Monday 6 November 2017

The Who: Live/Solo/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part Six 2001-2014

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!

Pete Townshend "Live At La Jolla Playhouse"

(Eelpie, Recorded June Released November 2001)

Show One: Pinball Wizard/Let My Love Open The Door/Cut My Hair/Slit Skirts/Drowned/ Greyhound Girl/Tattoo/The Sea Refuses No River/St James Infirmary/Eminence Front/Won't Get Fooled Again (Acoustic)/Behind Blue Eyes/Won't Get Fooled Again (Electric)
Show Two: Pinball Wizard/Let My Love Open The Door/Heart To Hang On To/Cut My Hair/Slit Skirts/Drowned/ Greyhound Girl/Tattoo/Collings/Eminence Front/Sheraton Gibson/Won't Get Fooled Again (Acoustic)/I'm One/Behind Blue Eyes/Driftin' Blues/Eyesight To The Blind/Won't Get Fooled Again (Electric)

"Can't pretend that growing older never hurts"

Pete's latest solo - and for once we really do mean solo - show was a fundraiser for a concert hall he always felt quite fond of: it was where the musical version of 'Tommy' was first performed before moving to Broadway. Realising that he's playing to Who purists rather than casual fans Pete throws in more surprises than ever before including 'Tattoo' (a song not heard in concert since 1970), 'Cut My Hair' (one of the rarer songs off 'Quadrophenia'), 'Greyhound Girl' (a Lifehouse extra never really heard in concert before), a sweet reading of 'Sheraton Gibson' not heard since 'Who Came First' in 1971 and 'Collings' and 'Drifton' Blues', two songs only ever released in demo form as part of the 'Scoop' series. Plus there's one song exclusive to this set, a rowdy tongue-in-cheek cover of famous blues standard 'St James Infirmary' - this tale of injustice and working class slogging would have made a great Who song but really needs Roger to sing it to give it full weight. Pete is also having fun chatting between songs, letting his guard down more than normal and revealing the inner self-deprecating comedian that's trying to get out ever since Pete started in the music business. The problem lies in the fact that this double-disc set features two complete shows, complete with repetition, when it could easily have been re-edited to become a rather better single CD featuring one version of these songs plus the tracks only played at one show and not the other. This is an entertaining, revealing show with many things about it to recommend, but still not quite up to the very best of Pete's archive shows.   

Pete Townshend "Scoop 3"

(Eelpie, '2001')

CD One: (Can You See) The Real Me?/Dirty Water/Commonwealth Boys/Theme 015/Marty Robbins/I Like It The Way It Is/Theme 016/However Much I Booze (No Way Out)/Collings/Parvardigar (German Language Version)/Sea and Sand/971104 Arpeggio Piano/Theme 017/I Am Afraid/Maxims For Lunch/Wistful/Eminence Front/Lonely Words

CD Two: Prelude 970519/Iron Man Recitative/Rough Boys (Tough Boys)/Did You Steal My Money?/Can You Really Dance?/Dirty Jobs (Variations)/All Lovers Are Deranged/Elephants/Wired To The Moon (Part Two)/How Can You Do It Alone?/Poem Disturbed/Squirm Squirm/Outlive The Dinosaur/Athena (Theresa)/Man and Machines/It's In Ya

"I have to tell the story of my life in order to avoid being thrown out there and then"

The third and - to date - last set of Townshend demos, 'Scoop 3' delivers much of the same but with an emphasis on demos recorded since the two demo sets were released in 1983 and 1987 (and therefore with most of the set dating from after the Who era). As a result the bulk of it is less interesting than its predecessors, with a few too many boring synthesiser instrumentals and abandoned projects that were clearly never going to get anywhere, while naming several new instrumental bits and pieces after 'variations' from past classics while they share nothing in common except chord structure is just cruel. However the best of this set is greater than anything the first two sets came up with and reveals far more about Townshend than we've ever heard revealed before. Check out, for instance, 'I Like It The Way It Is' - a gorgeous ballad from 1978 that Pete never returned to in which he pours out all his infidelities to wife Karen and pleads for forgiveness, whilst simultaneously confessing he rather likes the life of a two-timing rogue he's living (the irony being that the lovely string arrangement, which fits Pete's singing so well, is arranged and conducted by her father Ted). Or the original 1975 stomping demo for an even more wild and unhinged 'However Much I Booze' from 'Who By Numbers' complete with an extra verse that tells the tale of being thrown out of a club that will find its way into the song 'Who Are You' three years later. Or Face Dances' 'Did You Steal My Money?' back when it sounded genuinely pioneering, hip and contemporary before The Who watered it down with its criss-crossing vocals and rhythmic edge. Or 'Athena' when she was still more revealingly named 'Teresa' after Pete tried seduce actress Theresa Russell one night and she turned him down, with Pete's hurt and frustration still smouldering on this early demo. Most of the rest of this double-disc set is pretty disposable to be honest. Other Who favourites are disappointing, like 'The Real Me' which is actually a tour rehearsal that doesn't rock, 'Sea and Sand' which is a solo rehearsal for a more orchestral feel that's so bad you barely believe it's the same song as on 'Quadrophenia', 'How Can You Do It Alone?' where Pete sounds just like Roger anyway and worst of all 'The Dirty Jobs' which is just some dull piano recital). And the Townshend solo songs that didn't work in finished form really don't work in demo either ('Squirm Squirm' makes you, well, 'squirm', 'Outlive The Dinosaur' from 'Psychoderelict' is boring and  the Iron Man stuff is worse without a whole band to dress up with). Those four great moments really do make up for the rest though, even if that doesn't exactly represent value for money. 

Various Artists "Jai Baba"

(Eelpie, '2001')

CD One: Poem/Evolution/Day Of Silence/Allan Cohen Speaks/The Seeker*/Begin The Beguine*/With A Smile Up His Nose They Entered/The Love Man/Meditation/Parvardigar (Live)*

CD Two: Forever's No Time At All/How To Transcend Duality and Influence People/Affirmation/Baba O'Riley*/The Song Is Green/Everywhere I Look This Morning/Dragon/Parvardigar (Studio)*/Hail Avatar Meher Baba/Give It Up/Without Your Love/His Hands/Just For A Moment/Baba Blues/Meher/Contact/Gotta Know Ya/Sleeping Dog/All God's Mornings/Lantern Cabin

* = Pete Townshend performances

"You look so young yet you've cone so far"

A re-issue of the three 'Meher Baba' albums included in order with all the contributions intact (for the first time ever this set is credited to 'various artists' rather than cashing in on Pete's name). The songs sound as good, bad or indifferent as you probably felt about the first time around, but it's nice to be able to track them down easier without them costing a fortune and the best of this set (Ronnie Lane's 'Evolution' and Pete's 'Forever's No Time At All' 'His Hands' 'Sleeping Dog' and particularly the original instrumental demo for 'Baba O'Riley') is well worth tracking down, even if you'll get mighty bored of Baba eulogies and sleepy instrumentals by the end of both discs. There's also a bonus for collectors with an alternate version of 'Parvardigar' recorded live in India in 1972 with Ronnie Lane in support - this version was also released as the lead track in a tie-in EP. The title, meant to be said by all Baba worshippers when meeting, translates as 'Praise Baba'. 

Pete Townshend "O Parvardigar" (EP)

(Eelpie, '2001')

Pravardigar (Studio Version/Live Version/German Language Version)

"You always were, you always are and always will be"

An EP released to promote the 'Jai Baba' compilation which includes three versions of what was probably the most irritating track of Pete's from the original albums anyway. As well as the studio version first released on 'I Am' in 1971 we get the live recording from a year later released on 'Jai Baba' and a bonus unreleased German language version also from 1971 - which is nice but also quite pointless for English speakers given that most of the original is sung in Indian anyway! 

"The Who Sing My Generation" (Deluxe Edition 2002) 

Out In The Street/I Don't Mind/The Good's Gone/La La La Lies/Much Too Much/My Generation/The Kids Are Alright/Please Please Please/It's Not True/The Ox/A legal Matter
Bonus Tracks: Circles (Instant Party)/I Can't Explain/Bald Headed Woman/Daddy Rolling Stone/Leaving Here/Lubie (Come Back Home)/Shout and Shimmy/Heatwave/Motoring/ Anytime You Want Me/Anyway Anyhow Anywhere (Alternate)/Instant Party Mixture/I Don't Mind (Unedited)/The Good's Gone (Unedited)/My Generation (Backing)/Anytime You Want Me (Vocals Mix)/A Legal Matter (Alternate Mix)/My Generation (Alternate Mix)

"I know it's wrong, we should enjoy it but the good's gone"

Astonishingly, one of the key albums of the 1960s went unreleased on CD until some seventeen years after the invention of the compact disc. Less astonishingly, the delay had to do with legalities still resulting from the Who's desperate attempts to flee record label Brunswick and producer Shel Talmy in 1966, a decision that led to the release of half a dozen unofficial singles with weird un-connected B-sides and The Who paying extra royalties to people who didn't work on their records no more for the rest of the decade. Finally the disputes were solved for a one-off only release agreed to by all parties (later a two-off release when the album was re-issued again on CD in 2012 as a single disc set this time). To celebrate the big occasion the album was mixed into stereo for the first time (in the 1960s this was the only Who album solely available on mono and the new stereo mix is a great one, fatter and angrier than the original mono with some of the surplus of-it's-time double-tracking removed, while Keith's drums have never sounded so loud or crucial to the band sound) and multiple outtakes, alternate mixes and period recordings were dug out of the Brunswick attic to join the party. The album sounded particularly fresh and vibrant and surprisingly 2002-like for an album that was enjoying middle-age (with much of the post-9/11 cynicism, anger and feeling of helplessness in the air at the time). 

A more cynical look at this cynical re-issue of this largely cynical album, though, (which seems only fair and what the 1965 Who would have wanted) does reveal some middle-aged spread. Rather than do the sensible thing and re-release every Brunswick recording to make this the ultimate 1965 Who set several key songs are missing (even the single 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere', although that is here in an alternate version that doesn't quite fly as high or travel as far, plus the alternate takes already released on the 'Maximum R and B' box set). A lot of the supposedly brilliant extras turn out to be alternate mixes that are here to pad out the track listing and persuade you that yes, honest, this album did need to be a pricey double-disc set instead of a single, even though most of them aren't that different at all. Fascinating as it is historically to hear the Roger Daltrey-backed cover songs that were meant to be on the original album (until Pete's string of hit singles changed the power dynamics within the band), most of them are pretty awful to be honest compared to period covers by The Animals, Stones, Kinks, Beatles and Hollies et al, with Roger a poor man's James Brown and The Who a poor man's R and B band. You can hear how inhibited the early Who are compared to what made it to the album on early recordings 'Bald Headed Woman' 'Daddy Rolling Stone' and 'Lubie (Come Back Home)' where the band are clearly told to play clean and pretty by a producer who hasn't got a clue that smoke and violence is what The Who were all about. The biggest talking point, the previously unheard  'Instant Party Mixture' (not the rather good 'Circles' but a whole new song intended for release as a B-side before The Who left Brunswick and Shel Talmy re-used the name) is a waste of time with the band messing around. Even my parties have been more enjoyable than this. That leaves only the rather pretty ballad 'Anytime You Want Me', an early obscure cover of a Garnet Mimms song with some striking harmonies (especially on the second vocals-only mix added near the end of the set), a 'Leaving Here' that's more primitive than the second go released on the '30 Years of Maximum R and B' box set and a fierce but messy attack on Motown cover 'Motoring'. Which seems a bit of a waste of £20 when you could be, I don't know, buying a union jack jacket and hanging out by the bins to re-create that famous cover or something.
However, if you don't own this album in any other form - and unless you got very lucky in the second-hand vinyl record bins, paid even more of a fortune on ebay or Amazon or still have your treasured battered copy from 1965 in your collection then you almost certainly didn't own this album before 2002. And if you're a Who fan of any era then you absolutely definitely have to own this album, which is where the Who sound all began and which has never sounded better or crisper than here. Buy the cheaper mono mix if you need to, but buy this album in some form or another and treat he seventeen bonus tracks as intriguing extras rather than songs you absolutely have to hear. The success of this deluxe set will lead to a further five releases in the series, sadly not all of them quite as worthy as this one. 

Pete Townshend "Scooped"

(Eelpie, May 2002)

CD One: Recorders/Pinball Wizard/(Can You See) The Real Me?/Dirty Water/Zelda/Pictures Of Lily/Body Language/Siege Theme 019/971104 Arpeggio Piano/Brooklyn Kids/Substitute/Elephants/Eminence Front/Baroque Ippanese/Magic Bus/I Like It The Way It Is/Unused Piano For Quadrophenia/Bargain/Lonely Words

CD Two: So Sad About Us-Brrr/Rough Boys (Tough Boys)/You Better You Bet/Mary/Begin The Beguine/Piano: Tipperary/How Can You Do It Alone?/Football Fugue/Behind Blue Eyes/Never ask Me/Circles (Instant Party)/Holly Like Ivy/Dirty Jobs Variations/Cat Snatch/You're So Clever/Love Reign O'er Me

"No one knows what it's like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes"

Collecting the best of the three pricey 'Scoop' sets together in one handy double-disc volume as an introduction for fans is a sensible idea. However this 'scoop' of 'scoops' is a little disappointing. The most intreresting tracks such as 'Did You Steal My Money?' and 'The Kids Are Alright' are missing, while the stuff you really don't need (such as a late-period revival of 'The Real Me' some piano based thing that baguely sounds like 'The Dirty Jobs', flipping 'Dirty Water' again and Pete singing 'It's a long way to Tipperary) are here despite being the verydefinition of filler (though at least you get 'I Like It The Way It Is' and 'Mary'). It's also a shame that this set didn't make most of the chance to look at the demos afresh and include everything in chronorlogical order - instead the order, which didn't bother the listener too much on the original volumes, seems like more of a mess than ever here as we jump around between 1860s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s recordings - all with their own particular sound and surface hiss depending on what tape machine Pete is using (actually these tapes are remarkably hiss free for simple demos and Townshend always bought the best equipment, but there's still a difference and it jars when tapes forty years apart are put together). As a sampler it rather fails too by probably not exciting anyone's interest enough to buy the sets proper. The compilers also missed a trick by not calling this set a 'Neapolitan scoop' given that it contains the best of 'three flavours'! 

"The Ultimate Collection"

(Polydor-MCA-Geffen, June 2002)

I Can't Explain/Anyway Anyhow Anywhere/My Generation/The Kids Are Alright/A legal Matter/Substitute/I'm A Boy/Boris The Spider/Happy Jack/Pictures Of Lily/I Can See For Miles/Call Me Lightning/Magic Bus/Pinball Wizard/I'm Free/See Me Feel Me/The Seeker/Summertime Blues/My Wife/Baba O'Riley/Bargain/Behind Blue Eyes/Won't Get Fooled Again//Let's See Action/Pure and Easy/Join Together/Long Live Rock/The Real Me/5.15/Love Reign O'er Me/Squeezebox/Who Are You?/Had Enough/Sister Disco/You Better You Bet/Don't Let Go The Coat/The Quiet One/Another Tricky Day/Athena/Eminence Front
The American Edition is missing the following tracks: Had Enough/Don't Let Go The Coat/The Quiet One/Another Tricky Day/Athena

"I call that a bargain - the best I ever had!"

Yet another decade, yet another Who compilation - a big one this time with two whole discs that gives more space than ever before over to album tracks rather than just the hit singles. This is also the only set to date besides the '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' box set that includes tracks from all three Who eras: the Brunswick original, the lengthy Track Records years between 1966 and 1981 and the brief period on  Polydor in 1982.That's, generally, a very good thing - especially with all the songs in chronological order for once - and it's especially good to see so many tracks taken from 'Who's Next' and 'Quadrophenia'. However there's something about this set that still makes it feel as if it was picked at random by a monkey using a dartboard and the set is particularly mean to the 1960s Who (only one song from 'Sellout' and only two from 'Tommy'?!), while even in the 1970s the intense mature sound of 'Who By Numbers' is most definitely not represented by the hit single 'Squeeze Box'. By contrast the less well respected 'Who Are You' and 'Face Dances' are represented by three songs each, which seems like overkill even from a fan who happens to quite like both of them (or at least that's what you get on the European edition - all the 'Face Dances' songs plus one each from 'Who Are You' and 'It's Hard are dropped for the American edition for some reason). For all that, though, this still feels about as 'ultimate' as it's possible to get on two rather fat discs and until a truly definitive Who compilation comes along one day then this is probably as good as it gets for now. 

"Tommy" (Deluxe Edition 2003) 

CD One: Overture/It’s A Boy/1921/Amazing Journey/Sparks/Eyesight To The Blind//Christmas/Cousin Kevin/The Acid Queen/Underture//Do You Think It’s Alright?/Fiddle About/Pinball Wizard/There’s A Doctor/Go To The Mirror!/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror/Sensation//Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/I’m Free/Welcome/Tommy’s Holiday Camp/We’re Not Gonna Take It

CD Two: I Was/Christmas (Alternate Take)/Cousin Kevin Model Child/Young Man Blues (Studio Version)/Tommy Can You Hear Me? (Alternate Version)/Trying To Get Through/Sally Simpson (Alternate Take)/Miss Simpson/Welcome (Alternate Take)/Tommy's Holiday Camp (Alternate Version)/We're Not Gonna Take It (Alternate Version)/Dogs (Part Two)/It's A Boy (Demo)/Amazing Journey (Demo)/Christmas (Demo)/Do You Think It's Alright? (Demo)/Pinball Wizard (Demo)

"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know"

At the time of writing you can buy The Who's most famous album on CD through a double disc 1984 CD set, a single disc 1990 set, a 2013 triple CD set with an extra live disc and you can additionally buy the 'orchestral' version from 1972, the film soundtrack version from 1975 and as a 1993 Broadway play. Before this book comes out there'll probably be a pantomime version ('The Acid Queen! She's behind you!') or a manga book version ('The Pinball Wizard bows to Tommy and says 'my son, you do playest the meanest pinball that ever there was in these lands!') as well. That's clearly overkill even for The Who and, well, we're not gonna take it because the only set you truly need is this one from 2003. The album is remixed and sounds as good as a recording made in 1969 is ever going to get (there was no need to remix it again and again!), the bonus tracks feature a handful of the fascinating Townshend demos (you really don't need them all) and there are some excellent and entertaining bonus tracks, the best of which include multiple stabs at 'Christmas' where the festive spirit is clearly ebbing out of the room the punky unused jam 'Trying To Get Through' and 'Sally Simpson' slowly being knocked into shape across even more multiple takes in which everyone takes it in turn to make a mistake ('Bad musicians!' Roger jokes before Keith brings proceedings to a halt by telling the others about an article he read in which The Who were described as Pete's 'bone' - cue so much laughter the others can't play at all!) The set isn't perfect ('I Was' is just sixteen seconds of nonsense, the B-side 'Dogs Part Two' and the studio take of 'Young Man Blues' were recorded at these sessions but clearly don't fit and break up the flow and for the price the sleevenotes could be longer and better), but 'Tommy' sounds, looks and feels his best here. 

"Who's Next" (Deluxe Edition 2003) 

CD One: Baba O'Riley/Bargain/Love Ain't For Keeping/My Wife/The Song Is Over/Gettin' In Tune/Goin' Mobile/Behind Blue Eyes/Won't Get Fooled Again. Bonus Tracks: Baby Don't You Do It/Gettin' In Tune (Unedited)/Pure and Easy (Alternate Version)/Love Ain't For Keeping ('Odds and Sods' Version)/Behind Blue Eyes (Alternate Version)/Won't Get Fooled Again (Alternate Version)

CD Two (Live At The Young Vic): Love Ain't Keeping/Pure and Easy/Young Man Blues/Time Is Passing/Behind Blue Eyes/I Don't Even Know Myself/Too Much Of Anything/Gettin' In Tune /Bargain/Water/My Generation/Road Runner/Naked Eye/Won't Get Fooled Again

"It all looks fine to the naked eye, but it don't really happen that way at all!"

There's a great deluxe version of 'Who's Next' to be made sometime at some point, gathering together every single one of the songs mooted for 'Lifehouse' at one stage or another along with demos to fill out the rest of a two-disc-set running time (and no, the six disc 'Lifehouse Chronicles' in 2000 doesn't count). However this set isn't really it. The 'new' stuff is a not-that-different-just-worse early take of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' which has a tendency to ramble (it's one of the few recordings released from the early, abandoned New York record Plant Sessions) and a second disc made up of a show at the Young Vic Theatre. Originally crucial to the 'Lifehouse' story these shows were filmed (when's the footage coming out?!) to be 'interspersed' with a vaguely planned film of 'Lifehouse' in which a rock band would 'unite' an audience and each of their individual 'vibrations' would be turned into pure music - or something like that. Sadly The Who were under-rehearsed, their storyline under-written and their fans under-whelmed so instead of being a truly celestial moment of growth and harmony the end shows resulted in a slightly grumpy band playing a slightly disinterested gig. Pete spends most of the set uncharacteristically apologising, for forgetting the chords to his new songs (he even asks a bloke in the front row to stop dancing at one point, albeit with the promise of dancing with him on stage during the older songs later in the set), for the lack of comprehension over the story and for his lack of poise after becoming a sleep-deprived father for the second time that month. 

By and large it's the messiest, loosest, least interesting Who gig from this classic 1969-1971 period released so far and must have confused the (heaven and) hell out of collectors who bought this set simply because it was the most famous album by the band and featured the world's greatest rock and roll band playing live for half the set. Given the price, unless you're a Who completist you're far better off sticking with the cheaper 'bargain' priced original CD version, already packed to the gunnels with fascinating extras (one of which, 'Baby Don't You Do It', is cut from this set anyway). There are, at least, some strong selling points though including a number of 'Lifehouse' songs the band never played live again: an opening 'Love Ain't For Keeping' is easily the best, halfway between the studio versions being played at speed and on electric instruments like the 'Odds and Sods' outtake but with Roger singing not Pete, while 'Too Much Of Anything' is pretty albeit ragged and an early 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is interesting for fans who love the song enough to chart it's gradual progression from limp new song to special set closer. Of the old songs 'I Don't Even Know Myself' sounds especially poignant given how unusually insecure The Who now suddenly feel, while an angry 'Naked Eye' is the one moment on this set when all the pieces fall into place and The Who sound as good as they ever did. generally speaking, though, this is the sort of set only a true fan could love. 

"Then and Now"

(Polydor-Geffen, March 2004)

I Can't Explain/My Generation/The Kids Are Alright/Substitute/I'm A Boy/Happy Jack/I Can See For Miles/Magic Bus/Pinball Wizard/See Me Feel Me/Summertime Blues/Behind Blue Eyes/Won't Get Fooled Again/5.15/Love Reign O'er Me/Squeeze Box/Who Are You?/You Better You Bet/Real Good Looking Boy/Old Red Wine

2007 Re-Issue adds the following tracks: Baba O'Riley/It's Not Enough

"Then and now you hear a band and fall in love - you can't do a thing about it!"

In 2002 The Who discussed making a new album and set the wheels in motion for a full return in the 21st century until John Entwistle's untimely death in 2002 delayed the project and inspired a different concept. Pete and Roger met up to record a tribute to their fallen friend intended as a standalone single until Polydor got in touch and suggested the idea of sticking them both at the end of a best-of they were preparing to release. That sort of thing doesn't normally work - and forking out extra money to own two songs on the end of an album where you already own the other twenty might be good commercial sense but it's a nasty trick to play on fans. However the problem is eased through two things. Firstly, 'Old Red Wine' and especially 'Real Good Looking Boy' are excellent additions to The Who canon and worthy of inclusion even amongst the band's great hits (the latter, a song about the power of love and unity to make even the ugliest most tortured and lonely soul think they're pretty is perhaps the most suitable end there could ever be to a Who collection). Secondly, the track selection is pretty good, second only to 'My Generation - The Best Of' in terms of its mixture of essential hit singles and fan-loved album tracks. Or at least it was eventually: shockingly the original CD only ran to 70 odd minutes, with the extra space filled up with 'Baba O'Riley' (good move!) and Endless Wire oddity 'It's Not Enough' (bad move!)  following a re-issue three years later. This album also makes the most of healing divisions between the band and Shel Talmy, but note that set is missing the superb second single 'Anyhow Anyhow Anywhere' and hit single 'Pictures Of Lily'  so could never be classed as a perfect compilation even if the later album track selections are chosen with care and this set spends a roughly equal time on all Who era for once, not just the 1960s or 'Who's Next'. The name, by the way, refers both to the idea of the band's 'past' and 'present' being on one disc and the original intention to include solo hits as well including Pete's 1993 single 'Now and Then'. 

Roger Daltrey "Moonlighting: The Anthology"

(Sanctuary, February 2005)

CD One: One Man Band/The Way Of The World/Thinking/There Is Love/Giving It All Awayu/Come Over And Get Your Love/The World Over/Proud/Dear John/Avenging Annie/One Of The Boys/Martyrs and Madmen/Say It Aib't So Jo/Bitter and Twisted/Free Me/Without Your Love/Waiting For A Friend/Parting Would Be Painless/After The Fire/Under A Raging Moon]

CD Two: Behind Blue Eyes/Won't Get Fooled Again/Quicksilver Lightning/Lover's Storm/Mack The Knife/The Pig Must Die/Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me/Rock and Roll/Whose Gonna Walk On Water?/Love Is/Blues Man's Road/Baba O'Riley/Pinball Wizard/The Real Me/Child Of Mine/Born To Run/Seconds Out

"The memories smoulder and the heart always yearns after the fire burns"

Released a month before the very similar collection of Entwistle's solo work, the title of 'Moonlighting' rather says it all. Nowhere across this collection does Roger really nail what his solo career was suppoosed to sound like or what he wanted to do with it - so instead he was simply 'moonlighting' away from his 'day job' with The Who (even if that day job ended back in 1982). The problem really comes, unlike John's set, in making this a two-CD compilation: the two discs have nothing whatsoever to do with each other and the second would be truly unlistenable if not for the curious decision to add a whole bunch of live versions of Who tracks fans presumably own several hundred times over by now. Choosing a little from each discs really helped John, who tended to release very patchy albums, but Roger's solo work isn't like that - a true 'best of' would feature most of 'Daltrey', a little of 'Ride A Rock Horse' and 'McVicar' and the two Who-related tracks from 'Under A Raging Moon'. Hearing so many songs from the unlistenable 'Rocks In Your Head' and 'Can't Wait To See The Movie' simply reveals what a shocking loss in talent there was across the years as Roger stuck to doing what everybody else in the record market was doing at the tine, however unsuitable that was. As for the new music, Roger should be aiming for higher in his career than covering boring songs made famous by Elton John, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen (even if 'Bron To Run' sounds rather good in his hands). Even a nice cover (taken from 'McVicar') and some love and care in the packaging can't make up for the downfall in the music.

If that sounds a bit harsh then it is worth pointing out that the first half of the first CD is actually pretty darn good. Roger is a fine singer when he has the material to match the quality of his voice and if he'd spent the rest of his solo career recording only songs by Leo Sayer and Paul Korda I'd have been quite happy. It's after this early period - ironically it's when Roger stops 'moonlighting' and starts going after his solo career all guns blazing after The Who call it quits that things go wrong. Thankfully the very best of Roger's solo work is here: 'Giving It All Away' is a beautiful heartbroken ballad, 'One Man Band' is a worthy tale of busking music for the sheer joy of it rather than to become a success and 'Say It Ain't So Jo' is a classy singer singing a classy song. The Townshend writtewn 'After The Fire' and Roger-written Keith tribute 'Under A Raging Moon' are welcome additions for Who fans too. However unfortunately the second tier of Roger's body of work isn't here - the sweet but inconsequential ditties like 'The Story So Far' When The Music Stops' and once again anything from 'Lisztomania' (especially 'Orephus' Song') and the like are all missing and a set this big should be able to accomodate all of them. 'Moonlighting' isn't bad by any means but throwing a load of Who hit singles somewhere in the middle of the 'heavy metal' years, cutting the best period of Roger's work in half and extending his later, noisier years is not the way I'd have put this disc together. Few fans buying this  sampler set would really be interested in tracking down the rest, which is a shame because the early years at least have some nice songs on them, while if Sanctuary insisted on havinf some Who numbers on here then why not use the obscure ones that show off why Roger might be one of the greatest vocalists of the 1960s and 1970s? ('I'm Free' 'Bargain' 'Drowned' 'Imagine A Man' and 'Cry If You Want' would be my picks, doubtless you have your own). Collectors should note that this set was re-issued almost straight away as Roger's entry in Universal music's 'Gold' series (in a cover matching Pete's set)w with four songs removed and substituted by Raging Moon album track 'The Pride You Hide'. 

"So Who's The Bass Player? - The John Entwistle/Ox Anthology"

(Sanctuary, March 2005)

CD One: My Size/Pick Me Up (Big Chicken)/What Are We Doing Here?/Heaven and Hell/Ted End/Ten Little Friends/Apron Strings/Thinkin' It Over/Who Cares?/I Wonder/I Was Just Being Friendly/Do The Dangle/Made In Japan/Roller Skate Kate/Peg Leg Peggy/Lady Killer/Mad Dog/Cell no 7 (Live)/Whiskey Man (Live)/Boris The Spider (Live)
CD Two: My Wife (Live)/I'm Flash/Space Pirates/To The Chop/Blast Off/Try Me/Talk Dirty/To Late The Hero/Love Doesn't Last/Life After Love/The Real Me (Live)/Success Story (Live)/905 (Live)/Had Enough (Live)/Bogey Man/Back On The Road/When The Sun Comes Up/Don't Be A Sucker

"The arrows fall, the sky is red, the music gets higher and higher"

Fittingly, the Ox Anthology is a weighty tome featuring more or less half of most of Joh's mainstream albums as well as an impressive collection of outtakes and live performances. This set, released three years after the bassists' death, has clearly been made with a lot of love - and with a lot of patience too given the many licensing issues behind the scenes (John seems to have given up trying to get a full best-of like this one out in his lifetime). Two and a half hours' worth of material really is the best way to hear these patchy albums, which all had good moments ('Smash Your Head Against The Wall' especially) but which never really came together across a full LP. John's progression from thoughtful balladeer to thoughtless rock and roller for once makes putting all of these tracks together in the right order something of a shame but if there's any way to deal with such an eclectic writer well then it's this one, while the clever Who-like title and the marvellous monochrome early 1970s shot of John's sly grin with bass in hand (Keith or Pete were probably doing something outrageous just out of shot) is class too. The only problem is that the music isn't better, with the compilers' determination to include a bit of everything rather than a lot of the albums that work meaning that we get too many songs from Transformers-wannabe series 'Van-Pires' and noisy painful heavy metal strutting record 'The Rock'. To be fair, almost all the good stuff is in here too though, with the choices from 'Smash Your Head' and 'Mad Dog' particularly spot on, but given that we have two discs to play with it's a shame that such classics as 'Drowning' 'I Fall To Pieces' and the superior studio take of Who prison sbreakout song 'Cell no 7' aren't here as well. 

As for the unreleased material - most of it in concert - that's a clever way of ensuring Who favourites are present and correct (though it's a shame John never performed 'When I Was A Boy' at a live show so that isn't here) and some of it is really good: ''Whiskey Man' is slowed down to a wicked crawl, 'Boris' is hard and funky, 'My Wife' is gloriously messy and an unexpected '905' is much tougher than the 'Who Are You' studio version with raucous drumming and heavy metal guitar bursts. However some of it isn't: John hands lead vocals for 'Success Story' 'Had Enough' and a surprise cover of 'The Real Me' over to his bandmates who end up coming across as just another wannabe Who covers band (and which surely was the whole reason John went solo, because he was so sick of handing his songs over to Roger to sing). As for the two new studio cuts, both feature Alice Cooper on lead vocals and sound far more like his usual sort of material rather than John's and both 'I'm Flash' and 'Space Pirates' are more noisy rockers that take up space where more of John's songs could have fitted. To be frank Entwistle's a far better vocalist despite all the criticism he gained down the years and if nothing else this set reveals why he was so aggreived at always being told to hand his songs over to 'lead singfers' to perform - across the whole compilation John never puts a foot wrong as a singer, only when other people perform his songs do things go wrong. 'Who's The Bass Player' also reveals once and for all just what an eclectic, adventurous musician and songwriter John was and why his solo career might well be more interesting than the Who-like concepts of Pete, the middle-of-the-road adventures of Roger or the karaoke of Keith. What this won't do is come anywhere closer to matching what John was capable of in The Who and many fans who don't know any of these recordings may yet find themselves disappointed as it shares so little in commo with the power, wit and intelligence of the parent band. Still, though, if you have a dark humour, a soft spot for rockabilly and think like me that John's tracks were some of the best The Who ever did then this set is well worth trying. Despite the title of this album, John sounds so much more than just The Who's bass player here and it's deeply welcome to hear the much-missed bass player's work re-evaluated in such a loving way. It';s just a shame that this set was too late to make John a hero in his own lifetime. 

"Gold" aka "The Pete Townshend Anthology"

(SPV/Hip-O, November 2005)

CD One: English Boy/Secondhand Love/A Little Is Enough/Heart To Hang On To/Sheraton Gibson/The Sea Refuses No River/Brilliant Blues/Now and Then/I Won't Run Any More/Keep Me Turning/Let My Love Open The Door/Slit Skirts/A Friend Is A Friend/Let's See Action/Street In The City/Empty Glass

CD Two: Rough Boys/Give Blood/Exquisitely Bored/Jools and Jim/Crashing By Design/Don't Try To Make Me Real/Face The Face/Uniforms (Corps D'espirit)/My Baby Gives It Away/Outlive The Dinosaur/Keep On Working/White City Fighting/All Shall Be Well/Time Is Passing/I Am Afraid/Misunderstood/Pure and Easy/Parvardigar

"When everybody keep retreating but you can never get enough"

A sensible reduction of Pete Townshend's six main solo albums (plus the guitarist's half of 'Rough Mix' with Ronnie Lane very nearly complete), this popular set cashed in on the revived popularity of The Who around the time of 'Endless Wire' and was a worthy reminder of what Pete had been up to while The Who had been away. The compilation was actually released twice, titled 'The Townshend Anthology' in Europe and as part of Hip-O's long-running 'Gold' series in the US with both sets given different packaging (the European version is best with Pete looking pensive surrounded by smoke - on the American edition he has his face down staring at his guitar, which is a more characteristic shot but a surprisingly un-photogenic one). Both sets contain the exact same track listing though and are in every other detail the same so you really don't need to track them both down. You probably don't need these sets if you own all the Townshend solo albums either as there's nothing new here, not even an alternate mix, but if you're a curious fan on a budget rather than a certified collector then both sets offer an excellent beginner's guide to Pete's solo work. 

Most of the favourites are here somewhere, from the Pete-demo of 'Pure and Easy' and off-the-cuff 'Sheraton Gibson'  from debut 'Who I Am', the rocking 'My Baby Gives It Away' hilarious 'Misunderstood', earnest 'Keep Me Turning', epic 'Streets In The City' and sweet 'Heart To Hang On To' from 'Rough Mix' (only the title track instrumental and the cover version of 'Till The Rivers All Run Dry' are absent, which is arguably as things should be - at the time 'Rough Mix' was still Pete's biggest rarity due to contractual shenanigans and still missing from CD), the hit singles and title track from 'Empty Glass' (though personally I'd have had 'I Am An Animal' and 'Gonna Get Ya' in there too), 'Slit Skirts' and 'The Sea Refuses No River' which were easily the two best songs off 'All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes', 'Give Blood' and the title track from 'White City Fighting' which are easily the best songs there too and 'Now and Then', the clear winner from 'Psychoderelict', plus the addition of 'O'Parvardigar' the most substantial song from Pete's 'Mehere Baba tribute' albums. You still get noisy horrors like 'Jools and Jim' 'Face The Face' 'Crashing By Design' and 'A Friend Is A Friend' from 'The Iron Man', but these sets are very hard to get right and they both get things more right than most. The set's weakest links are undoubtedly their running order though: instead of being placed in the 'proper' order (and the Pete albums do feel as if they have a certain 'natural' order to them in terms of personal and production development) we get a jumble that means most (but not quite all) of the best songs are on disc two and most (but not all) of the weaker songs are on disc two. It's a shame too that room wasn't found for some of the better 'Scoop' demos as a third disc of the highlights (and we mean the highlights, not what ended up on 'Scooped') would have made a fine set near-perfect. Even so, out of the three major goes at getting the Pete Townshend solo years on compact disc, this is by far the best and a useful one-stop shop for fans who can't afford 'Rough Mix' 'Empty Glass' or 'Chinese Cowboys' just yet (though be warned that once you fall in love with the highlights from those albums you'll want to own the whole lot...)

"Amazing Journey - The Story Of The Who (Soundtrack Album)"

(Geffen, April 2008)

Leaving Here/I Can't Explain/My Generation/I'm A Boy/I Can See For Miles/Amazing Journey-Sparks/Pinball Wizard/Summertime Blues/Baba O'Riley/The Song Is Over/Sea and Sand/Who Are You?/Eminence Front/Won't Get Fooled Again (Live)/Real Good Looking Boy/Tea and Theatre

"Jumped every wall instinctively, unravelled codes ingeniously"

Yet another 'soundtrack' Who album, this time to go with the so-so documentary released the same year, regrettably this one is more of a 'greatest hits you heard snatches of' rather than a 'Kids Are Alright' style collection of rare recordings. Directly because this album is a soundtrack rather than a compilation, there are some oddball choices here: 1965 Who outtake 'Leaving Here' (wrongly listed in the sleevenotes as being the 1964 High Numbers recording) and Quadrophenia highlight 'Sea and Sand' pop up and take residence even when so many key songs like 'I Can't Explain' 'Boris The Spider' and 'You Better You Bet' are missing. The only previously unreleased recording here is a not-that-hot live recording of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' from a 2001 charity gig for 9/11 survivors, which isn't as interesting  or as emotional as it ought to be and frankly no substitute for the original. Overall, then, I'd give this weird curio a miss: it fails as a compilation set for newcomers and there's not enough here for this to be an interesting work for collectors in its own right. The Who definitely did have an 'amazing journey', but it isn't here on this CD. At least the set is the first compilation modern enough to include 'Tea and Theatre', though, which saves you having to sit through 'Endless Wire' for it.
"Greatest Hits"

(Geffen, December 2009)

I Can't Explain/My Generation/The Kids Are Alright/Substitute/Happy Jack/Pictures Of Lily/I Can See For Miles/Magic Bus/Pinball Wizard/Behind Blues Eyes/Baba O'Riley/Won't Get Fooled Again/Love Reign O'er Me/Squeeze Box/Who Are You?/You Better You Bet/Eminence Front/Real Good Looking Boy/It's Not Enough

Bonus Live Disc: I Can't Explain (1971)/Substitute (1971)/Happy Jack (1970)/I'm A Boy (1970)/Behind Blue Eyes (1971)/Pinball Wizard (1976)/I'm Free (1976)/Squeeze Box (1976)/Naked Eye-Let's See Action-My Generation Blues (1974)/5.15 (1973)/Won't Get Fooled Again (1973)/Magic Bus (1970)/My Generation (1965)/I Can See For Miles (1989)/Who Are You? (1989)/A Man In A Purple Dress (2007)

"I'll smile and admit you were never quite enough"

Basically a re-issue of 'Then and Now' with a couple of songs switched round ('Pictures Of Lily' and 'Eminence Front' replace 'Old Red Wine') released on new paymasters Geffen (a record label most famous for losing John Lennon and gaining Neil Young as his replacement - before doing the ultimate record company no-no and suing him). The Who get away lighter than Neil ever did, but even though there's nothing majorly wrong with this collection it is a little boring with a fully silver cover and no real changes since the last Who set just a few years earlier. Pairing this set with another Geffen-released CD, 'Greatest Hits Live', is also something of a daft idea given that almost all the tracks are replicated and only true fans who don't need to own yet another Who compilation will own all this stuff anyway.

"The Who Sell Out" (Deluxe Edition 2009)

CD One: The Album In Stereo plus Someone's Coming/Early Morning Cold Taxi/Jaguar/Coke (Jingle)/Glittering Girl/Summertime Blues/Girl's Eyes/Sodding About/Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands/In The Hall Of The Mountain King/Rael 1/Rael 2

CD Two: The Album In Mono plus Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand (US Mix)/Someone's Coming (Single Mix)/Relax (Demo)/Jaguar (Mono)/Glittering Girl (Alternate Version)/Tattoo (Alternate Mix)/Our Love Was (Alternate Take)/Rotosound Strings (Jingle)/I Can See For Miles (Mono)/Rael (Mono)/Armenia (City In The Sky) Backwards (Hidden Track)/Great Shakes (Advert) (Hidden Track)

"In the back of their head was a voice that said 'someone will steal it all, you'll be lying in a gutter with an empty box while the theieves have a ball'"

The fourth 'deluxe' Who re-issue suffers like the others from giving us more of the near-same but makes more sense as a double set given how hard The Who worked in this period and how many outtakes there are to provide alternate takes and mixes rather than everything being taken from just the same album over and over. The first CD is basically just the old 1990s one out again with almost the same track listing just in a different order - the only absentees are, sadly, 'Glow Girl' and 'Melancholia' (arguably the two best Who outtakes of them all!) while instead we get a few unnecessary minutes of 'Sodding About', the rather staid studio take of 'Summertime Blues' (which is a million light years behind the one on 'Live At Leeds') and the presence of 'Rael 2' at the end of a new outtake of 'Rael 1' which is interesting but not ridiculously so. Disc two is more interesting, with a few subtle differences on the mono mix - particularly the psychedelic squeal on 'Armenia', a n alternate guitar solo on 'Our Love Was' and some of the harmonies on certain songs, notably 'Tattoo'. None of the alternate mixes really add much to your understanding of the album and - given that this is an album about crass commercialism - these are the 'vanilla filler' in the set you don't really need but can be produced cheaply. The 'extras' though are a revelation: an unused commercial for 'Great Shakes' (fictional milkshakes) that really should have made the final album, a rougher rawer 'Glittering Girl', a simple demo for 'Relax'   and best of all a 'hidden' unlisted bonus track at the end of the 'mono' disc that plays the complete looped 'backwards' guitars for 'Armenia', which is a whole trip in itself never mind the rest of the album. Yes we Who fans are all being taken for mugs again, forking out £20 odd for an edition of an album that didn't sound that much different in single disc form for a tenner, but somehow that makes more sense with 'Who Sell Out' than the others - both because it's an album where there are more details to hear being altered between mono and stereo mixes and outtakes and because the whole album is about the inevitable crass commercialism of true art anyway - it's amazing The Who didn't charge more for this knowingly capitalist pop art concoction.

"Live At Leeds" (Deluxe Edition 2010)

CD One: Heaven and Hell/I Can't Explain/Fortune Teller/Tattoo/Young Man Blues/Substitute/Happy Jack/I'm A Boy/A Quick One While He's Away/Amazing Journey-Sparks/Summertime Blues/Shakin' All Over/My Generation/Magic Bus

CD Two: Overture/It's A Boy/1921/Amazing Journey-Sparks/Eyesight To The Blind/Christmas/The Acid Queen/Pinball Wizard/Do You Think It's Alright?/Fiddle About/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/There's A Doctor/Go To The Mirror/Smash The Mirror!/Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/I'm Free/Tommy's Holiday Camp/We're Not Gonna Take It!

"Do you think it's alright to play the whole of 'Tommy' to a load of  Leeds students at full blast along with definitive live performances of some of our greatest hits? Yeah, I think that's more than alright!"

Re-re-assemble the musicians! 'Live At Leeds' gets the deluxe treatment next and its stunning, perhaps the single most important disc out there in the Who catalogue being nothing short of two and a half hours of perhaps the greatest concert ever played by perhaps rock and roll's greatest ever live band. Fans have known how good 'Live At Leeds' was for years of course, ever since the album was rush-released into shops just three months after the band played it at Leeds University. The original vinyl caused quite a stir from the beginning, but those who were there spoke with horror at how the album had been condensed from thirty-three songs of magic to just six. From a marketing point of view this was the sensible thing to do at the time: few bands, even The Who, put out double-live albums in this period and repeating the whole of 'Tommy' a year after release would have seemed like they were short-changing their fanbase rather. However rumours of how good the full Leeds set was continued to grow, to the point where when the Who albums were being re-mastered for CD release in 1995 the band allowed the release of fourteen songs - enough to fill up an entire CD - albeit with 'Tommy' restricted to just the two songs, the definitive pairing of 'Amazing Journey and 'Sparks'. That, the band thought, was that - with a live version of 'Tommy' already out on the 'Isle Of Wight' set they figured that fans would never buy a second version so soon. However the 'Journey > Sparks' medley  blew so many fans away that The Who continued to be lobbied about releasing the entire set and finally relented in 2001 with every single note performed at the 'Leeds' gig (including a few snippets originally edited out of the original 'highlights' LP) restored and reinstated.

The result is wonderful and the definitive way to hear both the 'Leeds' concert and The Who in general. Admittedly 'Tommy' didn't quite sound as solid as 'Journey' and 'Sparks' all the way through, but the sensible decision to include the whole of the rock opera on disc two with no cuts enables the listener to hear just how intense a listening experience it must have been for those in the audience: a full hour with no pauses between the songs, no interludes or pauses for breath, just one fast-flowing song after another. 'Tommy', always a little bit of a weedy kid on the studio original despite his charisma, is at his best here - despite the many makeovers down the years from orchestras, guest stars, Broadway stage productions and the other live versions out there, this is the single best way to hear The Who's most famous work, with some of the lesser songs chopped away and some of the more tentative arrangements now turned into solid gusty performances from a band who now know this piece backwards after six months of near-constant performances. As for the rest of the show, maintained complete from the 1995 CD re-issue but with a few hilarious bits of stage banter left complete (everybody played 'Fortune Teller' according to Roger, though he misses out the rather fine Hollies cover from his long list, while 'I'm A Boy' has Pete celebrating it, wrongly, as the band's 'first ever #4' - actually it made #2 in the UK singles chart). 'Well this is certainly the nicest thing that's ever happened to us' quips Pete just before the final encore of 'Magic Bus' - he's not kidding. Even with a pricier, even more deluxe set to come in 2014 (with a 'Live At Hull' gig the next day being only at 9/10 of the strength of this one and with lots of understandable repetition) this is the version of 'Leeds' to buy. The 'OO have never sounded  more 'orrible, 'orgeous or 'onderful. The best version of the best live recording ever made? Could well be!

"Greatest Hits Live"

(Geffen, January 2010)

I Can't Explain (1971)/Substitute (1971)/Happy Jack (1970)/I'm A Boy (1970)/Behind Blue Eyes (1971)/Pinball Wizard (1976)/I'm Free (1976)/Squeeze Box (1976)/Naked Eye-Let's See Action-My Generation Blues (1974)/5.15 (1973)/Won't Get Fooled Again (1973)/Magic Bus (1970)/My Generation (1965)//I Can See For Miles (1989)/Join Together (1989)/Love Reign O'er Me (1989)/Baba O'Riley (1989)/Who Are You? (1989)/The Real Me (2002)/The Kids Are Alright (2002)/Eminence Front (2009)/A Man In A Purple Dress (2007)

"It all looks fine to the naked eye - but it don't really happen that way at all!"

'Greatest Hits Live'? Surely that's just 'Live At Leeds' isn't it? Well, no: not in the land of Geffen anyway, where - taking their cue from the well received 'Backstage Pass' set in 2007 - they try and release a more mainstream version of the same idea which isn't quite as good, released firstly solely on iTunes in 2010 before becoming a CD proper later in the same year. The release was meant to tie-in with The Who's appearance on America's 'Superbowl' half-time entertainment where they played to one of their biggest audiences since 'Woodstock' and the track listing is slightly skewed towards their American hits (so more 1970s than 1960s). The Who recorded more of their own gigs for posterity than most and even broadcast quite a few of them around the world on various radio stations (mostly in Europe with commentators talking over the top). The chance to hear any of them in pretty much decent sound is superb and there are several must-have moments here, especially at the beginning of the set where three songs from a gig in San Francisco in 1971 features the band as raw and hungry as they've ever been (except for 'Behind Blue Eyes' which has rarely sounded more gorgeous). A 1976 gig in Swansea, Wales is pretty good too with cracking versions of 'Pinball Wizard' and 'I'm Free'. There's just one song from the much-loved and still-unreleased 'Charlton Sthletic Football Ground' show in 1974 but it's a good one and a long one, taking in the mid-01970s 'slow blues' version of 'My Generation', a stunning and dark 'Naked Eye' and a desperate pleading version of 'Let's See Action!' All three shows are gems. However releasing this trio complete on a three disc set (six disc set?) might perhaps have been a better bet as there's a whole second disc of 1980s and 2000s shows which are almost as unlistenable as 'Who's Last' and you can tell the difference straight away as the band on-stage gets larger but their sounds gets smaller and tinnier. The whole of the second half is redundant, bar a bluesy take on 'Eminence Front' with an extended synth opening that runs on for several glorious seconds before The Who clumsily hit their way into the song. The fact is too that if you're the kind of fan who buys up everything then you already own perhaps a third of this set from different places or - in some cases - you will do soon: there are two songs from Hull University the day after 'Leeds' and featured on that album's deluxe re-issue, there's a BBC session from 1965 where the band perform 'My Generation' which was already included on the official BBC set (there are lots of repeats that didn't make that set, so why not release one of them?) and even a slightly truncated 'Magic Bus' from 'Leeds' itself, which most fans likely to buy this set own six times over. Some good things then, nay some truly essential things if you love the early 1970s Who, but my collector's (Boris The) spidey senses tell me that the bits you need to own will get a full release one day before very much time has been passing so maybe we're all just better off waiting for that instead?

Pete Townshend "The Quadrophenia Demos"
(Geffen, April 2012)
Volume One: The Real Me/Cut My Hair/The Punk and The Godfather//Dirty Jobs/Is It In My head?/Anymore
Volume Two: I've Had Enough/Drowned/Is It Me?//Dr Jimmy/Love Reign O'er Me
"You were under the impression that when you were walking forward you'd end up further onward, but things ain't quite that simple!"
A two volume EP set released on vinyl seprately for Record Store Day 2012 (and only available through retailers, not online), this was a simple eleven song reduction of the twenty-six demos already released on the 'Quasfrophenia Director's Cut' released the year before. If you already own that set you don't need this one, although the covers are rather nice and better designed than the 'parent' set with a pretty collage of Pete and a mixing desk for a head (but in a nicer hue than the original!) and Pete at a piano, both overlaid with swirly symbols and writing. The demos themselves go for the obvious choices although it's a surprise the demo for the single '5.15' isn't here - it's one of the better ones.

"Pinball Wizard - The Collection"

(Spectrum, May 2012)

My Generation/Batman/Run Run Run/I Can See For Miles/Armenia (City In The Sky)/Circles/Pinball Wizard/Baba O'Riley/Won't Get Fooled Again/Naked Eye/Young Man Blues/I'm Free/Love Reign O'er Me/The Real Me/Slip Kid/Who Are You?/Another Tricky Day/Athena/It's Not Enough

"I ain't seen nothing like him in any amusement hall"

A simple, straightforward greatest hits compilation named after one of the band's biggest money-earners even though it doesn't seem like a natural name for a best-of (what next? 'The Who are The Acid Queen'? 'The Punk, The Who and The Godfather?' 'I Can See The Who For Miles?' 'All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes'?!? No that's a silly name, Who would use that?...) The track listing is a little weird mind, focussing on the band's 1960s and late 1970s work for a change with such unexpected delights (the term is used loosely) as the 'Batman' theme and Speedy Keene cover 'Armenia'. It's nice to hear more than just the hits though and some of the rarer work here - such as the stunning 'Naked Eye' and the despondent Who theme song 'Slip Kid' - deserve their moment in the sun over and above missing hits such as 'Substitute' 'I Can See For Miles' and even - horror of horrors - 'My Genration'. If the hits are what you want then for goodness sake don't buy this volume first - but if you find it cheap enough then buying it second will offer a much greater understanding of what The Who are all about than most hit sets and there are some great undervalued moments here.

 "Quadrophenia: Live In London"

(Universal, Recorded July 2013 Released June 2014)

Disc One: I Am The Sea/The Real Me/Quadrophenia/Cut My Hair/The Punk And The Godfather//I’m One/The Dirty Jobs/Helpless Dancer/Is It In My Head?/I’ve Had Enough!//5:15

Disc Two: /Sea And Sand/Drowned/Bell Boy//Dr Jimmy/The Rock/Love Reign O’er Me/ Who Are You?/You Better You Bet/Pinball Wizard/Baba O'Riley/Won't Get Fooled Again/Tea and Theatre

"There's a story that the grass is so green, what did I see? Where have I been?"

'Quadrophenia' always felt like the album that 'got away' from The Who - though it's rightly celebrated as one of their greatest achievements now, at the time it was released at just the point when audience were looking for something 'fun' and double album sets were labelled 'pretentious' and the album was always overshadowed by 'Tommy' and 'Who's Next'. A similar thing happened with the concerts: while 'Tommy' won over new fans on stage and what remained of 'Lifehouse' always went down well in the live set the period live shows for 'Quadrophenia' were difficult, messy affairs interrupted by The Who trying too hard to do what wasn't possible yet with click-tracks Keith couldn't follow and video-screens and sound effect tapes that didn't always play while Roger insisted on explaining the plot between every song (much to its chief creator's annoyance). Pretty much all of 'Quadrophenia' was dropped from the set-list for good across the band's 'first' career (barring, occasionally, 'Love Reign O'er Me' and '5:15'). After the revival of 'Tommy' went down so well live in 1989, though, 'Quadrophenia' was the obvious sequel and the band toured the album again with a highly successful concert show that incorporated video screens once more without the technical issues (starring Phil Daniels who played Jimmy the Mod in the 1979 film version) and occasional special guests. Released as the middle disc in the triple-DVD set 'Tommy/Quadrophenia/Live Hits', it's a stunning show where everybody knows the material backwards (while the video parts mean Roger doesn't need to introduce the songs night after night and can get on with singing) and - despite the understandable, occasional lapses in speed and power due to age - is as good as ever The Who could have performed the show in 1974.
However The Who never released that version on CD, even though it would have sold like mod-cakes. Instead they waited until yet another revival in 2013 by which time the band have been playing this material so often they're bored and the video screens and character touches have been reduced to near-nothing. There are no guest stars and Roger has a bad cold all the way through, sounding closer to reaching a century than he does his teens (and Pete isn't an awful lot better). The problem is, unlike 'Join Together', this is a single live show rather than highlights of a whole lot re-assembled and sadly it's not a particularly hot night, such is the way with the rock and roll concert Gods sometimes. Sure band and audience have fun and it's great to have one souvenir of 'Quadrophenia' played with the charge and thrill and improvisation of live performance. Frankly the work also sounds an awful lot healthier than 'Tommy' did in 1989 when it sounded 200 years older, not a mere twenty. But ultimately this version of 'Quadrophenia' is a disappointment (at least compared to the 1996 work): many of the songs end in a musical muddle as the band fall slightly out of sync, the vocals are hard to hear and decipher and none of the performances here add to the original - in fact almost all of them detract (only a very pretty take on 'Is It In My Head?' with louder brass in tribute to John Entwistle comes close to matching them - with Roger's older lived-in vocal perfect for this sort of doubt-filled number). The 'encores' are pretty good mind, with a thrilling 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and a passionate 'Tea and Theatre' the perfect ending - maybe 'Quadrophenia' is one of those cursed works that's simply doomed not to travel to the live stage that well and the 1996 version was just lucky? Overall, though, I'd stick with the DVD set if you really want to see this work performed live - and the original album is more than enough if you don't.

"Tommy" (Super Deluxe Edition)

(Universal, November 2013)

CD One (Album): Overture/It’s A Boy/1921/Amazing Journey/Sparks/Eyesight To The Blind/Christmas/Cousin Kevin/The Acid Queen/Underture/Do You Think It’s Alright?/Fiddle About/Pinball Wizard/There’s A Doctor/Go To The Mirror!/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror/Sensation/Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/I’m Free/Welcome/Tommy’s Holiday Camp/We’re Not Gonna Take It

CD Two (Demos): Overture/It’s A Boy/1921/Amazing Journey/Dream One/Sparks/Eyesight To The Blind/Christmas/The Acid Queen/Underture/Do You Think It’s Alright?/Pinball Wizard/There’s A Doctor/Go To The Mirror!/Success/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror/Sensation/Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/I’m Free/Welcome/Tommy’s Holiday Camp/We’re Not Gonna Take It/Trying To Get Through/Young Man Blues

CD Three (Remastered Album): Overture/It’s A Boy/1921/Amazing Journey/Sparks/Eyesight To The Blind/Christmas/Cousin Kevin/The Acid Queen/Underture/Do You Think It’s Alright?/Fiddle About/Pinball Wizard/There’s A Doctor/Go To The Mirror!/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror/Sensation//Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/I’m Free/Welcome/Tommy’s Holiday Camp/We’re Not Gonna Take It

CD Four ('Live Bootleg'): Overture/It’s A Boy/1921/Amazing Journey x2/Sparks/Eyesight To The Blind/Christmas/Cousin Kevin/The Acid Queen/Do You Think It’s Alright?/Fiddle About/Pinball Wizard/There’s A Doctor/Go To The Mirror!/Tommy Can You Hear Me?/Smash The Mirror/Sensation/Miracle Cure/Sally Simpson/I’m Free/Welcome/Tommy’s Holiday Camp/We’re Not Gonna Take It

"We need more room, build an extension, a colourful palace, spare no expense now!"

Given that 'Tommy' is, in part, a morality play about the corruption of something wonderful and spiritual by commercial greed of people who should know better, it's always seemed confusing to me just how often The Who have milked their biggest cash cow. You may have noticed a lot of variations on 'Tommy' in this book already - the studio original, the full 'Live At Leeds', the Isle of Wight gig, the film soundtrack version, the Broadway musical version, the standard CD version, the deluxe CD version and a classical re-interpretation with an all-star cast. Enough already! Tommy is proof that even small ideas can be big enough to be life-changing, that a humble disabled child can change everything simply through playing pinball and that fame is an evil thing that takes the talented away from what they should be doing. Making yet more money out of 'Tommy', when there was absolutely no reason the new 'extras' couldn't have been released decades go, seems dangerously close to the moment when Tommy's fanbase turns on their hero and walk away, dejected, onto the next big thing. Something tells me that this won't be the last set The Who ever release for their biggest creation either so where does it end - with a twelve disc version collecting every variation out there? Tommy already sounded perfectly fine and happy when upgraded to CD in the 1990s, with the deluxe re-issue something of a let-down. Do we really need it all over again?

To be fair, the new remix is a good one making what always sounded quite a muddy and unconvincingly performed album the first time round into something ever more beautiful. Pete doesn't tease us with four demos from his archives this time - he pretty much releases the full lot, including some unheard tracks (though the noisy psychedelic freak-out 'Dream One' is just a hi-fi obsessive with a new tape recorder for Christmas and too much time on his hands and 'Success' is a nine second spoken word link in the style of 'Miracle Cure'). Some of these are terrific: 'Sparks' is a psychedelic maze full of dead-ends and doubt, rather than the rockier revolutionary version that made the LP and the original version of 'Tommy's Holiday Camp' before Keith Moon got his grubby mac and dirty mittens on it is much cuter, more Disneyland than Dirty Old Man. The October 15th 1969 gig from Ottawa, Canada is the earliest live Tommy we've heard yet, much rawer and more awkward than the 'Live At Leeds' one four months later but interesting for the differences all the same. It's also a miracle it survives at all, Pete being so distraught the first time he heard the live tapes back he ordered them to be burnt - instead they were kept in a box for years safely away from the guitarist and his matches). However this is really all superfluous decoration: you only really need to own one version of 'Tommy' and arguably that's the one on the second disc of the deluxe 'Live At Leeds'. The original was so newly born it couldn't breathe, the demos are like CAT scans of the baby in progress in the womb (and interesting only to those who created it or really, really really love this child) and the Canadian gig is interesting in the way that a photograph of someone you know really well looked like as a child. In true musical terms there's only one performance of 'Tommy' that truly matters - and the 'Leeds' performance isn't even here.

Roger Daltrey/Wilko Johnson "Going Back Home"

(Chess, March 2014)

Going Back Home/Ice On The Motorway/I Keep It To Myself/Can You Please Crawl Out Of Your Window?/Turned 21/Keep On Loving You/Some Kind Of Hero/Sneaking Suspicion/Keep It Out Of Sight/Everybody's Carrying A Gun/All Through The City

"He sits in your room, his tomb with a fist-full of tacks, precoccupied with his vengeance, cursing the dead who can't answer him back"

Roger Wilko and out! Well that was the plan anyway: Who fan and guitarist with Dr Feelgood Wilko Johnson thought that his time was short after a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer and was urged to put his affairs in order including some musical ones. Thinking what he really wanted to do he realised that what he most wanted was the chance to play some old blues and R and B songs from his youth in the company of people he admired and the people he most admired were The Who. We don't know if Pete was ever asked but Roger was more than up for it, relishing the chance to hang around with an old mate and even older songs while as an ambassador for Teenage Cancer Trust Roger felt it his duty to bring media attention to the illness as well as having fun. The result is an album that was never going to be deep or big on thought but it is a lot of fun as two old-ish men revisit their youth and record a whole album within a mere week for the first time in decades. The pair hadn't worked together before but had bonded at various awards ceremonies and dinners, finding a mutual love for Johnny Kidd and The Pirates. Wilko wrote most of the songs for the record, alongside a Bob Dylan cover (as far as I knpow the only one any of The Who ever recorded, so that's a first in itself) and few if any of them deal with loss or grief, Most are just blues wailings about girls, wine and song with Roger turning the clock back to the days of 1965 when he had no bigger ambitions than to be a James Brown cover artist. Roger and Wilko make a great team and you can hear their friendship in every bar wven when the songs aren't quite up to speed. If anything lets down this set it's the backing band who aren't quite up to the speed of Roger's roar of Eilko's flamboyant guitar, despite featuring The Style Council's Mick Talbot on keyboards and a rhythm section 'borrowed' from Ian Dury's Bloackheads.  It's not an essential album this one and some of the performances fall a little flat, but it did a lot of good in an awful lot of ways - funds got raised for charity, rarely discussed subject matters got raised by rock fans, Roger got to have a lot of fun, both men got their biggest sales success in decades and best of all somehow Wilko Johnson came through it all fit and healthy, still touring at the time of writing and with a new spring in his step thanks to this album.

'Going Back Home' is a lazy slow-tempo rocker about 'working just to keep my feelings clear', enlivened no end by Roger's throaty growl which adds a whole new layer of anger and toughness to the track.

'Ice On The Motorway' is a very 'Shakin' All Over' style track that has Roger grunting like a punk rock pig on a short and simple track about how life can be snatched away from you at any time, although it's not as deep or as revealing as that makes it sound.

The more up-tempo 'I Keep It To Myself' is one of the best tracks here as Roger - once the most with-it, sexy, confident rockstar on the planet, pleads that he's going to work better at love and that he's never been so worried about being turned down in his life before.

Dylan cover 'Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?' (the B-side of 1965 single 'Higheay 61 Revisited') works better than I expected it to. Despite the wordy impenetrable lyric this song about good intentions and wanting a sign from your loved ones works well in context with Roger singing at full power and Wilko turning in some glorious Townshend-style guitar prangs.

'Turned 21' is the most mvoing moment, a memory of Wilko's of watching his girlfriend turn 21 and first being away of the passing of time 'with so much to get done'. Wilko feels that ever more with every passing year and never more than ebing poorly. but this is a song more about the healing of the past than the worry of the future. The song has Roger struggling more than across the rest of the album but this is a fitting song for him too, an older, more fragole coda to The Who cover of 'I'm A Man' in which Roger 'made 21' all those years ago.

'Keep On Loving You' is one of the album's lesser song, with Roger over-doing the shouting over a rather limp backing track on what should be a sweet and simple song about being in love that's been turned into a power-ballad.

'Some Kind Of Hero' is a backwards-compliment to Wilko's partner. He was after a 'good girl' and couldn't find her, so his missus did instead! Throughout their time together he watches her age, get stretch-marks and lose her beauty and yet he loves her more than he ever did when she really did look beautiful. A sweet song rather undone by the relentless thrash metal of the backing.

'Sneaking Suspicion' is another Dr Feelgood-style track with large heavy guitar slashes and a lyric about finding an affair going on behind the narrator's back. Roger is suitably angry but his bitterness feels out of place on what's generally quite an 'up' album despite the circumstances.

'Keep It Out Of Sight' has a slinky guitar groove but neither the lyrics nor Roger's OTT huffing vocal quite lives up to the same promise. This is a song about keeping what you believe in your heart privately until the timing is right and as such is the single most Townshend-esque lyric here though not quite in the same league.

'Everybody's Carrying A Gun' is the most retro song here, played with rockabilly goodness and recalling 'Young Man Blues' with the idea that once old men used to be revered and respected but now it's a young man's game and you can't argue because all the youngsters seem to have their own guns and are ready to shoot.

The album closes with 'All Through The City', a Jam-style slinky rocker about the urgency of having so many things still left to do and say, the idea of searching through the city for a lover and a party presumably metaphors for life. It's a rather low-key end, but this gloriously noisy album was never likely to end with a tearjerker - it's not that sort of a record.

Indeed, 'Goin' Home' isn't much of a record at all. At half an hour long it's the shortest album of new material in this whole book (even 'The Who Sings My generation' is a fraction longer) and it flashesd past in the blink of an eye; a bit like life, as the message of the record seems to be. And yet it's still worth hearing, both for change to hear Roger regaining some of his old rawness and power on a bunch of songs he clearly relishes and for hearing Wilko regain his strength and come to terms with his illness by refusing to go quietly into the night. You'd never count this as a masterpiuece or a highlight of either man's entire catalogue, but it's spirited, good-natured and a worthy way for two old friends to spend what they feared might be their last few moments together making something good rather than dwelling on inevitability. Would that The Who had ended with quite this much energy, power and focus - in any era.

"The Who Hits Fifty!"

(Universal, November 2014)

Zoot Suit/I Can't Explain/Anyway Anyhow Anywhere/My Generation/Substitute/The Kids Are Alright/I'm A Boy/Happy Jack/Boris The Spider/Pictures Of Lily/The Last Time/I Can See For Miles/Call Me Lightning/Dogs/Magic Bus/Pinball Wizard/I'm Free/The Seeker/Summertime Blues/See Me Feel Me/Won't Get Fooled Again/Let's See Action/Bargain/Behind Blue Eyes//Baba O'Riley/Join Together/Relay/5.15/Love Reign O'er Me/Postcard/Squeeze Box/Slip Kid/Who Are You?/Trick Of The Light/You Better You Bet/Don't Let Go The Coat/Athena/Eminence Front/It's Hard/Real Good Looking Boy/It's Never Enough/Be Lucky

"I'm a solider at sixty-three, still no easy way to be free!"

A half-century eh? Who'd have guessed it - no actually they probably wouldn't. Admittedly it's been a patchy fifty years, with a split seventeen years in and most of the material on this album (30 odd tracks) comes from the first seven. This set is advertised as having two discs dedicated to fifty of the band's best loved works. Rather it features about 25 of their best loved works and some really dodgy choices. Real fans know that there's more to the band than the hit singles and 'Tommy' and of all the AAA bands their catalogue is one of the ripest for re-discovery: any band that had such an output that glorious peaks like 'Quadrophenia' and 'Who By Numbers' got treated as 'not as good as before' have a lot to offer the casual collector and had this set featured the real unsung gems of their catalogue ('It's Not True' 'A Legal Matter' 'Glow Girl' 'Melancholia' 'Glow Girl'  'The Real Me' 'Is It In My Head?' 'I'm One' 'The Punk And The Godfather' 'However Much I Booze' 'They're All In Love' 'Success Story' 'Blue Red and Grey' '905' 'Sister Disco' 'The Quiet Ones' 'I've Known No War' 'Cry If You Want')it would have been up near the top of the best re-issues list faster than a Keith Moon drum solo on rollerskates. Instead it's just the usual stuff, but not as many, padded out by too many reunion songs. Just as with 'Then and Now' the band also make their fanbase fork out a fortune for songs they already own to hear just one new track, although 2014 recording 'Be Lucky' really isn't worth your time or worthy of The Who, suffering from the worst of both Pete's recent records (clumsy and obvious) and Roger's (noisy, clumsy and obvious).  If rumours of the band's demise are true then this will be a truly awful place to leave The Who's legacy (they should have stopped at 'Real Good Looking Boy' back in 2003 or 'Tea and Theatre' in 2006).

At least this isn't terrible: there are such little-heard gems as High Numbers debut 'Zoot Suit', 1972 single 'Let's See Action', Who By Numbers' 'Slip Kid' and even the originally unreleased 'Postcard' along for the ride. What doesn't quite work, however, is the sound which is weedy and thin compared to how all these songs sounded on their original albums (I'm guessing here but it's as if the whole lot have been re-mastered to sound 'the same' even though in this case the 1965 'same' and the 2014 reduction of the 'same' are two very different things. The rather simplistic pop-art CD cover could be better too, making The Who out to be a cartoon when even a cursory glance at this album's contents makes them seem more like a long involving novel. Also, would it have killed them to release fifty songs on a set with so much free space and so many great songs in the band's back catalogue (would it have killed them to add another eight songs and make this birthday party truly go with a bang instead of a whimper?) Still as an introduction to the band it's ok - it's just as a celebration of fifty glorious years (well ten anyway) it should be so much better than this! 

In case you were wondering where it was our old review for the director's set of 'Quadrophenua' is here:

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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