With the iconic British rock band The Who returning to Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena on Tuesday, Local Spins asked local rockers to pipe in with some choice Who cuts. (Videos, playlist)
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Although the band has released 11 studio albums and nearly five dozen singles, The Who’s 50-year catalog is actually more influential than its size – music that helped shape rock ‘n’ roll and inspire generations of musicians. The band plays Van Andel Arena at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, which gave Local Spins the perfect opportunity to ask some West Michigan musicians to pick their three favorite Who songs. Check ‘em out here and pipe in with your own favorites in the comments below. Concert tickets, $59.50-$139.50, available online here.
JOE BOCKHEIM (The Legal Immigrants)
1. “Sparks” – Let’s kick this off with an instrumental. Not too proud to admit I first heard this from the “Almost Famous” movie. “Tommy” isn’t exactly a record you spin at a party, but you could probably get away with playing this track. Pete Townshend is the top of the heap for rhythm guitar players for my ears and this instrumental showcases his chops nicely.
2. “Who Are You” – The panning of the synth in the intro is heaven to my ears and the claps behind it complete a rhythm even a square could keep. Roger’s voice is thunder as the dive into the verse and Pete’s guitar lick behind it reminds me of something Keith Richards would play. Listen to it and tell me I’m wrong.
3. “Behind Blue Eyes” – I remember listening to this in the car with my dad when I was just a young lad and feeling pity for the singer. I just wanted to tell him I don’t hate him and I’ll be his friend.
PAT WIELAND (Lazy Genius)
I love The Who! I’ve been a fan since I was 15 years old.
1. “My Generation” – This tune showcases each band member as the “lead” player with the classic bass solos and the audio battle jam at the end. The winner? People who love rock ‘n’ roll.
2. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – Shows the band moving in a new creative direction while still maintaining their own unique style and sound. Modern rock bands: Try recreating that synth organ part and the Daltrey yell, I dare you.
3. “Amazing Journey/Sparks” – Yummy chord progressions and fantastic musicianship make this my favorite Who jam. Check out the classic Woodstock performance or the Houston 1975 bootleg and you’ll see what I mean.
VIDEO: “My Generation”
MORGAN MOAELLEMIAN (The JetBeats)
It’s no secret that I have a major obsession with the British Invasion, so with that in mind, here are my favorite songs from one of my fave British Invasion bands: The Who.
1. “My Generation” – In many ways, this song is one of the five defining songs of the British Invasion. Aggressive proto-punk rock that was and always will be the anthem of youth and rock ‘n’ roll.
2. “The Kids Are Alright” – One of my favorite vocal melodies. The harmony in the chorus is almost symphonic. The song also really showcases the controlled, caveman style of drumming by Keith Moon.
3. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – For my final choice, I’ll step out of the British Invasion era and go with, perhaps, the obvious choice. But it’s obvious for a reason. It’s a rock masterpiece. With perhaps, the greatest yell/scream in rock ‘n’ roll history by Roger Daltrey. I even dig the crazy synth. Ferocious bass by John Entwistle. Totally iconic.
VIDEO: “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
JOHN SCHAAK (Conrad Shock + The Noise)
It’s funny this comes up. I had never explored The Who’s discography until stumbling across a complete set of albums at a garage sale about a month ago.
1. “The Ox” – Raw. Honest. A great example of how each member had a huge presence and owned it without stepping on toes.
2. “My Generation” – A cliche answer for a reason. The tune is both angsty and timeless. (Nothing quite proves the point like packing a drum kit with explosives.)
3. “Disguises” – Thundering bass, a mysterious sound that resembles a saw cutting wood, AND a french horn solo … What more do you need?
VIDEO: “The OX”
CHARLEY HONEY (The Honeytones)
1. “I Can See for Miles” — If you could make a tune out of thunder, this would be it. The Who are, above all dynamic, and this thing is 4 minutes of epic dynamo. Townshend shows how brilliant a one-note lead can be, if you play it like a machine gun.
2. “Amazing Journey/Sparks” — The star track off “Tommy” delivers on its title with a head-spinning turbo ride, as Keith Moon delivers a TKO to every other rock drummer in sight. I can’t hear the droning “Sparks” section without thinking of the kid in “Almost Famous” watching the record go round and getting sucked into the rock vortex, never to return.
3. “Pure and Easy” — For my money, their most elegantly melodic and sophisticated song. It gracefully moves from one passage to the next, the tune effortlessly woven around “the simple secret of the note in us all.” Pure and easy indeed.
VIDEO: “I Can See for Miles”
PETE DUNNING (White Rabbit)
1. “Love Reign O’er Me” — Because it is epic.
2. “Can You See the Real Me” — Because of the message.
3. “I’m Free” — Because of the guitar tone at the intro!
VIDEO: “Love Reign O’er Me”
THE BEST OF THE WHO: The Local Spins Playlist on Spotify
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