Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Who
This is a quick and dirty posting of the weekend music embed. More textual blather will be coming along later.
As you read this, keep in mind that "I've been a fan of The Who since the very beginning ... when they were known as the Hillbilly Bugger Boys."
First, I'd like to thank Denny for his accurate comment and then follow my thanks with my envy that he saw The Who when they really were The Who. My co-blogger the Enigmatic Misanthrope saw The Who at the now-defunct (de funk-ed?) Capitol Center in Landover, Md. My 'time machine dreams' include going back to that time and actually going to shows that I missed. Thus my envy extends to the EM and his lovely (now) wife who was also in attendance.
So why post the viddy I did? Because The Who, claims by the Rolling Stones to the contrary, actually are the "World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band." The Stones are the world's best R&B band playing rock music. I'm very glad VH1 gave The Who the props, the "Rock Honors," that have been long-deserved. And I elected to use "Baba O'Reily" which is one of the greatest rock tunes ever written, since it's part of a disc that had no bad songs. Not only did "Who's Next" not have a bad song, it was loaded with great songs. (hmmm - must go cue it up in iTunes now...) John Entwistle's turn at the mic, "My Wife," might be the weakest song yet it rocks as well as being full of the Ox's sly humor. Of course there's "Tommy" and the too-often ignored "Quadrophenia" in addition to the other albums the boys produced. I mention the extended-form music for a couple of reasons. First, listen to the horns in "Tommy" (as in the amusingly titled "Underture"). Superbly charted by Entwistle whose musical ability extended far beyond his brilliance on bass guitar. Much is made in the VH1 tribute of the Ox's bass line on "My Generation" which I think is perhaps the number 2 best bass line ever in rock (McCartney's in "Day Tripper" is first and the opening bass line in Queen and Bowie's "Under Pressure" is third). And Keith Moon's drumming was never better than on "Quadrophenia." I think he reached an apex in Quadrophenia where his drum kit was more an instrument than just a rhythm machine than it ever had been. His runs and fills were always there but in "Quadrophenia," they were never better. I also wonder if his being allowed to "sing" on "Bellboy" might have made Moonie happier to contribute. As great a drummer as he was, he was not a singer (as his solo album proves.) I do have to give Kenny Jones credit for a damn fine job of work drumming in Moonie's place now. How hard is it to come in for someone who really can't replaced?
The loss of both of these men is a loss to music. Perhaps the personal demons that led them to drugs and the "rock lifestyle" drove them to frenzied heights they wouldn't have otherwise reached.

Living in the now. Denny comment is spot on. Roger Daltrey was a great rock singer. Was. He "can sing" now but he can't "sing Roger Daltrey" as much as it pains me to admit that. I'm amused, however, to note the mic he's using has the cord wrapped back and forth and strapped with gaffer's tape. His famous mic swinging probably ruined more than a few before the roadies got the taping technique down. At least that he can still do.
Townshend was indeed never a singer. Never a great singer. But he could sing his own material. He hasn't lost what Daltrey lost likely because he never had what Daltrey had. I will allow that only Lenon/McCartney have written more great rock music than beaky old Pete. Listen to "White City" or "All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes" if you don't accept that. Two little-known discs that are damn-near perfect. As great Sir Paul is, he hasn't done that in his solo career.
My co-blogger routinely disses Townshend's playing and I'm willing to concede that there are greater guitar heroes than Pete. EVH, Brian May, Hendrix, Clapton. A lot. But his rare combination of writing and playing puts him in a special place. What intrigues me in this viddy is that he's playing a Strat. I think of nothing but Gibsons in his hands. He even wrote "Sittin' in the Sheraton Gibson / playin' my Gibson...." And that's all I have to say about that.
Now, about the show. Typical VH1 crapfest. As much as I love these guys, I'm nonplussed to hear Daltrey now that he's no longer Daltrey. The band still rocks but not like they could twenty years ago. Then there are the bands doing tributes. "Tenacious D" (whose fame I can never understand but then Jack Black has never impressed me as an actor either) doing a cover of "Squeezebox." Oh please! That song's a trifle, a throwaway, Spike Jones's "Cocktails for Two" in rock garb. Three words for that segment: waste of time. I won't call the efforts of Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Incubus, the Flaming Lips and Adam Sandler into question but, (insert exasperated look here) really. All that covering of Who songs just ain't worth anyone's time. Show archival footage, let the band play, do interviews. But spare me the butt-smoochery of the current acts. If a viewer doesn't know how good this band was, let him die in ignorance.
Finally, Rainn Wilson who's absolutely hilarious as Dwight Schrute in "The Office," was a waste of oxygen on this show. The intro when he dressed as Elton John's version of the Pinball Wizard from the horrifying movie of "Tommy" was just embarrassing. Dude, be selective.

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