Song of the day: Cymbals – "The Kids Are Alright"

March 13, 2013

If you’re a fan of both The Who and The Beach Boys, then steel yourself for 35 seconds of bliss.


That was Japanese band Cymbals, and that song appeared on a mini-album of covers called Respects.

Here’s the original for comparison:

The Who – “The Kids Are Alright (1965)


In a shameless* bit of self-promotion, I’d like to mention that “The Kids Are Alright” featured in a Musical coincidence on this very blog, right here.

(*I’m hoping that somewhere there’s a movie Western with a baddie called “Shameless Pete”.)

Musical coincidences # 368

February 22, 2013

My friend Michael (Hi, Michael!) spotted this coincidence. He said he was listening to songs in his collection that started with a “J” and came across a 1973 track by a Dutch band called Grass. He noticed something fairly noticeable…

Grass – “Just One Loser (1973) (excerpt)


The Who – “Pinball Wizard (1969) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

Grass – “Just One Loser (1973)


The Who – “Pinball Wizard (1969)


Musical coincidences # 348

December 15, 2012

My friend Scott (Hi, Scotty!) pestered Facebook with a song by Australian band The City Lights. The song’s called “What You Gonna Do?”, and now that I’ve heard it I can answer that question:

“What am I gonna do? I’m gonna let people know about a coincidence I found in it. That’s what I’m gonna do.”

In the song is a middle section that contains a chord progression that I found instantly recognisable.

If you have a guitar handy, these are the chords:

(play for half a bar)
(half a bar)
(a full bar)
(half a bar)
(half a bar)
(a full bar)

Here it is in The City Lights song:

The City Lights – “What You Gonna Do?” (2004) (excerpt)


I’ve only ever heard that chord progression in one other rock song. It’s not just those chords, because they’re fairly common, but those exact chords in that order, played for specific lengths.

That chord progression can also be found here:

The Who – “See Me Feel Me / Listening To You (1969) (excerpt)


Oh yeah.

Here are the full versions:

The City Lights – “What You Gonna Do?” (2004)
[The chord progression in question starts at 1:31]

The Who – “See Me Feel Me / Listening To You (1969)


Musical coincidences # 327

November 3, 2012

This coincidence was prompted by my friend Michael (Hi, Michael!) who handed over an obscure song and asked if I could help him find out where else he’d heard its opening vocal tune.

The obscure song is “It’s Alright” by British band The Rocking Vickers, and it was released in 1966. I’d never heard of it.

I was dreading the (very likely) prospect of having no idea of what the elusive other song might be, so I pressed “play” with a great deal of trepidation. However, I was relieved to discover that not only did I know the other song, but I knew it within three seconds of the singer opening his mouth. Phew.

I’ll play you the excerpts of both songs first, and then I’ll give you a couple of facts that surprised both Michael and me when we discovered them.

The Rocking Vickers – “It’s Alright” (1966) (excerpt)

The Who – “The Kids Are Alright (1965) (excerpt)

Two facts about The Rocking Vickers song:

  1. It was written by Pete Townshend. (Which would explain a lot.)

  3. The guitarist in The Rocking Vickers at the time (i.e., the guitarist on “It’s Alright”) is Lemmy. Yes, Lemmy.

Because of fact number one, I can’t really call this a coincidence. It’s more a case of recycling.

But because Michael and I both went “Lemmy???” when we found out, this example of musical recycling just had to go on the blog.

Here are the full versions:

The Rocking Vickers – “It’s Alright” (1966)

The Who – “The Kids Are Alright (1965)

And in honour of Lemmy making his first appearance on this blog (albeit as a mid-1960s Mod), here he is again, but this time in his more familiar guise:

Motorhead – “Killed By Death (1984)

[Beware: Depending on where you work, this video may or may not be safe to watch. It contains cavorting women who don’t appear to do anything musical]

Oh yeah. That’ll clean out your speakers.

Song of the day: The Atomic Numbers – "Odorono"

September 18, 2012

A fabulously patient chap by the name of Keith (Hi, Keith!) told me about an album called The New Sell Out, a tribute album to The Who Sell Out. It’s performed by a slew of power poppers. The Who Sell Out is performed by The Who.

I call Keith patient because of something I did, something I consider utterly inexcusable. Keith emailed me ages ago, and I forgot about it. Oops. Many apologies, fabulously patient Keith.

And speaking of patient: Keith put together The New Sell Out 12 years ago but has only just now made it available. Now that’s patience.

There’s a lot of music on this album (72½ minutes of it), so you definitely get value for money – unless you don’t like the idea of musicians covering Who songs that you see as sacred and untouchable, or you simply don’t like The Who’s music.

I’ve listened to The New Sell Out a few times now, and can quite comfortably say that I like it. I’m fully aware that that’s pretty useless information, because your tastes in music may not be mine.

I’ll supply the whole thing at the end of this post if you want to hear it all, but for a little taste I’ll direct you to my favourite tracks from it.

My first choice is “Odorono“. As performed by The Atomic Numbers, it’s by far my favourite track on the album:

The Atomic NumbersOdorono (2012)

If you’re interested, here’s the original for comparison:

The Who – “Odorono” (1967)


Coming a distant (but still very enjoyable) second is The Phenomenal Cats version of “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand“:

The Phenomenal CatsMary Anne With The Shaky Hands (2012)

The Who – “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand” (1967)


And third, here’s Cloud Eleven with their version of “Relax”:

Cloud Eleven – “Relax (2012)

The Who – “Relax” (1967)


I can’t let this post go by without commenting on a linguistic annoyance on the album. “Armenia City In The Sky” is the song that opens both The New Sell Out and The Who Sell Out, and the pronunciation of “Armenia” irritates me enormously, reducing my enjoyment of the song. As far as I’ve always been taught (and heard), Armenia is pronounced “Ah meanier“. Unfortunately for me, The Who’s original and Paranoid Lovesick‘s cover version both pronounce it “Arm in ear”. Grrrrrrrrrr. (My annoyance is too strong for a simple “Grrr”.)

Paranoid Lovesick – “Armenia City In The Sky (2012)

The Who – “Armenia City In The Sky” (1967)


And while I’m rabbiting on about “Armenia In The Sky”: I’ve never noticed it before, but on my fourth listen of the song it now reminds me of The Beatles‘ “Only A Northern Song“:

The Beatles – “Only A Northern Song (1967)


It might be the vocal phrasing that’s getting me thinking of “Only A Northern Song”. Or not. Whatever it is, now when I hear “Armenia In The Sky” I’m simultaneously hearing “Only A Northern Song” in my head. That’s very annoying.

But there are many non-annoyances about this album. All the songs are played well, and it’s evident that everyone involved in the project hold the originals in high regard. (In that previous sentence I was going to use words like “reverent”, “respectful”, “honourable” and even the phrase “with love”, but then I started wincing at the thought of all that sentimentality.)

Oh, and another thing about the album: The chord progressions and melodic contour (i.e., the shape of the tune) in “Melancholia”, as performed by The Grip Weeds, reminds me of David Bowie‘s “All The Madmen“:

The Grip Weeds – “Melancholia (2012)

David Bowie – “All The Madmen (1970)


The Who – “Melancholia” (1967)


If I keep this up (i.e., mentioning pointless things), the post you’re reading right now will end up being a post you’ll still be reading tomorrow. That’s entirely unacceptable.

I’ll stop typing now, present you with the whole thing, and leave you to it.


Musical coincidences # 286

August 20, 2012

I don’t know why I never noticed this before, but it hit me only a moment ago when I had “The Kids Are Alright” stuck on repeat in my head:

The Who – “The Kids Are Alright (1965) (excerpt)


The Beatles – “All My Loving (1963) (excerpt)


Who:  “But  know  some –  times  must  get  out…” 
Beatles:  “Close  your  eyes  and  I’ll  kiss  you,  to-  morrow…” 

Here are the full versions:

The Who – “The Kids Are Alright (1965)


The Beatles – “All My Loving (1963)


Song of the day: The Who – "Sparks" (live)

January 9, 2012

A few days ago, Facebook Friend Curt (Hi, Curt!) posted some ultra-rare* footage of The Who‘s 1970 gig at the University of Leeds which ended up on record as Live At Leeds. Apparently, this the only known footage of that gig in existence:

But that’s not today’s song.

That previously ultra-rare* footage reminded me of The Who’s performance of “Sparks” at Woodstock, and that’s what I want to play you today.

I was going to waffle on about how great I think the Woodstock version of “Sparks” is, but the booklet that comes with the DVD of The Kids Are Alright sums it up for me quite nicely:

Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Bethel, New York, August 17, 1969
The instrumental following the song ‘Amazing Journey‘ from Tommy was the source of what were arguably The Who’s greatest live performances. In this clip from the Woodstock Festival, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon give a lesson on how music built around ‘power and volume’ can reach into the realm of art.

Amen, brother.

The Who – “Sparks (live) (1969)


(*Because it’s on YouTube, it’s no longer ultra-rare.)

Musical coincidences # 147

November 20, 2011

Today’s coincidence appears courtesy of Mr. Fabulous (Hi, F!), and it’s a doozy.

Here’s a case of a chord progression spanning three decades:

The Who – “Pictures Of Lily (1967) (excerpt)


Brian Wilson – “Love And Mercy (1988) (excerpt)


Teenage Fanclub – “Sparky’s Dream” (1995) (excerpt)


Talk about identical. Well spotted, Mr. Fabulous. Thanks.

Oh, and Mr. Fabulous mentioned another song…

“And add the verse from Yazoo‘s ‘Only You‘ if you like…”

I was almost going to not include that because the chord progression in “Only You”‘s isn’t as identical as the songs above (it uses different chords at the end) – but it is one of my favourite synth-pop songs from the 80’s, so I might as well throw it in as well:

Yazoo – “Only You (1982) (excerpt)


Here are the full versions:

The Who – “Pictures Of Lily (1967)


Brian Wilson – “Love And Mercy (1988)


Brian Wilson – “Love And Mercy (1995)


Teenage Fanclub – “Sparky’s Dream” (1995)


Yazoo – “Only You (1982)


Song of the day: The Who – “Pictures Of Lily”

November 19, 2011

This is probably my favourite Who song:

The Who – “Pictures Of Lily (1967)

As you might be aware, Pete Townshend kick-started this thing we call “power pop” when he coined the term in an article promoting the release of “Pictures Of Lily”, saying “power pop is what we play.”

In case you haven’t seen the full article and are interested in reading the whole thing, here ’tis:

New Musical Express, 20th May 1967



THE lugubrious looking Pete Townshend with the mincer-like mind ground up an interesting selection of subjects for attention over a lemon tea in London’s Act 1 Scene 2 coffee bar last week.

First subject to receive attention was the accusation of ‘pornographic lyrics’ in “Pictures Of Lily.”

“Really it’s just a look back to that period of every boy’s life when he has pin-ups,” said Pete and vent his violence upon a slice of lemon between forefinger and thumb.

“The idea was inspired by a picture my girlfriend had on her wall of an old Vaudeville star – ‘Lily Bayliss.’

“It was an old 1920’s postcard and someone had written on it – ‘here’s another picture of Lily – hope you haven’t got this one.’

“It made me think that everyone has a pin-up period.

John Entwistle and I used to swap ‘dirties’ when we were kids at school – we used to get a kick out of buying a thousand pin-up pictures at a time from tawdry little newspaper shops.

“It’s funny how some film actresses have sex appeal and some don’t – Bardot still has it – so has Loren.

Julie Christie has a kind of youthful charm but no sex appeal.

“This adolescent stage is a very real part of a young person’s life. I remember when I was fourteen I got a bus pass for school without my age on it and I forged ‘sixteen’ on it so I could go into X films.

“The first one I saw was Cliff Richard in ‘Serious Charge.’ ”

D-j Simon Dee, now somewhat irreverently referred to by his real name – Carl [sic] Henty-Dodd – by The Who, recently said their new single was best forgotten and “It was just The Who in the studio making more noises!”

“If he appears on my TV screen again I may put my foot through it,” said Pete pleasantly.

“I think he’s trying to build up his own little musical empire in which we aren’t included.

“He makes my blood boil – I wouldn’t mind if he was any good in his programme!”

We left Simon somewhere between the apple strudel and the Danish pastry and turned to “Power Pop!”

Explained Pete: “Power-pop is what we play – what the Small Faces used to play, and the kind of pop the Beach Boys played in the days of ‘Fun Fun Fun‘ which I preferred.

“There are too many groups involved in the same kind of scene as the Move where every word has to mean something.

“The Beach Boys are playing on this kind of ethereal level where the public are expected to come to them and be taught.

“I believe pop music should be like the TV – something you can turn on or off and shouldn’t disturb the mind.

“Eventually these people are going to go too far and leave the rest of the world behind.

“It’s very hard to like ‘Strawberry Fields Forever‘ for simply what it is. Some artists are becoming musically unapproachable.”

We discussed the progress of pop people and where The Who were going.

“To retain the attention of the public every pop star has to make the transition to films at some time,” said Pete.

Elvis did it – so did The Beatles and so did Cliff. Paul Jones looks to me as if he has done it with ‘Privilege.’ It’s the only way to last.

TV series

“We’re still being considered for a TV series in New York but it’s very difficult to see what else we can do as a group apart from slapstick.

“Obviously it must be humorous – maybe Roger could break a leg or something.”

Pete observed that it is now more difficult than ever for a new group to break into the big time.

“The pop group situation has been at saturation point in the hit parade for some time.” said Pete.

“Look at the Move – they were around for ages before people noticed them and then they had to smash up TVs and break up cars on stage before people would pay them any attention.

“It’s catching the attention and grabbing the publicity that is the biggest problem for a new group.”

At this point Pete produced a damaged toggle switch and Keith Moon walked into the cafe only two days late for his appointment with me – something of an achievement. In all fairness he had phoned me on the Tuesday to say he was OK to meet me for the interview fixed for the previous Monday.

Still anyone can make a mistake and Keith generally does.

“I’ve just been to the Finnish Embassy,” he announced brightly, “lost me passport again,” and looked resigned to the fact.

Pete stayed for a few minutes but as Moon-madness began to creep into the conversation a look akin to that of a man sitting a film round for the second time came over him and he fled.

“Where were you on Monday when I was supposed to interview you?” I enquired.

“Modelling for Vidal Sassoon,” smiled Keith hugely.

“I figured if Brian Jones can make £100 an hour I can undercut him by £15 and clean up.”

I discovered that Keith is buying a house but not, of course, in the conventional manner. He has bought some garden gnomes – now he is looking for a house to go with them.

“A large family-sized pack of gnomes,” emphasised Keith.

New car

Other things Keith has done lately include selling his Bentley to Roger and buying a newer model, going down to Eastbourne to throw pebbles at ice cream cartons and hitting a belligerent fan over the head with a cymbal when they played recently at Dusseldorf.

“He bled all over my snare,” said Keith disconsolately.

Keith now has two ambitions.He wants to become a professional cartoon “like Tom and Jerry” and get a job in Herman‘s new Herne Bay hotel bar as a professional drip tray.

Drugs somehow got into the conversation

Wearing his most angelic expression he enquired: “Is it true there is now a thing called an electric grape which the hippies boil and smoke through a toilet roll?”

There are times when Keith Moon is worth waiting for.


This is what I was writing about

PETE TOWNSHEND told the NME: “The photographs for the ad were postcards our co-manager Chris Stamp picked up in the Portobello Road. I must say he ‘sussed’ out the lyrics because these are the kind of pictures I was writing about. I hope we get lots of letters of protest.”


[Text and pictures gratefully nicked from:]

The difference between The Zombies and The Who

March 18, 2011

The Zombies – “Road Runner (1965)


The Who – “Roadrunner / My Generation Blues” (1975)


And the original:

Bo Diddley – “Road Runner (1960)