Monday, 4 September 2017

Cat Stevens "Teaser and the Firecat" (1971)



Cat Stevens “Teaser and the Firecat” (1971)

The Wind/Rubylove/If I Laugh/Changes IV/How Can I Tell You?//Tuesday’s Dead/Morning Has Broken/Bitterblue/ Moonshadow/Peace Train

‘I let my music take me where my heart wants to go…’

Like a ‘teaser’ for the rest of his work to come, this fifth Cat Stevens album sits at the heart out of his eleven-album ‘first’ career and summed his breezy yet troubled personality so well that to some extent everyone assumes every Cat Stevens album will sound – and look – like ‘Teaser and the Firecat’. From the quirky hand-drawn cover on the front to the quirky song titles on the back (who else would write a title like ‘Tuesday’s Dead’ or as soppy as ‘Peace Train’?) to the quirky music inside, this is the sort of album no other singer-songwriter would ever have tried to make and yet which is cat to a tee, even more than ‘Tillerman’. It’s the sound of a young man struggling to become an older and wiser one, convinced that there is something deeper out there that he hasn’t discovered yet and which is just out of reach, but that journey is still largely a happy one, finding him bouncing on the breeze between possible destinations and indulging in earthly hang-ups along the way. More than anything else it’s a happy and positive album, the sound of someone who just three years before had nearly died from TB but is now not only healthy again but popular again – and on his own terms this time, not the whims of the pop Gods. The Cat Stevens who made this record probably had a pretty good idea it would sell in the wake of ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ and the soundtrack for ‘Harold and Maude’ but would probably still have made this album this way anyway, because that’s who he is – and for the first time in a long time Cat feels very comfortable in his skin.

No wonder: few AAA albums contain top ten singles but this one contains three, with ‘Peace Train’ ‘Moonshadow’ and ‘Morning Has Broken’ all big hits around the world. If Cat or record label Island had been greedier they could potentially have released more: ‘The Wind’ is maybe a bit short but the other six songs are all equally commercial, each track a pop nugget of commercial gold that just happens to come with some deep and wistful lyric over the top. There’s everything here that you’d want to find from your period singer-songwriter album: love, life, religion, hope and prettiness, along with the perfect shading between the joy and exuberance in the singer’s voice and the slight sense of nagging worry and doubt that’s there in every Cat release and prevents him from getting too big-headed (both ‘The Wind’ and ‘How Can I Tell You?’ are, you sense, the even more authentic Stevens hiding behind the friendly deep-thinking popstar mask, secretly terrified of the world and even more the world’s girls). Cat is enjoying a rare peaceful and happy time before the doubts heard in those songs and the surprisingly bitter ‘Bitterblue’ consume him and what strikes you compared to both earlier, crazier records and later, more troubled albums is how content he feels. This is an album where the sun shines on every song, morning breaking over more than just the album’s most famous moment and where the moonshadows are brief, blocking out harsh memories of the ‘cat in the dark’ (as a 1980s compilation of the later years puts it). As early as the next record the following year ‘Catch-Bull At Four’ Cat will get bored with this persona, breaking it down and tearing it away in favour of more esoteric and even deeper songs full of worry and doubt and struggle, but for now it’s his rare moment in the sun and you feel it, in every joyous written note, in every exuberant vocal, in every carefree arrangement that makes the world seem a better place – even on the uglier, sadder songs there’s a peace and a poise and a purpose behind these works.

That makes my life difficult, dear reader. I have a particular soft spot for the darker, edgier Cat Stevens records from later in the discography that not as many fans know. These are the albums like ‘Foreigner’ and ‘Buddha and the Chocolate Box’ where the world is a scary place and joy is fleeting, where Cat is suffering a crisis of confidence that gives me something to really get my reviewer’s teeth into and while frequently scatterbrained and incredibly inconsistent, they are always interesting. I know exactly why this album sold the best out of Stevens’ discography: it’s the one album where, rather than being a cat on a hot tin roof, the singer sounds as if he’s enjoying himself and has every reason to with talent pouring out of his every pore (paw?) and if I need a pick-me-up it will be this record I reach out for too, rather than the forgotten gems from later years. But that’s not very interesting is it? Telling you that a record turned out happy because the writer was happy isn’t quite the same as telling you of Cat’s desperate search for enlightenment or his painful struggles to get better from TB. All you really need to take away from this record is that Cat is happy and that fact makes listeners happy too, with the happy songs to back that up.

Even so, there were a few things gnawing away at Cat that perhaps provide the ‘hidden’ agenda of the album: that happiness won’t last forever and that Cat is in the limelight more by luck than skill. While his seventeen-year-old self loved all the attention and parties back in 1967, twenty-one-year old Cat is much shyer and aware that while he loves his music being successful and popular, that really isn’t his career goal anymore. Those years of being poorly and without a voice, watching his career and his money disappear as he bided his time in hospital, have left a lasting mark: this is an opportunity not just to sell records but to talk about things that matter. Cat’s brief but bright and dazzling relationship with model Patti D’arbanville is now over (partly because of Cat’s kinks making her dress up as a schoolgirl if groupie and friend Pamela Des Barres’ account of their time together can be believed) and Cat is on his own again, aware that however big a star you might be that won’t wave a magic wand for your love life. Judging by some of his later songs (‘Sun-C79’ especially) Cat met a few other loves in his life in his period, but struggled to commit to any of them as his career and fame took off – you can already hear his nervous struggle to know what to say to them on this album’s song ‘How Can I Tell You?’ (And if someone as erudite as Cat can’t say it, then what chance have the rest of us?) While Cat’s life has been getting better across 1970-1971, in the ‘outer world’ it’s been getting worse and a humanitarian, heavy reader and charity supporter like Cat would have been all too aware that his audience want to hear solutions to problems, not joy at being alive. You can throw in here too Cat’s growing belief in this period that he’s been taught a lesson by…somebody and has been given a second chance for a reason as a key influence behind his recent songs. The search to find out who that person is (and what religion is the best way of communicating with ‘Him’) will take up much of the rest of his catalogue and this book and Cat had already been ‘On The Road To Find Out’, but it starts off here on this album.

An older, wiser, humbler, Muslim-adopted Cat Stevens commented in one of his recent comments that he was amazed that he had the insight to write about his life as openly as he does on ‘The Wind’, the opening track to this album which sets out pretty much the first half of the Cat Stevens story. He’s still young, he doesn’t have the answers only questions and he feels them stirring in his soul. He doesn’t know where the answer lies yet, though his answer that ‘God only knows’ is perhaps more prescient than he would have guessed when he wrote those lines and his time swimming in ‘the devil’s lake’ partaking in too many showbiz parties is now over; from now on he is ready to be buffeted by the winds of life, to be carried anywhere it takes him. While the 1971 model Cat would no doubt have been shocked at a lot of the journey still to come (dropping out of music altogether, the Islam conversion and the Salman Rushdie controversy, not to mention founding an Islamic school and becoming a headmaster), you sense a part of him too would have been satisfied and maybe a little bit proud. The one thing these very different set of songs have in common is how much they want that change at any cost, that Cat has been given a vital opportunity to ask questions and is impatient for the answers, the theme that life is short and precious cropping up a lot on this album (far more so than ypou’d expect for the average twenty-one-year old which, admittedly, Cat never was: ‘Changes IV’ feels ‘change a coming’, ‘Tuesday’s Dead’ worries about getting the chance to ‘make a mark in time’, ‘Bitterblue’ is frustrated than someone the narrator trusted to be true and beneficial to him has been wasted when life is so short. ‘How Can I Tell You?’ wishes it could say the words ‘I love you’ and stop wasting time, but fails, while ‘If I Laugh’ has regrets over past behaviour when the narrator didn’t know any better – and his decision to hide his feelings, laughing to keep from crying as he does the very teenager thing of ‘yeah, sure, go if you want, it doesn’t bother me!’ This era Cat knows that life is too short for regrets, lost opportunities and empty days of pointless living and that too much of life has already been wasted even at his tender age.  ‘I’ve been living a long time, looking on and on…’ runs one of the lines in ‘Bitterblue’ and that’s the real album motto, not that ‘Morning has broken’ or that the ‘Peace Train is sounding louder’ or that ‘If I ever lose my mouth I won’t have to talk no mo’.

Interestingly Teaser – the first and most loved Cat Stevens ‘invented character’ and in many ways his alter ego – has no such qualms. In what you suspect may be a bit of wish-fulfilment top-hatted Teaser is happy-go-lucky, content to live in the present and follow his nose without recourse to regrets or worries. Well, only one very main one – that the moon has fallen out of the sky (you wonder if Teaser is a friend of Happiness Stan, from The Small Faces’ ‘Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake’, who worries about the same thing; that plotline though was a parody – Teaser’s quest is, you sense, partly serious). The cartoon film, featuring Spike Milligan’s narration and the song ‘Moonshadow’, was begun here with some of the proceeds from the album but won’t be completed by 1977, by which time Cat’s re-action is interesting. Back in 1971 Stevens was determined to have full control over everything including his quirky hand-drawn album covers (impressively re-created by the team of animators hired to copy his style) and it goes with the songs well: a sense of low budget epicness, as Teaser and his Firecat (what is a firecat?) sit at the gutter, fishbone in hand, but with the moon blinking happily and hopefully behind them in the night sky. The characters are down but certainly not out and the fact that Teaser sports a top hat as well as rags suggest that he is at this point in his life partly through choice. The storyline, such as it is, reveals a worry not for Teaser’s own safety but mankind’s: the world needs saving and Teaser is straight there trying to save it, along with his furry feline friend. By the time the animation came out in 1977 though Cat always seemed rather ambivalent about it: the animated short was quickly buried until re-appearing on video, even though it was highly popular with fans and Cat’s few cryptic comments suggested that he considered it a folly from his younger days. By 1977 Cat was all about people helping themselves – or letting God help them help themselves. The idea of someone out to rescue the universe single-handed was brave bordering on foolish: how can one person do so much?

And yet, that’s why many fans love this album as opposed to, say, ‘Izitso?’ (the album out that year). This is an album that, whilst realistic, still comes with a lot of hope and love and zealousness that it is not too late to save the world and that together we have the power to make things happen. ‘Morning Has Broken’, already an overheard school hymn using a different tune for most people when this album came out, takes on a new meaning multiple classroom assemblies had knocked out of us: any morning can be like ‘the first morning’ and find humanity back where we once were in the Garden of Eden. Why not this morning? ‘Moonshadow’ takes great delight in being alive at any cost; perhaps with memories of those TB years gone Cat sings about how anything is now a positive in his life: if his legs stop working, he just won’t have to walk; if he loses his mouth and all his teeth he won’t have to talk; if he ever loses his eyes he won’t ever have to cry ever again. ‘Changes IV’ sounds from the performances as if the changes are vaguely threatening, but not the lyrics which believes wholeheartedly that the world’s then-‘children’ will see more than their parents ever did and ‘there will be no more rain’. ‘Rubylove’ is one of the most upbeat love songs in the Cat Stevens songbook, even if – I suspect – it’s really a love song to Cat’s Greek ancestry rather than any one person. ‘Tuesday’s Dead’ sounds as if it should be another ‘evil’ song, but it isn’t – it’s about the narrator taking a day off during the week to do what really matters to him spiritually and forget the nonsense about making a living; it’s a small step that all of us can do to make the world a better place. And then there’s ‘Peace Train’, one of the hippiest, dippiest, happiest, most hopeful AAA songs of them all: to the 1971 model Cat there is no question that the Peace Train is going to come because that’s just common sense; it’s only a question of when and how often that train might be de-railed before it gets here. As dark as this album sometimes gets (‘Bitterblue’ sticking out like The Spice Girls at a feminist party), it’s a glass-full kind of an album where hope and peace and love will always prevail. As far as Cat is concerned, that’s the message his public wants to hear and it’s one he’s happy to give them, for now. In future albums Cat will get snappy, annoyed that his audience are leaving the idea of pursuing peace up to him like a ‘leader’ and later albums (particularly ‘Foreigner’) will try to snap his few remaining listeners out of their complacency and remind them how much work there is still to be done. On this album though there is no work that needs doing – all we and Cat need to do is stay true to ourselves and allow ourselves to be drifted by God only knows on the breeze of life.

One other reason this album sold so well is more down-to-earth though: the sound. Yes ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ sounds pretty amazing to (and has by far the better songs I have to say), ‘Teaser’ is the best-sounding, rosiest and most commercial Cat album of them all. Producer Paul Samwell-Smith has believed in Cat ever since receiving a demo of songs in 1969 and has slowly grown into working out what to do with his talent. His method of using small, sparse, muted sounds to sound big is genius and something Cat will struggle to replicate when he leaves Paul to make his own records in the future (bar a reunion in 1974). The backing here (Cat and the ever wonderful Alun Davies on guitar, Larry Steele on bass, Gerry Conway on drums and Rick Wakeman on piano) are exactly what this album needs: the musicians by now know each other well and believe in the material, which they [play with joy and a lightness of touch. And yet there only a few of them playing live making all this noise, offering us the sense that we can maybe achieve these things too if we really try. Later Cat albums will try and dilute this sound with synths, orchestras and more backing singers than the entire line-ups of the Surpremes, but this era of Cat Stevens backing sounds remarkably good and ridiculously suitable for the songs Cat is writing about small overcoming big, peace overcoming hate and little old us overcoming big age-old questions.

No wonder so many people loved this album so: it reflected the madness of the world while allowing us to think about a time in the future without such obstacles, something sung with conviction and certainty for the most part. Even so, this is also the first Cat record that, to these ears at least, doesn’t quite improve on its predecessor. Admittedly that’s mostly because ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ is near-perfect (with one awful track amongst ten delightful career highs), but even so song-on-song this album is maybe not quite so spectacular. Whenever I hear ‘Tillerman’ I marvel, as I so often do, at a writer being able to put my quirky individual way of seeing the world down in song. I don’t quite feel the same with this album, which is one I admire more than I ‘live’. The likes of ‘Moonshadow’ and ‘Peace Train’ are great songs but they don’t get me the way ‘But I Might Die Tonight!’ or ‘Where Do The Children Play’ always do. ‘Morning Has Broken’ is incredibly beautiful – but I can’t hear it too many times on repeat or it becomes mawkish and unlikely, in comparison to the very real charge and surge of tracks like ‘I Think I See The Light’ and ‘Trouble’, which (unfortunately) better reflect where my head tends to be at most of the time. ‘Changes IV’ is this album’s unsung hero, a clever quirky inventive song that takes the melody’s endless need to ‘resolve’ itself into a note we can recognise and adds a lyric about needing ‘resolution’ in life too, a very clever piece of engineering that still ‘works’ as a real song. ‘How Can I Tell You?’ too may well beat even ‘Broken’ as Cat’s most beautiful track as even this clued-up with-it charismatic narrator struggles to say things of importance, even on this so-stark, so-simple, so haunting track. And there’s nothing here that’s bad, which is actually quite unusual for Cat, although ‘Bitterblue’ does sound as if it ‘belongs’ on the angrier, messier ‘Catch-Bull’ than at the three-quarters point of this record and the short ‘The Wind’ and ‘Rubylove’ is a few verses short of being a classic (this album is, too, just thirty-two minutes long and perhaps three classic songs too short). There is, perhaps, too much here to stop this being an AAA classic of the highest order, to mark alongside ‘Tillerman’ and the ever-under-rated ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ (a tale of illness and overcoming adversity) and ‘Buddha and the Chocolate Box’ (a tale of regret and overcoming adversity) with less to really get into and adore. But ‘Teaser and the Firecat’ sold by the bucketload for lots of very good and sensible reasons (that voice, that confidence, that band sound, even that cover art all at their peak) and it remains a strong, valued and admired addition to the AAA catalogue for all its slight weaknesses.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

‘The Wind’ starts off sounding much like ‘Moonshadow’ to come but it ends up being a much sadder, more wistful sort of a song. Though the title threatens to make it sound like a weather report or a song about having too many beans on toast, the winds are of course not physical but spiritual and Cat introduced the other songs on the album with this caveat: that he doesn’t have any answers but like us he wants them and is merely passing on his glimpses into what life seems to be really about as he finds them. In a career-defining line, Cat tells us that ‘I let my music take me where my heart wants to go’, before warning us against swimming in the ‘devil’s lake’, presumably the false showbizzy sect he fell in with when he was an impressionable teenager. Cat starts this album still ‘on the road to find out’ and like a postcard this song promises to get back to us when Cat has something more to say, destination still unknown. Few listening to this album would have guessed just where that journey is going to take him, as Cat tries out Buddhism on his next three albums, dabbles briefly in Christianity and ends up converting to Islam before the end of the decade. Here Cat sounds like a man whose just walked into a spiritual clothes shop, eager to try on every piece of clothing in turn and waiting to make his final judgement for what suits him best. This sweet little song would like many a period song have been even better had it been longer, as with only two verses there’s not very much to go on, but it’s a very sweet prelude and has much of the acoustic ear-catching loveliness of ‘Mona Bone Jakon’ and ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ as Cat and Alun Davies’ twin guitars prop each other up and goad each other on.

‘Rubylove’ is the first of a brief run of songs celebrating Cat’s Greek ancestry (though he was born and raised in London, both his parents are Greek). Catchier than ‘O Caritas’, this song is perhaps Cat’s first love song (depending on whether you count ‘Lady D’arbanville’ as a real person, a ghost, a muse or all three) but one that seems to have been inspired by the Greek folk songs he would have been brought up on in his youth. It’s all very different for Cat’s usual style and features him and Alun doing a good job of playing guitars like Greek Balalaikas, all strumming flamenco flourishes and ‘cha cha cha’. Interestingly the song ends up sounding like something Nana Mouskouri would sing (when she’s taking a break from ‘Moonshadow’) which makes me wonder if Cat wrote this song for her rather than himself, a possible sequel perhaps to her big hit ‘Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town?’ (Is this even a song he wrote from his hospital bedside figuring if he couldn’t perform then at least he could write for other artists?) The result is one of Cat’s simplest songs, one where Cat promises a lover named Ruby that he will be her lover always, ‘day and night’, which is even shorter in terms of words than ‘The Wind’, consisting of just one verse repeated twice (the ‘middle’ verse being sung in Greek). It sounds good for what it is and makes you wish Cat had utilised his clear understanding of how his family’s songs work more, but this song comes so far out of left-field compared to the rest of his catalogue that it doesn’t seem ‘right’ here at all. The ore political ‘O Caritas’ from ‘Catch-Bull At Four’ sounds far more in keeping with Cat’s natural grumpy style than this oddly joyful piece.

‘If I Laugh’ only consists of twelve lines itself and yet it feels like a much more substantial song as Cat wrestles with some very complex emotions, set to one of his most complicated, angular guitar riffs. Cat is pretending not to be hurt, that he’s fine and laughing and everything is OK, but inside his heart is breaking. In the first verse he passes up the chance to know someone he felt would be very important to him, in the second he regrets lacking the courage to reach out for someone ‘at home, alone’ and in the third he is shocked at the person he used to be ‘before you’. It’s as if Cat has been visited by the ghosts of Christmas future, present and past, all showing him the error of his ways and making him wish he did/will/is acting in a different way. What’s so clever about this song though is that it manages to remain so clearly emotional and heartfelt (Cat’s pleas to ‘live in peace…and dream at night’, conscience free) with being so very ambiguous. This is in many ways Cat’s first ‘religious’ song, which is surely talking about God in some sense or something similar: he’s living his life in denial of the presence he senses being unhappy with his progress, is embarrassed not to have reached out to the figure he’s always secretly known was there waiting for him to call out for help and he’s deeply ashamed at the way he used to live his life, for earthly pleasures and always being in the ‘present’. But this clever song works equally well as a shy man chatting up a girl he fancies: in the first verse he pretends that he never really fancied her anyway, in the second, he tries to concentrate in the present instead of being cross that his shyness got in the way of his elaborate plans to meet up with someone and make them fall in love with him and the third finds him tossing and turning, wishing that he could be the way he was before he knew heartbreak. This suggests to me that the two events perhaps happened simultaneously in Cat’s life. We know now that his relationship with Patti D’arbanville was on the kinkier side of romances and this is clearly a song of guilt – is this Cat accepting that God has closed one door on his love life and his last great link to being a trendy man about time (Patti stood by him while he was poorly but had left him by 1971), but opened it in other ways, teaching him how to ‘behave’ with the next love of his life? Whatever the inspiration, this song of denial in public and remorseful tears in private is a clever one and one of the best songs on the album, overlooked unfairly by the Cat Stevens cognoscenti.

‘Changes IV’ is better still as Cat takes an angry, turbulent, restless guitar riff and writes a whole song on top of it about how he and his generation are themselves feeling angry, turbulent and restless. The song longs for change in so many more ways than the curious little riff, which seems to jump through several keys before settling finally on the much delayed one that brings him peace and the lyric is one of Cat’s finest. In a re-write, of sorts, of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ (it seems unlikely that Cat was a fan, but he was) Cat paints the revolution to come as inevitable because it’s so strongly in the air (the wind?) that surely no one can deny some change is going to happen now the children of the 1960s are growing up in the 1970s. In the first verse revolution is welcomed and needed: it ‘breaks down the walls of silence’, ‘lifts shadows from your mind’ and ‘fills in the emptiness that yesterday left behind’. The world is fairer, clearer and gives a voice to everyone regardless of creed, colour, religion, gender and age and the pointless ‘isms’ of the past (sexism, racism) are given the push so that every human feels respected and important. The second verse gets more scared and anxious though: what if the revolution is short-lived? Cat yearsn not just for a change for the sake of change but one that ‘will stay and remain’, that the change won’t end with Cat’s hippie generation but keep being passed down generation by generation, so that maybe one day their children will see their parents’ faults and want to keep changing them too (‘Your children see the answers that you saw the same’). The chorus, with its singalong ‘woah woah woahs’ tries to put the brakes on things literally and offers us what Cat really thinks: that he welcomes change as long as it’s ‘the one that’s going to last’. A gloriously poetic lyric makes this song sound more like the grand tradition of singalong folk tunes from ‘We Shall Overcome’ to ‘Amazing Grace’, but Cat is too clever a writer to hand this to us on a plate, so the snarling, awkward, clumsy melody keeps knocking us off our feet throughout, pulling the rug from underneath us just at the point when life seems to be working out and our future seems assured. Like ‘The Wind’ this is a writer who is too humble to think that he has the answers but too hungry to stop asking for questions and the result is one of his cleverest songs.  The ‘IV’ in the title by the way refers not just to the fact that this is track four on this cleverly sequenced album but that it follows a ‘I IV V’ chord progression, where the ‘V’ is the ‘missing chord’ if you will that feels like a ‘natural’ resolution.

‘How Can I Tell You?’ is a beautiful song too. The longest thing on the album by a mile (4:27), this sounds like another ‘thankyou and goodbye’ song to Patti. Even confident Cat, with songs pouring out of him and the world at his feet, gets anxious and nervous as he tries to write a song about what somebody means to him and he spends this extra-long song (double the length of many on this album) trying to find the words to spit out. In many ways he does: these lines sound incredibly heartfelt as Cat sings about being alone, so used to being with his girl because they felt so right together that he still looks at his side and talks to his beloved, ‘sad when he realises that ‘you can’t hear’. He spends his nights praying that somehow he might end up together with her again because he craves her touch and longs to feel his lover’s skin under his fingers. Time and again his thoughts end up as ‘one thing honey’ – what that ‘thing’ is we never hear, but it’s probably along the lines that he’s lost her for good and she isn’t coming back this time. Still Cat learns his lesson too late, pouring his heart out on a sumptuous vocal whereby his voice finally breaks on the last verse as he cries ‘I love you’, too late. Early 1970s hitmaker Linda Lewis provides the uncredited ‘ooohs’ towards the end, floating along like a ghost just out of reach that Cat just can’t quite communicate with. Gorgeously warm, impressively heartfelt and deeply emotional, this is a very beautiful song that might return to an age-old subject (there are lots of other AAA songs that talk about trying to tell someone you love them) but is better than most, with Cat’s moving performance up there with his very best.

Over on side two  Cat is trying to move on across ‘Tuesday’s Dead’. Returning to ‘The Wind’, Cat refuses to be the ‘answer’ people want him to be (‘Like everyone else I’m searching through what I’ve heard’) but is ambitious enough to want to be ‘the mark underline the word’ of the answers, the stepping stone towards one of his fans maybe getting the ‘answer’ and coming back to him. This is a very obtuse song by Cat’s standards though which is so desperate not to provide an ‘answer’ in any shape or form that it keeps contradicting itself or offering us such confusing language that we don’t know what to make of it (‘Where do you go when you don’t want no one to know?’) Along the way Cat paints a preacher as someone who might have all the answers (‘Won’t you paint my dream? Show me  where you’ve been? Show me things I have not seen?’), before this quick-stepping melody gets too impatient and moves off. Verse number two figures that there isn’t one answer that fits all but billions unique to all of us, figuring that mankind has died out still wanting an answer to his deeper questions so he’s unlikely to find out – but that equally mankind getting ideas above his station and ignoring the question is worse and doomed to failure (the odd lyric ‘If he tries to rule the skies he must fall’. Was Cat on a plane when he wrote this song?) Verse three then ponders whether the answer isn’t actually just in reach, ‘hiding’ somewhere in the changes that have taken place across the 1960s. Cat noisily urges his audience to try to ‘shake’ the establishment to see if it is lying there, ready to fall, desperate to ‘turn the world upside down one more turn’ as we all look for the answers again. The title is perhaps the strangest thing about this song: the way Cat sings it make it’s sound as if Tuesday is an ‘evil’ day, but the context of the other lyrics make it sound more as if the narrator is dedicated every endless meaningless nothing Tuesday of his life to these very big questions and that if we all dedicate enough time in the middle of our ordinary little lives then the answer must be out there somewhere. Unfortunately a harder-to-follow than usual lyric and a more-obvious-than-normal riff don’t’ necessarily got together and the result is one of the album’s weaker songs, with cat slightly ‘off’ in his performance.

‘Morning Has Broken’ was always my favourite school hymn out of the four or five my schoolteacher actually knew how to play, long before I heard Cat’s version. Many hymns are scary, out to make you too afraid to do any wrong in case an ‘Old Testament’ God doesn’t ‘like’ it; by contrast this is a ‘New Testament’ God who offers mankind absolution and new redemption, this lovely piece offering new beginnings. The idea is that every morning is a chance to be absolved of your sins and do good, that every blackbird still speaks ‘like the first bird’, that every rainfall is ‘like the first one’ and every morning is a promise that mankind has another ‘chance’ after the flood and can live again. While I often wondered about some of the lyrics (the line ‘Eden saw play’ always sounded like either fun in a workshop or some guy called Eden going to the Theatre) this is one of the few Christian hymns you don’t have to be a Christian to feel joy from. How typical that it’s one of the world’s best known Muslims who had a hit with it, though at the time Cat was trying on lots of spiritual hats to see what fitted and the pure joy and hope in this song appealed to him as much as Buddhist parables about peace and Muslim texts about respect. The song started life as a Scottish/Gaelic hymn known as ‘Bunessan’ (‘Child In The Manger’) about the birth of Jesus, before poet Eleanor Farjeon set these new words to the piece. Cat added his own tune, more flowery than the original and with a slower, more reverential key (interestingly many Churches and school now sing Cat’s version, probably without knowing this isn’t how the original version went). Initially all Cat had was the opening verse which he wanted to put on the album as a forty-five second snippet to close the record, ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ style. Producer Paul Samwell-Smith realised how good it sounded and dug out the full lyrics but still felt it wasn’t long enough. It was then session musician (and later Yes keyboardist) Rick Wakeman who came up with the ear-catching melody while the band were messing round in the studio, something Cat realised was the perfect ear-setting introduction to his piece, a million miles away from the gospel solemnity of the original. The result isn’t perfect: you can tell Cat isn’t ‘living’ this song the way the way he does his most personal songs and sounds as if his vocal was recorded on the thirtieth take shortly before lunch, while the backing choir near the end of the song is a ‘trap’ of these sorts of these songs that the piece has done well avoiding for two whole minutes. However this is a sweet and lovely song of hope and love that Cat and crew serve very well indeed, an obvious hit even among people who’d hated having to sing this at school or who didn’t have a clue of the song’s Christian roots.

‘Bitterblue’ wipes away all that hope with Cat’s angriest and sulkiest song so far though – one that, oddly, sounds like much more of a template for Cat’s later recordings than anything else on this album. To be fair this album needs it: the record’s second side is in danger of becoming hippie dippie and floating away on a cloud what with ‘Morning Has Broken’ and ‘Peace Train’ surrounding it, but this song offers just enough venom and bite to ‘earth’ this record again. My guess is that this is the final song for Patti, an angry acerbic ‘how dare you do this to me!’ rant by a jilted lover whose wondering what went wrong and secretly a little guilty over the part he played in a breakup too. Cat realised he was on his ‘last chance’ but didn’t think he broke it; he’s stayed faithful during endless tours and stayed in touch while half the world away, just waiting for the moment he could fall back into his lover’s arms. So where the hell is she? This song feels like more than a lover’s tiff somehow too: Cat sounds as angry and passionate as we’ll ever hear him (though ‘Music’ comes close), snapping these lines as if he’s just woken up on the wrong side of the bed and fallen into his swimming pool. He keeps singing about how she was his ‘last chance’, almost as if she’s a lucky talisman whose kept the demons away – and now they’re all circling round his head, laughing. Was Cat afraid that without someone to keep him on the safe and narrow he would end up a drug and booze addict or back in the hospital again the way he was in 1968? It’s particularly odd because over verses tell us that Cat’s experienced now, he’s ‘lived a long time’ and seen ‘summer’s gone’, so surely he should know that the heartbreak is only temporary and that he will recover? This song doesn’t feel like it’s an old and wise song though: instead it feels like what it was, a twenty-one-year-old whose just lost the very first true love of his life and is so mad with passion and loss he’s screaming his head off, afraid of feeling as bitter and as helpless as he does. A riveting tune, which takes the usual Cat Stevens angular guitar riffs but makes them sound really really nasty and twice as fact as normal, is the making of this song, much more than the lyric or Cat’s slightly messy double-tracked vocals.

‘Moonshadow’ is a very famous song and has overtaken both ‘Morning Has Broken’ and ‘Peace Train’ now to be the ‘hit’ of this album even though it stalled on release as the album’s first single, peaking at a UK high of just #22 (in contrast ‘Morning Has Brokenb’ went top ten). That’s partly because it’s arguably Cat’s most covered song (‘Broken’ being an obvious exception, but then again Cat only ‘re-wrote’ it so that doesn’t count!) That’s both this song’s strength and it’s failure: almost always Cat’s songs only sound right when sung by Cat, owing so much to his quirks of humour matched with his love of depth and spirituality. ‘Moonshadow’ though could have been written by anyone with skill: it’s a bouncy singalong optimistic tune about always looking on the bright side of life, inspired by a rare day out in the country when Cat was looking for a ‘second home’ to buy. A lifelong city boy, he was used to being squashed in endless boxes (he famously went up to his family’s roof to ‘escape’ the city below and look at the stars) and even as a ‘popstar’ had spent most of his time being stuck in cars or hotel rooms. Until this point in time, he’d never really been out in the country and certainly never at night, so it was a shock when he noticed that the moon at night cast a shadow, something he’d never thought about before. Thrilled by his discovery, he made up a childish song about being followed by his ‘moon shadow’ that somehow mutated into another song about the joy he felt at all his ambitions coming true and receiving the respect and love he’d always craved. Cat felt so happy he felt that he could never be unhappy again and figured that whatever happened in the future, for now he’d ticked off all the boxes he’d ever wanted. This song, ironically for a peace about the moon, looks on the sunnier side of life: maybe in the future he’ll lose his arms? Well ok, at least he won’t have to work. He might lose his eyes – well, he won’t have t see. He might lose his mouth and ‘all my teeth’ – hey that’s fine too, he didn’t like talking much anyway. The most striking part is the short middle eight burst in a much angrier tone (‘Did it take long to find me?’) where Cat stops leaping and hopping and approaches the moonshadow directly. In context the ‘moonshadow’ sounds more like the threat of depression, the idea that something will always go wrong just when you are at your happiest (something that seems to be true judging by the uglier, angrier songs on ‘Catch-Bull’ and ‘Foreigner’ where Cat gets very grumpy!) Cat, though, escapes it by ‘leaping and jumping’ with his mind, refusing to give way to sad thoughts because he’s just too happy. One of those songs that sounds cute and clever when in the right mood and yet twee and soppy when in the wrong one, this is a popular song for several good reasons, but not as universally as perhaps some of Cat’s other hits for several reasons more.

‘Peace Train’ starts off sounding like a simple Simon and Garfunkel tune (‘Sounds Of Silence?) and winds up sounding like an epic (The Boxer?) It’s a simple song about a complex subject, Cat reducing millennia of mankind fighting and battling each other and feeling prejudice with another of this album’s songs about how there’s a wind of change in the air and things are going to be different with ‘his’ generation that’s going to ‘win’. Cat imagines peace as a ‘train’ that’s ‘getting nearer’ and eventually we will all get on board, this song asking the question of asking us all when we will do this – now or when it’s too late? The train metaphor is an interesting one: Cat could have used a car (‘Roadsinger’ does a similar trick with a camper van) or a bus (more people get on busses together) and trains are usually treated more as remnants of the industrial revolution, dark and smoky things that caused to leave the fields and work dangerous mundane jobs for a living. However it’s a worthy metaphor: in the days before motorway trains brought people closer together and made the geographical ‘distances’ between us much shorter, so why not spiritual ones too? You can throw in, too, that Cat has no doubts in this song that peace will arrive and there are no u-turns to be had; instead this peace vehicle is on ‘rails’, always fated to end up in the land of peace and contentment one day. This song has a clever idea at its heart and seems to have ‘hit single’ written all over it, but unusually for Cat the idea seems to end there and we don’t get any variation across this song. Cat was always strong at middle eights but there is none used here and even the chorus just sounds like the  verse with different lyrics. The performance of this tune is slightly clunky too: all too obviously meant to symbolise a train slowly pulling into a siding to let us on, it doesn’t have the groove of some of the other songs and is overwhelmed by the Paul Smawell Smith arrangement that comes out of nowhere during the finale only for the Peace Train to make another detour. The result is another song that actually doesn’t have the lasting power of the best of this album, but was always going to do well for the central image alone.

Overall, ‘Teaser and the Firecat’ isn’t as strong or consistent as ‘Tea For The Tillerman’. This is an album that’s definitely less brave than its predecessor and has cut out the songs about death and materialism and the generation gap for more mainstream songs about love and peace and hope. Cat will later criticise himself for this and try to get away from the weight this album’s success put on his shoulders by turning angrier, grumpier and less forgiving in his material. However, he shouldn’t: he says at the beginning that he doesn’t have any answers and spends the album criticising himself, which is a lot more palatable than him criticising ‘us’ as he will do on albums like ‘Foreigner’. He must surely have known, too, that after ‘Tillerman’ anything that was vaguely commercial would have sold like hot-cakes and that he was ticking all the boxes to make a commercial album here: one with its own distinctive side that still made every listener feel ‘included’ and which offered hope and love and catchy tunes with just enough depth and medicine to make the sugar go down. ‘Teaser’ was always going to sell in droves and that is no bad thing – to this day it features a good half of Cat’s best known songs on it and many casual fans have actually come to this one assuming it’s a compilation because they know so much of the material from the radio. The problem comes when Cat fights so hard to break away from his formula that he causes his audience to give up and stop right here, at the point where Cat’s albums have most appeal – which means that potential fans are missing out on so very many wonderful things from Stevens’ later years. That’s not this album’s fault though; it couldn’t see that coming and indeed ‘Teaser’ is very much a ‘glass half full’ kind of album where nothing can ever go wrong; the front cover character alone is more than content with his limited lot in life. Not Cat’s bravest or most brilliant album then and a million miles below his best, but a powerful album with many great moments wrapped up in such a delicious package of cover art and sound that it still remains a very wonderful album.
Other Cat Stevens related articles from this site you might be interested in reading:
'Matthew and Son' (1967) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/cat-stevens-matthew-and-son-1967.html

'New Masters' (1968)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/news-views-and-music-issue-114-cat.html

'Mona Bone Jakon' (1970)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-35-cat-stevens-mona-bone-jakon.html

'Tea For The Tillerman' (1970)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-41-cat-stevens-tea-for-tillerman.html 
'Back To Earth' (1978) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/cat-stevens-back-to-earth-1978.html
'An Other Cup' (2006) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/05/yusufcat-stevens-other-cup-2006.html

'Roadsinger' (2009)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/news-views-and-music-issue-31-yusuf-aka.html

'Tell 'Em I'm Gone' (2014)
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/yusuf-cat-stevens-tell-em-im-gone-2014.html
Surviving TV Appearances 1967-2015 https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/cat-stevensyusuf-surviving-tv.html
The Best Unreleased Recordings 1969-2009 https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/cat-stevensyusuf-best-unreleased.html
Non-Album Recordings 1966-2014 https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/cat-stevensyusuf-non-album-recordings.html
Compilations, Box sets and Alun Davies LPs Part One 1963-1990
https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/cat-stevens-compilationslive-lps-part.html

Compilations, Box Sets and Religious Works Part Two 1995-2012 https://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/cat-stevens-compilationsbox-sets-and.html




The Who: Non-Album Recordings Part One 1964-1967

Non-Album Recordings Part #1: 1964

It was manager Pete Meadon who figured that the only way of promoting a band as un-promotable as The Who was to re-style them as born mods, even though strictly speaking none of them had shown much interest in the mod v rockers gang warfare raging across Britain's seaside resorts across 1964. Suddenly The Who were sharp-suited trendsetters whose clobber your mum probably secretly admired rather than a bunch of scruffy 'Ooligans. Meaden insisted on a name-change too, figuring 'The Who' was a high-falluting concept too far and coining the band's temporary name 'The High Numbers' himself after Mod slang (basically it meant The Who were 'number ones' and 'ace faces' - 'face' being another term for mod fashion statement makers, hence the much more genuinely modish 'Small Faces'). The name and fashion change was enough to win The High Numbers a prestigious one-off contract with Fontana Records, best known at the time for signing Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders (no relation). The record flopped, being perhaps a few weeks too late to the market place in a music scene that was constantly changing and the fact that the band didn't do that much promotion (they hated these songs and didn't often perform them on stage - if at all!)

The rather pretty but decidedly dated A-side [1] 'Zoot Suit' shows that The High Numbers could conceivably have had a few hits and enjoyed a brief career as a mod-ish bunch of lads about town, but Meaden's own composition is hardly as original or lasting as, say, 'I Can't Explain' by the band proper the following year. Roger sounds very convincing as a cocky young punk though and while the rest of The Who tone their regular act down no one seems to have given Keith Moon the memo as his first recorded performance is as noisy and busy as any in his later career. Pete and John have fun trying to sound like a jazz double-act too, with bass 'gulps' and some note-perfect guitar parts that are a long way from the Who sound to come (nice solo though). The lyrics tend mainly to deal with the subject of clothes, something later spoofed in 'Quadrophenia' as Jimmy gets more and more obsessed with the fact that the clothing he wears on the outside will turn him into what he wants to be on the inside (even though Jimmy lacks all of Roger's confidence here). The biggest sign of things to come, though, is on the finale when Roger drops his cool, Keith speeds up and Pete starts thrashing about on the guitar, with a real burst of emotion over the last few seconds that's much closer to the intensity of things to come. A fascinating first go that's so 'wrong' in so many ways and yet so 'right'. The song also made perfect sense in the 1964-set film version of 'Quadrophenia' where it gives Jimmy's dad a chance to complain about the band on TV in a gloriously self-referencing postmodernist moment while summing up what life was like for 1960s Who fans all the time ('Do you call that singing now? Or playing the drums? And look at that geezer with the big nose!...') Find it on: the film soundtrack version of 'Quadrophenia' (1979) and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

Most fans tend to prefer the B-side [2] 'I'm The Face' - the band too judging by how much more frequently it's been made available. Good thing too because Meaden's Slim Harpo rip-off (the melody is just 'Got Love If You Want It' with no variation to cover the fact at all) and more world-weary words are far more in keeping with the future Who ethos. Roger is the ultimate school bully here, taunting everyone around that he's 'the face' if you 'want it baby' - basically any girl that's brave enough to be with the man who calls the shots in town should flock to him right now. The Who aren't usually this confident but they're up to the task, with some terrific 'so there' put-downs from John's bass and a spare performance from Pete and Keith that keeps the 'menace momentum' going. It's very much Roger's show though and he's superb, all too believable as the cocky teen who knows he's got everything going for him and playing some blistering bluesy harmonica just to ram the point home about how cool he is. In truth Meaden should have shared his co-credit and adds little to the song that wasn't already there in Slim Harpo's version, but this song is so well played and so perfect for it's confrontational times that it remains a fan favourite. Pete quips in the sleevenotes to the original 'Odds and Sods' rarities set that there's 'a great jazz guitar solo by someone I don't recognise' - given that nobody besides the band performed at this first session either his memory is unusually faulty (the album was released for the Who and this single's 10th anniversary after all) or he's making a point about how different the 30-year-old Townshend with an established style is to the 20-year-old copycat whose going for small, understated notes not wind-milling magic. 'Is this really The Who?' his sleevenotes conclude. Yes it is - and as with The A-side the band are already deeply recognisable even though they're playing in quite a different style. Figuring that the song was 'nicked' anyway, Pete recycled the chorus for a starring role at the end of 'Sea and Sand' from 'Quadrophenia' but by this point in the story Jimmy is too desperate and needy to be a tough, calculating 'face' and the performance is deliberately apposite to this performance's well-oiled cool. Find it on: 'Odds and Sods' (original version 1974/extended version 1998), 'Quadrophenia' (film soundtrack 1979 - 1993 CD re-issue only) and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

Even though The High Numbers were working under pressure - taping all their songs under that name in one busy afternoon session despite having never been inside a recording studio before - they still had time to tape an outtake. [3] 'Here 'Tis' is the session's only cover song and perhaps significantly is a Bo Diddley number that, like most, originally came with a slow-moving 'Bo Beat' that went for slow seduction and hypnotism but The Who have already changed the arrangement a great deal, revving the engine up to a much higher speed. John's bass is already calling the shots, with Pete's slashed chords falling into line alongside him while Moon tried to dominate them both. You can see why this one ended up on the cutting room floor - the band are that bit more tentative and Roger especially doesn't quite let fly with the same joyous abandon, though his harmonica skills are still top-notch - but it's far too good to have remained stuck in a vault for thirty years. Find it on: the box set '30 Years Of maximum R and B' (1994)

Zooming forward to November 1964, The Who's first single under the name we all know and love, [4] 'I Can't Explain', is a fascinating debut single. While releases like The Beatles' 'Love Me Do' and The Stones' 'Come On' only hint vaguely at all the twists and turns to come, 'I Can't Explain' is the perfect debut release for The Who: channelling all he aggression and frustration of their early years but also touching on all the themes to come - identity, articulation and hurt (this narrator could easily be Tommy or Jimmy, the 'mod' from Quadrophenia'). Part of Pete Townshend's brilliance was ability to be articulate about being un-articulate and of capturing all of those unspoken turbulent feelings of youth that no other writer has ever expressed quite so well. This song is one of the best examples of that, a simple lyric pushed along by staccato sentences on a song that sounds like a caged tiger pacing the walls and only really finding release in the two exquisite guitar solos that are over all too soon, rising and falling with waves of sudden emotion. The result is a song that manages to be everything: light and dark, frivolous and serious, intensely aggressive and charmingly funny, the perfect debut release for a band who aren't sure if they want to be pop or rock just yet. The fact that The Who have kept this song in their setlists for more or less their whole career (certainly their 'original' career and occasionally on reunion shows too) shows just what a long life this single has. Even for a new band nobody had heard of, it's UK chart peak is actually a mite disappointing: this is clearly the sound of a brave new world, although for now it still manages to be nicely in touch with the 'old' one. Find it on: all good Who compilations - and a few bad ones too! - plus the deluxe re-issue of 'The Who Sings My Generation' (2002)

Producer Shel Talmy was obsessed by [5] 'Bald Headed Woman', making The Kinks record a cover of the tuneless dirge as well. Why becomes clear when you learn that, as a traditional number out of copyright, the composing fees went to the 'arranger' - which just happened to be seasoned producer Shel Talmy! Not that The Who knew that - they probably thought their producer was just giving them rubbish material on purpose. Released as the flipside of 'I Can't Explain' (and thus breaking a mid-1960s 'rule' that you covered famous songs on the A-side and did your own stuff on the B-side), there's no comparison. Unlike the A-side, this is the sound of yesteryear and even Pete's throbbing guitar slashes and Keith's comedy returning thumps on the drums can't disguise how dated this song must have sounded at the time, while Roger sounds prematurely like a dirty old man. There's a painful wrong note at 1:16 too where the rest of the band swing into the noisier second section while Roger is still playing in the style of the first, which goes to show with how much care this recording was being made. Don't give that producer sugar in his coffee or he'll come up with another mess like this one (although The Who got off lucky - The Kinks had to do sister song 'I've Been Driving On Bald Headed Mountain' as well). Find it on: 'Two's Missing' (1987) and the deluxe re-issue of 'The Who Sings My Generation' (2002)

Non-Album Recordings Part #2: 1965

 [6] 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' is the band's second single and probably my favourite amongst The Who's 1960s singles. A rare collabopration between Pete and Roger, this song came as the result of the singer asserting himself and 'demanding' what sort of lyrics he wanted to sing. The 'real' start of a life-long career of Pete, the archetypal sensitive singer-songwriter and the 'bullied' kid at school revelling in the chance to get his own back by using the 'character' of big bad Roger to hide behind, it's one of Townshend's most successful attempts at his favourite 'trick', What person hearing this song didn't doubt the scariness of the narrator who will not be denied what he wants by anyone- 'Nothing gets in my way, not even locked doors, don't follow the lines that been laid before' is the sort of lyric designed to strike fear into an old generation? At the same time, though, this song is a typical Townshend song about 'needing' to communicate and worrying about the ethics of what the character wants to do: 'I can do anything - right or wrong, I can talk anyhow - and get along'. Like 'I Can't Explain' this could be Tommy or Jimmy talking to us. Roger is brilliant on this song, ignoring Pete's subtleties and singing this song like the school bully, frightening the world into submission and refusing to take no for an answer. However he's showed up by Pete's single greatest guitar solo, a sputtering display of sparks and incoherency that points towards the desperation hidden at the heart of this aggressive song. Back in 1965 'feedback' was still a new sound (it's first appearance on record had been The Beatles single 'I Feel Fine' in Christmas 1964 - and that was a carefully controlled extra texture - this is uncontrolled chaos!) In the context of the period it must have sounded mind-blowing, with Pye so worried about how fans would take it that they first tried to have the effect taken away (which would have ruined the whole point of the record) and then slapped a 'strange sounds are not the fault of your record player' message all over the single. Fans must surely have known though: 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' is a song all about wanting to go to new places and making a lot of news about it, something it achieves magnificently. Sadly this single didn't stay very long in the live-set even though it sounded terrific - if you get the chance do check out the live version on the '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' DVD which is jaw-dropping, Pete travelling a million miles away from the song's main hook before suddenly dropping back into the song note-perfect, demonstrating awe-inspiring guitar control. The single version is a triumph for the whole band, though, who all play their part and who nail the song's tricky stop-start rhythms as if they've been playing as a quartet for decades, not mere months. An alternate version can be heard on the 'Who Sings My Generation' CD re-issue of 2002 but the differences are minimal - a slightly slower tempo, extra Nicky Hopkins piano, a different vocal part on the 'Nothing gets in my way not even locked doors' verse and some slightly different cymbal thrashes mostly. Find the released single on almost every Who compilation, while the alternative version can be heard on the 2002 deluxe re-issue of 'The Who Sings My Generation'.

The B-side was a cover of the Otis Blackwell song [7] 'Daddy Rolling Stone' which is about as close to forgettable as the early Who became. Roger sounds oddly weak and vulnerable here, mixed low in the song and pushed on by the might of the Who juggernaut, which is an odd fit for another of those early 'boasting' songs that has Roger pretending he's the daddy of all wanderers, going from girl to girl. A good thematic fit for the equally wandering A-side then, but not a patch on it as either song or performance, with only Roger's lewd chuckle at around the two minute mark offering anything you can't get better elsewhere. Find it on: 'Two's Missing' (1987), the 2002 deluxe edition of 'The Who Sings My Generation' and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)


As early as song [8] 'Shout and Shimmy' The Who are making a mess out of my neat book (how typical!) Debut album 'The Who Sing My Generation' was effectively made twice, during overlapping sessions that changed emphasis mid-way between The Who as a soul/R and B covers unit (the way they always had been live till 1965) and a sound built around Pete Townshend's compositions. This also means a switch of emphasis between Roger (who chose most of the material and was flag-waver for most of it) and his quieter guitarist, which will have repercussions in years to come. By rights we tend to feature an album's 'outtakes' at the end of each entry for each year - that's the way most people hear them, after all, appendaged to various 'bonus discs' and the like. But writing them that way seemed wrong: this and the following seven songs clearly belong to a 'younger' Who, one that hasn't yet learnt how to play full-power and which are still tackling music as a hobby, not as a matter of life and death. To be honest few people would still be talking about 'My Generation' as a debut album had it ended up with these songs on board. The Who were only a passable covers band and 1965 already had several excellent covers bands, so this album would have been a bit lost in the crowd (would they even have been given the chance to make another one?) However these recordings - for the most part left in the vaults until the 1980s and 1990s - are a fascinating sideways glimpse at how the band must have sounded loud before they started recording and how the band might still sound in some alternate universe where 'I Can't Explain' was merely the B-side to 'Daddy Rolling Stone'. Best of all, they're a lot of fun. 'Shout and Shimmy' is about the best of the bunch, a new arrangement of the Isley Brothers hit best known from a 14-year-old Lulu's jaw-dropping worldwide hit of 1964 with some 'shimmy' backing vocals added. Roger's earnest rock and roll delivery hits the rest of the band's more, erm, laidback attitude head on, perhaps hinting at growing divisions within the band ('Do you feel alright?' Roger yells at the top of his lungs. 'Tell me some more' drawls Pete in a fake American accent, while John says 'Yeah...I guess'). Like many of the band's early recordings Keith is the star here, hurling himself round his drum kit with a power that must have been so daringly new back in 1965 and yelling barely audible screams of delight in the background. It's no substitute for, well, anything the band released up to 'Substitute' as it happens but it's a fun recording to hear. Find it on: 'Who's Missing' (1986) and the 2002 deluxe edition of 'The Who Sings My Generation'

[9] 'Anytime You Want Me' is the odd one out in these early outtakes, being the only Pete Townshend original of the bunch. The most derivative number the guitarist ever wrote, this song is at times like a 1950s pastiche, with its slow tempo, 'woah-a-woahs' and Roger's rather unconvincing lead vocal as a supportive all round nice guy (he does 'nasty' so much better!) That said, it's the performance that's arch, not the song - the melody is one of Pete's prettiest early compositions and his and John's delightful falsetto harmonies are truly lovely (the deluxe edition of the 'My Generation' album features an additional 'vocals-only' mix of this track which shows off even more what a beautiful band The Who could be on the few occasions they wanted to be). Both session pianist Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon sound 'wrong' for this song though - the former too light, the latter playing this song with less noise and fury than usual but still with more powerful drum thrashes than most period drummers give to their band's rock songs. Find it on: 'Who's Missing' (1986) and the 2002 deluxe edition of 'The Who Sings My Generation'

The driving [10] 'Leaving Here' - originally a hit for co-writer Eddie Holland (of the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland writing team, see if you can guess which one!) - is an excellent song to show off The Who's early rock and roll attack. Pete's shimmy-shallying guitar chords add a dash of colour to a song driven by Keith's noisy relentless drumming. Sadly John is all but inaudible instrumentally (although a backing vocal proves he was there for the session), which might be why this song doesn't quite have the attack of The Who at their best. That's a shame because this song certainly has potential: it's basically 'Young Man Blues' with a pissed off Roger angrily sighing that he's 'getting sick and tired' of getting cooped up in a small town and wants to create mischief on a massive scale. A nice and rather unusual Townshend guitar solo (with jazzy touches - perhaps something he's learnt from his dad Cliff and his jazz band) is the highlight of the song, while if you listen closely you can just about hear Keith yell out in protest near the end of the song - his arms must have been getting very tired! Or at least you can on the 'Who's Missing/30 Years' version - a second, tighter, faster-paced version was released on the 'Odds and Sods CD re-issue/Who Sings My Generation' deluxe set in 2002 and is slightly rougher but a bit more exciting. This version has an interesting history: recorded towards the end of 1964 the song was pressed onto just one acetate and then abandoned, until finding its way to a London car boot sale where it was bought for next to nothing by Who fan/fanzine operator Phil Hopkins who couldn't believe his luck - or his bank balance once the song was offered back to The Who's archives.

[11] 'Lubie' is a finger-snapping blues song that sits Roger down to the ground (his gruffer, Americanised vocal is a delight) but sounds alien to the rest of the band. This song, written by Paul Revere (without the Raiders), is the sort of thing The Rolling Stones could do: slinky, sultry, with a slightly raised eyebrow offering comment at how daft this typically 1950s song about a wayward girlfriend is. The Who aren't that sort of a band and while Roger means business (he even spits out the tricky sentence 'I said to my missus must tell you what I'm gonna do gonna buy your mum a new dog too, yeah' with conviction, a feat by itself), but everyone else clearly thinks this song is a joke. If nothing else, though, 'Lubie' proves that The Who have already mastered the art of dynamics, dampening the song down quite effectively in the middle before Moony springs back to life like a jack-in-the-box. Find it on: 'Who's Missing' (1986) and the 2002 deluxe edition of 'The Who Sings My Generation'

[12] 'Motoring' is a fun little song, perfect for The Who's 1965 band of 'stomp rock'. The first of a handful of Martha and the Vandellas covers the band performed, there's not really much happening here - just some compact lines about going for a ride with a girl in a motorcar which is surely a throbbing innuendo for his electric feelings for her - but the band make the most of what little there is, especially Keith who all but disintegrates his drums on perhaps the first 'real' sign of him strutting his stuff. Dropped from the album when more Pete Townshend originals seemed like a good ideas in the wake of 'My Generation', this is still stronger than the B-sides of the period. Find it on: the 2002 deluxe edition of 'The Who Sings My Generation'   

The back of the acetate featured a tentative early take on another Holland-Dozier-Holland song made famous by Marvin Gaye. The Who would finally release a 1971 cover of [13a] 'Baby Don't You Do It' as the B-side to 'Join Together' in 1971, but the first tentative stab from 1965 is also a pretty good cover, with a slower tempo and Roger singing as if he's depressed rather than angry. Pete and John sing backing vocals on this version, a merry chirrup of 'shoowap shoowap shoowap' that sound as if they're poking fun at their lead singer and his blues (given what's been said about this period of Who history, perhaps they were). Keith is the only Who member acting normally and he bangs the hell out of his kit, at least until Pete lets fly with a gloriously bonkers guitar solo that invents psychedelia a full two years early. The snarlier re-recording is much looser and clearly more a warm-up between old friends than a serious attempt to get the song on record. The 'shoo-bop' backing vocals have gone now, in favour of some gritty explosive guitar-work and Roger at his most extroverted and alive. A shame The Who never did this one live as that's where their rock and roll classics tended to best sing and dance, but in terms of purely studio-basedc covers it's arguably their best. Find it on: the 1965 version can be heard on the CD re-issue of 'Odds and Sods' (1998)  and the 1971 version on the 'Who's Next' CD re-issue

A slightly more gentlemanly-sounding than normal Who also appeared at the BBC at the end of 1965 for a series of cover songs they never released on album. [14] 'Good Lovin' - a hit for The Young Rascals not long before and almost a hit for The Grateful Dead about fifteen years later - sounds rather snappy, with Keith finding a real momentum in his drum-rolls and a high-pitched John making a good foil in the backing vocals to Roger's gutsy lead. Only Pete sounds a little under the weather, holding on to the song's relentless groove by his finger-nails. It's not as strong as the best of the band's 1965 recordings but it's good enough to make you wish they'd nailed a perfect take of it sometime when they weren't in so much of a hurry. Find it on: 'The BBC Sessions' (1999)

Ditto the band's final James Brown cover, [15] 'Just You and Me (Darlin')' which suits Roger's squawk, John 'n' Pete's playful backing vocals and Keith's why-play-one-note-when-ten-at-once-will-make-the-point-quicker? style of playing but which features perhaps the most basic Townshend guitar solo he ever recorded. It's a lot better and Who-like than 'I Don't Mind' or 'Please Please Please' and The Who are really entering their stride during the last verse (Pete ad libbing a 'don't you know that's right darlin!' for good measure). They haven't quite nailed the song here, but it's a worthy try and this could have been a really nice cover had it been done under normal recording circumstances instead of being played for a load of bored white-coated engineers at the BBC. Find it on: 'The BBC Sessions' (1999)

Though fans know it best as the lead song on the November 1966 EP 'Ready Steady Who!' actually [16] 'Circles' aka 'Instant Party' belongs with the bulk of songs recorded during the band's final days on Brunswick for Shel Talmy. In fact it was intended as the follow-up to 'My Generation' ahead of 'Substitute' before The Who's split with the label meant that Talmy and Brunswick were set on a course of destruction, renaming the song and making it a mere B-side. Given the late 1965 vintage this song is impressively psychedelic (to the point where we named it the 'second earliest example of AAA psychedelia' in one of our website columns yonks back, losing out only to The Searchers' 'He's Got No Love') and way ahead of its time. Roger's narrator is so head over heels in love that he can't function properly and everything is going round in 'circles' - cue some gloriously and suitably heavy psychedelic band interplay as Pete tries to make his droning guitar sound like a sitar. An early template for what will become 'I Can See For Miles', it features Roger as the 'centre' while all hell breaks loose around him and The Who all appear to be playing different songs - a pretty good summary of the narrator's no-doubt acid-enhanced emotional breakdown. The moment when Roger's lonely disorientated soul is joined by Pete and John's harmonies us truly moving, even if Keith is forever looking to trip them up and start the manic feeling of alienation all over again. Given what else was around in the charts in 1965 this is impressive, mind-blowing stuff and really should have been a single (the contemporary of 'We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper' and 'Get Off My Cloud' it would surely have blown all the other opposition away). The Who's version is gloriously messy compared to the many cover versions of this song around (of which Les Fleurs De Leys' take included on the various artists box 'Nuggets' is best and adds a giddy little guitar riff that's in tight control until fading into feedback right at the very end; Pete's guitar is there all the way through the song by contrast, either and sometimes both side of the line of being in control). Two versions of the song exists - the superior earlier one was titled 'Instant Party' and released as the B-side of 'Substitute' by Talmy before a legal dispute with Brunswick saw it withdrawn and replaced by a completely different song which didn't even feature The Who - it finally came out 'officially' as the B-side of the 'unofficial' single 'A Legal Matter' which The Who tried (unsuccessfully) to block after they left the label. It's this version you can hear on the multiple CD re-issues of 'The Who Sings My Generation' down the years. A second version - a re-make that's as near to the original anyway except for being draped in busy John Entwistle brass - appeared on the 'Ready Steady Who' EP and is now pretty rare to find on CD (it's on 1987's rarities set 'Two's Missing'). Both are fabulous, but the more unencumbered original just has the edge.


Shel Talmy didn't quite understand what The Who wanted to call their song 'Circles' and got confused between another rather oddball song that was named on the tapebox as [  ] 'Instant Party Mixture', initially intended for the B-side of 'Circles' and left unreleased until 2002. Actually there's not much similarity between the two - 'Circles' is the future and 'Instant Party' is the past, perhaps the last of the retro Motown-style numbers in the band's set (though credited to Townshend the song is clearly lots of doo-wop and Motown songs stuck together, notably [8] 'Shout and Shimmy' and 'Mr Bassman'). The Who may well have invented the 'party' album here mere months before The Beach Boys had the same concept! Pete and John shoo-wop their way through the entire song while leaving Roger to struggle with some impenetrable lyrics about a band 'playing groovy sounds'. Pete interrupts the song at one stage to mimic a cigarette advert and gets in a line about 'everybody's smoking it...' as close as they dare get to a drugs reference in this period, with the clue for clued-up drug users being that each verse ends with a certain word, umm, missing (thanks to interruptions from Pete)  that's clearly meant to refer to a drug the band can't mention ('The reason why what I've seen is really hot...' refers to pot; 'He blasts the music - I'd like more thrills' is surely meant to rhyme with 'pills' and 'What makes Grandpa do the Monster Mash' makes no sense unless you assume it rhymes with 'hash'. Unless you seriously expect a writer as natural as Pete to simply skip rhy ming couplets altogether this early on in his career).  though parents were probably more worried about the lines about a teenage couple 'waiting till their parents are in bed' before having some illicit fun. Together with John using his 'comedy bass voice' for the first time, this track feels like a dry-run for 'Who Sell Out', but it's nothing like as memorable. Find it on: the deluxe CD re-issue of 'The Who Sings My Generation' (2002)

Non-Album Recordings Part #3: 1966

Following 'My Generation' was going to be a tough task, with an eager public longing to see what outrageous song The Who could come up with next. Instead the band went a different way, softening their sound but not their intent with the playful [44] 'Substitute', a track that is another 'breakthrough' for Pete Townshend as a composer. Till now The Who have been more about Roger, his aggression and his gift for channelling the bragging rights of a million wannabe teenagers everywhere. Roger still sings 'Substitute' the same way and in truth these lyrics aren't that far removed from 'I Can't Explain's search for identity, but instead of this being a problem for the world, it's the narrator's inadequacies that hold him back. The narrator longs to be different: born with a 'plastic spoon' compared to his peers' silver ones, he can only afford coke although he wants gin and 'the simple things you see are all complicated'. In a way this song sounds like an early cry of doubt from Townshend that The Who aren't the band his fans think they are (he admitted in interviews of the time that he got thinking about this song after realising that The Who were a 'substitute' for 'The Rolling Stones'  who were moving away from their early aggression and outrageousness) and the narrator too is a 'substitute for another guy'. However for now this angst is playful: there's a dig at Roger's height which can't have gone down well ('I look pretty tall but my heels are high') and one of Pete's greatest laugh-out-loud lines ('Substitute you for my mum - at least I'll get my washing done!') The climate of the times was such that the BBC banned the line 'I look 'all white' but my dad was black') for inciting racism, although it's clearly nothing of the sort - Pete cleverly 'subtituted' the line 'I always walk forward but my feet walk back' for any of the band's TV or radio appearances. The result is another clever and different song that points the way forward for things to come, rated by many fans as the greatest ever Who song. Find it on: if your Who compilation is missing this song then take it back to the shops pronto!

[45] 'Waltz For A Pig' has nothing whatsoever to do with The Who and is instead a rather heavy-handed soul instrumental performed by The Graham Bond organisation. So why is it here? No I'm not having a Jimmy-the-mod-style four-way breakdown - the track really was released under the Who billing when the band and their management raised an objection to Brunswick releasing the 'Substitute' single without their permission (they released it themselves with 'Circles as the B-side, while Talmy released this instead, which he knew The Who would have no legal challenge to). The song could be by The Who in their 'Ox' style mode if you squint your ears a lot - indeed this is arguably how John had been trying to get the group to sound with its emphasis on bass and brass both. However the closest The Who came to interacting with this song was throwing the single across the room after first hearing it and as a result this rare track has never appeared on CD, under The Who or The Bond Organisation's name.

As early as 1966 Pete Townshend was playing with the idea of writing, if not quite a full 'rck opera', then at least an extended series of songs, Reportedly there's a whole musical out there from this period titled 'Quads' which would be fascinating to hear, although the only song that's ever come from it is the deeply funny [46] 'I'm A Boy'. Now really getting into the swing of playing with his audience's expectations (and having fun with what he could do to poor Roger as a vocalist!), this single is set in the future where a family can 'request' what children they have from a big bank of computers. The creaky old machine gets the order wrong, though, and instead of four girls they get three girls and a boy. Undeterred the parents simply treat the narrator, given the butch name Bill, like his wonderfully named sisters whose titles reek of dolls and lisping goodness (Jane Marie, Felicity and Sally Joy).Pete sings the opening verse with a giggle (his first on a single - did Roger object?) before Daltrey sweeps in with his gruff macho posturing, hilarious in context. Poor Bill is a 'headcase', used for make-up practice, told to wear wigs and 'lucky if I get trousers to wear' (as close as The Who dare get to the idea of cross-dressing and thus risking another ban). Frustrated beyond belief he longs to do all the 'suppressed' things he's longed for: to play cricket, to ride his bike, to 'cut myself and see my blood' (all of which shows that Pete was as in-tune with the desires and dreams of little boys as he was with older teenagers).The song goes through a nice unexpected choral chant (which really shows off Entwistle's falsetto nicely) and one final rousing cry of 'I'maboyi'maboyi'maboy', the perfect musical depiction of a child trying to tell his parents something important even though he knows they're not listening. A nice twist on Pete's run of songs all about identity, this is one for the 'nature not nurture' argument - Bill doesn't know what boys are 'meant' to be doing, although he still feels certain 'pulls'. Ironically, had Bill been born in 'our' world (instead of the fictional one, which is set more or less now) he'd have had no problem: girls wear trousers, have their own cricket teams and ride bikes every bit as much as boys (although most are too sensible to 'cut myself and see my blood'). Unusually for The Who there are multiple versions of this song doing the rounds: the punchier, tighter single version we all know and love and a slightly slower and more chaotic version released by 'accident' on the 'Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy' compilation (and later included on the 'Who's Missing' CD re-issue). The main differences are the use of the word 'mother' rather than 'ma', the addition of a 'Tommy' style guitar riff instead of the choral harmonies and Entwistle's comic oompah-ing French horn. Oh and a cheeky extra verse, probably rightly dropped from the final version: 'Help me wash up Jane Marie, you can dry Felicity, stack the dishes Sally Joy, but I don't scrub 'cause I'm a boy!' While nice to hear as a curio, the single re-recording is clearly better.

 [47] 'Happy Jack' also exists in double form. Firstly the version we all know and love and which was a #3 hit in the band's UK homeland is an unusually bright and sunny song inspired by childhood holidays Pete Townshend really did take with his family to the Isle of Mann (Clive Townshend had his own band so got his family in for free). 'Jack' himself might be based on a friend Pete made years later though - 'Irish Jack', mod extraordinaire, Who fan, Townshend correspondent and later inspiration for Jimmy the Mod from 'Quadrophenia'. Pete, by his own account a sensitive and highly strung artist from an early age, always admired the happy-go-luckyness of people around him and merges tales of past and present here into a song about a victim of bullying laughing everything off with calm and cool. Jack is buried up to his head in the sand by passing children but they 'couldn't prevent Jack from feeling happy', a line which makes this single a rare example of a hippie Who song. Actually it doesn't sound much like any other Who song, with Roger - who disliked this song - comparing it to a 'German oompah band' at first, perhaps misunderstanding that Pete was remembering his dad's distinctly English brand of oompah music when he wrote it. A memory of happier days when Pete felt part of a gang who celebrated their hipness, while secretly admiring the weird and eccentric, it's less immediate and deep than most of The Who singles of the 1960s but still has a certain charm - especially the moments when Keith stops playing like a 'normal' drummer and suddenly accelerates hard into his kit. Listen out for Pete's cry of 'I saw yer!' at the end of the song - so legend has it laughing at Keith's antics as he tried to 'break in' to the recording studio where the other three were recording vocals (Keith loved to sing, even though not many people loved to hear him and was always trying to break into the studio at times like this). One review of the song, in Rolling Stone Magazine, who didn't understand the background and was even more pretentious than this reviewer called this 'the hippest part of the whole song' and went to great lengths to talk about why it fitted the intentions of Jack being seen to be himself by the wider world or something like that. Then again, some other reviewers mis-heard the opening verse and assumed Jack was the 'furry donkey', rather than the man buried up to his neck in the sand being sat on by a donkey full of children which is what the lyrics really are. A second, earlier 'acoustic' mix also came out on the 'A Quick One' CD re-issue and is much as the title sounds, with little bass and less drums, Pete switching from electric guitar to acoustic and John scratching along on cello. This version lacks the playful fun of the finished version and the sudden acceleration of mayhem, although the sound of Keith going gonzo on the bongos has to be heard to be believed.

The less than happy B-side of 'Jack', Entwistle's [48] 'I've Been Away' is caught halfway between the comedy and novelty songs of his previous songs for the band and the more autobiographical sadness that will follow. Here John is an escaped convict, feeling 'sad and lonely' and vowing never to do wrong again. However a second verse reveals that he never did 'wrong' in the first place - he simply covered for his identical brother Bill and when he tried to point out the mistake at his trial found his wayward brother was on the jury! Despite the typical twist ending, though, this isn't a song full of guffaws but a sad and reflective piece where the 'sa-a-a-a-a-a-d and lonely' chorus sounds like John's 'real' feelings at the time. Friction was big between The Who when this was recorded, to the point where Roger was nearly out the band and Keith and John were both plotting to leave (nearly joining a just-formed Led Zeppelin in the process!) As a result John was so fed up of the atmosphere in the studio that he only told Keith about this session, the pair recording this song between them with John providing the simple piano part as well as the bass. The down mood of the session is reflected in the performance too, with John far below his usual period-chipper self. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'A Quick One While He's Away'

Recorded as a backing track the same day, 'I'm A Boy' B-side [49] 'In The City' is another very similar Entwistle song (with a little bit of help - the surfing Beach Boy style bits in the middle eight probably - and a co-credit for Moon) that should sound manically happy but sounds as if all the joy has been sucked out of the performance. Roger was persuaded to add a later vocal and Pete a bit of guitar to make it sound more 'Who'-like, but once again this is a very un-Who like tale of sadness and moroseness. Though the lyrics celebrate a utopian place where 'the girls are pretty and you can't go wrong' and a beach that's always open for swimming and playing, the band sound distinctly down and John's french horn part is particularly down-in-the-mouth and sounds more like it's come from a coal mining documentary. The conflict between what this song is saying and what it's telling us makes it more interesting than a purely happy or purely sad song might be and John will make quite a career out of mixing the two like this in the future. Mod fans The Jam named their first album 'In The City', almost certainly because of this song (their earliest compositions also feature the same mix of 'this should be paradise so why am I crying?' takes on modern life).  Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'A Quick One While He's Away'

One of The Every Brothers' greatest songs that nobody knows, [50] 'Man With Money' should have been a huge hit (instead it was merely an album track, on 1965's Beatle-quoting LP 'Beat and Soul'). A tale of a poverty-stricken lad who wants his girl to like him, he even robs a 'store' because he can't stand his girl laughing at him any longer. His dreams of buying his girl 'rings' and her calling him 'honey' are cute, but compared to The Everlys the Who are keen to stress the 'pressure' aspect of this song too. The result is poignant, a troubled youth desperate to be liked and willing to go to any ends - although the song arguably only happens in his head; there's no evidence he's brave (or foolish) enough to go actually go through with it - he's just dreaming of how great it could be if he' s rich. John's bass and Pete's guitar work in tandem, emphasising the song's urgent melody as they pass it from one to the other like a hot potato and turning the original's muted middle eight (describing the robbery) into a tour de force of drama and tension. The song, which mirrors the scene in the 'Quadrophenia' film where the teenagers rob a chemist more out of desperation and boredom than wickedness, is arguably the best of The Who's small handful of cover versions and deserved better than to be stuffed back in the vaults until the 1990s, first appearing on a CD re-issue of the 'A Quick One' CD (why wasn't 'Heatwave' booted off for this song?)



The world's single oddest medley [22b] 'My Generation' and 'Land Of Hope and Glory' seem to have been recorded more for fun than as a 'sensible' attempt at a new recording of what was already a Who standard. A scrappier version of 'My Generation' skips most of the song (launching from the first verse into the chaotic fade), with Roger sounding sweet rather than threatening. Out of the feedback and squealy noises eventually comes Pete singing the English national anthem at the top of his voice, egged on by some noisy Moon drum-rolls and John's more nationalistic French Horn. Only Pete doesn't know the words and ends up singing 'Land Of Hope and Glory' over and over. The result is clearly making a 'statement' but what is it? That Britain are leading the way for 'My Generation'? (as Londoners themselves, 'Swinging London' would have seemed ever more personal to The Who than, say, The Beatles or The Hollies - and for some reason Londonders are statistically more likely to be 'proud' of their country of birth anyway, something likely to do with how uneven the spread of money is throughout the British isles). Or is this song a comment on how 'My Generation' has now 'replaced' the national anthem as most teenager's 'identity'? ('we're not a part of any country - we're a sub-culture all on our own based on age, not the accident of birth or class'). Or is this just a bit of light relief after a heavy day's recording? Either way, this is a fun bit of nonsense that says much about the Who's anarchic tendencies in the 1960s (even The Stones never did the national anthem, although 'Rule Britannia' into 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' or even 'Under My Thumb' would have been great!) A sarcastic 'that's perfect!' from the control room rising from the ashes of one of the most chaotic recordings ever put onto record sums the song up well.

The Who delayed the most obvious Martha and the Vandellas cover, [51] 'Dancing In The Street', until they were alone with a few million teenagers for a performance on BBC radio programme Saturday Club in March 1966. Sounding much like their better known (or at least easier to find) cover of 'Heatwave', this version is tongue-in-cheek and treated to a rollicking makeover that's perhaps a bit too painfully fast to dance to. The falsetto harmonies work rather well (Pete and John make rather good Vandellas!) but the band don't bring much that's new to this perhaps over-covered song and the cover is perhaps best left on the BBC tapes rather than being revived in the studio. Find it on: 'The BBC Sessions' (1999)

Non-Album Recordings Part #4: 1967

Given that 'Rael' was so truncated and impenetrable any new extract from the song must surely shed light on it, right? Erm, no. [64b] 'Rael 2' bears no resemblance to any of 'Rael 1' plot-wise or music-wise. Pete sings one ghostly final verse ('All I see is all I've seen in my sweetest sleeping dreams, what I feel is all I've felt when my new born babe's are melt...') while chased around by a keyboard riff and thundered into submission by Keith's final drum crescendo (which leads so seamlessly into the Who-made un-used advert for BBC show 'Top Gear!' that it is surely no accident!) The lyrics are intriguing, given that they already deal with the idea of deafness and blindness (if not dumbness) which will lead to Tommy. Assuming this piece was meant for the end of 'Rael' though (in truth it could have slotted in anywhere - or nowhere) then it would have been a much weaker ending and was probably the right to have been given the chop. Still interesting though! Find it on: '30 Years Of maximum R and B' (1994) and the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out'

 [54b] 'Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand' is another 'Who Sell Out' song, this time not a sequel but the same song tried out first with a very different arrangement. Slower and less immediate than the finished version, Mary's elder sister is far more prim and proper, without the twinkle in the eye of the finished version. The main difference is the lack of harmony vocals, the fact that the electronic trickery comes in only to make the word 's-h-a-k-e-y' sound shakey rather than the whole song and a quiet organ part played by Al Kooper, Bob Dylan's usual keyboardist a year away from his famous 'super session' with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills. The album version is a lot better. Find it on:  the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out' and 'Odds and Sods' (CD version 1999)

[65] 'Pictures Of Lily' continues the theme, this time from a male perspective (actually, 'Lily' came first but it's easier laying these books out these way with the non-album stuff later!) It's not your usual 1960s tale of woe: Boy gets lonely, boy needs companion, boy complains to dad, dad gives his son a picture that used to help 'relieve' him - boy discovers to his distress that Lily is a Victorian lady in a saucy seaside postcard who died decades ago! Pete's latest song about identity switches the 'who?' theme to the mysterious girl, whose name results in some delightful Townshend couplets, artfully using word play ('One night I fell in love with Lily, I asked my dad where Lily I could find - he said 'son now don't be silly!') However 'Lily' is really about playing games with the censors again, telling the story in such terms that the listener 'knows' it's all about masturbation, but never actually using that word or any other deemed 'unplayable' by radio (the censors has a busy time of things across 1966 and 1967, though trust The Who to buck the trend of cheeky 'drugs' songs by writing one about 'sex' instead!) Pete changes things around musically too: this time it's Roger whose all lovey-doveyed up and singing in a rather soppy voice throughout while all chaos breaks around him (the guitar-drum interplay on this track is about the Who's fiercest studio recording, with the squeal on Pete's guitar particularly memorable. Keith liked this song so much he 'hired' a firm to build him a 'Pictures Of Lily' drumkit complete with risque pictures which he happily played for a few more years - it's the one he 'blows up' during the band's appearance on the 'Smothers Brothers' show). John adds a pretty French Horn part to the recording too as well as his usual heavy bass. At one with the return of the 'heavier' sound on singles across 1966 ('Paperback Writer' 'Paint It, Black'), 'Pictures of Lily maintained the Who's singles progress peaking at a UK high of #4. However, while it's a well performed bit of fun 'Lily' is a lighter, sillier song than most Who singles and like 'Happy Jack' is a small step away from the intensity of their major works. Find it on: a grubby Victorian market stall...no, wait, hang on, that can't be right...most Who compilations!

[66] 'Doctor Doctor' (Lily's rear companion, as it were) is a nicely cheeky Entwistle composition. Singing in a double-tracked shrieky falsetto, John sounds the very image of a hysterical old hypochondriac annoying her doctor ('I had whooping cough last month and today I've got the mumps, tomorrow I'll catch chicken pox as well!') Musically The Who do a nice job at sounding panicked too, with a swirling deranged Townshend guitar part and John and Keith stuck in an angry musical rut that keeps driving the song recklessly forward. Only the lack of any variation (the song has only a short chorus and no real middle eight) prevents this witty track from being a true classic and never has the word 'ill' been sung with more pathos (or more syllables!) Once again Roger is conspicuous by his absence on a 'John' song. Find it on: rather anachronistically, the CD re-issue of 'A Quick One'

One of the weirdest Who released came at the end of 1967 when the band suddenly starting showing solidarity with their London comrades The Rolling Stones following their arrest on minor narcotics charges (later dropped) and their outrageous jail sentence. At the time The Who were so outraged they promised to keep releasing Stones covers every week until they were released - which could have been years given the original sentences. The judges took pity though - perhaps on the poor Who fans who couldn't stomach a recording quite so chaotic as this one. [67] 'The Last Time' was made in such a hurry that The Who were now a trio, with John still on his honeymoon and Pete overdubbed a rather perfunctory bass part later on both sides of the single. Now, there are many Stones songs that sound a bit like The Who and which they could have done well - a Who version of 'satisfaction' in the line of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' for instance would have been terrific, or Roger snarling his way through 'Get Off My Cloud!', or maybe even the Who harmonies surrounding a pretty ballad like 'Lady Jane', while '19th Nervous Breakdown' is much more a 'Who' song than a Stones one. Instead 'The Last Time' is the wrong bunch of influences, taken from The Stones' R and B roots The Who simply didn't share (they were more of a Motown  'n' Mod kind of a band!) The Stones nailed this song's slow groove and the stubborness of the riff mimicking the girl's reluctance to commit; The Who seem to have taken the song out for a jog and miss the heavy weight of the song altogether. The Who don't often miss the point on their covers and their actions were laudable, but this is something of a blot on The Who discography to be honest. Find it on: 'Two's Missing' (1987) and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

B-side [68] 'Under My Thumb' fares a little bit better, thanks to a more Who-like urgency and some fierce drum-thudding from Keith. The song is also more in keeping with the 'violence' of The Who, although it's worth pointing out that underneath the shouting The Who were usually gentleman and this is the only song close to the misogyny of the Stones in their discography. Even so, you can tell that this is one of those cover songs where the arrangement has been worked out on the back of a fag paper and the band were only ever going to bother with one take, however bad it was (and it is in patches, with the band all over the place by the end). Rather than risk another Who cover, the Stones were released within weeks of this release and The Who scored a top fifty hit into the bargain. Job accomplished - sort of! Find it on: 'Odds and Sods' (CD version 1999)

[69] 'Someone's Coming' (B-Side to 'I Can See For Miles') is a pretty horn-drenched Entwistle song, unusually sung by Roger rather than John. The narrator has been having a sneaky meeting with a girlfriend his in-laws have been banned from seeing. The song makes a bit too much of a meal of the exposition ('Your dad said you can't see me any more, that's why we meet in secret - that's why we're hiding here!' he sings to his girlfriend, who presumably knows all this just as well as he does!) and there's none of the expected conclusions at the finish (the song ends 'Same time tomorrow?' even though this relationship clearly can't carry on the same way). However a pretty tune and lots of wide open spaces for typical Who one-chord 'grooving' makes up for any lapses in the lyric. It's the French Horn that really makes this song, though, a key part of the band's sound rather than simply a bit of colour and throughout their loud chirpy sounds offer great contrast to what the rest of the band are playing, a bass-heavy sound even murkier than usual and the very image of an illicit romance taking place in the shadows. Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out'

The Who had so much quality material in 1967 that even a song as strong and catchy as [70] 'Glittering Girl' still wasn't quite good enough to make the album. In truth it's probably more like a song from 1966 than 1967 being in the style of what they used to call 'beat-rock' - it's not fast, but it is loud and driven by a thunderous guitar 'n' drum part. Pete sings lead and John  co-lead before they join on the chorus, which is a technique that works so well you wonder why the band didn't do more of it. As with so many of Pete's songs of the late 1960s, it's a case-study of part of The Who's audience and an early try-out for 'Sally Simpson' in many ways. Pete says that people assume teenage groupies and obsessive fans are all easily led but he's discovered quite the opposite - they're all tough little madams who are grown-up enough to go out into the bad scary world alone and risk life and limb while 'following their own rules'. In contrast to the Stones songs they've just been performing Pete also starts most verses with the line 'she wasn't a fool...' Though clearly unfinished, this is a fun song with another classic thundering Moon performance that deserved release somewhere! Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out'

Winston Churchill once described depression as a 'black dog' that followed him around. [71] 'Melancholia' sounds like one too, a huge great big dog with teeth that just won't let go, as the naturally 'up' Daltrey gets to act on another Townshend song that must have been alien to him ('I've never felt so bad this illness drives me mad!') The narrator has an awful time of it with a series of comic tragedies after his wife leaves him - interestingly adding that 'I've lost all the power' (perhaps because she was the 'power behind the throne' - or maybe that he's simply not that good at looking after all the many children). 'The sun is shining Pete and John intone before a glowering Roger snarls 'but not for me!', which along with the lines about the sheets turning 'grey' could be a reference to The Stones' single 'Paint It, Black'. A tight, taut band performance rescues a song that could have gone either way, with a stunning finale where John and Keith one the left try to give a one-two punch to  knock over a Townshend guitar solo in the right that's positively flying, as mad and eccentric a part as he ever played, trying to beat depression into submission. An odd song that sounds like an early cry for help (from 'Who By Numbers' many Pete Townshend songs will sound like this one, though perhaps not quite so melodramatic), what's impressive is how 'heavy' this song manages to be without making this song ridiculousness (it sounds like the narrator trying to contain the tears he refuses to shed in front of anyone). Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out' and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

There's been much debate about whether near-instrumental [72] 'Jaguar' refers to the animal or the car. Given that this is an outtake from 'The Who Sell Out' - an album advertising everything from pimple cream to baked beans and the band's abandoned attempts to recoup their financial losses by getting manufacturers of exotic goods to give them items for free - it must surely be the latter. Despite being credited as yet another Townshend composition, John sings the first part before Pete joins in with his lower, more sarcastic vocals about pulling girls. With a mysterious 'Pink Floyd' style whispered middle section ('Grace...Space...Bass!'), The Who even do a good attempt at the sort of ludicrous unintelligible car adverts we'll get in the modern era. The standout, though, is Keith's rattled drums which seem to defy gravity with the amount of drum rolls and cymbal crashes he hits during the course of the song, despite never veering from the song's strong melody line once. In perhaps a sign of the times, Roger doesn't seem to appear, which might explain why the band sound like they're having so much fun for once. Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out' and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

Roger's second ever song, co-written with pal Dave Langston, [73] 'Early Morning Cold Taxi 'is a lot stronger than his first 'See My Way'. Roger has a message to offer and he's committed enough to deliver it, though what that message is was perhaps a little too risque for release in 1967. Basically Roger's making love to his girlfriend in the backseat of a taxi - well, it's one way of keeping warm! - while thinking to himself that they can 'wed' now he's tested the goods and 'my mind won't be uneasy'. Actually I take it back, covering the Stones was clearly having an effect...For all that slight queasiness to modern ears, though, this is a likeable song that for the most part is meaty, beaty, big and bouncy but still finds room for some 'sour' atonal vocals from Roger in the middle of each chorus ('My mind won't be so easy'). Note too the lines about 'my mind growing old' - here we are, two years on from 'My Generation' and the band already think they're past it! A solid effort that's well suited to The Who, with plenty of room for Townshend riffing and Moony biffing - Roger should have written more songs like this. Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out' and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

Many Keith Moons ago, I had a children's radio show (I was still a child myself) which used The Wombles version of Grieg's [74] 'Hall Of The Mountain King' as its signature tune. Already something of a 1960s/70s nut, I always promised my next series on 'proper' music would feature this as its theme tune: a scary, tribal take on Grieg's crashing chords. John holds the song together as all hell breaks loose around him: Townshend channelling Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey channelling Roger Waters' cries and moans on Pink Floyd records and Keith Moon channelling the sound of a hippo giving birth on a set of drums. It's a most unholy racket and probably not at all what Grieg would have wanted for his composition, but there's a lot here for Who fans to love as the band stretch in a way they hadn't since 'The Ox' two years before. ELO and Rainbow also covered this piece, but were both a lot more, erm, reverential towards it and so missed out on all the fun. I'm not sure how The Who would have fitted this into the whole 'Sell Out' concept though - by making the listener think they'd tuned into the classical station radio three perhaps?! Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out'

Keith's third and final original composition for The Who is the most straightforward of the trio. [75] 'Girl's Eyes' sounds not unlike a sweet Herman's Hermits or Dave Clark Five ditty as Keith rhymes 'girl's eyes' with 'butterflies' and pays tribute to The Who's audience again in another Sally Simpson style number that stars a girl who 'knows' in the 'very front row' and who follows 'charts' while bands 'break her heart'. It should be silly, but somehow Keith gets away with it thanks to a cute performance ('Hello!' he shyly winks at the listener a few seconds in after a false start and a blow on a jug, in a most un-Moon like manner). It also has a few cutting remarks too: the girl is besotted with the people not the music and 'can't tell a note from a symphony' and Keith blames someone (Roger? himself?) for leading her on against her will. This song is unusual in that it features all four members of The Who singing (even 'Behind Blue Eyes' didn't do that!) and as 'creator' Keith gets to dictate who does what, sounding rather good in the middle of the mix (and thus refuting the idea that the drummer couldn't sing, at least back in the 1960s!) A bit too simplistic for such a groundbreaking album, 'Girl's Eyes' would have made for a fun B-side and features a ferocious instrumental finale where Keith gets to play as fast and as wild as he can with no one to stop him. Great fun! Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out' and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

[76] 'Glow Girl' is a truly fascinating song. Pete set off on a long plane ride to America with a box of LSD tablets and a vague idea of writing a song about being a little girl (a kind of 'I'm A Boy' for a different sex). That's the opening verse explained, Pete getting itno character by imaginging what was in 'her' purse: Woolworths make-up, lingerie, the usual. Somewhere along the line an engine on the aeroplane he was on caught fire - dramatic enough for the 'normal' passengers, but a tragedy for a man tripping for almost the first time on LSD. Scared that he was about to die, Pete simply carried on writing furiously, somehow believing that this song would become his ';last will and testament' and would somehow survive the inevitable crash intact. In the end the plane landed safely (most planes can cope with losing an engine, some even two, as long as the others all work) but Pete, tripping away, imagines himself/herself being re-incarnated as the plane crashes (hence the finale: 'It's a girl Mrs Walker...') This hypnotic piece, written even more sub-consciously than usual thanks to his heightened senses, will haunt him for a long time to cone (the sex being changed, this becomes the opening line to 'Tommy' and the first real seed of the rock opera in Pete's mind). However even in its own right it's a fine song, with some excellent philosophising ('All you wanted from me was all I had to give,  nothing matter's you'll see when in paradise you live'),and some of Pee's funniest lines ('The wing of the aeroplane has just caught on fire, I say wiothout reservatioon we ain't getting no higher!' - a line even funnier when you 'know' that Pete was actually 'tripping at the time'). A tight band performance with Pete and John working closely together to great as rough a sound as they can, really makes the most of a song that could be about everything or nothing, either the mostr important song The Who had written up to this point or a bit of drug-fuelled gibberish. Not sure quite which this was - and perhaps a little scared by what his sub-conscious had unleashed about re-incarnation (this might also be where Pete's interest in mystic Meher Baba comes from too), Pete hedged his bets and decided not to release this wonderful song, which instead became a highlight of the 'Odds and Sods' compilation and then a favourite all over again as the dramatic conclusion to the 'Who Sell Out' CD. Even more than 'I Can See For Miles', this is the band at their peak during the 1960s, recording the sort of song no one could possibly have thought up and starting out a new trajectory that will pay dividends across the band's next full album. Find it on: the CD re-issues of 'The Who Sell Out', 'Odds and Sods' (1974/1999)  and the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)

Well I wish my [77] 'Sodding About' was as productive as The Who's! Though not a great track in it's own right, this 'Sell Outtake' is a clear stepping stone towards the Tommy 'Overture/Underture' and features the band experimenting with what sounds they can get away with. Pete's saw buzz guitar sounds terrific, John's brass peals and bass rumbles prove just how integral he was to the band sound in this period and Keith's drumming is mesmerising (interestingly Roger doesn't appear). Yes they'd need to do something with it to make it ready for release in 1967 but as a basis for a future hit single there's clearly something there so it's a shame The Who never returned to it. Find it on: the deluxe CD edition only of 'The Who Sell Out'

Three years before the thunderous version that appeared on 'Live At Leeds', The Who taped a prototype of Eddie Cochran favourite [78] 'Summertime Blues' which had been in their set since the early days as 'The Detours'. The pieces are all there: the grungy dangerous riff, the hell-for-leather drumming, Roger's teenage frustration, John's spirited backing vocals and his comedy bass line (which alternates here with Keith's falsetto). But somehow none of these pieces of the puzzle are quite in place yet and The Who sound as timid as they ever did in the 1960s. Only Pete's chugging guitar solo comes close to matching what the band will play later and even that's missing the weight of a tonne of feedback. If you ever needed to hear what playing in front of a live audience could do for a band like The Who, then this track is the proof. Find it on: the CD version of 'Odds and Sods' (1999)

Eddie Cochran's [79] 'My Way' was another live favourite but this time one The Who never returned to. This one suits Roger's swagger and it's fun to hear The Who playing a sped-up blues, even if the song is badly out of step with its times for 1967 as the distinctly un-hippie-ish tale of a guy who thinks he's 'easy-going' when he's clearly nothing of the sort and drives his girlfriends barmy. Pete turns in a nice guitar solo that's quite different to his usual style being more clear and concise than his usual windmilling, though once again it's John's  relentless bass riffing that keeps this song on track. Find it on: the CD version of 'Odds and Sods' (1999)

Finally for now, here's a commercial break: a quick summary of all the Who jingles that didn't make it to the second side of 'The Who Sell Out' record (where they were surely intended) but instead laid in the vaults for thirty years instead for a whole variety of reasons. For years fans assumed that The Who gave up making these adverts because they ran out of ideas, but actually John and Keith (the chief practitioners of this art form) had a whale of a time coming up with the most unlikely products or making up adverts for companies that risked a lawsuit. Usually skipping adverts is a good thing, but most of these are so good they should have made the album, court case or not. In the order they appeared on CD the 'missing' adverts were: 'Top Gear', a 'Jaguar' style groove instrumental with the title words shouted which may have been to advertise a car but was more plausibly to advertise the BBC Radio pop show The Who had frequently appeared on by 1967 (it's also where the 'Boris The Spider' and 'My Generation' jingles chanting 'radio one' come from on the 'BBC' set which, though not meant for the 'Sell Out' set, would have fitted perfectly: the latter especially is the best jingle of the lot, with Roger stuttering that 'a new approach is f-f-f-resh and bold' while the others intone 'talking 'bout my favourite station!); next up 'Coke 2' (which weirdly appears before 'Coke1') is the longer of the two identical pieces that have The Who nooding around a grungy 'Hall Of The Mountain King' riff and singing the famous catchphrase 'coke after coca-cola!' Though Coca-Cola was known for employing rock bands of the 1960s (The Moody Blues for one) they didn't contract The Who for this one and it was probably feared they might sue though The Who play things 'straight' (it's a wonder why haven't 'borrowed' this advert since actually) The interplay between Pete's guitar and John's bass is phenomenal and far too good for an unused advert; 'Bag O'Nails' is the weakest advert, a mere spoken word for 'Luna at the Bag O'Nails', a famous music club in London where Paul McCartney first met future wife Linda during a Georgie Fame set; 'John Mason's Cars' was a desperate attempt by Keith and John to get a free car by plugging their local London dealers on album - figuring it was a long shot the band left it off the final album as the advert itself was pretty basic too (the duo singing 'John Mason - we got the best cars here!' John's wry 'meh, that'll do!' at the end of the rehearsal take - also on the 'Who Sell Out' CDs - rather says it all); 'Coke 1' climaxes quicker than it's sequel and features much more snorting noises; and finally The Who go postmodern by plugging their record company 'Track Records' with a slow psychedelic chant that picks up in speed and was clearly originally intended for the run-out groove (the bit of vinyl that went from the last track to the label) as it goes round and round with the band getting more and more out of control (this is faded for the CD but presumably was meant to go round in a loop forever - or until the needle was lifted off the record). No one seems to know why this rather clever plug wasn't used on the final album - perhaps it just wouldn't have worked at the end of 'Rael'? All of these jingles are on both of the 'Who Sell Out' CD re-issues, while 'Coke 2' 'Bag O'Nails' and 'Track Records' are all on the box set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994)x set '30 Years Of Maximum R and B' (1994).