who’s not forgotten – in classic rock circles, the saying is that while led zeppelin were about sex, the who were all about anger.
anger, it seems, never grows old. there are signs that we are in the midst of still another who revival. the nu-metal band limp bizkit has a top-40 hit with the who’s 1971 single, “behind blue eyes,” and the who themselves are making news. the band — now just pete townshend and roger daltrey from the original lineup — will release a greatest hits record with two new tracks this year, and heading into the studio to record the band’s first all-new record in more than 20 years.
also, townshend and daltrey will tour with guitarist simon townshend, pete’s brother, long-time who sideman john “rabbit” bundrick on keyboards and zak starkey, ringo’s son, on drums, as the who this year.
who revivals come and go, but for some, their passion for the london mods never gets old. mick chorba of the trenton band the dipsomaniacs and face down records is one of those.
he attributes the current who revival to the resurgence of the garage rock sound.
“it seems like bands like jet and the hives have popularized the garage-y, stripped down sounds,” chorba said. “it’s going back to the mod scene, which seems to have a resurgence every dozen years.”
the mods were british kids in the 1960s who rode scooters and listened to american r&b. the who were the biggest band to come out of the scene, thanks to the 2 1/2-minute bursts of nervous energy that were their early singles.
heck, daltrey even stutters on “my generation.” not a lot of sex appeal going on there.
the who survived the decade intact — unlike many other ’60s bands — because they embraced the experimentation and the expansiveness of progressive rock, starting formally with 1969s’ “tommy” and reaching its apex a few years later on the “who’s next” album, which featured several lengthy tracks.
nowadays, the who has something for everyone, from the classic-rock geezer to the upstart garage rocker.
“in the 1970s, they established the rock ‘n’ roll big show and they played big arenas,” chorba said. “i think townshend and daltrey looked at the punk bands (in the late 1970s) and said that used to be us.”
the who story is filled with equal parts tragedy and triumph. In the late 1970s, drummer keith moon, regarded by many as the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummer of all time, died of an overdose. then in 1979, 11 who fans were crushed to death at a show in cincinnati.
last year, townshend was arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography. he was eventually cleared.
in 2002, bassist john entwistle died at 57. it was entwistle’s passing that prompted chorba to put together who’s not forgotten: fdr’s tribute to the who.
it’s a real treat. just about all the tracks channel the energy of the band, and most, pleasingly, stay true to blueprints of the original who songs. among the highlights are an explosive “the real me” by bastards of melody of west orange; a saucy “i’m a boy” by philadelphia’s cordalene; a crunchy “pictures of lily” by philly’s taggart; and an arena rock-ready “bargain” by chorba’s dipsomaniacs.
among the national acts contributing tracks to who’s not forgotten are jersey favorite pat dinizio, who performs a solo acoustic version of “behind blue eyes;” tommy conwell, who teams with the dipsomaniacs on “long live rock;” and indie gods guided by voices, who do a raucous “baba o’riley.”
it was guided by voices who hooked chorba up with the pete townshend-founded h.e.a.r., or hearing education and awareness for rockers. proceeds from the sale of who’s not forgotten will benefit h.e.a.r.
townshend has suffered hearing damage from his years of playing these songs.