Tag Archives: Keith Moon

October 18th 1975

“Party at Hiltingbury. Good. Punch up near end – Geoffo again! Got off with Caitlin again”

I do believe I am referring to Niles’ ‘official’ 18th birthday party?!

Which was apparently ‘good’ despite our crazy friend Geoffo initiating some kind of teenage brawl at the end of the night.

As I have waxed lyrically about before I don’t think I there was ever a party at Hiltingbury Pavilion without there being some kind of altercation. The kids of Chandlers Ford were obviously ‘punk’ before it was invented?

For me, any mention of “Hiltingbury Pavilion” always conjures up Jeff Beck’s hit single “Hi Ho Silver Lining“, it being the strange 70’s equivalent of the “Macarena”… or any song that the DJ plays which the entire venue then feels somehow obliged to dance to.

“Hi Ho Silver Lining” was written by American songwriters Scott English and Larry Weiss and it was first recorded by London band The Attack (who included The Nice’s Davy O’List and Marmalade’s Alan Whitehead amongst their lineup). Their single was released in March 1967, but it was followed just a week later by Jeff Beck’s version.

Beck was all over the music media (such as it was in 1967) at the time – mainly because of his succesful “Beck’s Bolero” album, a collaboration with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon – and so charted first with his balls-out foot-stomping version. Perhaps sadly for The Attack the song has been predominantly associated with Beck ever since, to the point where he has actually attempted to distance himself from it because it always comes back to undermine his more serious ‘guitar hero’ credibility.

I love the song. I think it’s a great pop song which has stood the test of time. I always do a little shimmy whenever it turns up on my iPod and resist the temptation to pick a fight with the person nearest to me.

Talking of which, I often wonder what happened to our old college chum Geoffo. He was such a fun gregarious character.

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August 11th 1975

“Work. In evening went to see Tommy with Debbie, Nig and Kim. Film was absolutely incredible”

I loved, loved, LOVED this movie!

Truth be told I STILL love this movie.

It’s an exercise in excess, Director Ken Russell assulting the senses from start to finish with his adaptation of The Who’s classic rock opera about that deaf, dumb and blind kind (who played a mean pinball).

The casting of the various roles are as bizarre as they are perfect. A manic Tina Turner as The Acid Queen, Jack Nicholson as the Doctor, Eric Clapton as the Preacher, Robert Powell as Tommy’s Dad and Elton John as the wannabe pinball wizard. The lead roles are saved for Roger Daltrey, Oliver Reed – whose singing is, let’s just say, an ‘acquired taste’ – and the rather scrumptious Ann-Margret as Tommy’s unhinged mother.

I have never been able to look a baked bean squarely in the eye since first seeing this in 1975…

Rumour has it the the above scene was Russell’s not so discreet method of ‘revenge’ against the various detergent and bean commercials he was forced to direct at the start of his (eventually long and illustrious) career.

When I got my first VCR, “Tommy” was one of the first films I recorded and then later bought. I likewise snapped it up on DVDs when they hit the scene. Even now, and despite owning the disc and being able to watch it whenever, I will still watch “Tommy” whenever it appears on our TV listings.

Despite all this I still haven’t watched it as many times as The Who’s other movie ‘opus’, the magnficient “Quadrophenia”, but it was easier for me to relate to a scooter-riding mod than it was a would-be religious cult leader!

Some of the magnificent scenes from “Tommy”…

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(1974 Album) The Who – Quadrophenia

As I think I have stated before, I was far from a huge fan of The Who. Sure, I liked their singles – “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was, is, and always will be, magnificent – but unlike many of my contemporaries the band themselves never grabbed me as an album act.

Then – and sadly I can’t remember where  – I heard “Quadrophenia” for the first time. For whatever reason it really struck a chord with me and is now – if had just one choice – the album I would want with me for musical comfort on that fabled ‘desert island’.

By itself, the album kindled in interest in finding out more about the band – crazy and flamboyant drummer Keith Moon in particular – and researching the mid-60’s “mod” music the story revolved around. It’s fact that, as I have grown older, it has been sixties music I have found myself listening to more than anything else, all – I think – as a result of the influence this album’s backdrop conjured up. So much so that I often joke that I was born 10 years too late, and would have LOVED to have been a Vespa-riding teenage Mod.

I’m being honest with you when I state that I have tried writing this particular post/retrospective review a half-dozen times before. Each time I have somehow stalled, finding myself unable not to go off on long-winded tangents that bear no relevance to the album, or that could ever be of interest to you, the reader.

I think that’s because this album is just so ingrained in my psyche and so very loved by me that I find it hard to be fully objective. With that in mind, I shall keep any overtly ‘gushing’ comments somewhat brief.

If you discount the “A Quick One” project, “Quadrophenia” was guitarist Pete Townshend’s second rock opera opus. Where “Tommy” was about a disadvantaged deaf, dumb & blind kid (who sure played a mean pinball) “Quadrophenia” followed the fortunes (or lack thereof) of a disaffected teenager growing up in a 1964/65 South of England.

Jimmy Cooper, for that is his name, is supposed to be a Quadrophenic, an enhanced (and made up) interpretation of schizophrenia, wherein he is apparently burdened with four personalities.

He lives at home with his perpetually arguing parents and holds down a menial job which pays him just enough to run his scooter and buy the music and fashionable clothes his ‘mod’ lifestyle demands. Track by track the tale unfolds…

I am the Sea/The Real Me“, the segued opening cuts, try to set the scene, with Jimmy going to the doctor, hearing his mother tell him that mental illness runs in the family, letting us know about his job and his lost girlfriend and hinting at drug use.

Quadrophenia”/”Cut My Hair“. This pair of cuts, with all their lush orchestral flourishes, then pad out the story a little, informing us of his leanings towards ‘mod’ and his participation in the mods vs rockers fights that occurred almost every Bank Holiday weekend down on Brighton’s seafront. It culminates with him arguing with his parents over drugs and leaving home.

The Punk & the Godfather” is supposed to represent Jimmy going to a rock concert, then, wacked out on ‘uppers’ trying to meet the band backstage. The band blank him and he decides that music is just another element of his life that has let him down. This may just be THE finest song The Who have EVER recorded. A personal opinion, yes, but I don’t think I’m wrong.

In “I’m One” Jimmy tries to reinforce his own love for the mod lifestyle he has chosen and how it brings him out of himself and “Dirty Jobs” finds Jimmy getting into trouble at work, disagreeing with his colleagues before walking out.

Helpless Dancer” gives us Jimmy’s angry side. He seems angry at…well, the entire world in general. As if to somehow qualify his anger “Is it in my Head?” is Jimmy blaming either the drugs or all the injustices he has been exposed to all his life.

I’ve Had Enough” is something of a pivotal track where Jimmy sees his ex-girlfriend with another guy, then smashes up his beloved scooter in an act of frustration. Depressed and drugged up, he then catches the train – captured perfectly in “5:15” – down to Brighton in an attempt to recapture some of the energy and excitement had last time he was there.

Whilst “The Sea & the Sand” finds Jimmy quite optimistic, the gloom soon reappears inDrowned where he is, quite possibly, at his lowest ebb, contemplating suicide as a way out.

Bell Boy” is Kimmy’s final ignominy as he chances across a fellow mod “face”, who he once hung around with and admired, schlepping bags around for customers at a seafront hotel.

Jimmy then descends into a drug hell in “Doctor Jimmy” before stealing a boat and sailing it to a lone rock in the middle of the sea (“The Rock“/”Love, Reign O’er Me“) and finally finding spiritual redemption. Redemption which, dependent on your own interpretation of things, either finds him dying or obtaining strength to carry on.

Reading that back makes “Quadrophenia” sound like an UTTERLY depressing album doesn’t it? The weird thing is that the album sounds – musically – very joyous and vibrant by comparison to the storyline with only a handful of slow numbers interrupting the excitement.

I didn’t want to say too much about each track individually as this is one of those rare albums which demands to be listened to in its entirety. Whilst the hit single “5:15” is undoubtedly great on its own, it actually makes little sense outside of the story structure where it becomes an intrinsic element. Along with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Quadrophenia” was one of the first albums I ‘properly’ listened to. By that I mean I sat down (usually at night with the lights out) and listened to how it was recorded, which instruments went where in the mix and how the story unfolded.

Sonically, it is an utterly immense piece of work, the entire band contributing some of their very finest recorded output, Keith Moon most certainly. I have always said that if anyone is training to be a drummer they should spend a few months listening to “Quadrophenia” and nothing else. I never fail to be shocked when Moonie is overlooked for being “the best drummer ever” in music polls when, to my ears anyway, his drumming was as natural and instinctively played as (for instance) any of Hendrix’s guitar work. Keith’s tricky little fills alone put other drummers to shame.

Then there’s John Entwistle’s bass playing. Playing it like a lead guitar, something he could have written the manual for. His death in 2002 – despite it being the ultimate rock & roll death… a cocaine-fuelled heart attack whilst romping with groupies in a Las Vegas hotel suite – hit me as hard as Keith Moon’s 24 years earlier.

For me, the band died along with Keith in 1978 and whilst I didn’t necessarily begrudge them trying to continue with three original members, now doing so with just two feels like an utter travesty for which I’d really like to punch Pete Townshend in the face. I know he might consider it “his band” and yes, OK, it’s his material and everything, but I just find it disquieting that – for some time now – he has done little more than shill The Who’s finest material to whomever turns up at his door with the fattest cheque. I can’t believe that he or Roger Daltrey can be ‘that poor’ they have to undermine the band’s body of work by allowing it to be constantly used for TV ads or theme tunes. I’m most certainly with (the late and very great) comedian Bill Hicks when he said “Do a commercial, there’s a price on your head, everything you say is suspect and every word out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink

Now, see that’s one of the tangents I can’t avoid going off on when I talk about “Quadrophenia”. It’s a TERRIFIC, AWESOME & BLOODY BRILLIANT album – and I make absolutely no apologies for the ALL-CAPS screaming – but Townshend has been such a money-grabbing prick in recent years that, sadly, I now find it very difficult to listen to it with anything like the regularity which I once did.

If, as rumours suggest, “The Who” are going to play the prestigious half-time show at next years Superbowl, yet another turd will plop into my drink. I wish Townshend – for all his writing props – would realise that the LEAST talented musicians of The Who are the ones that survived and that calling themselves “The Who” is remarkably pathetic and self-delusional. It’s not even “The Who Lite”… it’s more like a karaoke/covers band turning up at your local pub while you’re trying to watch the game.

Anyway, yes… “Quadrophenia”… fantastic album, should be in everyone’s collection, by far the best rock opera ever, is perfect… etc., etc. If you’ve never heard it, may I invite you to my isolated little desert island – far away from ‘shilling pete’ and his apparent CSI fixation – for 81 minutes of sheer musical bliss.

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November 20th 1973

“Borrowed Live Man. Man on Old Grey Stoker’s Vest – smart!”

“Live Man” must refer to the “Live at Padget Rooms, Penarth” album, a three track concert recording which, in retrospect, has been described by some as the sound of Man at their musical peak.

Not by me though. The album never stuck with me over the years, mainly because the entire second side – an extensive jazz-rock 20+ minute jam called “H.Samuel” – never sat that comfortably with me. It seemed just too…. well, random and unstructured.

If I’d listened to the album again 6 or 7 years later it may have made more sense as I suspect “the drugs would have worked”, if you get my drift? But to this chemically-bereft teenager it sounded a bit of a bloomin’ mess.

It’s a shame I never bought the album rather than just tape it. Not only was it was budget-priced but it was issued in a very strictly limited edition of just 8000 copies. An eBay success story could well have been in my future?!

I have threatened to write at some length about The Old Grey Whistle Test (for that is what I mean when I say Old Grey Stoker’s Vest) before without having actually done so. Perhaps now is the time?!…

OGWT was perhaps THE most influential music TV show of the seventies in Britain. It was certainly the only ‘serious’ music show to feature acts from outside the mainstream or Top 30 chart arenas.

I would lose count trying to list the bands or artists I initially encountered on OGWT, but a few who did and who subsequently became lifetime favourites include Be Bop Deluxe, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Tom Waits, Little Feat and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. (All links to their early OGWT performances)

As the commentary on Volume 1 of the OGWT DVD series confirms, the shows early performances were filmed in what was, essentially, a corridor at the BBC TV Centre. The space measured just 30 x 20 feet, there was rarely an audience (other than the crew), and everything was usually filmed by union cameramen with no experience of musical acts. The combination of all these things usually resulted in under-rehearsed and quite raw performances, most of which have become classic TV ephemera in their own right. (See above)

In addition to live (a few mimed) performances, the presenters would also hold small uninhibited interviews with a few acts, as well as playing album tracks with an accompanying ‘weird/trippy’ cartoon video.

OGWT’s most celebrated and legendary presenter was the laid back Bob Harris whose broadcasting style is to speak extremely lightly, resulting in many viewers having to turn up their TV’s volume whenever he was on. He was eventually monikered “Whispering Bob” and was often parodied and impersonated in many comedy skits.

Here he is interviewing (a strangely reserved) Keith Moon about The Who’s drummer’s (thankfully, only) solo album “Two Sides of the Moon”.

Recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, Bob (under the auspices of his own “Whispering Bob Broadcasting Company”) remains heavily involved in the music business and still produces and presents one-off specials for BBC Radio including the recent “Maple Leaf Revolution” (about Canadian music) and “The Sandy Denny Story

Bob (quietly) presented OGWT from 1972 until 1978, which pretty much represent my seminal years in music, so I owe him – and the programme – a lot for what came later in my life. Thank you Bob!

The show’s theme tune was a harmonica-driven track called “Stone Fox Chase” by Nashville band Area Code 615 whose only other claim to fame is that several members backed up Bob Dylan on his albums “Blonde on Blonde” and “Nashville Skyline”.

If you’re wondering about the show’s name, it’s weird that the derivation has little to do with the music played by Bob & Co. It’s a vintage ‘Tin Pan Alley‘ phrase from the 40’s. When a label got its first pressing of a record they would play it to the building’s elderly doormen (who were known as “greys”). If the doormen could subsequently whistle the tune after just one listen, the song was said to have passed…yep, you’ve guessed it… “the old grey whistle test”

I doubt this evening’s Man performance had much to whistle along with?!

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July 2nd, 1973

“Went up Nigs and done some more recording. Mart P came up. Borrowed Led Zep II”

OK, lets have ‘confession time” shall we?

Despite all my early love for music and my subsequent career within its hallowed portals, I never really “got into” Led Zeppelin until fairly recently – maybe just a couple of years or so ago.

Certainly as a teenager I never fully appreciated what they represented, either in terms of the folk/rock hybrid sound they pushed into the mainstream OR how just, well, massive they were as a band.

I don’t know if my diaries will mention or admit this, but a couple of years after this first exposure to the band, I got a ticket for one of the shows Zepp did at London’s Earls Court to support their album “Physical Graffiti“. I think I was happy to sell the ticket to a fellow student for the same price I bought it for. That seems just so very CRAZY now given the price tickets were allegedly being scalped for at the band’s 2007 ¾’s of a reunion concert at the O2. (Reports of £20,000 being offered for a £70-ish ticket??)

Anyway, back to “Zeppelin II”…

It was the band’s first UK & US chart-topper (and America it knocked The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” off the #1 spot) and sold over half a million copies in its first year of release, 1969. (30 years later it was recognised for having then sold over 12 million!). It was also a Number One album in France, Australia, Spain and Germany.

Trivia freaks may like to be surprised by the fact that it reached #32 on Billboard‘s Black Album chart, its use of a blues-derived sound evidently crossing over.

The album has what is often referred to a ‘live studio’ feel, everything mixed just enough to make it sound raw but nevertheless produced (by Jimmy Page)

It contains some of the band’s most popular and enduring cuts… as well the pre-requisite ‘filler’

Whole Lotta Love” kicks things off nicely, the familiar distorted guitar riff disolving into Robert Plant’s orgasmic grunts and moans. The band (initially) *ahem* “borrowed” some of Willie Dixon‘s “You Need Love”  to pad out the lyrical content. (A 1985 settled-out-of-court lawsuit eventually gave Dixon credit – and, I suspect, suitable retrospective monetary recompense). The song was the theme music for seminal UK music show “Top of the Pops” during the 1970’s and 80’s.

What Is and What Should Never Be” features Page’s phased guitar (listen to it travel from speaker to speaker!) under Robert Plant’s own lyrics (his first piece of songwriting for the band, no less)

The Lemon Song* was a teenage fave of many, its sexual innuendo evident with lyrics such as “squeeze my lemon ’til the juice runs down my leg”. Whilst I liked that, obviously – hey, I was a teenager okay? – I was as much of a fan of John Paul Jones’ extremely funky bass playing that underscores the performance.

Thank You*closes Side 1. I know it features mainly keyboard work (John Paul Jones, again), but its not a cut that conjures up anything for me personally, other than that one point where the (Hammond?) organ fades away to almost nothing than comes crashing back a few seconds later.

Side 2’s opener “Heartbreaker*features a Jimmy Page guitar solo which has been voted the world’s “16th Greatest” by Guitar World magazine. Personally, I find the actual song’s riff to be more magnificent than the solo.. but that’s just me, obviously.

Heartbreaker segues straight into “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)*which is allegedly about a groupie the band encountered earlier in their career. A so-so track as far as I am concerned.

Things get better with “Ramble On*which despite its dodgy & nonsensical “Lord of the Rings”-influenced lyrics just manages to stay the right side of credible. I try and ignore them and instead concentrate on the wonderfully jangly guitar work.

Moby Dick” is an instrumental and more famous as a live favourite moreso than a studio cut. Mainly because it often allowed for John Bonham’s ‘drum excesses’ with some reports suggesting he could solo for up to 20 minutes at some shows. I’m sorry, but drum solos – even ones by Keith Moon – are the ‘music of the debbil’ and should be banned.

There’s similar “Whole Lotta Love” controversy surrounding Led Zepp 2’s closing cut, “Bring It On Home“. Although originally billed as a unique Plant/Page composition it borrows heavily from Willie Dixon’s song of the same name, and originally made famous by Sonny Boy Williamson. Once again, it took a lawsuit for Dixon to get proper credit. The song is perhaps closer to the material on Led Zeppelin’s debut album than anything else on “II” – that crossover blues/rock hybrid to the fore.

Pub quizzers may like to know that in addition to the band members airbrushed into that tinted cover shot (originally Manfred Von Richtofen’s – the Red Baron‘s – WW1 “Flying Circus” division of the German Air Force), the other faces seen include Led Zepp’s (infamous) manager, Peter Grant, bluesman Blind Willie Johnson and, for whatever reason, Glynis Johns (the actress who played the mother in Mary Poppins!)

But, like I said – and a few chosen cuts aside – I didnt really get ‘into’ this album until MUCH later in life. Perhaps in 1973, it just wasn’t ‘prog’ enough for me, or I was just too young to properly appreciate all the influences?

*NB:- At the time of witing this there seems to be some kind of ‘issue’ between Warner Bros/Led Zeppelin & YouTube, with the latter apparently pulling any videos featuring the band themself. There’s PLENTY of awful cover versions of these songs – search them very much at your own risk!

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