Classic Rock Review

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The Who Odds & Sods (1974)

zap_who9From sfloman.com

Looking to both release an album in 1974 and again beat the bootleggers (a la Live At Leeds) who were distributing crappy versions of songs not yet officially released, John Entwisle pored through tapes of unreleased songs. In some cases the band fixed up songs here and there, others were good to go but simply hadn’t fit whatever album they were working on at the time, and the end result was Odds & Sods, one of the better “rarities” collections out there.

Of course, with many of these songs now appearing as bonus tracks on other reissues, albeit often in different versions, this album isn’t quite as special as it once was. Then again, the remastered/reissued version of this album added 12 songs to the original version, and as per usual with these albums that’s the one I’d recommend getting. Among the original eleven songs, some such as “Postcard” and “Now I’m A Farmer” are very atypical and not in a good way, while others are overly generic (“Put The Money Down”), are included purely for historical purposes (“I’m The Face,” the band’s first song recorded back when they were The High Numbers), or are good (“Glow Girl”) but also appear elsewhere (in this case on The Who Sell Out).

So that’s nearly half the album that’s pretty forgettable, but the rest of the material is grade-A stuff, including “Too Much Of Anything,” a catchy, melodic, country-ish sing along, and “Faith In Something Bigger,” another catchy pop nugget on which their harmonies are the highlight. Even better is “Little Billy,” recorded for an anti-smoking ad that was never used, but best of all are “Pure And Easy” (one of several Lighthouse outtakes), “Naked Eye,” and “Long Live Rock,” which actually became a minor hit and perennial radio favorite.

As with many of the songs on Who’s Next, “Pure And Easy” (which would’ve fit perfectly on that album; in fact, its melody shows up at the end of “The Song Is Over”) is part ballad, part rocker, and it contains a lovely flowing melody and poetic lyrics, while “Naked Eye” features some of Pete’s best studio guitar work ever. As for “Long Live Rock,” it’s The Who in full on anthem mode, though this one is notable for being influenced by ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, for its enjoyably ironic lyrics, and for Roger/Pete’s throat-shredding vocals.

Among the bonus tracks, most were unreleased for a reason, particularly the ones recorded in the mid-to-late ’60s, including a couple of Motown covers (“Leaving Here,” “Baby, Don’t You Do It”), a pair of tracks that pale compared to their definitive Live At Leeds renditions (“Summertime Blues,” “Young Man Blues”), a humorous but minor Eddie Cochran cover (“My Way”), and their famous “save Keith and Mick” cover of “Under My Thumb,” which also pales next to the Stones original (also, where’s “Out Of Time”?). Fortunately, there are several keepers as well.

The exceptionally pretty keyboard-heavy version of “Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand” (guesting Al Kooper) and the rocking, Leslie West assisted “Love Ain’t For Keeping” may be my favorite versions of those songs, for example (the latter is worlds better than the version on Who’s Next, largely due to Leslie’s soaring guitar work). “Time Is Passing” is utterly gorgeous, surpassing the version on Pete’s first solo album Who Came First since it sounds more fully fleshed out and has that lovely harmonium sound going for it. Also included is the short, odd Tommy discard “Cousin Kevin Model Child,” the forgettable “We Close Tonight,” and a studio version of “Water,” a stage favorite from the early ’70s that sounds much better live, alas.

Still, excessive filler aside, it’s hard to fault the suits at MCA for being overly generous, as Odds & Sods remains an extremely interesting album (albeit one designed for hardcore fans) in the way that it shows off so many different sides of the band. Besides, there are a handful of essential Who songs, or essential versions of Who songs, that can’t be found anywhere else, so if you’re a big fan of the band you’d do well to pick this album up.

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March 24, 2013 - Posted by | The Who Odds And Sods |

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