5.11.14

A QUICK ONE - Book Extract

This is the last album review from my Who Music Guide book that I will post on to Just Backdated. 


By the time The Who came to record their second album they were heading towards penury through smashing up expensive gear on stage and living like Lords off. Thanks to a publishing deal arranged by Chris Stamp each member of the group was encouraged to contribute at least two songs. In return the publisher would advance £500 to each member, a considerable sum in 1966.
Creatively speaking, it was an absurd idea, especially at a time when Pete was writing material of the calibre of ‘Substitute’ and ‘I’m A Boy’, and A Quick One suffers as a result – a ragbag of styles of variable quality, lacking cohesion and any real sense of purpose. Townshend’s compositions are infinitely better than anything else on the album, especially ‘So Sad About Us’ and the second half of ‘A Quick One (While He’s Away)’, though Entwistle turned in his first great Who song, ‘Boris The Spider’. Even the most charitable of Who fans must have scratched their heads at Moon and Daltrey’s contributions. 
         Work on the album began at IBC Studios during the first two weeks of August 1966 but wasn’t completed until November. A scheduled UK tour was cancelled to make time for recording but they still managed to play around 35 assorted gigs around the country and also played dates in Holland, Scandinavia, France and Germany.
         A Quick One was released in December in the UK where it made number four in the LP chart. In America, it was re-titled Happy Jack after the Top 30 single that had been released Stateside in March ‘67. To make room for the hit single, the American album lost ‘Heat Wave’. In any event, conservative elements at American Decca would probably have found A Quick One too risqué for an LP title.
         Only ‘Boris’ and ‘A Quick One’ were retained in The Who’s live set for any length of time though ‘Heatwave’ and ‘So Sad About Us’ were played regularly around the time of the album’s release. The latter was an exceptionally strong song, originally written for The Merseybeats, and The Who’s version is a power pop feast of ringing power chords and harmony vocals fired off at a terrific pace over one of Pete’s catchiest early melodies. Lovely counterpoint guitar lines thread their way into the chorus, and the staccato guitar solo around the basic melody riff. It also contains one of Pete’s great lines: “But you can’t switch off my loving like you can’t switch off the sun”.
         The remastered 1996 CD added a number of bonus tracks, of which the most important were the tracks that made up the November 1966 Ready Steady Who EP, a version of ‘Happy Jack’ on which Pete plays cello and a previously unreleased recording of ‘My Generation’ coupled with Elgar’s rousing ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ that was originally intended for inclusion on the Ready Steady Who TV special and spin-off EP. Keith Moon’s snare drum sound has never been bettered and the urbane Kit Lambert, in the producer’s chair at IBC, can be heard offering his opinion at the climax: “That’s perfect.” The reissue also included sleeve notes by Chris Stamp, the Who’s former co-manager. 

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