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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Who - "Rarities Vol. 1 1966-1968" Vinyl, LP, Compilation, 1983 (Polydor)

Without a doubt the ugliest record design in my collection.  The fact is, I had to think for ten minutes to make a decision either way regarding purchasing this collection of Who B-sides.  Two songs here made the decision for me.  Their cover of the Rolling Stones "The Last Time" and "Under My Thumb."  Still, what bothered me greatly was the choice of the record label to use a portrait of The Who that was very much from the early 1970's when in fact, the actual recordings in this collection were made in the years 1966 -1968.  Little things like that bug me to no end!

If one forgets the cover, this is a great Who album.  B-sides have always been a fascination for me. I have enjoyed the A-side but have been consistently curious about what's happening on the flip side.  Very much like the curiosity regarding what's behind the door.   More pleasure has been found when I do play the mysterious B-side. 

For the past two years, I have been trying to locate the 45 rpm single of "The Last Time" b/w "Under My Thumb."  It's around but usually too far away (I rarely order items from overseas) or too expensive.   The Who recorded these two songs and put it out as a single as a support for the Stones who just got busted for narcotics in 1967.  The summer of love didn't mean that much in The Who world. The record is two voices of disgust, hate, and sour mood.  Which is usually a good combination for a good Who record.  The other highlight of this collection is that there are five John Entwistle songs on it. "Doctor Doctor" and "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" are brilliant pieces of pop noise. The Entwistle songs are consistently amusing because the bass playing is aggressive, loud, and then there's the French horn in the chorus.   There are not that many French horns on a pop record unless it is something done by the Who's bass player.  And the Keith Moon manic drumming also shows up a bit louder on an Entwistle tune.  Kit Lambert's (and Chris Stamp's) production is muddy, chaotic, and always sounds best in Mono.  

It's extraordinary that I have heard the title "Dogs" in conjunction with The Who, but never actually heard this record for the last fifty years.  It's fantastic!  One of the great Townshend classics that somehow went way under the radar.   And also one gets what I suspect is the Keith Moon influenced Beach Boys/Jan & Dean tunes that are in this collection as well.   "Rarities Vol. 1"  is their best album after "The Who Sell Out."