The Who - with cherries - without the pips
The new improved Who
The Who – “My Generation”

Originally released in 1965, The Who’s classic debut has been re-mastered as a double CD by Universal as part of the Deluxe Edition series. Original producer, the legendary Shel Talmy, has delivered a new stereo mix of the original LP. The package also contains 18 extra tracks (including 6 previously unreleased recordings), a 28-page booklet featuring 3 sets of liner notes, many rare photos & plenty of previously unseen memorabilia.

Disc one contains the original LP in full plus “Circles”, “Can’t Explain” & its b-sides, “Bald Headed Woman” & “Daddy Rolling Stone”. The first thing you’ll notice about Talmy’s stereo mix is the volume of Townsend’s incendiary guitar sound – lower in the mix than original Mono mix by some way. This is most apparent on the climatic endings to both “My Generation” & “Anyhow, Anywhere, Anyway” (alternate version). In exchange for this reduction in 6-string emphasis we are rewarded with a vastly fatter bass & drum sound, a punchier, sharper lead vocal & an overall brightness that takes you right back to a sweaty dance floor in 1965.

Disc 2 contains 14 tracks recorded at the same time as the LP sessions (including 4 previously unreleased cuts). It features a handful of cover versions & alternate takes of Townsend originals: “Anyhow, Anywhere, Anyway” (alternate version), “I Don’t Mind”, “The Good’s Gone”, “My Generation” & monaural takes of “A Legal Matter & “My Generation”.

Some 37 years after its initial release, “My Generation” remains one of the most exciting debut LPs ever committed to vinyl. It captures the sound of a band growing up in public for the very 1st time – it captures the sound of the street: London circa 1965. “My Generation” is the sound of Maximum R&B slowly being eroded by Townsend originals. It’s the sound of 50’s orientated rock & roll being erased by an all-new Pop Art sensibility. Up until the early 60’s art schools had been the exclusive domains of the upper classes & the well off. By 1965 this had changed dramatically & the influx of the lower classes into the art schools of England was a major catalyst behind the resultant Pop Art Explosion. When aligned to the already vibrant Mod scene that dominated the inner cities of mid 60s England, Pop Art soon became the very essence of hip.

Mod had begun as a very exclusive youth cult in the late 50’s. Mod was short for Modernist & the Modernist was obsessed with the finest Italian suits, the rarest US import vinyl & by being known as “an ace face”. To be an ace face was to lead by example – those who followed were known as “tickets”. Mods congregated in basement clubs like The Scene at weekends – dancing the night away, popping pills & chasing the opposite sex. There was a certain elitism involved; right suit, right shirt, right hair, right shoes. Buying a Parka & a Vespa & driving down to Brighton for a ruck was for tickets: office workers with floral ties & Freeman Hardy & Willis brogues.

One of London’s ace faces was a Mod by the name of Pete Meaden – a 100mph speeding motor mouth with ideas, attitude & commitment to match. Meaden took over managing The Who & immediately changed their name to The High Numbers. Mod clubs like The Scene & The Goldhawk Social Club in Shepherd’s Bush (The Who’s own manor) were burning up to the sounds of James Brown, early Motown & Staxx & young home-grown talent like The Action, The Birds & The High Numbers. The High Numbers association with Meaden was to be short lived, however, & after a reasonably successful 45 as The High Numbers (“I’m The Face”) the band reverted to using the name The Who & Meaden sold their management agreement to Kit Lambert & Chris Stamp.

By 1965 the kids were refusing to become middle aged in their early 20s – they were doing exciting, interesting things with their time & money: like buying records & clothes or reading paperback books. The Who were quick to tap into this energy & reflect it back at the kids. With their Union Jack jackets, sharp threads, Marshall 100 watt tops & stacks they were turning heads all over town. Pete Townsend’s original compositions conveyed the spirit of the youth – connected directly with the audience. He would be out on the floor dancing with the ace faces one minute, copying their steps, & back up on the stage smashing his guitar against his mic stand & amps & aping the steps he’d just learnt. Roger Daltry was the hard case of the group – he drove the van & didn’t drink or neck pills – he was constantly bickering with the others about their hedonistic tendencies – when he wasn’t shagging everything in sight. Tension was very important to The Who.

Bassist John Entwhistle hardly moved at all - as his fingers flashed up & down the neck of his bass – his feet remained firmly rooted to the stage. Behind all three of them, Keith Moon thrashed his drum kit to the very edge of its life every gig. Moon was one of the very first drummers to come out from behind the band – taking his cue from The Pretty Things drummer, he would stand up, twirl his sticks, throw them in the air & catch them – or simply hurl bits of his kit venomously at Daltry (who he would constantly wind up). The tension would often spill over into violence & Roger would lamp someone – usually Entwhistle or Moon. Eventually, for the sake of the band, Roger agreed to stop hitting people & the others promised to be more professional, less prone to drunkenness & to try & cut down on the pills.

The Who were never too far away from a fight. As their fame grew, so did the tension. Live shows would culminate in an orgy of destruction & feedback. Moon would hurl bits of kit across the stage, Townsend would smash the neck of his guitar into the speakers of his Marshall stacks dragging ever decreasing circles of noise from his instrument. Daltry would whip his mic lead around, throw the mic up into the air & catch it as it fell. Entwhistle remained in situ throughout. In 1965 The Who were the only band worth living for, the only band that was speaking directly to you & the only band you would give up your life for. By the time The Who played a thank you show for the Mods of The Goldhawk in late 65 they were THE Mod band – THE faces. 1965 will always be the year of The Who & “My Generation” will always be their finest hour.

Purist’s Corner:

If you are allergic to stereo sound recordings & consider Mr Talmy a cunt for even considering ruining the sound & ambience of the original recordings, then there are only two roads you can go down.

1. Buy a record player & acquire a copy of the original LP on vinyl (Brunswick LAT8616) for a cool £150 or chase down a copy of the Virgin re-issue from 1980 (V2179).

2. Search & purchase a copy of the wonderful bootleg CD – “My Generation – Mono + Bonus” – available from all good record fairs for around £7.00.

“Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicles Of The Who – 1958-1978” by Andy Neill & Matt Kent is published by Barnes & Noble - winter 2002.

Marquee Smith – trakMARX.com – Sept 2002


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