Popular Culture (Music) 20110408: The Who. Happy Jack

(8 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Happy Jack was the second album released by The Who and their second studio album. It was released in the UK with the title A Quick One.  That was a little suggestive for Decca Records, the US label and the single Happy Jack has charted in the US, so that title was used.  The song lineup is a little different betwixt the two records as well, Happy Jack not being on the UK version.

Released in the UK 19661209, it was delayed in the US for almost six months, finally being released in 196705 (I am not sure of the exact day).  This record was truly transformative, and is one of my personal favorites.  It was this album where Townshend really showed that the was a writing force with which to be reckoned, and he took some risks that he would not have taken previously for a large reason:  the brilliant Kit Lambert had replaced the hack Shel Talmy as the producer of the band.

This album also showed that Enwistle was also a force to be reckoned with as a writer both of the song that he contributed are brilliant, and one of them became sort of an alter ego for him, in addition to his moniker of The Ox.  Let us take the US lineup from the top.

The first cut is by Townshend, called Run, Run, Run.  Whilst not one of Pete’s very best, it is really a catchy song and if one listens very carefully to the lyrics, it is really clever.  Daltry was the vocalist on it.

I could not find a live version, but here is the studio version:

The next song is the brilliant Boris the Spider, written and sung by John.  In later years, many of his bass guitars would have a spiderweb logo on them.  This is just a GREAT piece of music.

Here is the studio version.  Note the very close syncopation betwixt John’s bass and Keith’s drumming.  John and Keith were great mates, and often would carouse together at bar after bar.

Here is a live version of it from 1975.  I saw the live first in 1976, so this is just about what they looked and sounded like when I saw them:

The third track is I Need You, supposedly written by Keith Moon.  Most reviewers believe that Pete actually wrote most if not all of it, and I agree.  I believe that if you listen closely, the song has Pete all over it, and I really do not think that Moon actually had the wherewithal for songwriting.  Keith did sing in this studio version:

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I could not find a live version.  If anyone comes across live versions where I have been unable to do so, please post them in the comments.  This song will never be remembered as one of the band’s greatest, but it is interesting from the standpoint of Keith’s singing ability.  Pete is on record saying that he thought that Keith had a really beautiful voice, but a very limited range.  I tend to agree.

The forth cut is both written and sung by Entwistle.  Whiskey Man is horribly underrated, and is an excellent piece.  Notice the French horn work; that is also Enwistle and his horn work was a staple on much of the early work by the band.  Here is the studio version:

Once again, I was unable to find a live version.

The fifth cut on the first side of the album was Cobwebs and Strange, and I think that Moon actually did write this piece.  This song is interesting because instruments that The Who normally did not utilize were employed, namely tuba (Moon) and penny whistle (Townshend).

Here is the studio version:

Here is a compilation of videos, including a very early music video of the modern type (in other words, not just a band being taped performing a song, but a backstory as well).  Some of the clips of Keith are just great!

The sixth and final track on the first side was the title track for the US release, Happy Jack.  This is a marvelous piece, written by Townshend and mostly sung by Daltrey.  The bass and drums are almost too good to believe, but believe them.  If you listen very closely at the very end of the song, you can hear Townshend shout, “I saw ya!”.  The story behind this is that Keith was in a particularly disruptive frame of mind and Pete had banned him from the studio so that they could finish the piece.  Keith had sneaked in anyway, and at the very end of retracking the vocals, Pete spotted him.  They left it in, and I am glad.

This was another piece that has a very early music video associated with it (Townshend was fascinated with multimedia, an interest that he retains even to this day).  I chose this particular piece because the advert before the music is comical.  Here it is:

Here is a contemporaneous live version, and even the sound quality is not as good as it could be, it appears really to be live, and early.  I like it.

Many of you youngsters may remember this song only from the Hummer H2 advert from just a couple of years ago:

The first track from the second side was Townshend’s Don’t Look Away, sung mostly by Daltrey.  It is an OK song, but not nearly as good as some of the others on the record.  Here is the studio version:

See My Way, written and sung by Daltrey, was the second song on the second side.  It is OK, but Daltrey was not the songwriter that Townshend and Enwistle were.  He actually did write some better material later.  I could not find a live version, but here is the studio one:

The third track was a Townshend number sung by Daltrey, So Sad about Us.  For a sad song it is awfully bouncy, but I like it a lot.  Here is the studio version:

Here is a real live version, from their long term engagement at the Marquee Club in London.  They performed live every Thursday night.  Oh, to have been there even once!

The final song of the second side is actually a closely related set of songs, all by Townshend, called A Quick One While He’s Away.  Since I devoted an entire piece of this series to this one work back in October, rather than take up unnecessary bandwidth, I shall just provide a link, here.

Before closing out this piece, I shall include the song that was replaced for the US release by Happy Jack, a cover of the old Dozier/Holland/Holland standard, Heat Wave.  I do not know what possessed them to record that cover, perhaps Pete did not have enough material at hand.  It is OK, but certainly not one of the best examples of their work.  Here is the studio version:

Here is what appears to be a live (not lipsynced) version from beat-club in early 1967.  I believe that this is live for two reasons:  first of all, Keith actually looked like he was drumming (in most synced material he barely pretended to drum), and the cymbals are much more pronounced than on the studio version.  However, I could be incorrect.  What do you think?

There was a release in 1995 that included a number of bonus tracks, but I think that I will put off including them and write a separate piece that covers bonus tracks associated with several albums, since this is getting quite long already.  The next time that I return to this subseries, the topic will be one of their greatest records, The Who Sell Out, one of the most brilliant concept albums ever made.

I hope that you enjoy these songs.  I try to include live material as much as possible, and if you find live videos for songs that I could not find any, once again, please embed them in the comments.  This was a great record.

Warmest regards,

Doc

11 comments

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  1. an outstanding record album?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

  2. Although early, this is one of their signature albums, and stared a trend that Townshend himself would continue, and also many others, the concept of the “Rock Opera”, although I have a bit of an issue with the term.

    Tommy was probably the finest example, but the Lloyd-Webber and Rice Jesus Christ Superstar is quite good, even though it perpetuates that Mary of Magdalene was an harlot, and there is absolutely no supporting scripture for that.  Still, good music.

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

  3. I just got it out & had a look. I was thinking Picture Of Lily was on there, but of sourse it isn’t.

    It was one of my first 33s (maybe the first)  as a very young kid, and apparently I’ve still got it.  As a kid, I liked Boris The Spider. And later (like around 12)  I started drinking heavily while playing Whisky Man.  I guess that’s my main memory of the record-being totally wasted on something or other and passing out with it on.

    I think that The Who’s main contribution to rock really came later when they became (probably?) the first to use sequenced riffs from ARP Odysseys or 2600s as integral parts of their music.  

  4. warmish regards,

    jbn

    )

    • mplo on April 10, 2011 at 5:59 am

    The sixties….who could forget the music of that time?

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