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Eel Pie and Redline Entertainments release the CD
'SCOOPED' on May 21st. The double CD contains 35 tracks culled from the
first three volumes of Pete Townshend's acclaimed 'Scoop' series as well as an
exclusive QT video of 'Ask Yourself'.
Scoop series of albums (Scoop, Another Scoop and Scoop3) contain an ecletic mix
of what Pete Townshend refers to as his home 'demos.' Compiled from his personal
(and still growing) archive of hundreds of recordings, this set features
revealing original versions of classic songs next to equally revealing personal
and experimental work carried on from the sixties to the present day.
Whether made for his own projects or for submission to The Who, Townshend's
demos expose both the creative energy and the joy in music that has sustained
him throughout his career.
Never originally intended for such a wide audience, these 'home made' recordings
have been consistently fresh and innovative, unaffected by the often
soul-destroying and pressurised environment of a sophisticated studio. This is
music of moods, naivety and innocence, made (in Pete's words) "for therapy,
for solitude, for fulfilment and most of all for fun."
This peace was intended as an atmosphere merely to link a couple of tracks on
Quadrophenia. It was never used, I borrowed one of my childrens' plastic
whirling tubes- it was a popular toy for a few months in England, like the hoola
hoop. I also strummed away on some cello strings.
A simple 2 track demo
of the song I wrote towards the end of the recording of Tommy.
I wrote it to make sure Nick Cohn (who then reviewed for The Guardian) was kind
to the album.
Most of the demos for Tommy were recorded very simple. I only had the early Revox G36 stereo
recorders at the time- but when I had a good song it didn't matter. In reality
it never does. I haven't played around recording for all these years just to
sell songs; I've done it for fun and for myself.
CAN YOU SEE THE REAL ME 3.
This was recorded in Spring 1973 at my home studio in London on a 3M
8-Track machine using Dolby A systems to reduce hiss. The tabla sound was cooked
up on my ARP2600 synthesizer.
The subject of the song is Jimmy of course, or one of his facets, and the line
about 'rock and roll' doing me an 'evil wrong' belongs to the Godfather who is
yet to be introduced into the tale.
The Who's version of the song was terrific, like everything we did on
Quadrophenia, but this demo has its own style. I played everything on this.
DIRTY WATER 4. Recorded on cassette in my country house. December 1979.
I was living alone at the time. I spent a lot of time at my big kitchen
table, looking at the River Thames flowing by outside my windows. I used to
knock out little songs like this, or short stories that I later published in
Horse's Neck. I know the finished demo of this was included on Scoop, but
I really like this little fragment. It shows exactly how I work up my material.
This was the first version I recorded, making it up as I went along. The next
step was what appears on Scoop. That was a demo done at Air studios in London,
but no finished version of the song was completed.
ZELDA 5. This is a recent one recorded when The Who were making the Face
Dances record in London's Odyssey studios. It was engineered by Bill Szymczyk's assistant
Allan Blazek, a great engineer in his own right, in the tiny Odyssey studio two
while Bill edited the master tapes in studio one. Much has been said about Face
Dances, especially by the band, some of it to the irritation of Bill Sz. He is a
great producer and the slight detachment of the album he made with The Who on
Face Dances is no doubt partly due to me coming up with songs like this! I have
no idea what it's about except that ZELDA is my young niece; that day I wrote it
she had waved to me from the backseat of her fathers car. From little acorns...
The string sound is made by flutter echo added to my furious bow-ing of two
viols. ( The baroque instrument that preceded the violin family).
PICTURES OF LILY 6. This was written in my wife's
bedroom at the flat she was then shared with a friend. I had to perform and sing
it quietly because she was trying to sleep while I worked. Keith Jarrett visited
about halfway through, "an improvisation addict in search of a piano."
Format: Vortexion CBL stereo
recorder. 7½ ips.
Instruments: Gibson ES 335 Guitar plugged straight in and sounding like shit,
then detuned for bass part.
Venue: Eccleston Square, Victoria, London, 1967.
BODY LANGUAGE 7. Recorded by Mike Pela at my Soho studio
for Chinese Eyes, this song impressed neither the record company or producer.
The drum effects are by the inimitable Mark Brzezicki. At least his name is
inimitable. This attempt to fuse streamed poetry with straight lyrics was
probably as successful as the other examples on Chinese Eyes, and is still
something I enjoy doing. A lot of people think it's 'pretentious'. Yeah, it is
isn't it, like lots of people.
SIEGE: THEME 019 8. Another variation on the Siege canon. The notes in my log for
this say; Siege written variation in Eb. Chart 'Theme 014'. (B substituted for
Bb in opening chords for some reason). Trombones, then oboe, flute and pipes
take up a folk refrain over lush strings. This was recorded entirely within the
Synclavier sequencer with a mixture of sampled and FM voices. The working title
for this variation was 'Siege-Scottish'.
971104 ARPEGGIO PIANO 9. This piece was recorded to DAT tape at my home in London on 4th November
1997. When I first moved into the house in London in which I now live I chose
the tiniest room (an ante-room off the main living room) and set up a Kurzweil
MIDIboard 88 note heavy action keyboard on which to practice and compose. Built
into it are a wide number of arpeggio 'algorithms'. I used the keyboard everyday
for about a year, recording to DAT tape or cassette. When Helen Wilkins started
in compile Scoop 3 I completed some of these pieces by editing them on
Synclavier and orchestrating the result on the computer.
BROOKLYN KIDS 10. I had a nasty vision one
sunny afternoon-a beautiful girl walked past my studio window in a white dress.
Behind her walked a young black kid; hip and hungry. Their relative states
of self-absorption produced the idea of the rape of a lonely girl by a lonely
The piano demo was enhanced by a beautiful orchestral arrangement by Ted Astley
( my father-in-law).
Format: 24 track. 30 ips.
Instruments: Bosendorfer piano. Large string section. Woodwinds.
Venue: piano and voice at Home in Berkshire. Orchestra at Abbey Road, London.
(Engineer: John Kurlander, Executive Producer Kit Lambert) September 1978
I made this demo after hearing
a rough mix of Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown by The Stones. When I read
David Marsh's book Before I get Old I was amazed to read that I ripped off the riff-
amazed because it was true, I had forgotten. Read the book to find out how,
The lyric, so applauded by rock
critics, was thrown together very quickly. Smokey Robinson sang the word
'substitute' so perfectly in Track Of My Tears - my favorite song at the time -
that I decided to celebrate the word itself with a song all its own.
Interesting that in eulogizing two of my most important influences (and ripping
off a few ideas) I should end up with one of the most succinct songs of my
Format: Vortexion CBL (2 machines:
bouncing in stereo) 7½ ips
Instruments: Harmony 12 string guitar
Venue: Home, Old Church Street, Chelsa, London. Winter 1966.
This piece was taken directly to a Tascam cassette portastudio. August
1984. It is a really good example of the fiery and bizarre Hammond-like sounds
you can get out of synthesizers if you (like me) know what you're doing. The
keyboard here was the incredible Prophet 10, introduced some time in1977 I
think. Essentially two Prophet 5 keyboards ganged together, the double layer of
related sounds created the most extraordinary movement and harmonic complexity.
It you are a keyboard player and you see one of these for sale at under
$5,000-buy it. It will tale you to a piece of heaven reserved for Hammond
players who have taken to much acid. It is also very easy to programme your own
sounds. The 10 had a simple step sequencer built into the lower keyboard. It is
the sequencer creating the relentless blues pattern over which I played some
stock Ray Charles organ tricks.
EMINENCE FRONT 13. Recorded in Aug Sept 1995 in The Cube home studio. I had a single stereo
mike setup, and recorded this in a single past. But I was using my Yamaha piano
that sends MIDI. This was sent to a KORG Rhythm 'accompanist'. This provided the
cocktail bar drums bass and acoustic guitar part in the mid-back-
I was preparing at this time for a solo appearance at The Paramount Theatre
at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of a benefit by and for Paul Simon
and his charity The Children's Health Fund on Sept 10 1995. Agreeing to appear,
I picked up a guitar and realised that since the middle1992 I had probably spent
more time home playing piano than guitar (I was recovering from a serious wrist
accident and keyboard practice was more useful physiotherapy). So it seamed to
me I should play piano in public for the first time. On this occasion the Wynton
Marsalis orchestra, some of the best jazz musicians on the planet, were in
attendance. I was nervous. But I did well. This demo was to help me get idea of
how I might sound on the night.
BAROQUE IPPANESE 14. I've always loved Cornwall. In
August 1982 I took some demo recording gear down to the holiday cottage we
rented. After a day's sailing on a laser dinghy in the heavy, blustery sea off
Falmouth. I came home and recorded this peace. It tries to suggest the splendour
of an archaic ' tall ship' ; great square-rigged sail-training ships often
dominate Falmouth harbour. This piece is dedicated to 'The Marques' and her crew
lost in the Bahamas last year in a storm.
Format: TEAC portastudio 224 with
DBX. 3¾ ips.
Instruments: Prophet 10. Roland Compurhythm. Roland Delay.
Venue: Cornwall. August 1982.
MAGIC BUS 15. What is there to say? The one man band version, a
voodoo-dub-freak-out of a nothing song that was destined to become the most
requested live song for The Who along with Boris The Spider by John Entwistle.
Sometimes it was hard to do announcements for numbers in The Who show for people
shouting ' Magic Bus' or 'Boris The Spider' at the top of their lungs. It's the
silly songs they like. Daft punters.
I LIKE IT THE WAY IT IS 16. Jon Astley thought he could hear wow and flutter on this but it is
actually the action of an Antares autotune device I used to try to tidy
up the vocal. This orchestral piece was one of a group already featured on
Another Scoop, and is the only one not released. The others were Brooklyn
Kids and Praying The Game. Ted Astley arranged the orchestra which was
recorded in 1978 by Glyn Johns at the incredible and wonderful Olympic Studios
before Richard Branson brought it and turned it into a Japanese airport waiting
room with microphones.
UNUSED PIANO 17. This is one of several pieces I wrote for Quadrophenia that
didn't appear on
the completed album. One or two of them were incorporated into the film
sound-track album, but part of this theme was eventually used in the
chorus on Cut My Hair for
Quad.Though never properly finished, it still captures the
atmosphere of triumph and futility to co-exist in the heart of the hero I
BARGAIN 18. The demos I made to accompany the Lifehouse film script I wrote in '71
are among the best I have ever produced. I had come fully to grips with working
multi-track rather than bounce from machine to machine a la Phil Spector. I had
managed to get a good tight drum sound in a room only ten feet by fifteen that
was crammed with synthesizers, organs and a seven foot grand piano. Joe Walsh
had just presented me with an old Grestch Chet Atkins guitar and it more or less
played me on this track. At this time I was coming to grips with the incredibly
rich harmonics that my ARP 2500 synthesiser produced, even with a single voice
and here one part seemed enough. I still think that Who's Next is one of the
best sounding Who albums because the demos for that record were so good. There
were good songs and good ideas, but Glyn Johns our producer stuck his neck out
to enhance and evolve not just the songs, but also the sounds I had
produced at home.
LONELY WORDS 19. A half-completed studio recording was made in February 1985 onto 32
track digital tape by Bill Pace at my large Oceanic studio in Twickenham. On
these sessions Rabbit (John Bundrick) played Hammond, Clem Burke played drums,
Phil Chen played bass. I played guitar. Later two sub masters were created, one
to half-inch analogue 16 track, another to 4 track cassette Portastudio. I
recorded some new 'Bender' guitars on the 16 track and a demo lead vocal on the
Portastudio. To create this mix I decided not to go back to the digital master,
but to combine the two sub masters.
SO SAD ABOUT US 1. This song was originally written in the living room of the home
of my friend Speedy Keen's parents in Hanwell, West London. At that time in 1966
he was driving me in my Lincoln Convertible to shows around Britain. He was a
talented drummer and emerged as a great writer as soon as I opened my ears to
him properly.( He wrote the song Something In The Air, which I produced for the
band Thunderclap Newman, it got to number one in Britain). I recorded the
demo a few months later to play to our manager Kit Lambert who was producing a
band called The Merseys. They already had a number one hit with Sorrow in the UK and
their version of my song did quite well. The Who recorded the song later in the
year for their second album, A Quick One. The demo was made straight onto a Vortexian machine at my home studio in Chelsa.
BRRR This instrumental was recorded just for fun. 16 track at home in
TOUGH BOYS 2. I recorded this onto a half-inch analogue 8-track Tascam tape
machine in 1979. I had no proper studio at home in London anymore and had put
together a temporary and transportable rig around this machine. Great sounding
machine usually, but in this case I was simply chucking down a very quick demo
of a strange sound I'd managed to cook up by combining a Roland guitar
synthesiser (which was polyphonic) with an ARP Avatar (which was monophonic). I
used the ARP on just the lowest string of my guitar, creating a rather erratic
bass line. The chord sustain noise is from the Roland, and you can also hear the
strings being strummed from a mike I put near them. In the studio (Wessex) when
I recorded the track properly I fed each output of the two synthesiser into a
separate amplifier, creating a monstrous and wobbly wall of sound.
This demo was all I had when I went into the studio to start working on
Rough Boys for the album Empty Glass. The lyric came together in the studio, a
rant about the British punks (like Sid Vicious) I had come across in recent
years who wore outfits I had come to know in New York as the apparel of 'rough'
gays. Not sure why or when the title changed.
YOU BETTER YOU BET 3. This is the reference
mix I made straight after cutting the demo at my studio in Soho.
Format: 24 track. 30 ips.
Instruments: The usual rock ensemble stuff. I used a Yamaha E70 home organ for
the arpeggio synth track.
Venue: Eel Pie Studio, Soho, London.
(Engineer: Chris Ludwinski) March/April 1980.
MARY 4. A track from Lifehouse this was a song intended to bring
some romance into the sci-fi plot. Mary was a character in the script. The song
wasn't recorded for Who's Next by The Who as we decided to make it a single
album rather than a double.
BEGIN THE BEGUINE 5. This recording was
featured on Happy Birthday, the London Meher Baba Group's first
Disc/magazine dedicated to the spiritual master. It was one of his favorite
songs. The original records are very hard to find now.
HOW CAN YOU DO IT ALONE 7. This was put together in a variety of locations while I was
gathering songs for the first Warner Brothers Who album, recorded after Keith
Moon's death. That turned out to be Face Dances. It began with a Yamaha
E70 organ backing track which I recorded through eight separate outputs and then
re-routed through various echo delays, dubbing in Reggae style. It is that
process that creates the bubbling sound, but also all the interesting percussion
'scattering' sounds over the real drums which were added by Kenney Jones at
Air studios in London one night.
The strange bass lilt was created by using the
organ's internal drum-box on some quite conventional latin setting, but starting
the bar halfway through. The organ track was made at my largest studio, Oceanic
in Twickenham. In my studio in Soho I did a real bass guitar part, some
handclaps and backing vocals then took the master reel to Burbank where Mo Ostin
(chairman of WB) had arranged for me to use a small room in Amigo studios in
North Hollywood. Them I added a jazzy guitar or two and mixed it.
handclap sound can be heard here. Take a figure of eight microphone and place it
with one side of the capsule facing a window or mirror. The other side must face
a relatively empty room, it doesn't have to be an echoey room though. Place
yourself between the mike and the mirror, turn the mike up until it distorts a
little and clap. Depending on how far away from the glass is the mike, and how
distorted it is, you will sound like a small, tight group of very funky
I quite liked The Who's rendering of this song. Roger sang it really well.
But it is probably one of those songs that needed my acidic tone to work without
awkwardness. Whichever version is your favourite (and you may hate both of them)
it's good to be able to compare.
FOOTBALL FUGE 8. Ted Astley composed
this track over which I wrote the lyric. It reminded me of an orchestral
battlefield. With the musicians wearing big heavy boots. Hence the analogy with
football and hooliganism.
Format: 16 track 15 ips Dolby.
Instruments: Large string section. Percussion.
Venue: Olympic studios, Barnes
(Engineer: Glyn Johns) September 1978
BEHIND BLUE EYES
9. Another Lifehouse song, I remember my wife saying she liked this
one from the kitchen below after I had finished the harmony vocals. The band
later added a passion and fire that really made it blossom from the sad song it
appears to be here into the proud self expose it became on Who's Next. Not a
personal song at all, or at least not intended to be. It's about a villain in
the story feeling he is forced into playing a two-faced role.
NEVER ASK ME 10. This song was
carefully constructed as an alternative ballad for the Who Are You album. It
wasn't used by the band. I sent a copy to Quincy Jones for Sinatra, but never
The weird violin sound was produced by processing a string synthesizer through a
Vocoder in which the 'speech' was actually a scraped violin. Nasty!
Format: 24 track 30 ips. EMS
Vocoder 2000. Engineering assistance by Dick Hayes.
Instruments: Bosendorfer piano. Amati violin (copy) and usual rock stuff.
Venue: Eel Pie Studios, Thames Valley, Berkshire, England. March 30th
CIRCLES 11. A very early demo recorded in Belgravia in the same period as
My Generation. The only thing in my life at that time was Who gigs in Europe and
my tape machines. I became reacquainted with an art school friend called Karen
soon after this song was written and found some other hobbies outside tape
recording; cooking, kissing Karen, restaurants, making love to Karen, buying
beds and curtains, marrying Karen. And so on. In fact my life with Karen
enriched my output as a writer. We made lots of friends and as a couple were
more social than I ever had been on my own, my demos had a bigger audience.
We were organized , the studio I built in the first house we shared together was
a real step up for me, the first I constructed with any consideration for the
neighbors and guest who had to live with my midnight recording sessions. We were
very careful to find a place where the studio could be isolated. This care was
not exercised when we purchased our first family home in '68. In that house the
studio was slap bang in the middle of the building and when I worked nobody
slept. A musician's studio is a far less natural extension of a family home than
a writer's den or a painter's atille. It's a pity that the new technology that
has brought multi-track recording into the reach of every musician with some
spare cash, hasn't produced a simple way of sound-proofing a practice room or
HOLLY LIKE IVY 12. Written and recorded
in Dallas after a post-show party at some restaurant at which a girl called
Holly shock hands with me. I received a very large shock of static electricity
at the same time. I think I stood on her hair.
Format: TEAC Portastudio 224 with
DBX 3¾ ips. 2X Uric LA3A Limiter/Compressors. 1 Roland SDE 2000 Digital Delay. 1
Soundworkshop 262 stereo reverb.
Instruments: Roland 808 Drum machine. Prophet 10 (Bass part). Yamaha CP70 Piano.
Fender Jazzmaster via effects.
Venue: Hotel room, Dallas, Texas. Winter 1982
VARIATIONS: DIRTY JOBS 13. This was recorded on piano on 7th November 1997 and completed in
February 2001. I fully orchestrated it earlier this year. Although the chords
are similar to Dirty Jobs from Quadrophenia it is an entirely original
composition. It is intended to demonstrate the kind of tonal effect I could
achieve should I develop a lull orchestral version of Quadrophenia. The
piano was recorded on a Kurzweil sequencer and later 'quantized' to a DAT
machine. I then copied the DAT to my Synclavier hard-disk system and tightened
it up, then added the orchestral parts using all synthetic sounds.
The opening cascade of the piece is written in 7/8 time. It intentionally
created a chaotic but processional sound. Later it becomes more conventional,
but the piano arpeggios in the middle are difficult to play if you don't happen
to use my particular 'three fingers on the right one finger on the left'
two-hand technique. All though the piano sounds as though a computer has
produced it, in fact all that has happened to my free part that it has been 'quantized'.
That means any out of time notes have been brought back into time, it gives it a
real concert-pianist feel, but it's partly a bluff. It is, by the way, only the
middle part that is 'quantized'.
CATSNATCH 14. This is one of the
many experimental sequences from Siege.
The random bass part was carefully and tortuously transcribed and played by my
Columbian friend Chucho Merchan. The other elements were produced almost by
chance and embellished and mixed at my studio in Twickenham.
Format: Portastudio 4 track
transferred to 16 track 30 ips 2" studio master.
Instruments: Prophet 10. Fender Telecaster (1952) via Roland Digital Delay.
Roland Compurhythm via various cheap digital delays. (including one miraculous
device by Electro Harmonix called a 'Memory Man Chorus Delay').
Venue: 4 track in Cornwall-completion at Eel Pie Studios. Twickenham, London.
(Assistant Engineer: Chris Ludwinski) August'82 through January'83.
YOU'RE SO CLEVER 15. Recorded 24 track in my studio at our country place this song was
written for my first solo album Empty Glass. I first put the lyric
together at the same time as And I Moved for submission to Bette Midler. Neither song ever
reached her. It didn't seem to impress the producer Chris Thomas, maybe it was
ahead of it's time. It sounds a little
behind it now, but I still think it's great. The electro-pop sound was all done
in a single pass (performance) on a Yamaha home organ with bass pedals, drum
machine, upper and lower keyboards and arpeggio units all laid onto separate
tracks. Modern home organs are really very complex computer synthesizers that
are a damn sight easier to 'programme'
than the so called real thing. I love'em and will buy more as soon as I get
LOVE REIGN O'ER ME 16. The piano part from this demo was used as the basic track for The
Who version which was recorded by Glyn Johns and later used as the finale for
I still glory in the fact that the piano reveals new thing to me every time I
sit down to play. I am still a poor player, but in a sense, as a writer, that
helps. This is composed almost entirely on black notes.
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