For me, the two most shocking revelations in Pete Townshend's newly released memoir "Who I Am" are a) what little regard he and the band have for "The Who Sell Out" and b) the complete absence of any discussion about "Who Came First," Townshend's first solo album.
This is not going to be a review of the book, which I have just about finished. But some things are just gnawing at me. Throughout, Pete gives great detail about songs and songwriting, early covers the band had been playing as The Detours, each album as it had been prepped and released, and then, for reasons unknown, he begins to discuss his excitement over a deal for his "first solo album 'Empty Glass'." Why? What happened to "Who Came First," arguably his best solo release?
Now I did say I was just about through, so unless he decides to bring it up during the last chunk of pages I haven't read, this matter is puzzling. It's as if it doesn't exist. A fantastic album, with many songs written for and about Meher Baba, someone Townshend gushes over for many pages, dismissed. I don't get it.
Less surprising I guess, is the disregard for "The Who Sell Out." Townshend mentions more than once his love for "I Can See For Miles," as well as the fun the band had creating the jingles that appear on this record. And while it makes sense that "The Who Sell Out" would be perceived as an oddity at the time, I wonder if Townshend is aware of the cult status "The Who Sell Out" has gained over all these years. I would think that he must be and that after the pages of unfavorable critique about its content and performance, he would at the very least, make mention of that fact. He doesn't.
In related news, Todd Rundgren just performed two shows in Amsterdam with the Metropole Orkest, and one of the songs he pulled out was "Fade Away," from 1978's "The Hermit Of Mink Hollow." Two facts about this tune: a) it has never been performed live before and b) it has always been one of my three favorite Rundgren ballads. Absolutely beautiful and heartfelt. Here's that version from a few days ago.
I guess I wonder occasionally just how aware musicians are of their fans.
The Who have just begun their 40th Anniversary tour of "Quadrophenia." This is, to my estimation, the 5th time this double album has been presented live in its entirety. As for Rundgren, for years he had been stuck in the mire of boring setlists, with barely a change. Then, with the first live performance of "A Wizard/A True Star" in its entirety back in 2010, Todd suddenly became revitalized, performing songs from deep in his catalogue, as well as taking other full albums on the road. It only took 40+ years of touring, but it has been worth the wait.
With the Stones poised to perform a few shows to celebrate their 50th, would fans prefer to hear the usual set of hits or a farewell party of rarely played gems? From what I've read, Keef seems to think "Satisfaction," "Brown Sugar," "It's Only Rock & Roll" and "Jumping Jack Flash" are all must plays. He's not wrong, though I'd give up all four for one "I Got The Blues." But just what is it that keeps artists from delving deeper into their catalogues? Do the Stones look back and think "Aftermath" really sucks? Is Townshend aware of just how many Who fans would pay to see "The Who Sell Out" performed live? And Todd, what made you avoid "Fade Away" for 35 years?