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Bill's Pete Townshend Pages › Scooped Liner Notes

Scooped Liner Notes

Eel Pie and Redline Entertainments release the CD 'SCOOPED' on May 21st.
The double CD contains 35 tracks culled from the first three volumes of Pete Townshend's acclaimed 'Scoop' series as well as an exclusive QT video of 'Ask Yourself'.

The Scoop series of albums (Scoop, Another Scoop and Scoop3) contain an ecletic mix of what Pete Townshend refers to as his home 'demos.' Compiled from his personal (and still growing) archive of hundreds of recordings, this set features revealing original versions of classic songs next to equally revealing personal and experimental work carried on from the sixties to the present day.

Whether made for his own projects or for submission to The Who, Townshend's demos expose both the creative energy and the joy in music that has sustained him throughout his career.

Never originally intended for such a wide audience, these 'home made' recordings have been consistently fresh and innovative, unaffected by the often soul-destroying and pressurised environment of a sophisticated studio. This is music of moods, naivety and innocence, made (in Pete's words) "for therapy, for solitude, for fulfilment and most of all for fun."

CD 1.

This peace was intended as an atmosphere merely to link a couple of tracks on Quadrophenia. It was never used, I borrowed one of my childrens' plastic whirling tubes- it was a popular toy for a few months in England, like the hoola hoop. I also strummed away on some cello strings.

A simple 2 track demo of the song I wrote towards the end of the recording of Tommy.
I wrote it to make sure Nick Cohn (who then reviewed for The Guardian) was kind to the album.

Most of the demos for Tommy were recorded very simple. I only had the early Revox G36 stereo recorders at the time- but when I had a good song it didn't matter. In reality it never does. I haven't played around recording for all these years just to sell songs; I've done it for fun and for myself.

Format: 2 track. 15 ips.
Instruments: Gibson J200 guitar and Gibson SG.
Venue: Home, Twickenham, London.

This was recorded in Spring 1973 at my home studio in London on a 3M 8-Track machine using Dolby A systems to reduce hiss. The tabla sound was cooked up on my ARP2600 synthesizer.

The subject of the song is Jimmy of course, or one of his facets, and the line about 'rock and roll' doing me an 'evil wrong' belongs to the Godfather who is yet to be introduced into the tale.

The Who's version of the song was terrific, like everything we did on Quadrophenia, but this demo has its own style. I played everything on this.

Recorded on cassette in my country house. December 1979.

I was living alone at the time. I spent a lot of time at my big kitchen table, looking at the River Thames flowing by outside my windows. I used to knock out little songs like this, or short stories that I later published in Horse's Neck. I know the finished demo of this was included on Scoop, but I really like this little fragment. It shows exactly how I work up my material. This was the first version I recorded, making it up as I went along. The next step was what appears on Scoop. That was a demo done at Air studios in London, but no finished version of the song was completed.

ZELDA    5.
This is a recent one recorded when The Who were making the Face Dances record in London's Odyssey studios. It was engineered by Bill Szymczyk's assistant Allan Blazek, a great engineer in his own right, in the tiny Odyssey studio two while Bill edited the master tapes in studio one. Much has been said about Face Dances, especially by the band, some of it to the irritation of Bill Sz. He is a great producer and the slight detachment of the album he made with The Who on Face Dances is no doubt partly due to me coming up with songs like this! I have no idea what it's about except that ZELDA is my young niece; that day I wrote it she had waved to me from the backseat of her fathers car. From little acorns... The string sound is made by flutter echo added to my furious bow-ing of two viols. ( The baroque instrument that preceded the violin family).


This was written in my wife's bedroom at the flat she was then shared with a friend. I had to perform and sing it quietly because she was trying to sleep while I worked. Keith Jarrett visited about halfway through, "an improvisation addict in search of a piano."

Format: Vortexion CBL stereo recorder. 7½ ips.
Instruments: Gibson ES 335 Guitar plugged straight in and sounding like shit, then detuned for bass part.
Venue: Eccleston Square, Victoria, London, 1967.

Recorded by Mike Pela at my Soho studio for Chinese Eyes, this song impressed neither the record company or producer. The drum effects are by the inimitable Mark Brzezicki. At least his name is inimitable. This attempt to fuse streamed poetry with straight lyrics was probably as successful as the other examples on  Chinese Eyes, and is still something I enjoy doing. A lot of people think it's 'pretentious'. Yeah, it is isn't it, like lots of people.

SIEGE: THEME 019    8.
Another variation on the Siege canon. The notes in my log for this say; Siege written variation in Eb. Chart 'Theme 014'. (B substituted for Bb in opening chords for some reason). Trombones, then oboe, flute and pipes take up a folk refrain over lush strings. This was recorded entirely within the Synclavier sequencer with a mixture of sampled and FM voices. The working title for this variation was 'Siege-Scottish'.

971104 ARPEGGIO PIANO    9.
This piece was recorded to DAT tape at my home in London on 4th November 1997. When I first moved into the house in London in which I now live I chose the tiniest room (an ante-room off the main living room) and set up a Kurzweil MIDIboard 88 note heavy action keyboard on which to practice and compose. Built into it are a wide number of arpeggio 'algorithms'. I used the keyboard everyday for about a year, recording to DAT tape or cassette. When Helen Wilkins started in compile Scoop 3 I completed some of these pieces by editing them on Synclavier and orchestrating  the result on the computer.

I had a nasty vision one sunny afternoon-a beautiful girl walked past my studio window in a white dress. Behind her walked a young black kid; hip and hungry. Their relative states of self-absorption produced the idea of the rape of a lonely girl by a lonely man.
The piano demo was enhanced by a beautiful orchestral arrangement by Ted Astley  ( my father-in-law).

Format: 24 track. 30 ips.
Instruments: Bosendorfer piano. Large string section. Woodwinds.
Venue: piano and voice at Home in Berkshire. Orchestra at Abbey Road, London.
(Engineer: John Kurlander, Executive Producer Kit Lambert) September 1978

I made this demo after hearing a rough mix of Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown by The Stones. When I read David Marsh's book Before I get Old I was amazed to read that I ripped off the riff- amazed because it was true, I had forgotten. Read the book to find out how, folks.

The lyric, so applauded by rock critics, was thrown together very quickly. Smokey Robinson sang the word 'substitute' so perfectly in Track Of My Tears - my favorite song at the time - that I decided to celebrate the word itself with a song all its own.  Interesting that in eulogizing two of my most important influences (and ripping off a few ideas) I should end up with one of the most succinct songs of my career.

Format: Vortexion CBL (2 machines: bouncing in stereo) 7½ ips
Instruments: Harmony 12 string guitar
Venue: Home, Old Church Street, Chelsa, London. Winter 1966.

This piece was taken directly to a Tascam cassette portastudio. August 1984. It is a really good example of the fiery and bizarre Hammond-like sounds you can get out of synthesizers if you (like me) know what you're doing. The keyboard here was the incredible Prophet 10, introduced some time in1977 I think. Essentially two Prophet 5 keyboards ganged together, the double layer of related sounds created the most extraordinary movement and harmonic complexity. It you are a keyboard player and you see one of these  for sale at under $5,000-buy it. It will tale you to a piece of heaven reserved for Hammond players who have taken to much acid. It is also very easy to programme your own sounds. The 10 had a simple step sequencer built into the lower keyboard. It is the sequencer creating the relentless blues pattern over which I played some stock Ray Charles organ tricks.

You can read some details about the Prophet 10 on

Recorded in Aug Sept 1995 in The Cube home studio. I had a single stereo mike setup, and recorded this in a single past. But I was using my Yamaha piano that sends MIDI. This was sent to a KORG Rhythm 'accompanist'. This provided the cocktail bar drums bass and acoustic guitar part in the mid-back-

I was preparing at this time for a solo appearance at The Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of a benefit by and for Paul Simon and his charity The Children's Health Fund on Sept 10 1995. Agreeing to appear, I picked up a guitar and realised that since the middle1992 I had probably spent more time home playing piano than guitar (I was recovering from a serious wrist accident and keyboard practice was more useful physiotherapy). So it seamed to me I should play piano in public for the first time. On this occasion the Wynton Marsalis orchestra, some of the best jazz musicians on the planet, were in attendance. I was nervous. But I did well. This demo was to help me get idea of how I might sound on the night.

I've always loved Cornwall. In August 1982 I took some demo recording gear down to the holiday cottage we rented. After a day's sailing on a laser dinghy in the heavy, blustery sea off Falmouth. I came home and recorded this peace. It tries to suggest the splendour of an archaic ' tall ship' ; great square-rigged sail-training ships often dominate Falmouth harbour. This piece is dedicated to 'The Marques' and her crew lost in the Bahamas last year in a storm.

Format: TEAC portastudio 224 with DBX. 3¾ ips.
Instruments: Prophet 10. Roland Compurhythm. Roland Delay.
Venue: Cornwall. August 1982.

MAGIC BUS    15.
What is there to say? The one man band version, a voodoo-dub-freak-out of a nothing song that was destined to become the most requested live song for The Who along with Boris The Spider by John Entwistle. Sometimes it was hard to do announcements for numbers in The Who show for people shouting ' Magic Bus' or 'Boris The Spider'  at the top of their lungs. It's the silly songs they like. Daft punters.

Jon Astley thought he could hear wow and flutter on this but it is actually the action of an  Antares autotune device I used to try to tidy up the vocal. This orchestral piece was one of a group already featured on Another Scoop, and is the only one not released. The others were Brooklyn Kids and Praying The Game. Ted Astley arranged the orchestra which was recorded in 1978 by Glyn Johns at the incredible and wonderful Olympic Studios before Richard Branson brought it and turned it into a Japanese airport waiting room with microphones.

This is one of several pieces I wrote for Quadrophenia that didn't appear on the completed album. One or two of them were incorporated into the film sound-track album, but  part of this theme was eventually used in the chorus on Cut My Hair for Quad. Though never properly finished,  it still captures the atmosphere of triumph and futility to co-exist in the heart of the hero I created.

BARGAIN    18.
The demos I made to accompany the Lifehouse film script I wrote in '71 are among the best I have ever produced. I had come fully to grips with working multi-track rather than bounce from machine to machine a la Phil Spector. I had managed to get a good tight drum sound in a room only ten feet by fifteen that was crammed with synthesizers, organs and a seven foot grand piano. Joe Walsh had just presented me with an old Grestch Chet Atkins guitar and it more or less played me on this track. At this time I was coming to grips with the incredibly rich harmonics that my ARP 2500 synthesiser produced, even with a single voice and here one part seemed enough. I still think that Who's Next is one of the best sounding Who albums because the demos for that record were so good. There were good songs and good ideas, but Glyn Johns our producer stuck his neck out to enhance and evolve not just the songs, but also the sounds I had produced at home.

A half-completed studio recording was made in February 1985 onto 32 track digital tape by Bill Pace at my large Oceanic studio in Twickenham. On these sessions Rabbit (John Bundrick) played Hammond, Clem Burke played drums, Phil Chen played bass. I played guitar. Later two sub masters were created, one to half-inch analogue 16 track, another to 4 track cassette Portastudio. I recorded some new 'Bender' guitars on the 16 track and a demo lead vocal on the Portastudio. To create this mix I decided not to go back to the digital master, but to combine the two sub masters.

CD 2.

This song was originally written in the living room of the home of my friend Speedy Keen's parents in Hanwell, West London. At that time in 1966 he was driving me in my Lincoln Convertible to shows around Britain. He was a talented drummer and emerged as a great writer as soon as I opened my ears to him properly.( He wrote the song Something In The Air, which I produced for the band Thunderclap Newman, it got to number one in Britain). I recorded the demo a few months later to play to our manager Kit Lambert who was producing a band called The Merseys. They already had a number one hit with Sorrow in the UK and their version of my song did quite well. The Who recorded the song later in the year for their second album, A Quick One. The demo was made straight onto a Vortexian machine at my home studio in Chelsa.

This instrumental was recorded just for fun. 16 track at home in Twickenham.

I recorded this onto a half-inch analogue 8-track Tascam tape machine in 1979. I had no proper studio at home in London anymore and had put together a temporary and transportable rig around this machine. Great sounding machine usually, but in this case I was simply chucking down a very quick demo of a strange sound I'd managed to cook up by combining a Roland guitar synthesiser (which was polyphonic) with an ARP Avatar (which was monophonic). I used the ARP on just the lowest string of my guitar, creating a rather erratic bass line. The chord sustain noise is from the Roland, and you can also hear the strings being strummed from a mike I put near them. In the studio (Wessex) when I recorded the track properly I fed each output of the two synthesiser into a separate amplifier, creating a monstrous and wobbly wall of sound.

This demo was all I had when I went into the studio to start working on Rough Boys for the album Empty Glass. The lyric came together in the studio, a rant about the British punks (like Sid Vicious) I had come across in recent years who wore outfits I had come to know in New York as the apparel of 'rough' gays. Not sure why or when the title changed.

This is the reference mix I made straight after cutting the demo at my studio in Soho.

Format: 24 track. 30 ips.
Instruments: The usual rock ensemble stuff. I used a Yamaha E70 home organ for the arpeggio synth track.
Venue: Eel Pie Studio, Soho, London.
(Engineer: Chris Ludwinski) March/April 1980.

MARY    4.
A track from Lifehouse this was a song intended to bring some romance into the sci-fi plot. Mary was a character in the script. The song wasn't recorded for Who's Next by The Who as we decided to make it a single album rather than a double.

This recording was featured on Happy Birthday, the London Meher Baba Group's first Disc/magazine dedicated to the spiritual master. It was one of his favorite songs. The original records are very hard to find now.

Format: Revox stereo G36 15 ips
Instruments: Gibson J200
Venue: Home, Twickenham. Sometime in 1969.


This was put together in a variety of locations while I was gathering songs for the first Warner Brothers Who album, recorded after Keith Moon's death. That turned out to be Face Dances. It began with a Yamaha E70 organ backing track which I recorded through eight separate outputs and then re-routed through various echo delays, dubbing in Reggae style. It is that process that creates the bubbling sound, but also all the interesting percussion 'scattering' sounds over the real drums which were added by Kenney Jones at Air studios in London one night.

The strange bass lilt was created by using the organ's internal drum-box on some quite conventional latin setting, but starting the bar halfway through. The organ track was made at my largest studio, Oceanic in Twickenham. In my studio in Soho I did a real bass guitar part, some handclaps and backing vocals then took the master reel to Burbank where Mo Ostin (chairman of WB) had arranged for me to use a small room in Amigo studios in North Hollywood. Them I added a jazzy guitar or two and mixed it.

My  'secret' handclap sound can be heard here. Take a figure of eight microphone and place it with one side of the capsule facing a window or mirror. The other side must face a relatively empty room, it doesn't have to be an echoey room though. Place yourself between the mike and the mirror, turn the mike up until it distorts a little and clap. Depending on how far away from the glass is the mike, and how distorted it is, you will sound like a small, tight group of very funky handclappers.

I quite liked The Who's rendering of this song. Roger sang it really well. But it is probably one of those songs that needed my acidic tone to work without awkwardness. Whichever version is your favourite (and you may hate both of them) it's good to be able to compare.

Ted Astley composed this track over which I wrote the lyric. It reminded me of an orchestral battlefield. With the musicians wearing big heavy boots. Hence the analogy with football and hooliganism.

Format: 16 track 15 ips Dolby.
Instruments: Large string section. Percussion.
Venue: Olympic studios, Barnes
(Engineer: Glyn Johns) September 1978

Another Lifehouse song, I remember my wife saying she liked this one from the kitchen below after I had finished the harmony vocals. The band later added a passion and fire that really made it blossom from the sad song it appears to be here into the proud self expose it became on Who's Next. Not a personal song at all, or at least not intended to be. It's about a villain in the story feeling he is forced into playing a two-faced role.

This song was carefully constructed as an alternative ballad for the Who Are You album. It wasn't used by the band. I sent a copy to Quincy Jones for Sinatra, but never heard anything.
The weird violin sound was produced by processing a string synthesizer through a Vocoder in which the 'speech' was actually a scraped violin. Nasty!

Format: 24 track 30 ips. EMS Vocoder 2000. Engineering assistance by Dick Hayes.
Instruments: Bosendorfer piano. Amati violin (copy) and usual rock stuff.
Venue: Eel Pie Studios, Thames Valley, Berkshire, England. March 30th 1977

CIRCLES    11.
A very early demo recorded in Belgravia in the same period as My Generation. The only thing in my life at that time was Who gigs in Europe and my tape machines. I became reacquainted with an art school friend called Karen soon after this song was written and found some other hobbies outside tape recording; cooking, kissing Karen, restaurants, making love to Karen, buying beds and curtains, marrying Karen. And so on. In fact my life with Karen enriched my output as a writer. We made lots of friends and as a couple were more social than I ever had been on my own, my demos had a bigger audience.
We were organized , the studio I built in the first house we shared together was a real step up for me, the first I constructed with any consideration for the neighbors and guest who had to live with my midnight recording sessions. We were very careful to find a place where the studio could be isolated. This care was not exercised when we purchased our first family home in '68. In that house the studio was slap bang in the middle of the building and when I worked nobody slept. A musician's studio is a far less natural extension of a family home than a writer's den or a painter's atille. It's a pity that the new technology that has brought multi-track recording into the reach of every musician with some spare cash, hasn't produced a simple way of sound-proofing a practice room or studio.

Written and recorded in Dallas after a post-show party at some restaurant at which a girl called Holly shock hands with me. I received a very large shock of static electricity at the same time. I think I stood on her hair.

Format: TEAC Portastudio 224 with DBX 3¾ ips. 2X Uric LA3A Limiter/Compressors. 1 Roland SDE 2000 Digital Delay. 1 Soundworkshop 262 stereo reverb.
Instruments: Roland 808 Drum machine. Prophet 10 (Bass part). Yamaha CP70 Piano. Fender Jazzmaster via effects.
Venue: Hotel room, Dallas, Texas. Winter 1982

This was recorded on piano on 7th November 1997 and completed in February 2001. I fully orchestrated it earlier this year. Although the chords are similar to Dirty Jobs from Quadrophenia it is an entirely original composition. It is intended to demonstrate the kind of tonal effect I could achieve should I develop a lull orchestral version of Quadrophenia. The piano was recorded on a Kurzweil sequencer and later 'quantized' to a DAT machine. I then copied the DAT to my Synclavier hard-disk system and tightened it up, then added the orchestral parts using all synthetic sounds.

The opening cascade of the piece is written in 7/8 time. It intentionally created a chaotic but processional sound. Later it becomes more conventional, but the piano arpeggios in the middle are difficult to play if you don't happen to use my particular 'three fingers on the right one finger on the left' two-hand technique. All though the piano sounds as though a computer has produced it, in fact all that has happened to my free part that it has been 'quantized'. That means any out of time notes have been brought back into time, it gives it a real concert-pianist feel, but it's partly a bluff. It is, by the way, only the middle part that is 'quantized'.

This is one of the many experimental sequences from Siege.

The random bass part was carefully and tortuously transcribed and played by my Columbian friend Chucho Merchan. The other elements were produced almost by chance and embellished and mixed at my studio in Twickenham.

Format: Portastudio 4 track transferred to 16 track 30 ips 2" studio master.
Instruments: Prophet 10. Fender Telecaster (1952) via Roland Digital Delay. Roland Compurhythm via various cheap digital delays. (including one miraculous device by Electro Harmonix called a 'Memory Man Chorus Delay').
Venue: 4 track in Cornwall-completion at Eel Pie Studios. Twickenham, London.
(Assistant Engineer: Chris Ludwinski) August'82  through January'83.

Recorded 24 track in my studio at our country place this song was written for my first solo album Empty Glass. I first put the lyric together at the same time as And I Moved for submission to Bette Midler. Neither song ever reached her. It didn't seem to impress the producer Chris Thomas, maybe it was ahead of it's time. It sounds a little behind it now, but I still think it's great. The electro-pop sound was all done in a single pass (performance) on a Yamaha home organ with bass pedals, drum machine, upper and lower keyboards and arpeggio units all laid onto separate tracks. Modern home organs are really very complex computer synthesizers that are a damn sight easier to 'programme' than the so called real thing. I love'em and will buy more as soon as I get enough space.

The piano part from this demo was used as the basic track for The Who version which was recorded by Glyn Johns and later used as the finale for Quadrophenia. I still glory in the fact that the piano reveals new thing to me every time I sit down to play. I am still a poor player, but in a sense, as a writer, that helps. This is composed almost entirely on black notes.

WDK 2008

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