May 31, 2020

1965-11-21 – The Observer

1965 11 21 The_Observer_Sun__Nov_21__1965

;.- The Who' 1 re'cent material is writ-'

iihe Who and the Wherefore

THE littes‘tsensation in the pop
world is a long way from the
optimism of the Beatles or even
the savage rhythmic sensuality
of the Stonég. It’s The Who
-—-a group which has been“ in‘

for some time, but " My Genera-
tion" is its first record to
rise really high in the charts.
This 13 a very noisy example of
space age R. & B. with deliber-

ate feedback and electronic dis- '

tortio’n. The lyrics are basic,

. mostly a reiteration of the

phrase “ Taikin' about my gene-
ration," but the singer, Roger
Daltr'y, atutters out the words as
though on' the-edge of inépher-
ence; and several times claims
that he. hep 1:5 to die before he
g‘ets old“

" My Generation," and most of

ten by their iced wita'rist.‘ Pete
Townshend. He is 20 years old,
_iook§ like the art student he 011cc
was, and talks vividly and rapidly 1n
the classless Cockney of the young
intellectual. What I find- arresting

. about him find the group in gene-
ml is their refusal to pover-‘up. '

They} live their real lives in public.

' admit to considerable tension. and"

are often on the point of breaking
up. Like' certain marriages, the
group is cemented by its quirreis

Except for ihe drummer. Keith-

Moon, The Who were all at- Acton
County Grammar School ,They
formed the group two years ago
undei' its present name, but when
they went pro they were pemded


by “their manager to alter it to
The High Numbers. They made
one’ record which dld nothing.
changed their management, and
signed up with two film men. Chris

Stamp, brother of Terehce, and Kit'

Lambert, son of Constant. They
switched their name beck to The
Who, it gave them the right feelinz
when they saw it on posters, and
then leant back while' their new
managers Ieamt the btisihess.

Deliberate knife-iedge
Their next two records, “ I Can' t

EXpiain" arid “Anyway Anyhow,
Anywhere," both did well, but
before “My Generation" the

group 'nearly dissolved. Now they ‘

are really making it but to look at
Pete prnahend You'd never have
guessed it.

I asked him about their aim
musically. Was it true that they
were trendsetters. " “ We set trends
foi' ourselves not for other pe"ople.

he said. “ We deliberately put
unmistes on a knifeéds ea

sound, but we concentrate now on

‘ th'e concep t of dynarhics’ and the .
use of crescendo. _We aim to be as-

far away as possible. Remote. ‘3
Even so, you can‘ 1 so too far. and

ally we were influuieeti by the-
Stones and b31111; Tatiiia-Motown ‘

make a valid record. It‘ s a question
of doing it inch by inch. We‘ to
very loud, we use massiVe ampli-
fiers, beyond all reason. You‘ ve got
to be drastic and violent to reach
the audience now. They‘ve been -

jetting too much given to them."
“What about g'My Generat-
tion' '1‘ "

“The stuttering was Written in»
at the start; I was trying-to get
over the idea of somebody’ barely
educated. Who, feels something
is wrong but doesnt know
enough to say what. Well. that

.was the idea. but' perhaps I was
. just trying to semi-iustify myeelf

for writing a pop mimber. I enjoy
listening to pop all right, but feel
that I put on pop clothes to do it._
I‘m on 11 Charlie Parker kick at
the moment, really." 1

The Who have lately" been
pushed as playing‘ ‘rwi pop art

music." Is this just a gimmick. "
Well it was a btt of a gimmick. said

Pete Townshend. but they felt it
was necessary to bring colour to
their image. to stop them looking
too sinister. drab and over-intense.
Actually, though, there Was some-

' thing in it. because pop art bor-

rowed from real pop and they were
taking it back again. Their music
was cybernetic. It had the auto-
destructive bit.

He jeft'to go and haVe a iitting

.‘in 'Camaby Street (“ We- ~30 there

for ébnvenietice "). en route to a gig
in Bath. His 'selt-awareness and his
serious cynicism are cpnipeiling
and touching. But- can pop music,
which; 'with all its faults, started as
e spdntaneous and committed
movement, survive such éandour?