• Cream of The Crate: CD's #17- The Who: Thirty Years of Maximum R&B

      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      "The Who were a quartet with four leaders .... everyone's talents shone .... nobody backed off for anybody" [Liner notes]

      Box set Cover

      This is number seventeen in the series of albums I'm featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of CD's in my personal collection. The series is called, "Cream of The Crate (CD's)", and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

      Although I have reviewed Tommy the Who in my vinyl reviews, this boxed set screamed out to be included.

      Thirty Years of Maximum R&B the Who was released on the Polydor label in 1994 (521 751-2) and is a magnificent boxed set of 4 CD's covering the period of 1962 through to 1994. It has 95 tracks, mostly of the music of the Who, but there are some humorous out-takes, some Who based ads and even a couple of snippets from a comedy serial starring the Who.

      I have made a point in the past of commenting on the booklets that come with these boxed sets. In this case I would hardly call it a booklet, it is more like a small book! And, what a book!!

      The 'book' cover

      It has 34 double sided pages, all gloss measuring 14cm x 28cm and absolutely full of gems. There are a myriad of photos of the band from it's earliest beginning onward, of the members of
      the Who from their earliest pictures to their latest, fabulous action shots as well as picture advertisements of gigs, articles on them, a fantastic timeline of events and, an ongoing story of the group written Keith Altham called, "Who Me? - The Who In Britain".

      Want more? You got it! There is also a wonderful discography and a fascinating set of liner notes the set compilers.

      Then there is the box! Sturdy and printed beautifully, not only on the outside, but as far as my boxed set CD collection is concerned, on the inside as well.

      Inside the box

      The track listing is quite phenomenal and while it cannot possible include anywhere near all the tracks ever released
      the Who, but this boxed set does include 95 tracks although not all are musical tracks and there are some delightful oddities amongst the material on the CD's.

      Rear of the box

      The tracks are a mixture of studio and live, of hits and misses, fan favorites and even some previously unreleased material. As compilers Chris Charlesworth and Jon Astley wrote in the liner notes - "Finding the right balance between familiar and previously unavailable material is the essence of a comprehensive boxed set.

      Hard core Who fans want - and deserve - as much new stuff as possible, while the more casual buyers seeking to replace their vinyl equivalents will feel justifiably short-changed if their favourite Who tracks are not included.

      Disc one
      "Pete Dialogue" (Live at the Long Beach Arena, 10 December 1971) 0:21
      2. "I'm the Face" (Peter Meaden; as The High Numbers) 2:27
      3. "Here 'Tis" (Ellas McDaniel; as The High Numbers, previously unreleased) 2:08
      4. "Zoot Suit" (Meaden; as The High Numbers) 1:57
      5. "Leaving Here" (Holland-Dozier-Holland; erroneously credited as The High Numbers) 2:47
      6. "I Can't Explain" 2:03
      7. "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" (Townshend, Roger Daltrey; recorded 24 May 1965, live at the BBC Sessions at Aeolian Hall, London) 2:38
      8. "Daddy Rolling Stone" (Otis Blackwell) 2:49
      9. "My Generation" 3:17
      10. "The Kids Are Alright" 3:05
      11. "The Ox" (Townshend, Keith Moon, John Entwistle, Nicky Hopkins) 3:37
      12. "A Legal Matter" 2:46
      13. "Pete Dialogue" (Live at Leeds University, 1970) 0:57
      14. "Substitute" (Live at Leeds University, 1970) 2:08
      15. "I'm a Boy ("No Horns" remix)" 2:36
      16. "Disguises" 3:20
      17. "Happy Jack Jingle" (Previously unreleased) 0:31
      18. "Happy Jack" 2:11
      19. "Boris the Spider" (John Entwistle) 2:27
      20. "So Sad About Us" 2:59
      21. "A Quick One, While He's Away" (Original studio version/Live at the Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus, 1968) 9:39
      22. "Pictures of Lily" 2:43
      23. "Early Morning Cold Taxi" (Dave "Cy" Langston, Daltrey; previously unreleased) 3:03
      24. "Coke 2**" (previously unreleased) 0:48
      25. "(This Could Be) The Last Time" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) 2:59
      26. "I Can't Reach You" 3:03
      27. "Girl's Eyes" (Moon; previously unreleased) 3:06
      28. "Bag O'Nails**" (Previously unreleased) 0:05
      29. "Call Me Lightning" 2:20

      Disc two

      "Rotosound Strings**" 0:06
      2. "I Can See for Miles" 4:14
      3. "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" 2:07
      4. "Armenia City in the Sky" (Speedy Keen) 3:13
      5. "Tattoo" 2:41
      6. "Our Love Was" 3:06
      7. "Rael 1" 5:42
      8. "Rael 2" (Previously unreleased) 0:52
      9. "Track Records/Premier Drums**" ("Track Records" previously unreleased) 0:31
      10. "Sunrise" 3:03
      11. "Russell Harty Dialogue**" (Previously unreleased) 0:21
      12. "Jaguar" (Previously unreleased) 2:03
      13. "Melancholia" (Previously unreleased) 3:18
      14. "Fortune Teller" (Naomi Neville; previously unreleased) 2:18
      15. "Magic Bus" 3:16
      16. "Little Billy" 2:16
      17. "Dogs" 3:01
      18. "Overture" 3:53
      19. "The Acid Queen" 3:33
      20. "Abbie Hoffman Incident" (Live at Woodstock, 1969; previously unreleased) 0:16
      21. "Sparks" (Live at Woodstock, 1969; previously unreleased) 3:53
      22. "Pinball Wizard" 3:00
      23. "I'm Free" 2:38
      24. "See Me, Feel Me" (Original studio version/Live at Leeds University, 1970) 3:31
      25. "Heaven and Hell" (Entwistle) 3:33
      26. "Pete Dialogue" (Live at Leeds University, 1970) 0:36
      27. "Young Man Blues" (Mose Allison; live at Leeds University, 1970) 4:38
      28. "Summertime Blues" (Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart; remixed; live at Leeds University, 1970) 3:22

      Disc three

      "Shakin' All Over" (Fred Heath; live at Leeds University, 1970) 4:06
      2. "Baba O'Riley" 4:56
      3. "Bargain" (Live at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, 1971) 4:54
      4. "Pure and Easy" 5:10
      5. "The Song Is Over" 6:09
      6. "Studio Dialogue" (Who's Next Sessions; previously unreleased) 0:47
      7. "Behind Blue Eyes" 3:39
      8. "Won't Get Fooled Again" 8:30
      9. "The Seeker" 3:21
      10. "Bony Moronie" (Larry Williams; live at the Young Vic Theater, London, 1971) 3:18
      11. "Let's See Action" 3:54
      12. "Join Together" 4:22
      13. "Relay" 4:00
      14. "The Real Me" 3:29
      15. "5:15" (Single mix) 4:18
      16. "Bell Boy" 4:54
      17. "Love, Reign o'er Me" 4:51

      Disc four

      "Long Live Rock" 3:54
      2. "Life with the Moons**" (Previously unreleased) 1:43
      3. "Naked Eye" (Live at the Young Vic Theatre, London, 1971) 5:00
      4. "University Challenge**" (Previously unreleased) 0:30
      5. "Slip Kid" 4:09
      6. "Poetry Cornered**" (Previously unreleased) 0:39
      7. "Dreaming from the Waist" (Live at the Swansea Football Ground, 1976) 4:08
      8. "Blue Red and Grey" 2:45
      9. "Life with the Moons 2**" (Previously unreleased) 0:46
      10. "Squeeze Box" 2:39
      11. "My Wife" (Entwistle; live at the Swansea Football Stadium, 1976) 4:14
      12. "Who Are You" 5:00
      13. "Music Must Change" 4:36
      14. "Sister Disco" 4:19
      15. "Guitar and Pen" 5:48
      16. "You Better You Bet" 5:33
      17. "Eminence Front" 5:26
      18. "Twist and Shout" (Bert Russell, Phil Medley; live at Shea Stadium, New York, 1982) 3:01
      19. "I'm a Man" (McDaniel; live at Radio City Music Hall, New York, 1989) 6:11
      20. "Pete Dialogue" (Live at the Fillmore West, San Francisco, 1969) 0:37
      21. "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" (Elton John, Bernie Taupin) 4:33

      Now every boxed CD set that I have retro-reviewed have all had one thing in common, and that is, how in the hell to choose the tracks to feature? The music tracks go from the very early tracks the High Numbers (the Who in an early incarnation), through to the 1990's and post Keith Moon.

      So it seems obvious to feature at least one track the Highlights and one track post Keith's passing, throw in a few of the out-takes/and ads and, put in one or two previously unreleased tracks and then, try and avoid the really well known tracks except where it is a different production to the original released version.

      Cover to CD #1 (Pete Townshend)

      Starting at CD #1, I chose track # 4 - Zoot Suit the High Numbers. Recorded on 3rd July 1964 it is the first release the band and I Am the Face is on the other side. The group had started out as The Detours, basically a skiffle band, Roger in 1962. It is he who recruits John Entwistle on bass with Doug Sandon in drums and Colin Dawson as the vocalist.

      Early in 1963 Roger Daltrey literally kicks Sandon out of the group with a combination of brazenness and a belief he can sing better. It is the 'kick' The Detours need, and they suddenly become on demand as a semi-pro R&B group working the West London circuit.

      Pete, John & Roger - The Detours

      In February 1964 they actually change their name to The Who! At a gig in Sandon, a very confident, brash and somewhat 'looney' young man, who was currently playing drums for The Beachcombers, asks if he can sit in. It is in fact an impromptu audition, and all of a sudden Sandon is out and Keith Moon is in. The group is almost complete - but they need a decent manager to move them forward.

      The Who before they became the High Numbers

      Enter Mod Pete Meaden, he becomes their first real Manager. It is about this time that Pete smashes his guitar (in frustration) for the first time, and the reaction from the crowd is mind-blowing and it ignites a legend! So when Meaden suggests they change their name to the High Numbers and become a Mod band instead of an R&B band, the group so caught up in all the talk about them, agree!

      It is only days after recording Zoot Suit that Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp see The High Numbers and oust Meaden. Three months later EMI Records refuse to release Zoot Suit. This rejection sees Lambert and Stamp convince the group to return to the name, The Who and they do so in November 1964.

      Zoot Suit

      The second track featured from CD #1 is in fact the last track, track #29. Call Me Lightning was the A-side of the March 1968 release in the US, with Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde as the B-side (interestingly this track would later form an important part of the second Who 'Opera" - Quadrophenia). In the UK Call Me Lightning was the B-side of the release with Dogs as the A-side. It flopped. Fortunately the group was in the USA and their growing reputation as an explosive live act kept them afloat.

      The track is most certainly still a 'hang-over' of their Mod style music. It's a catchy enough tune but did lack the punch that the Who became better known for.

      See that girl who's smiling so brightly,
      Well I reckon she's cool and I reckon rightly,
      She's good looking and I ain't frightened,
      I'm gonna show you why they call me lightning.

      Hey little girl who's dancing so lightly,
      My XKE is shining so brightly,
      The noose around us is slowly tightening,
      I'm gonna show you why they call me lightning.

      Hey little girl who's dancing so lightly,
      My XKE is shining so brightly,
      The noose around us is slowly tightening,
      I'm gonna show you why they call me lightning.

      You can't catch me, I'm as fast as can be,
      Call me lightning, I'm as fast as can be,
      No you can't catch me, no you can't catch me.

      Whoo! Lightning.

      Call Me Lightning

      Cover to CD #2 (Roger Daltry)

      I thought I'd finish looking at CD # 1 with a bit of something completely different (with apologies to Monty Python!). Before I do, I feel I should at least acknowledge those classic tracks, My Generation (which was the anthem for this generation), Substitute - which has a fantastic bass solo, and interestingly was meant to be a Townshend solo - fantastic that "Ox" (Entwistle)insisted it be kept . I'm a Boy is one of my favourite Who tracks. It is about a boy whose mother wants him to be a girl, while the boy longs to assert his real sexual identity. The controversial subject of cross-dressing was probably the reason why this failed to reach the American Top 100."

      So, to the 'something completely different' track! Well it is called the Happy Jack Jingle!

      Happy Jack

      CD #2 could best be described as a combination of lesser known/played tracks, and, tracks that would form a good part of the 'Rock Opera', Tommy! The CD, with 28 tracks, is only one less than CD #1 and in some ways is fantastic value, because it does provide a fantastic glimpse into the range of Who material. If we ignore for the moment the material for (or from) Tommy - some six tracks, then there are really only two, in a stretch three, of their better known tracks. these are I Can See For Miles and Magic Bus, with possibly Summertime Blues sneaking in.

      So the first track I chose was one that was unfamiliar to me prior to purchasing this set. It is track # 10 - Sunrise. This track surprised me with its quality - kicking off with a delightful piece of acoustic guitar, we find Rogers voice coming on, multitracked! This is surprising because Roger had such a strong voice I would never have thought of multitracking it because it doesn't need it! Having said that - it works.

      It took until the track had almost finished for me to suddenly realise, there were NO drums! It has a wonderful melody, and then I realised it was actually on, The Who Sell Out! I can't believe I missed this track for so long. It just goes to prove you can be so absorbed ion the 'hits' a group/artist, that you can overlook small gems!

      You take away the breath I was keeping for sunrise
      You appear and the morning looks drab in my eyes
      And then again I'll turn down love
      Having seen you again
      Then again you'll disappear
      My morning put to shame


      It was hard, maybe it would have been wrong, to overlook the tracks that made such a fantstic contribution to Tommy. I have actually yet to review Tommy, even though the album is in my vinyl collection, and although I have reviewed Quadrophenia, Tommy deserves it's own recognition - so that will surely come in the future. But there are 6 tracks on this CD that made it onto Tommy, and I have chosen track # 24. I chose it because although Who fans will be quite familiar with this track from Tommy, this version is a live version recorded at Leeds University in February 1970, and, until this boxed set was previously unreleased.

      The Leeds material was so good the Who ended up releasing the Album "Live at Leeds", but this track failed to make the 'cut', and in my mind simply reflects the quantity of great material. Let us not forget that in this period, releases were either on vinyl or cassette and the true and tried formula was that you released between 10 and 12 tracks on an album (generally). Live at Leeds was their first live album release and only had SIX tracks, albeit My Generation was some 14 mintes long!

      So IF you are unfamiliar with the track (hard to believe), I think you will enjoy it - and if you know the track well (as a Who fan), then i think you will certainly enjoy this live version.

      See Me, Feel Me

      Cover to CD #3 (John Entwistle)

      CD # 3 only has 17 tracks, but is the CD that has the most number of well known and loved tracks. From the fantastic Baba O'Riley, with it's amazing synth sequencer opening (don't forget this was the early 1970's and synths were an oddity at this point) and Dave Arbus' utterly fantastic violin part through to the traditional 'power-house' playing of the band - Baba O'Riley stands as a classic in my mind. The 'Baba' part came from Pete Townshends adoration of Meha Baba, and the 'Riley' part from experimental minimalist Terry Riley. The track was due to be part of the aborted "Lighthouse Project". Yet I didn't choose this track, but went for track # 1 - Shaking All Over. Ok, so the track is on the Live at Leeds album, and, we have already had a track from that concert, but this is a fabulous live cover of a track that has been recorded almost 'every man and his dog' - but none are like this version. Never has Roger Daltry ever sounded so unlike Roger Daltry, and Townshend is right on the edge of chaose with his guitar work, but holds it together beautifully. It is a superb example of power live playing.

      Shaking All Over

      I mean this CD is chock full of fantastic Who tracks, Behind Blue Eyes, Won't Get Fooled Again and The Real Me are just examples of pure unadulterated Who brilliance. For reasons that actually escape me as I write this retro-review, whether I should have chosen track # 9 - The Seeker. I remember it as being a real favourite, yet now I listen and i wonder if I'm just jaded, or what!

      This was The Who's first single released after their very successful Rock Opera Tommy. The song summed up Pete Townshend's dilemma at the time: how to handle the success that came from Tommy and stay true to the spiritual journey he had been following during the year he wrote and produced the Rock Opera.

      Pete Townshend wrote part of the song in a swamp in Florida, drunk out of his mind. The swamp was covered in cockleburs that attached themselves to his hair and clothes, and stumbling along filled with frustration and pain he came up with "I'm looking for me, you're looking for you, we're looking at each other and we don't know what to do." Later on he denounced the song as not being one of his favourites, and said that "It sounded great in the mosquito-ridden swamp I made it up in - Florida at three in the morning, drunk out of my mind. But that's where the trouble always starts, in the swamp."

      The Seeker

      Track # 14 -The Real Me was never meant to be 'released' track recorded with Kenney Jones playing drums for the then deceased Keith Moon. In fact this track was an audition track with Jones playing drums but was released for this boxed set. Moon passed away about four months previous to this recording in January 1979. The story of his death, as indeed the story of his life, is well documented. For many Who fans the thought of the Who without Moon was unthinkable.

      Keith Moon was not a technical drummer, but was a gifted drummer who played the drums in much the same way as guitarists played their instruments and the end result was not just power-house playing, but a style completely unique. There was never any question of the Who folding with Moons death, and although his shoes were impossible to fill in terms of his personality, Kenny Jones did fill the drumming position admirably even without the ability of Moon.

      The Real Me was always written and produced with Quadrophenia in mind.

      The Real Me

      Cover to CD #4 (Keith Moon)

      The final CD in the set - #4 has in the main mostly lesser known or, lesser appreciated tracks. I am starting with a quirky track that so represents the insane humor of Keith Moon. Life With the Moons 2 was Keith Moons utterly absurd send up of traditional BBC radio serials. This and "Life With the Moons" only appeared on this boxed set, and while it really makes no sense what so ever, some people would jokingly declare, Keith Moon rarely made sense anyway!

      The BBC present, Keith Moon played himself, the postman John Mail, and a sweet, crumbly disc jockey, Johnny Merengue, in "Life With The Moons".

      Life With the Moons 2

      Track # 11 - My Wife, was written and sung John Entwistle and the studio version appeared on the LP Whose Next. This is a live version recorded at the Swansea Football Ground in June 1976. This is only 4 months before Moons last live gig with the band. It's also around the period that the Who were accorded entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the loudest Pop Group in the World - with their live sound recorded at 120 Db. Pain begins at 125 Db.

      The track in its studio form not only had John singing but he played bass, piano and brass on it. Keith Moon always put a great drum piece into this track regardless of the version and certainly in this live version Townshend seems like he is enjoying himself.

      My life's in jeopardy
      Murdered in cold blood is what I'm gonna be
      I ain't been home since Friday night
      And now my wife is coming after me

      Give me police protection
      Gonna buy a gun so
      I can look after number one
      Give me a bodyguard
      A back belt Judo expert with a machine gun

      Gonna buy a tank and an airplane
      When she catches up with me
      Won't be no time to explain
      She thinks I've been with another woman
      And that's enough to send her half insane
      Gonna buy a fast car
      Put on my lead boots
      And take a long, long drive
      I may end up spending all my money
      But I'll still be alive

      All I did was have a bit too much to drink
      And I picked the wrong precinct
      Got picked up the law
      And now I ain't got time to think

      Gonna buy a tank and an aeroplane
      When she catches up with me
      Won't be no time to explain
      She thinks I've been with another woman
      And that's enough to send her half insane
      Gonna buy a fast car
      Put on my lead boots
      And take a long, long drive
      I may end up spending all my money
      But I'll still be alive

      And I'm oh so tired of running
      Gonna lay down on the floor
      I gotta rest some time so
      I can get to run some more

      She's comin'!
      She's comin'!

      My Wife

      The final track is in fact, the final track in the set. Track #21 is an Elton John composition, and even though Elton really rocked with his version, somehow the Who took it to a new level. Jon Astley played drums on this track and I found this an interesting choice. never heard of him? Remember he is partially responsible for notes in this set regarding track selection and in fact, Jon Astley is a British record producer who also recorded and released two albums as a singer-songwriter in the late 1980s.

      OK, so Astley produced the session and the track eventually found its way onto Two Rooms, the tribute album to Elton John - but search as I may I could find no reference until I changed my question and the answer completely made sense. You see although he is credited with playing drums, he actually programmed a drum computer - big difference. How totally inexplicable that the power house group of all times ended up using a drum machine - but I also have to say, he did a damn good job! It fooled me until I understood what was going on.

      Yet there is a part of me that somehow would rather have had a live drummer playing, with one of the worlds best live groups!

      Saturday Night's Alright

      The great thing about today's technology and media form, is that we are able to not just adequately resurrect tracks from the past, but make them sound (generally) as good as they ever did, some might argue, even better.

      So we are privileged to be able to quality boxed sets such as this one, and at a totally reasonable price and in doing so, not just access all those classic hits from the groups past, but their near hits, their misses, their quirks and generally, we can even listen in on studio conversations. Surely we are, as an audience and music collectors, so blessed.

      Generally all those groups and artists we still hold so dear after 30 or more years, are unique in style and presentation and are able to take us back to our own youth and through the music relive those times. Just as wonderful is the fact that younger people who were not part of the scene of those times can back-track and through boxed sets such as this one, gain both a musical education as well as a wonderful opportunity to be entertained. It is surely so unlikely that the Who or other groups from this period ever foresaw a time when what they were doing would provide such a rich musical platform.

      Rock on guys! Oh, and a pox on those reviewers that canned it - it seems to be de rigueur to 'stick the boot' into re-released boxed sets as being nothing more than a grab for money. Frankly, these 'humbuggers' should get their heads out of their collective backsides and start to appreciate that the public ARE interested not only in freshening up existing collections, but filling in the gaps! Find another job you guys, you're being far too precious!

      On Ebay the set is bringing between $50 and $70Au but don't overlook that you get a quality boxed presentation with a brilliant book and 4 chock-a-block CD's.

      VIDEOS - Go Youtube! There are some fabulous live clips of the Who, best of all a long lost clip of the Who when they were the High Numbers and it is in fantastic condition. The clip of My generation is the one where Keith Moon loaded his drum (overloaded) with explosives. The third clip is hardly a good one for the music, in fact the recording is only second rate - but it's a classic in terms of the (in)famous Rickenbacker smashing! Finally I have included a live performance of "The Real Me", which features Kenny Jones on drums.

      The High Numbers - 1964

      My Generation - 1967

      Anyway Anyhow Anywhere - 1965

      The Real Me - 1979

      Previous Cream of the Crate Albums

      If you are interested in checking out the first fifty vinyl albums reviewed, just click HERE

      Cream of The Crate CD Reviews

      #1 - The Fugs: The Fugs First Album

      #2 - Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings

      #3 - Bob Dylan: Biograph

      #4 - Robin Trower: Essential

      #5 - Sixties Down Under: Various Artists


      #6 - The Big Ol' Box Of New Orleans: Various Artists

      #7 - Hugh Masekela: African Breeze

      #8- The Last Poets: The Legend


      #9 - Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Down The River Side

      #10 - Sixties Down Under (Volume 2): Various Artists


      #11 - The Beatles: On Air Live at the BBC Volume 2

      #12 - The Rolling Stones: Singles Collection The London Years

      #13 - Girl Groups Of The '60s: Various Artists

      #14 - The rds: There Is A Season

      #15 - Sixties Down Under (Volume 3): Various Artists

      #16 - The London Howling Wolf Sessions

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