited and slow by Who standards. However
this album does 'roll' quite nicely, with some good song choices that bring out
a whole new dynamic range to Roger's voice and the singer sounds mighty good
singing some of these pretty melodies. The range isn't great, but by using so
many different songwriters (the only regular is producer Russ Ballard) 'Rock
Horse' has a more varied sound than the Leo Sayer-dominated 'Daltrey' or the
more self-written future records. This album may well be his best solo work in
fact, with a consistency the other albums don't match, although even here this
album lacks the depth or originality of The Who and Roger comes across as a
good singer singing good material, rather than a rock and roll God of the
highest order as he does on The Who albums. It certainly helped Roger's
reputation as a singer in the period when The Who were on a go-slow and he was
in high demand for films and recordings after 'Tommy' and considering the speed
it was made (Roger was starring in the very different and much more pretentious
'Lizstomania' at the same time this record was recorded) it's pretty good, even
if it doesn't have the theme or vision of, say, 'Quadrophenia'. The record sold
well too considering Roger didn't really spend much time plugging it and the UK
top twenty/US top thirty chart statistics aren't a million miles behind 'Who By
'Come and Get Your Love' is the most Who-like song here, with clear R and B/Motown
influences, a gritty, angry groove and lyrics about obsession. However the
entry of the mass female backing singers and the horns takes us on a very
different journey. It's all a little bit too much like every other song around
at the time - hence perhaps it's chart peak high of only #68 when released as a
single in the States - but Roger gets some emotion to sink his teeth into and
Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson turns in a spirited guitar solo, cleaner
than Pete's usual work.
Songwriter Paul Lora got
his big break working for Elton John in his teens before making a name as an
outside songwriter for the likes of P P Arnold while hanging out with a young
Cat Stevens. However his work for Roger remains perhaps his highest profile
work. 'Hearts Right' is
a mid-paced song about the singer slowly realising he's met the love of his
life and the signs are all there, even though they met as strangers with little
in common. It's a sweet little thoughtful song, although it needs a bit more
passion in the arrangement to really stand out.
The moody 'Oceans Away' is a very
pretty song about being so deeply in love it feels like a 'dream' and being on
auto-pilot all the time Roger isn't with his beloved. The sound of a full-blown
orchestra and the big production job sounds incredibly un-Who like, but Roger
is up to the challenge and is a good fit for another sweet romantic ballad.
Alas 'Proud' is one of the album
lowlights and proof that Roger struggled to get loud without the rest of The
Who backing him. A strange, angular song with a nagging riff hits up against
Roger 'with my long hair and my jeans' proudly showing off his significant
other as they walk down the streets and watching other people's jealous stares.
However this song never really gets going and isn't really one to be 'proud'
Korda's second song 'World Away' is a typical
mid-1970s bouncy breezy pop tune about wondering what the narrator's life might
have been like if he'd been born in a different country and met a different
wife. It's a nice song, but sadly Roger isn't the right singer for it and he
gets pushed into an awkward falsetto that doesn't really suit him.
Ballard's second song 'Near To Surrender' is a
slow-burning piano-led epic that has Roger back to singing in his natural voice
and sounding like the biggest thing on the album. A song about having the
strength to carry on when someone he believes in believes in him, it's not a
great song but it fills in four minutes quite nicely and Ballard's own gutsy
guitar works well on this track.
Korda's final song 'Feeling' is the best of the
bunch and maybe the best thing here. Roger fits in nicely on a tight, upbeat
rock groove as he struggles to come to terms with his feelings for someone who
never loved him back and asks to be 'let be in the fantasy' and pretend the split
never happened. The backing band play with real menace and Roger gets more
space to let loose his scream.
Alas Rufus Thomas cover 'Walking The Dog', covered
with Who-style cynicism by The Rolling Stones on their debut album, doesn't
really suit the straightforward and rather echoey interpretation Roger gives it
here. Daltrey skips the high innuendo count or the novelty element of a song
about yo-yo sewing moves entirely and without them there's not really much
point to this song.
'Milk Train' takes a lot of getting used to though. Roger sings this
sub-standard song about a mistaken rock career and drug overdose in the style
of a cockney Artful Dodger and while Hammersmith-born Daltrey has more right to
the accent than most, it doesn't suit him or this very strange song which is
Closer 'I Was Born To Sing Your Song'
is, at last, what fans might have been expecting with the drama of 'Tommy'
(albeit the film version more than any other). Roger promises that he was 'born
to sing your tears' and that he knows what his audience is going through on
this pretentious re-write of 'Listening To You' (which even shares similar
chords!) The song works better as a love song when Roger announces that only he
could write his beloved's 'book' because only he will truly understand her.
Roger isn't as good a fit on this song as he in on some others on the album,
The end result is a record
that confused many when it came out. The Who forums are full of fans
complaining that they spent their hard earned pocket money/paper round money on
this set expecting it to be rock and roll - and yet rather than being bitterly
disappointed this album slowly worked it's magic on them anyway and they grew
to become quite fond of it. Which sounds a bit right: if you can shift your
vision of Roger as rock and roll hellraiser and imagine him as a more MOR act
then the surprise is that actually he's rather a good one, soft and disciplined
enough to put real emotion across while gritty enough not to become weak or wet.
If you're a Who fan curious what the Daltrey records sound like without the
others involved then, well, I'm afraid you're in for a shock on all of them for
different reasons, but if you need to try one then this is a good entry point,
being largely well sung, performed and written. Just don't mistake it for The
Who and you'll be ok.
Daltrey/Various Artists "Lisztomania"
(A&M, November 1975)
Dream*/Dante Period/Orpheus Song*/Hell/Hibernation/ Excelsior Song/Master
Race/Rape Pillage and Clap/Funerailles*/Free Song/Peace At Last*
* = Roger Daltrey Performances
"Our love created the universe and will guide it
across infinity - with added wigs!"
off a highly productive year, Roger's third record of 1975 was the soundtrack
to Ken Russell's even weirder follow-up to 'Tommy'. 'Lizstomania' was basically
released to cash in on 'Amadeus' mania and takes a similarly irreverent take on
Lizst's reputation to Alan Shaffer's take on the Mozart legend. Daltrey isn't a
natural fit for the Hungarian composer (who actually looks more like Boris
Pickett than any other 1960s rock and roller) and the music is oddly Wagernian
throughout, but then that's kind of the point: this is a comedy not a history.
Unfortunately though the film isn't very funny, just stupid for the most part
and even the shots of Roger in a wig aren't enough to save the work from being
a total write-off. The music recorded for the soundtrack is the best thing
about the film but even that isn't particularly inspired: most of it is
classically-driven and is dominated by Yes' Richard Wakeman rather than Roger
and much more in his 'style' (ie flamboyant). However there are some lovely
minor gems hidden away on this record: goodness only knows how but 'Orpheus'
still winds up a sweet and sensitive love song as Daltrey pays tribute to the
strength of Lizst's wife despite being treated to every excess under the song,
while 'Peace At Last' is a prettier ballad than most on Roger's 'proper' solo
albums. What this record doesn't have is cohesion and the horrors involved are
enough to put you off playing the album's better moments, which is kind of like
the film to be honest.
A complete collection of Who reviews:
'The Who Sing My Generation' (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/the-who-sing-my-generation-1965.html