Friday, August 26, 2011

The Who’s Greatest Hits (2009).

Not being a fan of The Who I, however, readily admit to absolutely loving their early singles.  I must say, I prefer these guys in shirts adorned with targets and arrows, rather than fringe.  The first 8 cuts of the latest version of their greatest hits (there are about 5 compilations) have lots of chiming Rickenbacker guitar pushed through brilliant Vox and Marshall amps  It’s pure mid-sixties, and Pete Townshend primarily invented that sound.  Even though The Beatles also made use of the Rickenbacker 6, and 12 string guitars, George Harrison’s approach was more “composerly,” and studied, than Pete’s extroverted strumming.  One might assume his thrashing was to make up for lack of technique as a soloist.  Maybe so, but his sense of time is impressive.  Check out his playing in I Can’t Explain, The Who’s first single, released way back in ‘64.  The guitar solos are mostly rhythmic, with a few licks thrown in.  In the second solo, Pete works in a quarter note triplet riff that is pretty startling as a device for that time.

The video is quite stunning as a depiction of what looked cool in the clubs in London, 1964.  But there are so many creepy boys doing freakish dance moves, it leaves me rather speechless.  Where are all the girls?  Unspeakably odd. Halfway through the video the band is in another club, and Roger looks exactly like David J from Bauhaus.

The Kids Are Alright, from their 1965 album, was released as a single in 1966, reaching #41 in the UK and #85 in the US.  Townsend said their “greatest hits” should be more properly be called their “greatest flops.”  The video is priceless, showing the band in très chic mod styles, and a somewhat awkward lack of stage presence.  Note Roger’s shirt, buttoned down, and buttoned up to the throat.  And check out his mod hairdo: that little puffed up bouffant where the hair is brushed back from the crown of his head is so very au courant.  Keith has his Union Jack shirt on, and Pete is in that long Edwardian jacket. These boys really knew how to dress.