New Who Grooves---Spiders---Runs...& Quick Ones by Kevin Swift
NO matter what you say about the Who, they are original. Look at their latent LP entitled, "A Quick One". Would another group offer for your delectation, "Boris The Spider", "Cobwebs And Strange", or "A Quick One While He's Away"?
It you've heard the LP then you'll know what I mean. If you haven't here's a quick run-through of the tracks: Side One kicks off with Peter Ts "Run, Run, Run". "Boris" follows, then comes "I Need You" a Keith Moon production, "Whiskey Man" from John Entwhistle is next in line, then there's the symbolic "Heat-wave" and finally another mad Moon offering, "Cobwebs And Strange".
Side two starts off with, "Don't Look Away", another Pete composition, followed by Roger Daltrey's "See My Way", the Mersey number, "So Sad About Us" and finally the title track, "A Quick One While He's Away" which Pete Townshend has made into a pop opera, or at least a mini-pop opera, the "gen" thing is yet to come. A fact which is borne out by the current retreat of Mr. Townshend into his Wardour Street hermitage-cum-studio.
"Quick One" tells the story of a young lady, who is so upset by the absence of her boyfriend that she cries often enough and loud enough to be heard, not only in her own street, but all over town. Neighbours gather around to give her good advice, but Ivor the engine driver, played by John Entwhistle, is a little more practical in the application of comfort. Of course, the boyfriend returns. Mimi, the girl, confesses her sins with Ivor and in a beautiful operatic ending she is forgiven by her beau.
The LP took only one month to complete and was recorded at IBC, Regent Sound, and the Pye studios. "Each studio has its own good and bad characteristics," say the group. "Heatwave" is the only non-original on this solid piece of circular originality, and even this has been included for a special purpose. Keith Moon explains: "We put 'Heatwave' on the LP because it represents an era. Also, I think that it provides a contrast to the newer stuff we've done".
Keith also commented on his duo of compositions on the "Quick One" album. "I Need You" is the first one to crop up. When I first heard it I thought it was a deliberate satirical piece with the Beatles as the victims. Keith denied it. "lt's solely a musical illustration of a transport cafe. The melody is typical of the type of record that would be on the juke box If you listen to the whole thing you'll hear our transport café sound effects. We rustled bag of crisps, clinked tea cups and we even got our Liverpudlian road-manager to say a couple of things into the rnike to get the effect of people passing the juke box. It was not a Lennon impression as some people seem to think".
"Cobwebs and Strange" is, as the title suggests a great deal out of the ordinary. "I wanted to write something with an Indian flavour," Keith told me. "The end product is an Eastern tune with a brass band treatment". Ivor the driver also had plenty to say about this track, perhaps because it meant a lot of hard work for him. "On this one.' said Ivor Entwhsitle, "I play cornet, tuba and bass, all double-tracked. Roger played trombone. He'd played bugle before but I taught him the trombone in the early days when we were doing a bit of everything.
"The object of this whole record is to get a marching effect. Our manager Kit Lambert thought that we'd get the best results by doing just that, marching I mean. We recorded the original track marching back and forth in from of the mike. Pete was in the front playing recorder, I followed up with my tuba taking great care to avoid Roger's trombone slide which was just behind me. After Roger came Keith Moon with a pair of big cymbals, you know, the ones with the leather thongs. It worked O.K. until we came to double-track. We started marching up and down again but once we passed the monitor speaker we couldn't hear it. By the time we came back we were hopelessly out. We decided to stand in one place and record".
John talked about his own strange tracks, "Boris The Spider" and "Whiskey Man". It appeared that there were logical explanations behind both compositions. "I wrote 'Boris' after seeing spiders in my own room." said John. "Everyone knows what they are like. You see them on the floor, they climb up the wall, across the ceiling then drop, that's when you squash them with a book. I saw the spiders and decided to write a creepy song about them. 'Whiskey Man' I wrote after seeing a film about this mad drunkard, who had an imaginary friend who drank with him. Really these were mixtures of about three different songs which I'd written and recorded at home on my stereo machine".
Meanwhile back at the Hermitage, Peter Townshend is working hard on his "pop opera". I think, after hearing this LP that Pete's is going to be the very best. Ivor thinks so too.