I haven't posted a Friday Afternoon Rad Jam in three weeks, and for this I apologize. In all fairness, the last two Fridays were Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Aside from the obvious statement that these are busy days when people are preoccupied with their family and friends, Xmas Eve and NYE are two of the least Rad days of the year. On Xmas Eve you're running around picking up last minute grocery items for mom, and finishing up your present wrapping. On NYE you're double checking that you have that all-you-can-drink ticket for the overpriced event you're attending, where you'll be hanging out with a bunch of over dressed amateurs who think getting hammered on champagne is something that should occur only once a year. The music associated with these two days is also completely lame. I didn't really feel the need to post "Simply having a wonderful Christmas time" on Dec. 24 or that fucking annoying "Tonight's gonna be a gooooood night" song as a New Years Eve Rad jam. Anyways, now that all that's over I can return to consistently bringing you your weekly dose of Friday Afternoon Radness. Starting with this week's Friday Afternoon Rad Jam courtesy of: THE WHO.
When it comes to ranking the most legendary bands in classic rock history, there is generally an accepted holy trinity of rock royalty listed at the top of any list in some order. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin. Then everybody else is lumped together, and ranked by fans based on personal preference. The Who always seem to be kind of the forgotten top tier classic rock band that nobody lists among their personal favorites. Which blows my mind because the Who are so fucking Rad. Few rock bands can say that all of their members were completely essential to the group's sound, and The Who are one of them. Next to Robert Plant, frontman Roger Daltry has probably the best pure rock voice in history. He also personifies everything we think of when we think of a lead singer in rock and roll. Some Rad dude dressed like a 1980's WWF wrestler with long warrior locks pumping his fist and throwing his microphone around like a yo-yo to urge on the crowd's energy. Guitarist Pete Townshend was the group's mastermind who not only wrote all the band's killer riffs but also wrote most of The Who's lyrics. John Entswistle was the band's secret weapon laying down Rad basslines that made sure all of the Who's songs moved and grooved continuously. The heart and soul of The Who however, was obviously drummer Keith Moon, a Hall of Fame Rad Dude. There is no other band where you can legitimately say you notice the drumming before you notice any other element. I literally get a workout from air drumming along to Keith Moon's drum fills.
More than perhaps any other band before or since, The Who were all about the importance of the live performane. Before The Who, rock and roll was all about catchy singles, creatively produced albums, and having the right look. Then The Who came along and it was suddenly a must for fans to actually attend a rock concert and take in the live experience, in order to gain a full appreciation of a great band. The Who actually sounded better live than they did on record. You can't get a full understanding of how epic and badass The Who are, unless you listen to their live stuff. Their famous singles and concept albums just don't do the band's sound justice. I had to pick up "Live at Leeds" and "Live at the Isle of Wight" before I grasped how much pure rock power and adrenaline they brought to the table. Keith Moon and Pete Townshend would throw so much energy into their playing, sweat would literally drench their drum kit and guitar, and their perspiration would go flying up in the air off their respective instruments as they wailed away. (The fact that they you know...overindulged in their Rad consumption of booze and heroin may also have contributed to this of course). Townshend especially was a fucking madman on stage. Jumping up in the air, swinging his arms like a windmill, and playing every note as loud as possible. He also invented the patented rock and roll move of smashing his guitar to bits at the end of a show. RAD.
The Who today are unfortunately a shell of their former selves with Daltry and Townshend being the only surviving members. Once Keith Moon OD'd on Rad and passed away towards the end of The Who's prime the band was never really the same. However, even today you can still tell that when Pete and Roger get on stage they have a sense of the moment once they hear the first roar of the crowd. If nothing else, the spirit of a Who live show still lives on even if the drumming and bass work behind the two lead guys is pretty shitty nowadays. Which is to say I would still rather watch the theatrics of old man Daltry and old man Townshend swinging a mic and windmilling on a guitar at the Super Bowl halftime show, over a more "fresh" performance by some shitty modern band anyday. This week's Rad Jam is a Who b-side written by John Entswistle that the band always opened their shows with during their prime in the early 7os. "Heaven and Hell" like most classic Who songs is simple, raw and straight to the point. This song's about ending up in either heaven or hell. We all know where the Rad dudes are headed. End of story. Lets get to rocking. Enjoy your weekend folks.