Friday, November 14, 2008

Who 10: Odds & Sods

Their last two album releases were literal and figurative looks back, and while Pete and Roger were busy scoring and starring in the Tommy film, John compiled Odds & Sods, an album that served to clear up the rarities closet. It didn’t scratch the surface, of course, but at least it brought some of the better unreleased tracks out that had previously been sentenced to obscurity.
“Postcard” is a weary snapshot from the road, based on John’s usual chromatic riffs. By the end of the song you can’t imagine why anyone would want to be in a band. “Now I’m A Farmer” is an oddity that started in the pre-Tommy period, but it doesn’t seem to be about anything but growing weed. “Put The Money Down” is a tough leftover from the post-Lifehouse sessions, and would have been a good single from the 1972 album that wasn’t finished. “Little Billy” comes from the post-Sell Out period wherein they started writing singles too long for advertisements. “Too Much Of Anything” was a key part of the Lifehouse story, whereas “Glow Girl” manages to bridge “Rael” (from Sell Out) and Tommy.
“Pure And Easy” is the Who’s version of the song heard on Pete’s solo album, and the best song left off of Who’s Next; in this context it’s just another song. “Faith In Something Bigger” is from 1968, just before Pete found Baba. “I’m The Face” deflates this search, as it was the band’s first single (as the High Numbers). “Naked Eye” developed out of the lengthy “My Generation” jams, the like of which had been captured on Live At Leeds; this studio recording isn’t as good as the versions that arose out of those jams. And the classic “Long Live Rock” drags it all home.
Odds & Sods was a sprawling yet satisfying album, made even more so when it was resequenced chronologically for the 1990s reissue series, complete with more leftovers. However, the compilers had already shot themselves in the feet for allowing some of the original Odds & Sods tracks to be included on reissues of other albums, so the potential for the ultimate mop-up CD missed the mark. (They also chose some sloppy alternates to versions that would have been more welcome.) Still, we got rarities from their entire career up to 1974, including an early audition acetate, two Eddie Cochran covers recorded for Sell Out, and interesting rejects from Tommy, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia adding up to 75 minutes of fun, with liner notes. It could have been better, had some of the tracks not doubled up already (notably on Sell Out). But then again, nobody owed the fans anything.

The Who Odds & Sods (1974)—
1996 remaster: same as 1974, plus 12 extra tracks

2 comments:

  1. After one of your previous Who posts where you mentioned the Lifehouse project, I did a little research to find out what it was all about. Wow! That was some pretty esoteric (not to mention, vaguely creepy) fodder for a concept album, even by Pete's standards. It's easy to see why it never came off the way that it was originally conceived.

    Vance

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  2. Pete said he'd written a script back in 1970/71, but I'm pretty sure that's not what emerged in 1999 as the "official" radio play. Still, he did predict the Internet and virtual reality to an extent, and the jury's still out as to how else our current world reflects what he saw.

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