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.
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.
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.