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talkin' 'bout my puh-puh-puh-plagiarism...
October 20, 2008 6:26 AM   Subscribe

There were four young and energetic lads (especially that drummer, wow!) who used to really get the Mods out on the dance floor over in London town, circa 1964. Called themselves The High Numbers. It must be said, though, these blokes weren't above a little bald-faced plagiarism now and again. Well, anyway, a little later they changed their name, and got kinda famous.

As mentioned in the Funky 16 Corners link, the flip side to the High Numbers' "Zoot Suit" (ripoff of the Dynamics' "Misery") was also a straight up case of plagiarism! The HN's "I'm the Face" (here with video scenes from "Jaws"...) was lifted wholesale from Slim Harpo's "Got Love If You Want It" (performed here by a young YouTuber in his bedroom). In both cases, the HN versions kept the characteristic guitar and harmonica riffs (respectively) of the originals, kept the forms, the melodies, everything: just slapped new lyrics on 'em and called 'em their own! Easy-peasy-on-your-kneesy! Don't know if there was ever any litigation or settlements or anything... but I guess the old saying is true: Behind every fortune, there's a crime!

BTW, those of you who didn't bother clicking on all the later Who links in this thread (perhaps you've "heard it all") please note: one of them, live in France, features them doing none other than "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys! Now that was news to me. And they do some pretty respectable 4-part harmonizing, with Keith Moon taking care of the falsetto stylings! Unexpected!

Well, it's getting late. Let's close this out with Slim Harpo's familiar classic, Baby Scratch My Back. Mmmm, feels so good.
posted by flapjax at midnite (85 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Perhaps a more relaxed take on Barbara Ann.

I can't help thinking that there were any number of bands that Moon would have absolutely ruined. He was perfect for this one though.

Cheers for these.
posted by mandal at 6:49 AM on October 20, 2008


When I was 16, a few friends got together for a trip from our home in Stamford, Connecticut to Saratoga, N.Y. for a concert featuring The Who — without parental permission. Oops. The stage was set in an outdoor amphitheater with grassy, casual, comfortable seating. Local cover bands warmed the crowd all afternoon, but the culmination was obviously the arrival of Townshend's quartet right around dusk. We were stoked.

A Who concert in 1969 was everything one imagined. They were featuring the Tommy opera at the time ... were their energetic drum smashing, microphone swinging, windmill picking selves. It was my first experience with what was to become a hall of fame act. When the show was over, returning to our car, it didn't take long to realize we weren't going anywhere fast because the crush of vehicles all had to exit the park from one roadway.

Being the adventurous teen sort, off we went back to the amphitheater to see what might still be going on. Our curiosity was rewarded a bit later when the band exited the backstage pavilion to the excitement of a handful of remaining groupies and stammering teenage boys. Shaking hands with Entwistle and Townshend that night was the new highlight of my sheltered existence. Offering a smoke to a stressed out Daltrey, followed by the unspoken thank you as our eyes met, sealed the memory. The drive home was a complete blur, we were awestruck.

Remember that oops? We completely lost track of time, arriving home somewhere around 3AM from a place we weren't supposed to be. Greeted by worried, then enraged parents, I managed to postpone most of the verbal flogging until the next day. Nothing could erase the joy of my first ever rock star encounter, not even doing without the car for the next month.
posted by netbros at 6:50 AM on October 20, 2008 [14 favorites]


Among the many things I like about this great post is seeing John Entwistle play. So far up the neck with his right hand, kind of flicking instead of picking, and it sounds so awesome. Bass guitar instructors must cringe, but Entwistle did so much innovative stuff.

As for being "copycats," well, so was Elvis.

And I love the dancing as well. Well dressed blokes and birds digging the sound. The 50's were so much cooler than the 60's. The 70's, 80's, 90's, and the Naughts as well.
posted by bardic at 6:53 AM on October 20, 2008


Great post, thanks. If those Dynamics are the same as these Dynamics, there are some holes in their bio there. Unless it's some other Dynamics.
posted by motty at 6:54 AM on October 20, 2008


these blokes weren't above a little bald-faced plagiarism

Aw, they're forgiven.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:59 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't help thinking that there were any number of bands that Moon would have absolutely ruined. He was perfect for this one though.

Nice point. Keith Moon's entire career was one prolonged forced issue of essentially uncontainable energy. The genius of Townsend, Entwistle and Daltrey is they didn't fight it, didn't try to contain it. Rather they just rode it out like the force of nature it was, and like surfers catching a remarkable wave, it took them to some amazing places.
posted by philip-random at 7:03 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Isn't this the Funky Sixteen Corners Site? Did that other site plagiarize it?
posted by destro at 7:08 AM on October 20, 2008


Isn't this the Funky Sixteen Corners Site? Did that other site plagiarize it?

That would've been deliciously ironic, seeing as how this FPP takes a look at plagiarism, but, no, it's the same Funky 16 Corners: it's just that they moved. The post I linked to was from 2005.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 AM on October 20, 2008


If those Dynamics are the same as these Dynamics, there are some holes in their bio there.

There's been about a metric ton of bands called "The Dynamics". And it sure ain't these guys, either!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:15 AM on October 20, 2008


I like to think that a lot of bands didn't have the substance or the balls to handle Keith Moon. Moon in return gave the Who a soul. The who were 4 guys that got together miraculously to make something great. Individually they might have been successful, but nowhere near with the iconic status, or the huge impact on rock.

Cool post on one of my favorite rock bands. That 1964 film of the club band the Who is awesome even if the filming style can get a little irritating. You can clearly see their talent and charisma.
posted by Eekacat at 7:23 AM on October 20, 2008


mandal beat me to it. I've always loved that clip: "Another solo, ay?"

Thanks for the post flapjax and great story netbros.
posted by marxchivist at 7:29 AM on October 20, 2008


Individually they might have been successful, but nowhere near with the iconic status, or the huge impact on rock.

You could probably say that (and be correct) when applied to any of the Big 4 of British Rock: the Beatles, The Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin. Every member of those groups was very talented, but it was the sparks that flew when the all collided that made them more than the sum of their parts and what sets them apart from other groups. For instance, I love the Kinks, but at the end of the day they were basically the Davies Brothers and a rhythm section. Eric Burdon, in terms of sheer vocal prowes, was a far superior vocalist to Jagger or Plant, but the Animals never reached the heights of the Stones or Zep, because 1)they didn't have the songwriting talent in the group, and 2)he didn't have a creative foil as good as Keith Richards or Jimmy Page.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


IIRC That alleyway in Brighton is still there.
posted by Artw at 7:48 AM on October 20, 2008


Is it true that Keith Moon once bit off the head of Ozzie Osbourne?
posted by mosk at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2008


Big 4 of British Rock: the Beatles, The Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin.

Queen wouldn't be one of the big four of British Rock? I think it needs to be expanded to the Big 5, because... well, it's Queen.
posted by quin at 8:22 AM on October 20, 2008


I can't help thinking that there were any number of bands that Moon would have absolutely ruined. He was perfect for this one though.

The fascinating thing is how little the other three members of the band accomplished after Moon passed. With a couple of minor exceptions, the band's output has been unlistenable for the last thirty years. And you'd think that someone who was so prolific and innovative a song writer as Townshend was in the sixties and seventies, would have come up with a lot more interesting work since then. Empty Glass was great but uneven, there were some good songs on Cowboys and White City but that's about it.
posted by octothorpe at 8:23 AM on October 20, 2008


Big 4 of British Rock: the Beatles, The Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin.

Queen I like but they don't belong on this list. Too ... something. David Bowie on the other hand does, and he did pull it off pretty much all on his own ... until 1980 at least. Yes he had the likes of Mick Ronson, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp helping him out at times but he was always the main man, the weirdo-freak with his picture on the cover.
posted by philip-random at 8:40 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like Queen, quin. (Golly that was fun to type) But they're not in the same league with those 4.
posted by jonmc at 8:40 AM on October 20, 2008


Floyd?
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2008


David Bowie on the other hand does, and he did pull it off pretty much all on his own ... until 1980 at least. Yes he had the likes of Mick Ronson, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp helping him out at times but he was always the main man, the weirdo-freak with his picture on the cover.

I'm a big fan of Bowie's, but I was more referring to groups and how chemistry was what set them apart rather than simply raw talent or proficiency. But even Bowie kind of furthers my point in that his work was much better when he had people like Ronson, Fripp and Eno (NTM Stevie Ray Vaughan and Earl Slick) as collaborators. You could even say this was true of Dylan; his mid-60's work is generally considered his peak, and the fact that he was working with people like the Band, Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield was a big part of that.
posted by jonmc at 8:49 AM on October 20, 2008


Add Adrian Belew to that list of Bowie collaborators.
posted by Eekacat at 8:54 AM on October 20, 2008


and Rick Wakeman (he played the piano on "Oh, You Pretty Things," my favorite Bowie record).
posted by jonmc at 8:59 AM on October 20, 2008


I agree regarding Bowie. He was more of the great bandleader/arranger who got great musicians in his groups, and brought the best out of them. You can see how he took their sound, and made it part of his.
posted by Eekacat at 9:06 AM on October 20, 2008


Even my beloved Bruce Springsteen illustrates this: compare his work with the E Street band to his work without. Neil Young as well, his best work was with a sympathetic group of collaborators like Crazy Horse. The vision was ultimately Bowie/Dylan/Springsteen/Young's but the idea of the solitary artist in the garrett really dosen't fit into rock and roll all that well since it's a very collaborative medium.
posted by jonmc at 9:12 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way: even visionaries realize the difference between sidemen and collaborators.
posted by jonmc at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2008


To be fair to Pete Townshend, both of these plagaries are credited to Pete Meaden, The Who's manager at the time. From thewho.net:

Peter Meaden, a former employee of The Rolling Stones' young manager Andrew Loog Oldham, got himself hired as an adviser by The Who's then manager, Helmut Gorden. Meaden was a member of the cultish British youth movement the Mods that had recently become nationally notorious after a series of seaside riots with their enemies the Rockers. With more money in their pockets than their parents had ever had, the Mods spent their pounds on four things: the latest fashions, motor scooters, R&B records imported from America and speed pills smuggled from France. It was the latter that filled Meaden's head along with the idea to remake The Who into the quintessential Mod band. The Who had their hair cut short, bought the trendiest clothes and copied the latest dances. Meaden also changed their name to The High Numbers.

Despite their counterfeit origins, The High Numbers were accepted by the Mods who gave the band a sizeable and loyal audience. Meaden got the band a one-shot recording deal at Fontana where, in June 1964, they recorded their first single, "Zoot Suit"/"I'm The Face." The lyrics were Meaden's, the melodies were borrowed and the single went nowhere.


I'm not saying the band members were innocent. They probably had to have heard the songs in order to perform such accurate knock-offs. Just that Pete Townshend himself never claimed to have "written" either of those songs.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 9:25 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


but I was more referring to groups and how chemistry was what set them apart rather than simply raw talent or proficiency.

Ah, in this context I understand your choice of Big 4.

Amusingly, my MP3 player on random just started playing My Generation... weird.
posted by quin at 9:26 AM on October 20, 2008


I can see adding Floyd to the Big Four. In terms of influence and sales they're the only other British band with origins in the 60s that reached that level and sustained for a significant period of time. Queen was great and had four great songwriters, but they didn't achieve dominance until the late 70s.

The later Floyd albums (The Wall, Final Cut) aren't nearly as musically interesting once Waters started elbowing out the rest of the band. I'm not saying those albums didn't have a few great moments but while Waters could write great lyrics he couldn't come up with music to drive his ideas without Gilmour and Wright. Which goes to the point that a successful band has to be able to collaborate.
posted by Ber at 9:39 AM on October 20, 2008


Well if no one else is going to say it....

The Who is the most overrated band to come out of the British invasion. They are "Big 4" as far as being popular but as far as being most talented I wouldn't put them in the "Big 20".
posted by Bonzai at 9:42 AM on October 20, 2008


jonmc: "Or to put it another way: even visionaries realize the difference between sidemen and collaborators."

I think that even the best artists need a devil's advocate that he or she can trust who will say, "that part's stupid, rewrite it."
posted by octothorpe at 9:48 AM on October 20, 2008


I think that even the best artists need a devil's advocate that he or she can trust who will say, "that part's stupid, rewrite it."

In Wings For Wheels, the documentary about the making of Born To Run, there's a great sequence about "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." Bruce Springsteen and Jon Landau had been trying to come up with a horn arrangement and had some rudimentary charts written out. Steve Van Zandt was hanging around the studio (he was an old buddy of Bruce's but not yet a member of the E Street Band. "Put away all that paper!" he said and hand directed the Brecker Brothers into the horn pattern we know today. He was hired a few days later as a full-fledged member.
posted by jonmc at 9:52 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Who is the most overrated band to come out of the British invasion. They are "Big 4" as far as being popular but as far as being most talented I wouldn't put them in the "Big 20".

I remember talking to a guy who was young and "on the scene" in London 1963-67 when the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, the Animals, the Who etc were all the rage. He saw and loved them all ... except the Who. He HATED the Who. Godawful, untalented, horrendous merchants of noise.

Sounds like the Who I've always loved, I thought, but didn't say.
posted by philip-random at 9:59 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I almost forgot one of the most obvious instances of a band being mostly about chemistry: Roth-era Van Halen. Look at the post-split careers of the principals: Dave went off to become Milton Berle in spandex and Eddie became just another shredder (albiet one of a very high order). In purely technical terms, Sammy Hagar is probably a better vocalist than Diamond Dave, but he didn't have 1% of Roth's charm, charisma or vision. And the tension between Eddie's shredding and Dave's goofery is what made VH (love 'em or loathe 'em) such a unique band.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on October 20, 2008


Well if no one else is going to say it....

The Who is the most overrated band to come out of the British invasion. They are "Big 4" as far as being popular but as far as being most talented I wouldn't put them in the "Big 20".


Maybe the dumbest statement ever. If anything, they are underrated. I consider only The Beatles their equal and as far as live performance goes they are the greatest band that ever existed.

Even if you didn't particularly care for their brand of music, to argue that they aren't talented is just ludicrous.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


/shouts "bellboy!", kicks a scooter to death.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2008


The Who is the most overrated band to come out of the British invasion.

Sad to say, I somewhat sympathize with this view. I'm not sure I would call them the most overrated, as the contenders for that honor are many. I tend to pigeonhole bands in terms of the "Can I sit through an entire album" metric, and the Who, for me anyway, comes up short over-and-over. When they are on-the-mark and rocking, I'm good. But when Pete goes into "artiste" mode...hoo boy.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:28 AM on October 20, 2008


wow. When I opened that first link I thought I know that guy. huh. Is that Roger Daltrey? Could that be him, that skinny, mischievous looking rascal all slinky and wiry and sexy? As the seconds went by it was so obvious these guys, whoever they were, were way ahead of their time. It was like watching science fiction, People From the Future gone back to the past to teach them how to Be Cool.

And then, as the camera went over to Pete Townshend, could that be him?! omg, it's him, this is The Who. whoa. So they were called The High Numbers first?! haha, So that must be how they got their name, nobody could figure out The High Numbers name, or kept saying, The who?

But then I Wikipediaed it and no, that's not how it happened. It was more convoluted:

The Detours changed their name to "The Who" in 1964 and, with the arrival of Keith Moon that year, their line-up was complete. However, for a short period during 1964, under the management of famed mod Peter Meaden, they changed their name to The High Numbers, during which time they released "Zoot Suit/I'm The Face", a single designed to appeal to their mostly mod fans. When it failed to chart, the band fired Meaden and quickly reverted to The Who. They became one of the most popular bands among the British mods, a 1960s subculture involving cutting-edge fashions, scooters and music genres such as rhythm and blues, soul, and beat music.

huh. So the mods were truly avant garde. I didn't know that. I thought they were just superficially, mindlessly trendy not art/society shapers. I didn't know until this minute that "Significant elements of the mod lifestyle included pop music, such as African American soul, Jamaican ska, and British beat music and R&B; fashion (often tailor-made suits); and Italian motor scooters. The mod scene was also associated with amphetamine-fuelled all-night dancing at clubs."

huh. Where did all the amphetamines in the early and mid-sixties come from? the Warhol scene was into that at the same time in NYC too. Interesting the same trend in drugs on either side of The Pond. Wonder how that happened?

Watching Mad Men Sunday nights, I've been thinking more about that time of transition between early to mid-sixties. Wondering how the hell that happened, that amazing change? I wasn't old enough to know about the teen and young adult vibe in the early '60s but something profound was happening then, that is so visible in watching that video of The High Numbers. Something cynical, something angry, raw, peel back the layers of bs from hypocritical life, a bit nihilisitic and sex not as romance or sweaty good times but as a fyou, something fierce.

Maybe this ferocity was a residue left over from the looking at death in the face of WWII and corporations trying to sell sell sell in the 50's to bring capitalism back into mainstream life, rather than the money made in the War Effort and how fake this must have seemed to kids on top of All That Death, bombing, violence, dread, loss?

In 1964 it was only 18 years from WWII to The High Numbers/The Who. 18 years ago from now was 1992, not so long ago, just after the Gulf War, a few years before the web started to take off.

Watching that first video was an amazing experience. Thanks flapjax, you just blew my mind, what's left of it to be blown.
posted by nickyskye at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've loved The Who ever since I watched "The Kids Are Alright" about halfway though high school, and for about ten years I was obsessed with them (I dressed up as John Entwistle one year for Halloween). They, along with Led Zeppelin, were the first band who really got me paying attention to the rhythm section, how all of the players really locked in together when they were playing at full steam. I don't think they were anywhere near The Beatles or The Stones in terms of songwriting abilities, but as performers and instrumentalists they were (at their peak) better than either. I'm not really qualified to say whether Entwistle and Moon were the "best" rhythm section in rock, but they were right up there, and with Entwistle carrying the melody on bass during a lot of songs, they were definitely one of the most distinctive. And I will say that I've seen video of Moon doing stuff on a drum kit that I've never seen anyone else approach in terms of sheer, manic intensity (not even Bonham).

These days I still love The Who, but I gotta say...they just don't speak to me the same way they did when I was younger.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:37 AM on October 20, 2008


"A wave swept me to the left and when I regained my stance I felt that I was standing on someone. The helplessness and frustration of this moment sent a wave of panic through me. I screamed with all my strength that I was standing on someone. I couldn't move. I could only scream. Another wave came and pushed me further left towards the door. I felt my leg being pulled to the right. The crowd shifted again and I reached down and grabbed an arm at my leg. I struggled for awhile and finally pulled up a young girl who also had a young boy clinging to her limbs. They were barely conscious and their faces were filled with tears."
posted by hortense at 10:43 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


After going to read about the origins of the mod culture, my mind is now even more blown away.
posted by nickyskye at 10:56 AM on October 20, 2008


"as far as live performance goes they are the greatest band that ever existed"

If by greatest you mean most energetic, maybe. There's no way they were better than Pink Floyd, if we only look at live performance.
posted by oddman at 11:14 AM on October 20, 2008


oddman, I love Pink Floyd, but the influence of The Who is far more wide-ranging. The entire genres of heavy metal, punk rock and power pop would not exist were it not for their innovations.
posted by jonmc at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great band, great post—thanks, flapjax! Everyone should check out that Funky 16 Corners link: the comment section has a virtual reunion of old band members and their relatives that I found quite moving.

After going to read about the origins of the mod culture, my mind is now even more blown away.

That was interesting—reminds me of another much-misunderstood post-WWII youth culture, the Russian stilyagi (be sure and watch the clip from a Soviet propaganda film at the end, contrasting the vile stilyagi—"Instead of sitting over a book, they dance all evening! they dance all night!"—with healthy Soviet youth, occupying themselves with gymnastics and approved folk dances).
posted by languagehat at 11:42 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well if no one else is going to say it....

The Who is the most overrated band to come out of the British invasion.


Just because you don't appreciate something doesn't mean it's overrated. I don't care for ballet, but I don't mistake that for an objective judgment.
posted by languagehat at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just because you don't appreciate something doesn't mean it's overrated.

You're undermining the basic principles of internet critisism!
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


/shouts "bellboy!", kicks a scooter to death.

Damn, for years I've been doing that backwards. Embarrassing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:48 AM on October 20, 2008


Don't apologize to us, alvy. Hotel Workers Local #271 would like to see you, however.
posted by jonmc at 11:49 AM on October 20, 2008


One of the few YouTube videos I have bookmarked. Even taken out of the emotional context, that is one of the most magnificent live performances that The Who ever gave. Just a shame Mooney was long gone but there's definitely the spirit of Moon in Zak's drumming (inevitable really I suppose).

I hope I'm that angry when I'm 60.
posted by NeonSurge at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2008


Perhaps a more relaxed take on Barbara Ann.

The estate of Keith Moon's eyebrows should be banking royalties from the muppets.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:26 PM on October 20, 2008


Just because you don't appreciate something doesn't mean it's overrated. I don't care for ballet, but I don't mistake that for an objective judgment.

Isn't an opinion subjective by definition? BTW I'm not saying that The Who suck, I'm just saying that they aren't great. They're just pretty good.

20 British bands better than The Who.

The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
Radiohead
The Police
Pink Floyd
The Kinks
The Clash
David Bowie
Queen
Led Zepplin
Black Sabbath
Cream
U2
Joy Division
The Stone Roses
The Byrds
The Cure
Dire Straights
Depeche Mode
The Hollies
posted by Bonzai at 12:37 PM on October 20, 2008


The Byrds were American, dude.

Dire Straits? The Hollies?

Now you're just trolling.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:47 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


In 1964 it was only 18 years from WWII to The High Numbers/The Who. 18 years ago from now was 1992, not so long ago, just after the Gulf War, a few years before the web started to take off.

Who wins the World Series in 2009? I have some bets I'd like to lay down...
posted by asterix at 12:47 PM on October 20, 2008


Bonzai, half of those bands wouldn't exist without The Who and they'd be the first to admit it.
posted by jonmc at 12:52 PM on October 20, 2008


The Byrds

The Pretenders

The Hollies?

I didn't want to leave out Graham Nash and CS&N is only 1/3 British. But, yes, I think The Hollies and Dire Straits are more talented than The Who.
posted by Bonzai at 12:56 PM on October 20, 2008


Bonzai, Nash did his best work with the Hollies, not CSN, and they still arent even in the same ballpark as The Who. and the Clash, the Stone Roses, Bowie, Sabbath, and even the Cure owe truckloads to the Who and they'd be the first to tell you so.
posted by jonmc at 12:59 PM on October 20, 2008


Godawful, untalented, horrendous merchants of noise.

"Our group hasn't got any quality. It's just musical sensationalism. It's just basic Shepherd's Bush enjoyment." - Townshend, 1965

Love that. Basic Shepherd's Bush enjoyment.
posted by featherboa at 1:05 PM on October 20, 2008


Bonzai, Depeche Mode, really?

I've arrived late to the sixties (born in the mid-70s) and out of "the big four" mentioned here, The Who are the ones that grabbed me. I'm just into the manic intensity of some of their songs.

That, and as a Pearl Jam fan, check out the scads of PJ covers of The Who. Greatest Who coverband ever. Especially, if you can find it, the cover of A Quick One While He's Away. It was an extra on their live DVD from Italy. Greatest rock song of all time (reader opinions may vary, use as directed).
posted by Ghidorah at 1:08 PM on October 20, 2008


The Who is the most overrated band to come out of the British invasion.

Sort of steaming in on this. There's hundreds of bands that mean more to me than The Who. In fact for the whole Big Four that Jonmc named upthread, I own three, maybe four records and those I got by accident. It's not that I don't have an enormous amount of musical respect for all four of those bands, because I do, and they all have songs that put an enormous grin on my face whenever I hear them. The thing is, for me, all four of those bands are just a fact of life, music that I've been hearing since childhood. The music of those bands is so engrained in me that I've never felt the need to have their records.

The music that I do own (and there's an awful lot) tends to be stuff that I found for myself rather than music that just found me. So no, none of those big bands make my favourite listening list, but they are a part of who I am musically and in so many ways that's a much more powerful thing. There's no real point trying to deny their influence or ability though.
posted by mandal at 1:17 PM on October 20, 2008


The Byrds were American, dude.

Dire Straits? The Hollies?

Now you're just trolling.


I thought that it was obvious we were being trolled at the first Bonzai post.
posted by Ber at 1:41 PM on October 20, 2008


U2 aren't British either.
posted by anagrama at 1:53 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


ggg-g-g-Great Fff-f-f-fff-FPP, F-f-f-flapjax.
posted by not_on_display at 1:57 PM on October 20, 2008


When I read "The Dynamics," I think of this band.
posted by litlnemo at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2008


18 years ago from now was 1992

Sheesh, Thanks for not scolding me for bad math. It was 1990 18 years ago. *cringe

I hope I'm that angry when I'm 60.

Having been to several Who concerts in the 60's here in NYC at the Fillmore East, Pete was always an intensely angry guy, way back. He radiated pissedoffness. It came steaming out of his voice and riffs, smashing guitars etc. Watching him interviewed on tv he came off as a classic narcissist, misanthrope. But, that said, he was way ahead of his time and quite brilliant too in pop music vision.

Can't believe how sexy Roger Dalton still looks. yeow! Ssst *sound of sizzling
And this is a guy with a granddaughter. Amazing.

Dang, languagehat, thanks for the very interesting education about the stilyagi. Russky rockabillies? Have to go google how these guys looked. Had to learn how to spell stilyagi in russky first, got it, стиляги. Some good pics and even a science fiction group named after them:

"They wore jackets with huge, padded shoulders and pants with narrow legs. They were clean-shaven, but they let their hair grow long, covered it with grease, and flipped it up at the back. They sported unusually colorful ties, which they let hang well below their belts."

Those stilyagi, what outfits! ha! Do you suppose the mod movement, when it became the hard mods, skinhead racist bastards, were the models for Burgess' droogs in his masterpiece (well I think so anyway), Clockwork Orange?

What a fun tangent that was languagehat, thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 2:37 PM on October 20, 2008


/derail

A little sillybiz for you languagehat. Tom 'n Jerry stilyagi style.
posted by nickyskye at 2:48 PM on October 20, 2008


Clockword Orange was published in 62, and IIRC based on a ryun in with some thugs earlier than that, might be a bit early for the droogs to be mods.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on October 20, 2008


Ber writes "Which goes to the point that a successful band has to be able to collaborate."

No, but a collaborative band can't then turn into a one-man band without some repercussions. There are plenty of very successful bands which are entirely reliant on one songwriter to make it work, such as Jethro Tull, but they were always pretty much Ian Anderson's band.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:15 PM on October 20, 2008


Thanks Artw.

Everyone should check out that Funky 16 Corners link: the comment section has a virtual reunion of old band members and their relatives that I found quite moving.

And thanks languagehat for pointing that out. So interesting to read the comments in that thread. Yes, and quite moving.
posted by nickyskye at 3:16 PM on October 20, 2008


I was more or less obsessed with The Who when I was in high school in the late 70's. I'd come home from school and listen to the entire Quadrophenia album daily for what seemed like months... When the movie came out I dutifully watched, though having lived all my life in Montana I could barely understand what they were saying. Bought the soundtrack album of course.

So I knew your High Numbers post was about The Who, but I'd never heard an accusation of plagiarism before. So that was the first link that I clicked on, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what Who song it became.

Then when I heard "Zoot Suit" I realized why. I hadn't heard that song in almost 30 years.

Great post, but damn if it doesn't make me feel old.
posted by Tube at 5:08 PM on October 20, 2008


damn if it doesn't make me feel old

Eh, listen, being old and feeling old are two different things (this is how old farts talk).

So you too are in the Old Fart MeFites Club -OFMC.
More of us are coming out of the ageist closet. Time to dust off the zoot suits for a meetup. Hey man, there is at least one MeFite who grew up in the jitterbug era.
posted by nickyskye at 5:35 PM on October 20, 2008


Ber: I thought that it was obvious we were being trolled at the first Bonzai post.

anagrama: U2 aren't British either

I don't troll, my Whoish apathy is genuine. Ireland, Britain... same diff.
posted by Bonzai at 5:40 PM on October 20, 2008


Ah, but are The Pogues British?
posted by Artw at 5:42 PM on October 20, 2008


Couple of quick notes:

1) Both "Zoot Suit" and "I'm the Face" credited to Peter Meaden Already covered.

b) "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys!. . . with Keith Moon taking care of the falsetto stylings! Unexpected!

Unexpected only if you didn't know that a love of surf music was part of Moon's unique contribution to the band. The tune was in The Who's live repertoire for years due to Moon's influence. Although Barbara Ann (The Regents original) has only the most tenuous connection (by way of the word "surf" in not particulary surfy Beach Boys tunes) to actual surf music (Pipeline -- Chantays) Moon's Brian-Wilson-falsetto was one of his few opportunities to sing lead.

iii) Townshend himself is on record as stating that traditional musical roles in The Who were unique: The bass was the lead instrument, the guitar was the timekeeper, and the drums were like the keyboards, orchestrating and adding textures.
posted by Herodios at 5:45 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


U2 better than The Who?

I just threw up a little in my mouth.
posted by cazoo at 6:27 PM on October 20, 2008


Surfiness: The Who covered Jan & Dean's "Bucket T" on record too.
posted by bonefish at 7:40 PM on October 20, 2008


Unexpected only if you didn't know that a love of surf music was part of Moon's unique contribution to the band.

Guilty as charged, Herodios! As Johnny Carson used to say, I did not know that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:14 PM on October 20, 2008


Echo and the Bunnymen were better than the lot.
posted by oddman at 8:24 PM on October 20, 2008


Can I get some love for The Who Sell Out up in here?

Self-conscious? Check. Ridiculous? Check. Enjoyable? Oh yeah.
posted by mynameisluka at 8:49 PM on October 20, 2008


Ireland, Britain... same diff.

No. It's really not.
posted by minifigs at 1:43 AM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ireland, Britain... same diff

I'd suggest taking a trip to Dublin and loudly proclaiming that to everyone you meet.
posted by anagrama at 5:02 AM on October 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


Guilty as charged, Herodios! As Johnny Carson used to say, I did not know that.
posted by flapjax at midnite


And it is some weird wild stuff.

Surfiness: The Who covered Jan & Dean's "Bucket T" on record too.
posted by bonefish


Right you are, bonefish. Notice that here, too Moon sings lead.

Mandal's "more relaxed take" is a contemporaneous (1977?) bit of studio clowning from The Kids Are Alright. Seems like it had been a while since they'd played it at that point. I love it when Pete eagerly says "Now?" and then takes a completely out of context solo.

The clip from France is a keeper. Thanks for that.

The early video of The Who / The High Numbers is taken from Amazing . Journey, the now definitive doco on the band. It supersedes TKAA and contains much video from that movie, as well as video of the Live at Leeds, The Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus, Woodstock, and Monterey performances.

Herodios sez check it out.

BTW, "The High Numbers at the Railway Hotel" is all that remains of a doco that Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp planned to make about the band. It's been unseen by the public all this time.
posted by Herodios at 7:19 AM on October 21, 2008


I wonder whether which of the Dynamics this lot were?

I've got the original cut of this, but I'm pretty sure it was on Top Ten, not Big Top.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:31 AM on October 21, 2008


Can't believe how sexy Roger Dalton still looks. yeow! Ssst *sound of sizzling

And How.

I too was obsessed with The Who, beginning at about age 11 and going through the end of high school. I'm reconnecting with them a bit recently, as I've found a partner in crime who records stuff for us to watch together.

I'm extremely envious of those of you who were able to see them so many times. I made it just once, on their "farewell" tour in 1989.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:04 PM on October 21, 2008


I have always loved how weird and idiosyncratic most of the Who's 60's recordings are. They are just four total misfits doing their own thing. Stuff like, "Disguises", "Barbara Anne", "Bucket T" and the LP's "A Quick One" and "Who Sell Out" are really different and out there - not necessarily genius, but very endearing. And I've always though that Keith's drumming as basically taking the solo from "Wipeout" and taking it supernova.

"Watching Mad Men Sunday nights, I've been thinking more about that time of transition between early to mid-sixties. Wondering how the hell that happened, that amazing change? I wasn't old enough to know about the teen and young adult vibe in the early '60s but something profound was happening then, that is so visible in watching that video of The High Numbers."

I think it was around December '63 - Feb 1964 when the Beatles broke that marked the biggest change. I found this list of 1963 hits to be rather eye opening. There was cool rockin' music before the Beatles, but it was not part of the general cultural consciousness or a big part of the charts.
posted by jetsetsc at 7:28 PM on October 21, 2008


Oh, and it just blows by mind that footage like this even exists: recording vocals (and cornet!) on "Bucket T" Keith is singing in a bizarre American California accent.
posted by jetsetsc at 7:50 PM on October 21, 2008


Bonzai : Ireland, Britain... same diff.

*engages obscure SNL mode*

[Stuart Rankin, All Things Scottish voice]

"Oh, it's the same thing, is it? Here's Ireland, here’s Scotland Britain, here’s the bloody sea!! There's nae difference?"
posted by quin at 8:43 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


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