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The Who, discografia: da “A Quick One” a “The Who Sell Out”

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The Who: from "A Quick One" to "The Who Sell Out" At the end of 1965 the music charts of the United Kingdom were dominated by light pop songs and marked by the presence of "Rubber Soul" by the Beatles, which included "Norwegian Wood" and especially the classic "Michelle". You can therefore imagine what a huge effect the entry of this song into the charts had on the English public. "My Generation" Guitar distortion, drums pounding and decidedly messy, choruses definitely not aligned with the style of the Beatles and the typical vocal harmonies, a song that's even stuttered... something that has broken completely away from the musical tradition normally present in the charts. But, even more completely shocking for that time, are the lyrics of this song. The opening says: "People try to put us down, just because we get around, things they do look awful cold, I hope I die before I get old". Total shock, represents the generational anthem, the revolt of youth against the elderly, against the adult world, the revolt of the slums against the British system. This is the force of the impact that the Who offered in the first year of their musical production, and the ability therefore to impersonate precisely the revolt of the youth and the revolt that was part of the beginning of rock'n'roll. Ten years later rock'n'roll found its rebellious force precisely in England through the Who. It was completely different from what was happening in the United States: in 1965 they were in the midst of the hippie revolution, but the revolution was soft, "peace and love"; in England it wasn't, the guys smashed everything, that's what they wanted, because life in the slums, in the English slums, didn't give much hope for the future. And the nihilism of the Who was reflected in the violence of their live performances as well. The Who were famous, became famous, because at the end of their performances they vented against their own instruments, and thus in a supreme gesture of self-destruction they smashed everything, especially Pete Townshend, with his guitar... Actually, this gesture, so powerfully evocative and demonstrative, started almost by accident: one night, in a London club, from the too low ceiling; Pete Townshend was performing one of his legendary and acrobatic jumps, which was one of the icons of rock in the 60's and 70's, and ended up hitting the neck of the guitar against the ceiling, of the club, and this irritated him terribly... he slammed his guitar on the ground, kicked it and left the stage. A negative reaction was expected from the audience, who instead were absolutely, totally enthusiastic at what they had seen. And at this point, from this moment on, this final scene became one of the trademarks of the Who production, at least in the first period. The first period which alternated musical productions, violence, strength, like those that we have seen and have, to say it better, heard in this first fragment, to others that instead are closer to another genre of typical English productions of that period, a little like the Kinxs. Later in the first productions, in 1966, the Who moved to create musical representations that were more than anything else ironic, and in some way, so to speak, always recounting the world of English adolescents, but from another point of view. We'll listen to a fragment of "Pictures of Lily", which is actually a story, a song that talks about young masturbation. "Pictures of Lily" Here it is: as you have heard the song appears a lot softer, a lot simpler, also with references to the psychedelia of the era. Where is the force in all this? It's exactly in Townshend's ability to create elementary choruses, extremely simple, and therefore greatly memorable as well; and the union of this composing ability of Townshend with the expressive force especially of the rhythmic part, the wild drumming of Keith Moon, which was very exaggerated in its violence, in its force in regards to the drums, the use of the toms of the drums, the rhythm always swinging the bass of John Entwistle, guaranteeing the musical spaces necessary for singer Roger Daltrey to show his ability. Ability which was exalted especially when it was unleashed to a certain vein, we'll call it, animalistic in its expression: the shouts, the gasps of Roger Daltrey formed a part as well, undoubtedly, of the history of rock. In 1967, after having just released "A Quick One" in 1966, from which we heard before "Pictures of Lily", in '67 the Who marked another important moment of their production. "The Who Sell Out" was an album that foreshadowed the future developments of the Who's production, and actually was designed exactly like a program from a pirate radio station of the period, with a whole series of songs, even interspersed with ironic advertising jingles, and therefore having the perception of this continuous flow of songs. All of the sketches are very interesting, they are close also to the concept carried out by Frank Zappa, but above all, it has in the final part a song, "Rael", that lasts almost ten minutes. This fact is very interesting because the expansion of time already signals the attempt of Pete Townshend to go beyond the song format and construct something else. "The Who Sell Out" is a concept album, strongly indebted to, however, like we've said, the psychedelic movement also, that rock was undergoing at that time. We'll listen to, from "The Who Sell Out", "I Can Seen for Miles", which was also their biggest success in the United States, that they knew thanks to this album. "I Can Seen for Miles" To tell the truth, nobody in the Who was a true virtuoso of their instrument, though everyone posed, and was capable of creating their own particular style in using their expressive medium, in particular Pete Townshend who invented, rather, derived in some way from...... a style very barbaric, so to speak, in the use of the guitar, and his gestures as well, this swinging of his arm in a dramatic manner was always recalled as exactly the attempt to give a sense of force to his musical expression. In terms of strength, Keith Moon certainly wasn't second, as we have already said, in the use of the drums, and also the vigorous strumming and the use of the bass by John Entwistle gave a rhythmic substance to the musical expression of the Who that was very very strongly recognizable. It was to say right away that the four personalities on stage represented something highly explosive, incredibly enthralling for the audience, even if, it's well known, the four have never gotten along on a personal level. Roger Daltrey represented the frontman, so to speak, with an attitude that was a little sexy in some ways, even if his way was a little animalistic it immediately places him in the ...how can I say it... esthetic of the urban subculture bands... he certainly wasn't a dandy, Roger Daltrey, and also his, at times, twirling the microphone above his head for exactly this sensation of force and masculine expression that was a little excessive from some points of view, was certainly not particularly dainty. There was contrast, on the other hand, with the appearance of Pete Townshend, who was long, thin, with an aquiline nose, certainly not the beauty of the group, but he was a little intellectual. The other two behind pounded like crazy. This sensation of an almost constant dispute, like within a good English family, continued over time and found its harmony only on stage. The stage, on which the Who were absolutely masters: a few legendary performances have also been filmed, for example in a film of Monterey Pop in 1967, the first big rock festival of the modern era, which sees the Who, the only players of the English scene, go to Monterey Pop in California, to play near all the leaders of the alternative scene, of the hippie scene and the psychedelia of that period. Well, the end of their playing of "My Generation", with which they closed their performance, shocked the American audience, which was absolutely not accustomed to it, they didn't know what they were about to see: the destruction on stage of Pete Townshend's guitar, slammed with extreme violence until it shattered on stage, and with Keith Moon who kicked and threw all the drums, and then the technicians came on stage, surprised by all the violence, trying to save the instruments because there were other bands who still needed to play, at the end a firecracker even exploded (everything by now had been artificially created, to give the impression of maximum violence) and Eric Burdon of the Animals, who was present at that show, ended up saying: "Well, it was the musical representation of a rape". Here, perhaps the violence of the Who, in that early phase, was really their distinctive trait and which marked forever an era, that however was already ending, in the sense that after the show we talked about, this expressive form reached its maximum in a United States music program "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", in which the explosion of Keith Moon's drums at the end caused partial temporary hearing loss for Pete Townshend, because the explosion was so strong that it was absolutely uncontrollable, the Who, to a certain extent, changed form: ending their adolescent phase and entering into a more mature phase, which we will visit shortly.

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 38 seconds
Country: United States
Language: Italian
Views: 70
Posted by: oilproject on Mar 5, 2012

La prima parte del percorso musicale de The Who

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