Archive | April, 2019

Certain Songs #1524: Pete Townshend – “Drowned (Secret Policeman’s Ball, 1979)”

Album: The Secret Policeman’s Ball – The Music
Year: 1979

The Secret Policeman’s Ball was the name given to a series of concerts for Amnesty International in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1979, the show was directed by John Cleese, who not only recruited Peter Cook, but fellow Pythons Michael Palin and Terry Jones.

On the musical side that year were John Williams — yes, that John Williams — Tom Robinson and Pete Townshend, who was still in his post-Keith Moon’s death spiral, and in the middle of recording his first solo album, to boot.

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Certain Songs #1523: Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane – “My Baby Gives it Away”

Album: Rough Mix
Year: 1977

In late 1976, after what turned out to be The Who’s final full tour with Keith Moon (big fucking sigh), Pete Townshend was asked by fellow mod-turned-Meher Baba acolyte Ronnie Lane to produce Lane’s next album.

Ronnie Lane was a founding member and bassist for both incarnations of the Faces: the Small with Steve Marriott and the drunk with Rod Stewart, and he was also responsible for of one of the greatest songs anybody will ever write about growing older, “Ooh La La“.

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Certain Songs #1522: Pete Townshend ft. Roger Daltrey – “Sally Simpson”

Album: Tommy Soundtrack
Year: 1975

I’ll always find it ironic that my first extended exposure to the music of The Who was via the Tommy film and soundtrack, which, as I’ve written previously, was primarily because of my love for Elton John.

And because the film was so-over-the-top and there’d already been an alternate version of Tommy — with the London Symphony Orchestra — I think that not a lot has been written about how Pete Townshend tricked up many of songs on the movie soundtrack with the musical sophistication he’d gained doing who’s next and Quadrophenia.

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Certain Songs #1521: Pete Townshend – “Let’s See Action”

Album: Who Came First
Year: 1972

Pete Townshend’s first official solo album, Who Came First, is kind of a mongrel mess. As a devotee of Meher Baba, he’d already participated in a pair of privately-distributed records as tributes to Baba, which were — duh! — heavily.

Because there was clearly a demand for Townshend’s music outside of the context of The Who, the decision was made to take a couple of tracks from those records and combine them with three demos from Pete’s aborted Lifehouse project, from which had sprung the monumental who’s next.

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Certain Songs #1520: Pete Townshend – “Politician”

Album: Scoop
Year: 1967

So let’s just start with this: except for Prince, I think that Pete Townshend is the most overall talented person of the rock music era. There were better guitar players, better songwriters, better singers, better producers, better lyricists. But for nearly two decades, nobody combined it all in quite the way he did.

We’ll get to The Who when we get to The Who, but even outside of the context of a band that I’m still not sure isn’t my favorite (along w/ R.E.M., The Replacements, The Clash & The Rolling Stones), he did tremendous tremendous work.

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