Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Doctor Who: Pete Townshend 75

Our next big milestone muso is turning 75 today.
He needs little introduction or fanfare.
You can see what a model of consistency he has made, over a 55 year reign at Rock's summit.
When he began doing what he does, music was a completely different landscape with far fewer open-seeming possibilities.
It's impossible to debate that he is one of the principal architects of how that has changed, or argue his position in the firmament of the last half century of music in general.
There are some folks about whom you could say that they contributed most to the idiom of Rock's coming of age, and this guy is definitely in that category.
He can still do the windmill thing too, although I've been wondering for decades how he doesn't badly mangle his hand doing that.
There are Classic Rock gods who have thrilled millions, but few have been or are the caliber of songwriter that today's birthday boy is.
Full disclosure: I'm a heretic who likes Pete Townshend's solo material better than his Who stuff.
Which is why I love his zillions of home-studio-recorded demos of what eventually became Who songs, where he plays all the instruments and sings the tunes usually associated with the full band.
For example, these badass demos for the last Who record with Keith Moon from 1978, to which I have added a few juicy and undercirculated bonus tracks.
Pete Townshend
"Who Are You" demos+

01 Who Are You
02 Love Is Coming Down
03 New Song
04 Sister Disco
05 Never Ask Me
06 I Like It The Way It Is
07 Love Is Wine
08 Broken Nails
09 Keep On Working
10 Guitar and Pen
11 Music Must Change
12 Empty Glass
13 No Road Romance
14 Another Tricky Day
15 Eminence Front (The Who soundcheck version)
16 Slit Skirts (video version)
17 Ascension Two

Total time: 1:19:57

Tracks 01-13: "Who Are You" demos, 1978; sourced from the bootleg CD on the Hiwatt label "The Genuine Scoop"
Track 14: "Face Dances" demo, 1980-81; sourced from an unidentified ROIO
Track 15: promo video live soundcheck version, The Who 1982; sourced from the 2006 "The Who: Who's Better, Who's Best" DVD bonus material
Track 16: re-recorded promo video version, 1982; sourced from the "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes" video promo film
Track 17: "Music & Rhythm" WOMAD LP, 1982; vinyl sourced

master reel of PT demos for The Who's 1978 Who Are You project, with four additional bonus tracks from the period immediately following
What's so great about these demos -- many others have been released as part of PT's Scoop series, although these 1978 ones mostly haven't seen the light of legitimate issue -- is that they would fit in perfectly on any of his early 1980s solo records, just as they are.
What can you say? Some people are so skilled, their demos are better and more fully realized than most people's actual albums.
I shall return soonly with more mise en scène for your home movies here in Quarantine Age Wasteland.
Today, though, we honor Pete Townshend -- born this day in 1945 -- and celebrate his unique and extensive contributions to a great deal of the music of the last half century. Long live Rock!--J.