English quartet

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English quartet
Along with the Beatles and Rolling Stones, the Who complete the holy trinity of British rock. Unfortunately, I was introduced to this legendary band very late. The first Who song I heard was Baba O’ Reily, one of the many gems that the band has churned out over the years.

I clearly remember listening to the track at a friend’s place and I just couldn’t move as the endless flurry of musical notes washed me over, every now and then, the song brought me back to my senses with jabs of crashing cymbals. It was then and there I fell in love with one of the best bands of rock ‘n’ roll.

The band was formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals, keyboards), John Entwistle (bass, brass, vocals) and Keith Moon (drums, vocals). They became known for energetic live performances, which often included instrument bashing. The Who have sold about 100 million records, and have charted 27 top 40 singles in the UK and the US, and to that list add 17 top 10 albums. Recently, the band launched a digitally re-mastered LP of their best live performances. Many music critics even call it the best live rock LP ever. Recorded live at Leeds, this musical masterpiece is a must-buy for any Who fan. This restored edition is an incendiary joy worth hearing for its details. Guitarist Pete Townshend’s tough-jazz improvising in Young Man Blues being the clearest affirmation that Who, in 1970, were rock’s greatest night out.

For a hugely popular classic-rock band, Pete Townshend and crew have always been reluctant to focus on one particular strength or attribute their discography to a single sound. Townshend devoured studio time advancing their albums to a lofty art, turning their musical experiments into an idiosyncratic playground in the mid-to-late ’60s. While the band’s greatest anthem, Won’t Get Fooled Again, aimed for a more complex message than the usual peace-and-drugs loving hippies of the time, the Who never fully lumped itself in with psychedelia, blues-based macho hard-rock, or even the mid-60s Mod movement with which it was briefly identified. Even the most perfunctory, Who compilation will span, at the very least, from the band’s early R&B and garage-rock inspirations to the mystical psychedelia to the synth-framed epics of Who’s Next. Each Who album harnesses Townshend’s strong leadership as a songwriter and the infamous personal conflicts within the band. Townshend, bass player John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon each aggressively pursued a busy style of play, and somehow cohered behind Roger Daltrey’s increasingly tremendous vocal presence.

The Who’s greatest legacy has been their influence on various genres of music over the years. The band has inspired artists as diverse as Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rush and even new-age bands like Pearl Jam. Even punk rock bands like The Stooges, Ramones to Green Day swear by the Who as their influence. The group also originated rock opera in one of their first notable concept albums. Pete Townsend, arguably the biggest creative force of the band, is also credited with inventing power chords in guitar playing. Their contributions to rock icon­ography also include windmill strum, the Marshall Stack and the guitar smash.

ranadityabaruah@mydigitalfc.com

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