IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (27)

MOD LIFE IS RUBBISH???

Today’s offering is for my mate DJ Kenno, who I’m trying to persuade to offer up a few guest postings.

DJ Kenno is a sound lad. He’s a mod at heart, even as a 50-something getting out and about on the country roads of the East of Scotland on his faithful scooter, albeit not as often or as carefree as days of yonder. I know that others who know him, including Jacques the Kipper, do their best to try to educate him in the ways of modern music but they are somewhat fighting a losing battle.

A few weeks ago, he used the words ‘not bad’ to describe this little corner of t’internet, adding the jibe that it didn’t have enough features on mods or mod music. I suppose it’s all down to personal tastes and however you want to define mod. There’s certainly been plenty of postings about The Jam, but they’re a beat combo I would classify under new wave/post punk rather than the category that first came into being in the late 50s and reached its commercial peak in the mid-60s. There certainly hasn’t ever been anything about the band most closely associated with the mod movement, but that’s changing today.

The Who are a group I’ve never really given any time to and this is on the basis of 1977 being ground zero and any bands from the 60s could be dismissed out of hand. I now accept that was a very stupid outlook to take but, hey, I was just a daft teenager who thought he knew best….I was no different from any other 14-year-old at the time or any 14-year-old who had gone before me or who have come since. I have, as regular readers know, softened my stance somewhat and have some sort of appreciation for music from my very formative years.

But not The Who.

I think this can be down to two things – Roger Daltrey’s long hair – which made him look like a member of the hard rockin’ bands that I couldn’t then and still can’t abide – and that the band loved to boast about how loud their live performances were, akin to standing next to a jet plane as it gets airborne. Loudness = hard rock = shit. Oh and they also had recorded a ‘rock opera’, the sort of things that were openly boasted about by prog rockers like Rick Wakeman, sad men in capes who thought nothing of playing 25 minute keyboard solos for long-haired fans dressed in combat jackets and flared jeans.

And while I still couldn’t today try to give you a ten-track ICA, I am more than happy to offer a chance to listen to their January 1965 debut single, which got to #8 in the UK charts:-

mp3 : The Who – I Can’t Explain

Ah….but all is not what it seems. This may have been the first 45 under the moniker of The Who, but six months earlier all involved had, as The High Numbers, recorded a track called Zoot Suit which had been written by their then manager Peter Meaden. It flopped and led to them deciding to go back to calling themselves The Who and concentrating on songs penned by guitarist Pete Townsend.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the riff for I Can’t Explain was used a couple of times by The Clash, on Clash City Rockers and Guns On The Roof, not something I was aware of in the late 70s.

JC

10 thoughts on “IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (27)

  1. I enjoy the early mod stuff too, but everything by the Who after 1967 leaves me cold. To these ears, A Quick One, While He’s Way, So Sad About Us and Pictures of Lily were their last great moments. Apparently, the masses disagree. New songs and an arena tour by Roger and Pete some 52 years later… so what do I know?

  2. I’m with you. This band has always just left me cold. I’ve tried so many times, and it never, ever clicks.

  3. “I Can’t Explain” is fine, but “The Who Sell Out” was a work of genius. Their metarock pop art apex. Unfortunately, they followed this with their worst album: “Tommy.” The sins of “Tommy” are too manifold to enumerate. Here are a few words off the top of my head: pretension, mysticism, sprawl, tedium, gatefold, orchestra, middlebrow. The only thing they recorded after 1967 that I own is, gor’ help me, “Who’s Next.” I should hate that album, but no. I actually enjoy it in spite of its rock hegemony signifiers. To this day I’m not sick of “Baba O’Riley” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and by all rights I should be.

  4. Ha! My favorite band until I was 15 or so. What part of ‘I Can’t Explain’ isn’t perfect? I still love everything they did through Who Are You. Should have packed it in when Moon died. Townshend sure has made a lot of crap music over the years, but the band were exceptional for the first 12-15 years. Too bad they keep touring when Daltrey hasn’t been able to sing for 20 years, but that early music is magic. And Entwistle was the king of rock bass. Inimitable.

  5. At least Led Zeppelin had the class to end it when Bonham died! Let that sink in: Led Zeppelin had more class than The Who!! I liked Pete Townshend’s early 80s solo records, though. No problems there. His version of The Beat’s “Save It For Later” was quite nice.

  6. Almost everything up to 1969 is well worth your time. Some of it is absolute genius- Substitute, The Kids Are Alright, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, much of Sell Out, etc etc. After that, not so much.

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