(9 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Odds and Sods was the third “canonical” compilation album released by The Who, released 19740928, almost exactly 37 years ago today.
In the US the record was released by MCA, and in the UK by Track. There is some discrepancy as to how the record charted, some references saying #10 and #15 in the UK and US, respectively, whilst others indicate #10 and #8.
This is one of my favorite records, since it contains material not previously released, some of which is amongst their best. It also marked the final release of material that I consider “classic” Who, since the next studio album, The Who by Numbers, was a considerable departure from their old sound, a trend already started by Quadrophenia, discussed here and here.
All of the material was previously unreleased, except “I’m the Face” which we shall discuss in a bit. None of the material on the record was specifically recorded for it, but rather were studio tapes recorded months to years before it was compiled and released.
The reason for the release of the record was twofold. First of all, it had been almost a year since Quadrophenia was released, and a year is a long time in the recording business. Second, there were lots of bootlegs making the rounds of obscure material by The Who and the band and its management wanted something out there that could earn royalties.
Entwistle was put in charge of picking the pieces to appear on the record, and ended up with what could have been a double album. Since Quadrophenia was a double, the decision was made to cut back on the material and release a single album to keep the price down and so increase sales. Remember, back in the days of vinyl a major cost driver of a record was the vinyl itself and this was still during the time of high oil prices because of the Arab oil embargo. Also remember that only about 45 or so minutes of recording can be put on the two sides of a vinyl record without employing compression techniques that degrade sound quality. This limitation has since been lessened because of the CD, and now, IPod technology that has pretty much eliminated any length restriction.
Anyhow, let us listen to the record. This week we shall consider the original record released in 1974, and next week we shall cover the bonus tracks from the 1998 rerelease. Except as otherwise indicated, all of the songs were written by Townshend. Since this album spans so much time, we shall also note the producers and you can sort tell how the sound changes with the producers.
Track #1 is the only Entwistle song on the record, “Postcard”. As is usual with Entwistle pieces, it is heavy on irony and has lots of horns (mostly played by Entwistle) on it. I could find only the studio version, no live material to be found. Obviously, there is no Townshend demo. Here it is:
Be sure and read the text in the embed by Townshend. There are conflicting reports as to when this song was produced. The liner notes say 1969 at Eel Pie Studios, and judging from the sound that sounds right. The liner notes go on to say that it was finished in 1974 at Rampart Studios, and that it was produced by The Who.
Track #2 is “Now I’m a Farmer”, and I think that it is actually quite charming. (If you have not heard it before, you will get the joke that I just made after you listen). I particularly like the reference to farm subsidies and being paid not to farm. Here is the studio version, once again the only one that I could find:
The liner notes say that is was recorded at Eel Pie in 1969 and produced by Townshend.
Track #3 is “Put the Money Down”, originally intended for Lifehouse. This is an extremely well put together piece, recorded at Olympic Studios in 1972. The liner notes go on to say that the was produced by Townshend with Glyn Johns as the Associate Producer. You can tell from the sound that Kit Lambert was not associated with it. Here is the studio version:
I was able to find the Townshend demo for this tune, and although quite good you can tell why Daltrey sang it. Here it is:
Track #4 is the wonderful “Little Billy”, recorded in 1968 at IBC Studios with Kit Lambert producing. You can immediately tell that this was from the Lambert era. His production style was unique, and when he was lucid (before the drink and the heroin caught up with him) he was perfect for The Who. The story behind the song according to the extended liner notes by Townshend was that recorded as a public service advert for The American Cancer Society in return for “…worldwide success and fame…”. Here is the studio version:
Although I could not find a demo, I did find a live version from 1968. The audio quality is excellent. Listen to Entwistle play the punched up bass on it! Here it is:
Track #5, “Too Much of Anything”, was recorded in 1972 ot Olympic with Glyn Johns as associate producer. Once again, you can tell the difference in style betwixt him and Lambert. We are fortunate to have the original studio version, a live version from Young Vic (this song was to be part of Lifehouse), and Townshend’s demo. Here is the studio version:
It does not get much better than this. Here is the Young Vic live version:
Now for the demo:
I have said before that Townshend would have many bands a much better bass player than they had, and this demo reinforces the belief. He really is quite good on bass.
Since we have not had any video yet, I thought that I would include this much later acoustic guitar (12 string) piece of Townshend singing it. I caution you that the video is hard to watch because there is a several second delay betwixt the video and the audio.
Track #6 could well be called “The Mother of Tommy” (or rather, Tommi) in that it is the first recorded reference to what later became Tommy. Listen at the very end and you can hear it. Lambert produced it, and it was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in 196801. It was almost a year and a half before Tommy would be released. Here is the version from Odds and Sods:
Here is a bit longer version with them going to “Track Records” from The Who Sell Out:
Track #7 was written for Lifehouse, and we have considered it before, but it is such a good song why not have another go at it? Recorded at Olympic in 197105, Johns was associate producer. I like the line, certainly autobiographical, “…and a child flew past me riding in a star…”.
Here is the Young Vic live version:
Here is Townshend’s demo. I like it better in some respects than the full band’s version. It may be because of its autobiographical nature seems to have more feeling with Townshend singing it himself:
I do not think that I have ever included a cover of The Who in this series before, but this act caught my eye because it is really authentic sounding. Note that most of he faces are kept out of camera, but the bass player looks quite a lot like Entwistle and the drummer is almost a ringer for Moon both in looks and style, although not in ability:
Track #8 is “Faith in Something Bigger”, and probably the weakest piece on the album. It was recorded at CBS Studios in 196801 and produced by Lambert. The only version that I could find was the original studio one. Townshend did not like the song and writes in the liner notes, “A quick listen to this lads will bring us quickly down to size I assure you.”:
Track #9 is extremely early, actually back in the day that they were recording under the name The High Numbers. This was when their management wanted them to be Mods, and both the term “face” and “number” had significance in the parlance of the Mod movement. A number named Peter Meaden wrote it and coproduced it with face called Chris Parmeinter. It was recorded in 1964 at Fontana Studios.
Even though this was their first record, you can still recognize the basic ingredients of what later would become The Who. I do not know who played piano, and the liner notes refer to him as “…some pilled up lunatic who probably made more in session fees that day then we did from the ensuing years work.”:
Track #10 is the sublime “Naked Eye”. Townshend produced it and it was recorded at Eel Pie in 1969. Note the complete difference in style from Tommy, also recorded in 1969. Lambert produced Tommy, hence the difference. Here is the studio version:
I could not find a demo, but how about live from Woodstock? It is only the instrumental part, but still good:
Here is the Young Vic live version. Evidently this was planned to be part of Lifehouse, but it was also a very popular and widely played stage song for the band:
Since we have not had much video on this piece, here is the live version from the Isle of Wight from 1970:
Track #11, the final track, is the wonderful “Long Live Rock”. Recorded at Olympic in 1972, Johns was associated producer. According to the liner notes, Townshend had planned to write a concept album called Rock is Dead Long Live Rock and, “That idea later blossomed into Quadrophenia.”. Here is the studio version:
Here is a synched version from Top of the Pops. Notice Daltrey “singing” Townshend’s part! I laughed and laughed with I saw this:
Now here is something unusual. This is a live version (the backing tracks, like piano, were taped), and Townshend actually gets the lyrics wrong near the end of the song. The gaffe occurs just after three minutes into the clip:
Again, I had to laugh. It looks like Townshend might have had a few too many, but I have no way of knowing that. At least one of the commenters in You Tube embed had the same idea. I was hoping that I could find this video, because I was aware of this version from my The BBC Sessions CD.
Well, there you have the songs from Odds and Sods as it was released in 1974. Next week we shall look and listen to the ones that were released on the remastered version in 1998, many of which were the ones that Entwistle had originally chosen for the double album.
Please add any comments and observations, as well as Townshend demos and live performances for songs for which I could not find any, if available. I have very much enjoyed writing this piece tonight, and have written nonstop for three hours (well, I took a couple of breaks to roll Prince Albert cigarettes). When I have a topic, I am prolific and fast. Finding the topic sometimes is a problem for me. I still have not decided on one for Pique the Geek for Sunday. Anyone with ideas about a science or technology topic please add it in a comment.
Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith
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