October 22, 2020

A Legal Matter

From the “My Generation” liner notes by Brian Cady.

“I’m singing on this one. Put that it’s a similar voice to Paul McCartney.”
–Pete Townshend (1965)

From the My Generation liner notes by Brian Cady:

“I’m singing on this one. Put that it’s a similar voice to Paul McCartney.”
–Pete Townshend (1965)

After The Who broke with Shel Talmy and Decca/Brunswick to release their single “Substitute,” Brunswick rush-released “A Legal Matter” backed with “Circles” retitled “Instant Party,” on March 7, 1966. This was a Monday, an unusual day to release a single, but it was done to compete with “Substitute” and damage its ultimate chart position. In the U.K. “A Legal Matter” reached only #32 while “Substitute” hit #5. In the U.S. “A Legal Matter” appeared on the flip side of “The Kids Are Alright,” The Who’s first single on Decca after restoring their ties with the label.

This is the first release with a Pete Townshend lead vocal. There was an apocryphal story that Roger didn’t sing it because he was getting divorced from his first wife at the time. The divorce did not actually occur until five years after this album but they were separated at the time. The stereo version on My Generation: Deluxe Edition is missing the original’s lead guitar but does feature previously unheard drums and bass performance during the outro.

From the Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy liner notes by Brian Cady:

Produced by Shel Talmy November 12, 1965 at IBC Studio A, London.
Piano by Nicky Hopkins.

“‘Legal Matter’ is about a guy on the run from a chick about to pin him down for breach of promise. What this song was screaming from behind lines like, ‘It’s a legal matter baby, marrying’s no fun, it’s a legal matter baby, you got me on the run,’ was ‘I’m lonely, I’m hungry, and the bed needs making.’ I wanted a maid I suppose. It’s terrible feeling like an eligible bachelor but with no women seeming to agree with you.”
–Pete Townshend

Originally released on the first Who album My Generation and subsequently in the U.K. on March 7, 1966 to compete against The Who’s single “Substitute” which was their contract-breaking release. A legal matter, indeed! It managed to get only to #32.

The B-side was “Instant Party” a/k/a “Circles.” (the Shel Talmy produced version).

“A Legal Matter” was Pete’s first lead vocal with The Who.

In the U.S., in addition to the album, it appeared on the B-side of “The Kids Are Alright.”

Not included on My Generation – The Very Best Of The Who.

It is presently available on the boxset 30 Years Of Maximum R&B, The Who: The Ultimate Collection and stereo and mono versions appear on My Generation: Deluxe Edition.