The Who Sell Out ~ Not Likely !

February 3, 2011

I have always been a big Who fan from the first time I heard them in my cousin’s bedroom in Dagenham, Essex at the age of 12. He had just bought a copy of the Who 45 ‘ My Generation ‘ which became one of the defining songs of  the 60s.                                                                                                                       

I love the power and the violence bursting out of that song and the stuttered voice only added to the tension. It shot up to the top of the charts in England and around the world and became an anthem for the young.

Earlier that year 1965 the Who had released two other singles ‘ I Can’t Explain ‘ and ‘ Anyway Anyhow Anywhere ‘ both explosive songs with memorable Townsend guitar parts. The classic My Generation album was to follow with brilliant cover versions and Townsend originals like ‘ A Legal Matter ‘ and ‘ The Kids Are Alright ‘ This was the first of a long line of important rock albums from the band.

The group in England always had a big mod following and were always a great live band with members Keith Moon on drums who was in a class of his own and totally irreplaceable just like Zeppelin’s John Bonham. On guitar Pete Townsend was to turn into a great songwriter but not the greatest lead guitarist in the world like Hendrix or Clapton but was completely locked into Keith Moon on each Who song and was exciting to watch. They would both smash~up their guitars, speakers  and drums at the end of each live performance and would both leave the stage in chaos and destruction.

John Entwistle on bass also known as ‘ The Ox ‘ was the glue which kept this group in time a very talented bass player who played his instrument like a lead guitar and was very loud with the treble control full on! On vocals ace ~ face Roger Daltrey was full of aggression and attitude having many famous fallouts with Townsend along the way but as a singer he just got better and better as the years when on especially live.

The Who would become one of the best live bands around in the late 60’s early 70’s and I love their performance on the Stones Rock & Roll Circus ‘ where their stole the show with their mini opera ‘ A Quick One While He’s Away ‘ and let’s not forget the stunning Woodstock performance.

 Back to the singles and next up in the British charts was ‘ Substitute ‘ which I think is a  brilliant bit op pop with the lyrics.

 I’m a substitute for another guy, I look pretty tall but my heels are high,  the simple things you see are all complicated, I look pretty young but I’m  just backdated “

My favourite Who album is their third ‘ The Who Sell~Out ‘ from 1967 featuring the top ten hit ‘ I Can See For Miles ‘ and pirate radio jingles in between the tracks.                                                                   

The biggest album that the band ever had ‘ Who‘s Next ‘  from 1971 which doesn’t have a bad track on it! but well worth a listen is the 1967 release ‘A Quick One ‘

After the huge success of ‘ Tommy ‘ probably the most overlooked album is the double ‘ Quadrophenia ‘ from ’73 with great songs like ‘5:15 ‘ ‘ The Real Me ‘ and ‘ Love Reign Over Me ‘ and don’t  miss the movie if you haven’t seen it with a young Sting in a starring role,  made in mod heaven Brighton.

The group was never the same after the album  ‘ Who Are You ‘ and  the death of Keith Moon but Kenney Jones was brought in to fill the drum spot and the group made a spirited go of things in the 80’s and the hits kept on coming.

In the later years Ringo’s son Zak has been a good substitute laying down a rock steady drum beat, you can see him on the excellent Royal Albert Hall DVD which is highly recommended.

In 1990 The Who was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and following the sad loss of bassist John Entwistle in 2002 the band is down to two original members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend who have admirably soldiered on and I am just putting this suggestion out there that maybe one day we might see Townsend on guitar and Daltrey on vocals join forces with Paul McCartney on bass and vocals and Ringo Starr on drums to record an album from a band that would be worth waiting for!                                                                                                              

Meet the new boss ~ same as the old boss


JIMI HENDRIX in LONDON

January 15, 2011

Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27th 1942 on the third stone from the sun and passed away on September 18th 1970 in London far from home. I often think that he must have been a space ~ angel visiting us from outer space because he only released three albums in four years and then all of a sudden he was gone, not there anymore, leaving behind a legacy of three brilliant albums Are You Experienced ~ Axis : Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland all way ahead of their time!

Hendrix ~ There will never be another guitar player like him!   

Flying Jimi over to England from America was a master stroke by ex~Animals bassist Chas Chandler his new manager who promised to introduce him to Eric Clapton. I don’t think that Jimi would have made such a big impact if he had stayed in the USA, but swinging London in England in 1966 was the place to be, open to new sounds, looks and ideas which Jimi had in spades.

After many rehearsals two quirky English musicians were bought in to form The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mitch Mitchell on Drums and Noel Redding on Bass complete with new afro hair styles!

Mitch Mitchell was a powerhouse drummer similar to jazz drummer Elvin Jones and a perfect foil for Hendrix, they had a great understanding like two playful eagles soaring through the sky duelling with each other and pushing the music on and on to see how far out they could get! Meanwhile bassist Noel Redding would try to underpin the rhythm and keep it all together.

While recording their first album in London, Jimi would travel around various clubs and watering holes where England’s established musicians like Eric Clapton, Brian Jones and Eric Burdon would hang out. Jimi would get up on stage and play his new metallic feedback guitar pryrotechnics and strike fear into the hearts of the likes of Clapton, Beck, Townsend and Page.

This guy was the real blues playing deal!                      

 Jimi was a vital link back to the early blues of Robert Johnson and add to that mix his futuristic use of the whammy bar on his Fender Stratocaster and the controlled feedback to take us all on a psychedelic star~spangled roller coaster ride!                  

The debut album ‘ Are You Experienced ‘ was released in 1967 and word spread quickly about the new guitar slinger in town and all Jimi had to say was ” Move over Rover and let Jimi take over! ” and the rest is history.                                  

Check out the pure blues of ‘ Red House ‘ and the sex of ‘ Foxy Lady ‘ coming to git yer!                                                                                                                                       

Heavy stuff and tour dates took there toll as Jimi never seemed to be off the road, working at a ridiculous pace with hardly any time for recording. The second album ‘ Axis : Bold As Love ‘ wasn’t as well received as the first one but still featured some great music like ‘ Castles Made of Sand ‘ ” Little Wing ‘ and ‘If Six Were Nine ‘ which appeared on the soundtrack to ‘Easy Rider ‘. This album showed Hendrix’s lighter, gentler and more melodic side and is a beauty. 

With the release of Hendrix’s epic third album ‘ Electric Ladyland’ we heard for the first time his beautiful interpretation of Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’. A lot of people have covered Bob Dylan’s songs but Hendrix made them his own! Just listen or watch ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ which he played to a thrilled crowd at the Monterey Festival on his first visit back to the USA. 

Listen to ‘Electic Ladyland ‘ on vinyl through headphones if you get a chance, there is not a bad track on this album and this is the bar to which every other guitar player is now judged by.    

I never met Hendrix, the closest I came was while working at the Marquee Studios in 1969 at the tender age of 16 when Keith Emerson who went on to form ELP booked the studio to have a jam with Hendrix one night but Hendrix was a no~show as we all waited until 2 am. Never mind! I did have a drink with Mitch Mitchell in the early 80’s at the Fulham Greyhound and he was full of stories and was a super nice guy.                                                                                                                

While on my epic road trip across the US a few years ago I stopped off in Renton, Washington State and visited the grave where Jimi rests. As I wandered around looking for the grave one of the groundsmen approached me and said ” I know who you’re looking for!” and took me to the Hendrix plot complete with guitar inscription and next to his grandmother. One minute silence was observed.

Fly on my sweet angel, fly on through the sky!


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