Category: the who

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “A Quick One”, the second album by The Who is released (US release is in May 1967 under the title “Happy Jack”). Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at IBC Studios and Pye Studios in London from September – November 1966. Issued one year and one week after their debut release “My Generation”, The Who’s second full length is an important turning point in the band’s career, as it marks Pete Townshend’s first foray into composing a “rock opera” in the form of the title track. The nine minute long suite of songs at the end of the album’s second side tells a story about a wife’s infidelity while her husband is away. “A Quick One While He’s Away” is also semi autobiographical, as it is the first time that Pete Townshend writes about the periods of separation from his parents as a young boy (in the opening movement “Her Man’s Been Gone”), living with his maternal grandmother, and the sexual abuse he suffers at the hands of one of her male friends (“Ivor The Engine Driver”). The mini opera is the genesis for Townshend’s later works “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”. The other three members of the band also contribute songs to the album including John Entwistle’s “Boris The Spider”. The band’s US label Decca Records retitles the album “Happy Jack”, after their then current single (#24 Pop) which is added to the track listing. The cover artwork is illustrated by British pop artist Alan Aldridge (The Beatles, Elton John). Released on CD in 1988 with its original mono mix, the US CD release is issued in stereo with five tracks in re-channeled stereo. It is remastered and reissued in 2005, with some tracks newly remixed into stereo. The track “Whiskey Man” is still in fake stereo with the majority of the remaining tracks in mono. The mono version of the album is reissued as 150 and 200 gram vinyl pressings by Classic Records in 2005, with another reissue in 2015. “A Quick One/Happy Jack” peaks at number four on the UK album chart and number sixty seven on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 – “My Generation”, the debut album by The Who is released. Produced by Shel Talmy, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London from April, October 11 – 14, 1965. The majority of the of Who’s first album is recorded in just four days of studio time and includes covers of the band’s favorite R&B numbers as well as originals by Pete Townshend. The title track is their biggest hit in the UK peaking at #2. It spins off three more singles including “The Kids Are Alright” and “A Legal Matter”. The US version of the album re-titled “The Who Sing My Generation”, is released on April 25, 1966. The American release features a different cover photo and a slightly altered track listing. The shifted the track sequence drops the song “I’m A Man”, and replaces it with “Instant Party (Circles)”.  The original UK mono version of “My Generation” is reissued by Virgin Records in 1979, to coincide with the theatrical release of the film “Quadrophenia”. Reissue remains in print for only a brief time, before being deleted in 1980. In 2002, the album is mixed into true stereo for the first time by the original producer Shel Talmy, who has been in possession of the original three track session tapes since the recording sessions nearly fifty years before. The stereo version is released as part of a two CD deluxe edition. In December of 2014, the album is reissued as a digital download (on iTunes and HD Tracks) with the original mono and stereo remix versions, along with additional bonus tracks. In December of 2016, “Generation” is reissued as a five CD “Super Deluxe” box set. Featuring newly remastered versions of the original mono and the remixed stereo versions, it also contains three additional CD’s with fifty five bonus tracks including alternate takes, instrumentals and new mixes. It is to be followed by a three LP set in February of 2017, featuring the mono mixes, bonus mono tracks and demo recordings. A two LP set featuring the stereo mixes and more bonus tracks is to be issued along side the mono version. “My Generation” peaks at number five on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: October 13, 1965 – “My Generation”, the third single by The Who is recorded. Written by Pete Townshend, it second UK hit single for the legendary rock band. Townshend take inspiration from singer Mose Allison’s song “Young Man Blues”. The songs crowning touch is provided by singer Roger Daltrey stuttering like a one of the bands mod fans on speed. Produced by Shel Talmy, the band records the song at IBC Studios in London. Recorded on three track tape, the final mono master features a second guitar part overdubbed by Townshend (direct to tape while being mixed) that features the songs trademark feedback. Recording the song’s now iconic bass solo proves to be problematic for John Entwistle. He originally records his bass part using a Danelectro longhorn bass, which come strung with very light gauge strings. Unfortunately for Entwistle, he ends up breaking the strings on the bass, when he attempts to play the solo. Having bought the budget priced instrument at a shop in London, it is impossible for the musician to find replacement strings for the American made bass. Instead, he goes back the shop and purchases another Danelectro bass to try it again. He breaks the strings a second time, and purchases a third bass, only to have the same thing happen yet again. The final bass part on “My Generation” is recorded by Entwistle, using a Fender Jazz Bass with tapewound strings. Released in the UK on November 5, 1965 (US release date is November 20, 1965), the song is an instant smash in their home country peaking at #2. Though it only peaks at #74 in the US, it goes on to be one of the most influential rock singles of all time. “My Generation” it is now part of the “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. In 2002, “My Generation” is remixed into true stereo for the first time from the original three track multi-track tape, which has been the possession of Shel Talmy, and appears on the Deluxe Edition of The Who’s “My Generation” album.

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Born on this day: October 9, 1944 – John Entwistle (aka “The Ox”, aka “Thunderfingers”), bassist for The Who (born John Alec Entwistle in Chiswick, London, UK). Happy Birthday to this legendary rock musician on what would have been his 75th Birthday.

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On this day in music history: October 3, 1975 – “The Who By Numbers”, the seventh studio album by The Who is released (US release date is on October 25, 1975). Produced by Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Shepperton Studios Sound Stage (with the Ronnie Lane Mobile Studio) in Shepperton, Surrey, UK from April – June 12, 1975. Coming off of the hugely successful rock opera “Quadrophenia” album and tour, and the filmed adaptation of “Tommy”, The Who take their first extended hiatus before starting their next project. By early 1975, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are at odds with each other over the future of the band, with Townshend expressing interesting in recording as a solo artist, but being torn about it due to his commitment to The Who. At the time, Pete is also dealing with his mounting drug and alcohol addictions as well as struggling with writer’s block. Pulling himself together in spite of being in a fragile physical and emotional state, the guitarist channels his emotions into the songs written for the album. For the sessions, the band hire Glyn Johns who had previously worked with The Who as a recording engineer. The band also choose a different venue for recording the album, using former Faces bassists Ronnie Lane’s sixteen-track mobile recording studio on a sound stage at Shepperton Studios outside of London. The sessions are far from problem free, with drummer Keith Moon also struggling with his sobriety and the other band members growing quickly bored and frustrated at the much longer than usual time it takes to finish the album. The albums now iconic cover is illustrated by bassist John Entwistle, featuring caricatures of The Who, parodying a children’s color by numbers book drawing. It spins off the single “Squeeze Box” (#16 Pop), which becomes one the bands popular songs and a staple of their live performances. The album is another success for The Who, but their lack of confidence in the material has them performing few of the songs from it on the tour that follows, and there after. Originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, the album is remastered and reissued in 1996 with three additional bonus tracks, recorded live at a concert in Swansea, Wales in June of 1976. It is also remastered and reissued by Classic Records as a 200 gram vinyl LP in 2008, and as a standard weight pressing by Polydor Records. The album is reissued again by UMe/Geffen in 2015. “The Who By Numbers” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 4, 1982 – “It’s Hard”, the tenth album by The Who​ is released. Produced by Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Turn Up-Down Studio in Surrey, UK in June 1982. Recorded at producer/engineer Johns home studio, “It’s Hard” is The Who’s last album of new studio material for twenty four years. Though their previous album “Face Dances” is commercially successful, the band members are divided on the material composed by Townshend. During the period that follows, Pete is still struggling with alcohol and substance abuse which has reached a crisis point. Taking a much needed hiatus, Townshend receives treatment from Dr. Meg Patterson to overcome his drinking and drug problems. Newly sober, Townshend comes to band rehearsals with only two new songs ready. Taking inspiration from The Clash, Pete writes a number of songs taking on political issues and  his struggles with addiction, most notably in “"I’ve Known No War”, “One Life’s Enough”, and “Eminence Front” (#5 Mainstream Rock). The album receives a glowing review from Rolling Stone magazine upon its release, though some critics and fans are not as receptive to the shift away from their classic “arena rock” sound, that saw them at the peak of their success in the 70’s. Lead singer Roger Daltrey is also later critical of the album, stating “it should never have been released. I had huge rows with Pete…”, and “the record company wanted a record out and they wanted us to do a tour”. It spins off two singles including “Athena” (#28 Pop, #3 Mainstream Rock). The band support the album with a “farewell tour” in the Fall of 1982/Winter 1983. When it is reissued on CD in 1997, it is dramatically remixed from its original release, which is most noticeable on the albums two singles which featured an odd off centered placement of the vocals in the original mixes. The reissue also includes four live bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP, by Polydor/Geffen/UMe in 2015. The same year, “Eminence Front” is featured prominently in a television ad campaign for Chevrolet pick up trucks. The song is also featured in the film version of the hit HBO series “Entourage” also in 2015. “It’s Hard” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 24, 1967 – Following a performance by The Who at Atwood Stadium on August 23rd, the band and numerous guests attend a birthday party held for drummer Keith Moon at the Holiday Inn in Flint, MI. The party is put on by the bands record label Decca Records and Premier Drums to celebrate the drummers 21st birthday. The celebration goes on into the early morning hours and degenerates into drunken debauchery and mayhem, with Moon leading the way. Party goers allege that a highly inebriated Moon blows up the toilet in his hotel room with a stick of dynamite, followed by setting off fire extinguishers, then taking the huge birthday cake and starting a massive food fight. The hotel manager call Sheriff’s deputies to have the party shut down. When Moon sees the police, he turns to run away and slips on a piece of cake, breaking one of his two front teeth. Still running from the police, the drummer jumps into the nearest car (allegedly either a Cadillac or Lincoln Continental) and ends up driving the car into the hotel swimming pool. The incident goes down in infamy, becoming a part of Moon’s legend, as well as earning The Who a lifetime ban from the Holiday Inn and a $50,000 bill for damages.

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Born on this day: August 23, 1946 – Legendary drummer Keith Moon of The Who (born Keith John Moon in Wembley, Middlesex, UK). Happy Birthday to this rock icon on what would have been his 73rd Birthday.

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On this day in music history: August 18, 1978 – “Who Are You”, the eighth studio album by The Who is released. Produced by The Who, Jon Astley and Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Rampart Studios in Battersea, London, Olympic Studios, RAK Studios in St. John’s Wood, London, and Pete Townshend’s Home Studio in Going-on-Thames, London from October 1977 – April 1978. Issued three years after their last studio album “The Who By Numbers”, it is the final album to feature original drummer Keith Moon. Hampered by his decade long abuse of drugs and alcohol, Moon’s once rock solid playing suffers as he continues to struggle with his addictions. As a result, Keith’s confidence in his ability to deliver consistently in the studio is shaken, feeling that he is letting his band mates down. Sadly, he dies of an accidental drug overdose just three weeks after its release. Moon’s death is made even more tragic and ironic, when he overdoses on the medication he is prescribed to combat his alcoholism. It spins off two singles including “Trick Of The Light” and the title track (#14 Pop). In 1996, the album is remixed and remastered (by Jon Astley), with the reissue containing five bonus tracks. The title song becomes the theme of long running crime drama television series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” in 2000. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2015. “Who Are You” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, number six on the UK album chart, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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