The Who, Pinball Wizard

Posted in The Who on October 15th, 2012 by Willie

My pal Jimm D. found this video, and boy do I owe him a thank you. This performance of “Pinball Wizard” by the Who is one of the single greatest rock and roll displays of all time. While I’m pretty sure that the instrumentation is mimed, as was the case in many 60s era television clips, the singing was live, evidenced by a few missed notes by Townshend. Whatever, this performance, whatever it is, shows the Who at their most dynamic, engaging, and most star powered. The best part is the dearly departed Keith Moon miming the words behind Roger Daltry’s back in hilarious English “goon” like insanity. In the fashion department, thumbs up to John Entwistle’s horrible attempt at a Fu Man Chu mustache. Its funny, I never was the greatest fan of this song until I saw this clip, its that unbelievably good, so enough of my hype, (50 years late) and just play this thing and dream about what rock and roll could still be, if only someone was good enough to try.

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The Who, I Can See For Miles, and the Origins of Helter Skelter

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 29th, 2012 by Willie

So apparently, if it weren’t for this song, Charles Manson never would have heard the Beatles “Helter Skelter” and have murdered all those people.  Legend goes that Paul McCartney read that this song was the “heaviest” ever made, and without even hearing it, took it upon himself to write a metal song, a genre that didn’t really exist yet.  The funny thing is, this song is not that heavy.  It’s a beautiful psychedelic pop song wrapped up in themes of revenge, be them romantic or otherwise.  It’s funny because as I write this, I do recall reading something from Paul McCartney when he finally heard the alleged Who song in question, sort of laughing at the “false” inspiration.  Amazingly, the folks at Wikipedia have the quote for us all to enjoy,

“Umm, that came about just ’cause I’d read a review of a record which said, ‘and this group really got us wild, there’s echo on everything, they’re screaming their heads off.’ And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, it’d be great to do one. Pity they’ve done it. Must be great — really screaming record.’ And then I heard their record and it was quite straight, and it was very sort of sophisticated. It wasn’t rough and screaming and tape echo at all. So I thought, ‘Oh well, we’ll do one like that, then.’ And I had this song called “Helter Skelter,” which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, ‘cuz I like noise.”

Interesting stuff, but that’s all besides the point.  The point, if you must know, is that “I Can See For Miles” is indeed awesome.  It features some of the best hard rock psychedelic harmonies the Who ever achieved, driving the song with force into the psychedelic expanse.  The video below is also great even though it’s a  mimed performance.  The Who had trouble replicating the overdubs live, contributing to the fact that they never played it much on stage, at least when Keith Moon was living.  Anyway, enjoy this sucker, because its one of the best ever.

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The Who, Who Are You?

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 27th, 2012 by Willie

Rock and roll.  It’s life, it’s blood, it’s the Who.  This studio performance of “Who Are You” from “The Kids Are Alright” film is one of the best and clearest examples of rock and roll perfection.  The Who were a dynamite live act and an incredible studio machine.  This video captures both looks of the Who at their best in one of their most iconic songs.  There is something both beautiful and intimidating in the way Pete Townshend was able to pack explosive art into every second of this masterpiece.  The beauty part is self evident, but the intimidation element is something to behold.  This band, directed by Pete, is just all muscle.  Each member flexes their power over rock in a furious fashion, a force only contained in the lines of Pete’s brilliant songwriting.  It’s amazing, if you haven’t guessed, so just press play and enjoy.

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The Who, The Seeker

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 23rd, 2012 by Willie

I was examining the dusty halls of my website, and I realized my section on the Who is seriously lacking.  It’s not for lack of love, merely an oversight soon to be corrected.  “The Seeker” is one of my favorite Who songs.  It’s a hard driving philosophical rock fest that is half serious/half parody.  When I was 17, I was more interested in the serious side; Pete Townshend’s search for the meaning of life and death expressed through Roger Daltry’s howling lungs, Keith Moon’s insane bashing, and John Entwistle’s flute like bass playing.  As a 27 year old, I’m more interested in the parody side.  The song almost seems to be the story of your average rock and roll fan, searching for enlightenment and meaning through the dominant pop culture icons of the age; the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Timothy Leary.  Pete himself must have come across tons of these people asking him for guidance seeing him as another rock and roll prophet.  The whole concept is brilliant, and the raucous music matches the abstract flair.  The music video itself below is also an awesome example of pop art perfection with dramatic closeups of the members and stylized lyrics splashing the screen.  Enjoy.


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The Who, I Can't Explain

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on March 10th, 2011 by Willie

I open part 17 of my youtube countdown with a very serious question, what the hell was going on in England in the 1960s?  The ratio of incredible music and cool bands to the rest of universal history makes one wonder about the nature of quarks, quasar radiation, and folded cosmic fabrics.  What the heck am I talking about?  All I’m saying is that it was an anomaly.  A freak of the space time continuum that allowed for the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and yes, the Who to flourish all at once.  “I Can’t Explain,” the first single released by the Who, using the name the Who, (previously the High Numbers, also a cool name), utterly owns.  Its an epic surging pulse of proto-power punk pop.  That’s right,5 P’s!  Its one of those perfect anthems of teen angst, and that’s it, and I can’t explain it any further.  And this video?  An incredible mishmash of early Who performances in all their mod glory.  English rock at its finest, enjoy.

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