Live at the Fillmore East 1968
Who Came First 45th Anniversary Expanded Edition
As Long As I Have You
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Long live the Who, or at least the legacy that remains. The on-again, off-again alliance of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey notwithstanding, the band as we once knew it, with Keith Moon and John Entwistle powering that formidable rhythm section and adding the flash and finesse makes any attempt to reconvene as The Two pale in comparison.
Indeed, all that’s needed to affirm that premise is found with even a cursory listen to the archival slab of former glories belatedly released as Live at the Fillmore East. It bears witness to the seminal glory of the Who’s glory days gone by. Boasting an ample amount of seminal songs from the band’s early catalog — “I Can’t Explain,” “Happy Jack,” the early min opera and opus “A Quick One (While He’s Away,” and an entire disc devoted to an extended take on, what else, “My Generation” — it fills out the set list with the classic covers that were once given their indelible imprint — “Summertime Blues,” “Fortune Teller” and “Shakin’ All Over.” That early edge and energy, pre Tommy and any other affectations that would come soon after, makes this concert a singular stand-out that is legendary to say the least (bootlegged versions have circulated for decades), as well as one of the few archival examples of the early band live in performance. This is essential Who and a riveting example of all that assured their legendary largess and prowess,
Townshend’s first solo venture, Who Came First, began life as a tribute to his spiritual mentor Meher Baba and consisted mainly of demos of songs destined for the Who’ future catalog while still their seminal states. There were other additives thrown in full good measure — a tender take on the classic standard “There’s a Heartache Following Me” (said to be one of Baba’s Favorites), Small Face/Face bassist Ronnie Lane’s tender tale of reincarnation, “Evolution,” and other early extras that were yet to emerge fully formed. An earlier reissue added a smattering of bonus tracks, all but one of which is repeated here, but for this 45th anniversary edition, an entire disc of extra additives are included, among them, early rough takes on “The Seeker,” and instrumental version of “Baba O’Riley” and a very early version of “Drowned,” a key cut from Quadrophenia. While there was nothing especially earth shattering about Townshend’s first offering — it was more an additive to his bigger vision of the band after all — it still purveys a charm that finds Townshend in both a contemplative state and expressing a vulnerability rarely evidenced amongst the bombast and fury of the essential ensemble.
While he wrote only a smattering of songs for the Who, Roger Daltrey has put out a slew of solo albums throughout his career, venturing away from Townshend as a source for his songs and more towards other writers who also offered a seamless fit. Consequently, As Long As I Have You finds him trolling some essential soulful sources — Stevie Wonder, Joe Tex, Ruth Copeland, Jerry Ragavoy and the like — while transforming them with his individual inscription. He’s never sounded better, whether veering from an emotive testimonial (I’ve Got Your Love”) to an ecstatic wail (“How Far”) to a soulful shout (“Where Is a Man To Go”), and the fact that Townshend is on board throughout most of the disc brings it closer to a Who album than anything else in recent memory. At very least, it’s Daltrey’s best solo effort since Ride a Rock Horse and an obvious indication he’s still in fine form. Every entry is excellent. Suffice it to say, it’s superb.
DOWNLOAD: “I Can’t Explain,” “The Seeker,” “How Far”