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)

"Your smile is a shadow, your eyes tell it all, but I suppose that's the way of the world"

Roger's 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 there.

Unlike 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.

Adam 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.

'Thinking' 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 really happy.

Adam 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.

Leo's '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 attached.

'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.

'Reasons' finds 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).

The 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.

Overall, 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. 

John 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)

"Don't 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"

John's 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.

Johnny 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 anytime soon.

'Hound Dog' 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.

'My Wife' 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 song.

'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!'

Little 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).

The 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.

The 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 distracting.
Overall, 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.  

Keith 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

"I'm Keith Moon, African road singer, going mixed infants, reading a comic upside down and a script very badly!"

Taking 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' solo-album-with-special-guest-stars-making-up-for-the-bits-Keith-couldn't-sing. 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.

The 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.

Though 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!

A 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. 

"Odds and Sods"

(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

"Ir's goin' to my brain and easin' all my pain, I must hear the sound again!"

So 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!)

The 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'.

There 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.

The 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 beginning.

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.

Overall, 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!

John 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 Scared/Drowning

CD Bonus Tracks: Mad Dog! (Single Mix)/Cell no 7 (Single Mix)

"The voice of doom was a-ringing in my head!"

John's 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.

'Lady Killer' 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 twists-in-the-tale.

'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.

'Mad Dog' 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 cute!

'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.

The 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!

So 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. 

"Tommy: 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)

"It's so absurd to try to describe all the things you've done!"

Saying 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
Sounding more like a missing section from 'Quadrophenia' than 'Tommy', the first of the two 'new' songs written for Ken Russell's film soundtrack  is [172] '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'

[173] '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'

Keith 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)

"I 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 recommended.

'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 solo.

'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 for release.

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.

'One Night 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 vocals.

'The Kids Are Alright' 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 player solo.

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!

Roger 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

"I 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 Numbers'.

'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' of.

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 near unlistenable.

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, however.

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. 

Roger Daltrey/Various Artists "Lisztomania"

(A&M, November 1975)

Rienzi-Chopsticks Fantasia/Love's 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!"

Capping 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)

'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?:

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