October 22, 2020

Tattoo

Recorded at IBC Studios, London on October 12, 1967.

[Pete: "’Tattoo’ is me examining that divide between me and Roger and his idea of what made a man a man and my idea. I thought it was going to be one of those songs where Roger would turn around and say to me , ‘No, you sing this. I don’t need to question whether I’m a man or not.’ But he did sing it, and he sang it really well. And I realized then, ‘Hey, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know if he’s a man or not. He’s got the same insecurities I do.’"

Although from the sound of it you’d never guess, this is the one track from this album that became a Who live standard, being played from 1967-1975 then revived occasionally during 1989 and acoustically at the 1999 Bridge School benefit.]

From the Live at Leeds liner notes by Chris Charlesworth with additions by Brian Cady:

Segued straight from ‘Fortune Teller,’ a song of cascading arpeggios heralds ‘Tattoo,’ a tongue-in-cheek ballad based loosely on the spurious concept that tattoos make ‘a man a man.’ A stand-out track from their third album, The Who Sell Out, The Who retained an affection for ‘Tattoo’ long after the album’s other songs had been discarded. They were performing it live right up to the mid-Seventies.

‘Tattoo’ boasts a particularly attractive and mature melody, and couplets with unusually complex rhymes about two brothers who decide to get their skin tattooed, only to regret the decision after parental objections and personal contemplation.

The original recording of ‘Tattoo’ was produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios, London on October 12, 1967.

‘Tattoo’ was also performed occasionally after The Who’s 1999 revival. Track 4 on the 1995 and 2001 CD’s.