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Liner Notes › The Who By Numbers


Roger Daltrey Vocals 
John Entwistle Bass Guitar & Vocals 
Keith Moon Drums 
Pete Townshend Guitar, Keyboards [except where listed] & Vocals

Liner notes by Chris Charlesworth [with additions in brackets by Brian Cady]


Produced by Glyn Johns [the first Who recording produced solely by Johns; previously he had only been listed as "associate producer" to The Who] at the Shepperton Sound Stage on Ronnie Lane's Mobile Studio. [the original album says it was produced at Ramport Studios, Island Mobile and Eel Pie Studios, mixed at Island Studios and Sunset Sound and mastered by Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab, Los Angeles]


Cover Drawing by John Entwistle. [John: "The cover only took me an hour, but the dots took about three hours. I took it down to the studio while we were mixing and got the worst artist in the room to fill it in. Discovered I'd left two inside legs out."]


All the tracks on The Who By Numbers were recorded at the Shepperton Sound Stage on Ronnie Lane's mobile studio during April and May of 1975. Recording began with a jam session on April 4, continued throughout May and overdubs were done in June. Mixing was done at Island Records' Basing Street Studios in London's Notting Hill during July and August.


Released as Polydor 2490 129 [as part of their break with Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp's management, The Who refused to release this record on their own Track label] on October 18, 1975. It reached #7 in the U.K. It hit the U.S. charts as MCA 2161 on October 25, 1975 and reached #8. [The RIAA gave the record "gold" status for 500,000 in U.S. sales on December 10, 1975. It was upgraded to "platinum," 1 million in sales, in 1993.]


The first vinyl pressings in the U.K. were individually numbered on the back cover. [Pete, who was suffering from writer's block during much of the period he wrote this album, later said The Who recorded practically every song he had written for The Who By Numbers. Other songs written around this time were "To Barney Kessell," a jazz guitar instrumental released on Pete's Scoop album and "Girl In A Suitcase" which was submitted to The Who and rejected. It later appeared on Pete's Another Scoop album.]

Slip Kid 4'35 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
'Slip Kid' was tried on stage but quickly abandoned. 'Slip Kid' was recorded on May 30.

[Pete: "'Slip Kid' came across as a warning to young kids getting into music that it would hurt them - it was almost parental in its assumed wisdom."

"Slip Kid" was edited down to 3'30 and released as a single in the U.S. and Canada August 7th, 1976 in the middle of the 2nd 1976 North American tour. The b-side was "Dreaming From The Waist." It failed to chart. "Slip Kid" was played live during the 1976 European tour and the first 2 weeks of the 1st 1976 North American tour. Piano and additional percussion were played off of tape. The version on the remixed CD fades out a few seconds earlier than the version on the original LP.  Pete's original demo was released on his 1999 solo album Lifehouse Chronicles.]


However Much I Booze 5'07 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Like 'Slip Kid,' 'However Much I Booze' was tried on stage but soon abandoned. Recorded on May 7.

[The demo for this song, entitled "No Way Out," appears on Pete's album Scoop 3. It contains the additional lyrics, "I walk into a club and no one seems to know me. I have to tell the story of my life to keep from being thrown out there and then. It all seems so futile, can't I live if some [something] disowns me? Can't face the fact that once you open up for real you become ambivalent. Before they let you in, there ain't no way out!"

Pete: "Drinking around the Who is the greatest thing gutter-level life can offer. The bawdiness of the humor, the sheer decadence of the amount put away, the incredible emotional release of violent outbursts against innocent hotel-room sofas; all these count to get a body through a lot of trouble. But at the end of the orgy, the real cancer still lies untackled deep in the heart." 

Pete said in his stage introduction that this was written the day after he gave up drinking -- a cure that apparently didn't take until 1982. Richard Barnes reported that Roger considered this song so personal that he refused to sing it. Perhaps Roger just wanted everyone to know that it was not he, but Pete, that had a drinking problem. The song was played live during the 1975 U.K. and European tours and during the first three dates of the 1975 North American tour.]


Squeeze Box 2'39 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Often played on stage, 'Squeeze Box' was released as a single in January 1976. It reached #10 in the U.K. charts and #16 in the U.S. Recorded on May 30.

[Pete: "Intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke. I had bought myself an accordion and learned to play it one afternoon. The polka-esque rhythm I managed to produce from it brought forth this song. Amazingly recorded by The Who to my disbelief. Further incredulity was caused when it became a hit for us in the USA."



"Squeeze Box" was originally intended for a Who television special planned for 1974 where the song was to be performed by The Who accompanied by 100 topless lady accordianists!  Backed with "Success Story", it was released first in the U.S. November 22nd, 1975 in the middle of the 1975 North American tour. It reached #16 in the Billboard charts and #11 in the Cash Box charts. It also spent 16 weeks in the Billboard Top 100 singles chart, the longest for any Who single. When I saw them play this live in 1975, Pete and Roger rocked their hips back and forth during the "in and out" part leaving no doubt as to the meaning! Dropped from the live act after 1976 but resurfaced in 1982. "Squeeze Box" was also recorded country-style by Laura Branigan and Freddy Fender.]


Dreaming From The Waist 4'05 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Aside from 'Squeeze Box,' 'Dreaming From The Waist' was the only track from The Who By Numbers to be played regularly on stage, where it gained eminence as a vehicle for John's extraordinary bass playing. Originally titled 'Control Myself,' and recorded in May. 
[played live through the 1975-1976 tours, then revived for the 1979-1981 tours.]


Imagine A Man 4'02 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Piano by Nicky Hopkins. 
Recorded on May 29.

[Pete: "It just might be a key to the way that rock could grow old. It's about that feeling of being...not a failure, but over the hill. It's about that pathetic, pointless, tragic situation that a man gets into where -- well, I've never been a great puller of birds, so it's not autobiographical -- but for example where he can't pull without a big scene, and he's not really all that mad or drinking anymore, and to tell the truth he really does quite like watching television. It's a bit of an effort to get out on the pitch and play football on Saturdays and, to be perfectly honest, he does quite like sex on a regular basis so he can build himself up to it and not let the old lady down. It's that type of thing, and it's about how incredible all that is. And I realized after I'd written it what an amazingly perceptive piece of writing it was, and that either I was getting like that or somebody that I knew intimately was getting that way. Then of course I realized the song was about me. And if The Who end up recording this song, then it will definitely be a landmark in our career because it's got the kind of honesty there is in a song like 'Substitute.'"

Not performed live by the band, but it was in 1994 by Roger for the "Daltrey Sings Townshend" shows.]


Success Story 3'20 
(John Entwistle) � 1975 Hot Rod Music - BMI 
Piano by Nicky Hopkins. 
recorded on May 23.

[This song provides a capsule history of The Who with what might be some rather acid comments on Pete's religious beliefs. There is also an undoubted reference to the sexual orientation of manager Kit Lambert whom the band was in the process of suing. The first Who song to feature John playing an 8-string bass guitar. A live version by The John Entwistle Band was released on the Left For Live CD in 1999.]


They Are All In Love 2'59 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Piano by Nicky Hopkins. 
Originally titled 'She Loves Everyone' and recorded on April 30.

[Roger said he refused to sing this song until Pete "clarified certain aspects." Pete's explanation: "Punks didn't mean what it does today. Punks is what I used to call the New York fans who used to try and get you by the ears and pin you down and take you home in a cardboard box. The song was about what the band had become. It was about money, about law courts, about lawyers and accountants. Those things had never mattered and the band had a backlog of tax problems and unpaid royalties. We had to deal with it. I really felt like crawling off and dying."]


Blue Red and Grey 2'46 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Recorded in May. This track features Pete singing solo accompanied by himself on ukulele, together with John on brass playing his own silver band arrangement. A group version of 'Blue Red and Grey' was also recorded but unfortunately the tapes of this have gone missing.

[Pete: "Glyn Johns wanted it on the album. I cringed when he picked it. He heard it on a cassette and said, 'What's that?' I said, 'Nothing.' He said, 'No. Play it.' I said, 'Really, it's nothing. Just me playing a ukulele.' But he insisted on doing it. I said, 'What? That fucking thing? Here's me wanting to commit suicide and you're going to put that thing on the record?'"

This track was cross-faded into the track preceding it on the 1996 remix. They were completely separate on the original LP.]


How Many Friends 4'03 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Recorded on May 28.

[Keith said this was his favorite song on the album and that he cried when Pete played it for him.]


In A Hand Or A Face 3'20 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
Piano by Nicky Hopkins. 
Originally titled 'Round and Round' and recorded on May 27.

[Pete: "'A Hand or a Face' was cynical and tried to cut down the growing dependence I had on mysticism and psychic phenomena."

But isn't it almost psychic that an album that seems to presage the punk rock revolution, has in its last song the race being ended by a Pistol? The Sex Pistols' first show came less than three weeks after the release of this LP.]


[The three bonus tracks were all recorded live at Swansea Football Ground June 12, 1976 by producer Glyn Johns on the Ronnie Lane Mobile Studio. It was later broadcast on Capitol Radio's programme Your Mother Wouldn't Like It after which it appeared and continues to appear on many bootlegs. It was the last Who concert with Keith Moon in the U.K. before a paying audience.]

Squeeze Box 3'13 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI

Behind Blue Eyes 4'39 
(Pete Townshend) � 1971 Towser Tunes, Inc./Fabulous Music, Ltd./ABKCO Music, Inc. - BMI 
From the album Who's Next.

[The Who always had fun "banishing" Keith from the stage for the beginning of this song. At one show, Pete said they had always had a problem doing good harmonies until they found the problem, after which Keith slunk off. He, of course, would sneak back on stage to take up his position at his kit for the last half of the song.]


Dreaming From The Waist 4'57 
(Pete Townshend) � 1975 Towser Tunes, Inc. (adm. by Longitude Music Co.) - BMI 
This live version also appears on the boxset 30 Years of Maximum R&B [edited to 4'08. Since the song wasn't a hit, it was barely tolerated by the huge stadium audiences The Who played to during these tours. Now, many Who fans consider it one of their best live songs. Another live version can be found on the 30 Years of Maximum R&B video (1975). In addition to the three Swansea tracks here, a live version of "My Wife" from this show also appears on the boxset].


Audiophile comments by White Fang are now located at WhiteFang's Who Site! You can read them by clicking here.

If you want to contact me about something on this page, click on my name. I want corrections!
Brian Cady

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