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For many years
it has only been the people close to me
who have heard the music I made for myself or by myself.
I have always called these recordings 'demos'. Demos
they have been whether made for my amusement, for film
sound tracks, for experimental purposes or to submit
material to The Who. (I have rarely written for anyone else).
When I have come up against any kind of problem in the
past I have always dealt with it through music; either
through writing a song or literally recording the problem
away therapeutically. I have recorded alone at home or
more recently in my own or other pro-studios for
pleasure, for catharthism, for solitude, for fulfillment and most
of all fun. For many years
recording was my one
and only hobby. I didn't get into sailing a few years
ago, that was preceded by a brief
and fulfilling sortie into
35mm still photography, until my camera was stolen. I
then mucked around with 16mm film production, ran
spiritual centers for Meher Baba afficianados, rowed a
skiff, then recently set my heart on getting totally wasted
by over-drinking, over-doing night clubs and over-doing
Recording is a hobby once again. On the road with The
Who, as I write this in San Francisco I carry a TEAC
portastudio for diversion. Since I bought it in August I
have recorded nearly forty pieces of music, all without
words. Making demos is where I find peace and
sometimes even feeling a prayer. Right now words are
still something I am newly grappling with on a day to day
basis, trying hard not to let too much of myself get in the
way I am trying to isolate my music and lyric writing and
once again recording becomes both a hobby and a
In the past people have stolen, copied and bootlegged a
few of the tapes I have made at home. Those enthusiasts
of Who music and the part I played in it will probably
welcome this record to add to their stockpile of
obsessive memorabilia. But the best thing about this
collection to me, is that complied as it is by someone who
is in no way a Who fanatic, it emerges as being a fine
example of how home recording produces moods and
music, innocence and naivety that could be arrived at in
no other way. Music that was never intended to be heard
by a wide audience; notes and scribblings take on a new
value assembled in this way. Away from sophisticated
studio techniques and repeated soul
destroying takes the
real joy I get from playing and writing comes through, and
that joy is something I want to share. I have hundreds of
such demos, this isn't meant to be a definitive collection,
just a scoop
Studio One Ealing 1964 Above parents home. 2 vortexion mono tape machines, 1 microphone. ( A Reslo). Studio Two Belgravia 1965
Vortexion CBL stereo machine and more mikes. Studio Three Chelsea 1965/6
2 Vortexion CBL's enabling me to bounce in stereo. I also had a Grampian
spring reverb-luxury. Studio Four Wardour Street 1967
Upgraded to REVOXES 15 ips., built a rough patch bay and met Pepy Rush in Soho
who built my first limiter and 'loaned' me an eight channel mixer, old
fashioned but superb. Studio Five Ebury Street 1968
Started to use piano and drums a little. Experimented with tape editing, music
concrete, and sound effects recorded on an old NAGRA. Purchased two TANNOY
monitors. (up to now had been using modified MARSHALL 4x 12 cabinets with
tweeters nailed in). Studio Six Twickenham 'Home' 1969
Built my first separate control room/studio in two tiny adjacent rooms. Bought
Dolby A301s for my REVOXES and later a small NEVE desk and a gorgeous 7' 4"
BOSENDORFER grand piano. The Who did some work here when I went 8 track in 1971. 1971
Discovered Synthesisers! 1973
Opened my studio in the country which I rented out to people. Bought a large
NEVE desk,3M 16-track and two echo plates and some STUDER B62's 1974
Moved my 'Home' studio to the top floor of our house-upgraded to 16 track, so I could tapes to the country to work on them. Stupidly sold my 3M M23
8-track which is probably still running smoothly somewhere. 1975
Worked 23 hours a day on the TOMMY film soundtrack at home, swore I would never
have a home studio again and tore it all out! For a while I did all my demos in
the country but soon... 1976
Bought OCEANIC my current commercial studio in Twickenham. It was a Meher Baba
Center for 5 years with 16mm film dubbing and editing suites, a cinema and 4
track studio. OCEANIC has been through vast experimental upheavals and is now
('82) equipped with a computerized SOLID STATE DESK and two STUDER A800 24
tracks with video interlock. 1979
Leased a studio building in Soho (central London) and equipped it with some of
the stuff from my country studio which had a leaky roof. Purchased a custom
built NEVE rack mounted mixer and 3M 24 track for home use and have used this
semi-portable set up in various locations for demos in the past three years. 1982
Built a tiny studio in our new family home using the NEVE rack system. I have
getting free time in either of my 'real' studios and recent advances have made
it possible for me to make demos and masters on 1/2" eight track or even
Portastudio cassette systems. This year I did my first few demos on a 120 foot
long Dutch canal barge on the Thames with temporary equipment. Next summer I
hope to be making my demos on the beautiful French canals.
On tour with THE WHO in the USA this winter I will be doing demos on my
suitcase Portastudio system, today anything is possible. Now if the Portastudio
had been invented in 1965 think how much trouble (and money) I'd have saved
But the fun I'd missed?
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.
Squeezebox Obviously recorded for a fun and intended as a poorly
aimed dirty joke. I had bought myself an accordian and learned to play it one
afternoon. (That is not meant to be flash, I don't mean I learned to play it
properly, just to manage to work it without falling over!). The polka-esque
rhythm I managed to produce from it brought forth this song. Amazingly recorded
by The Who to my disbelief.
Further incredulity was caused when it became a hit for us in the USA.
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).
Recorded on a Revoxes at15 ips stereo this has a sound that only I could get at
the time. Influenced as I was by Tamla Motown the rhythm is like HEATWAVE by
Martha and the Vandellas, but the sound too is as fundamentally home grown as
the Tamla sound; obviously not as good. Listen to some of the old Motown cuts I
feel sure that the beauty of the sound come from the fact that a lot of love and
listening went into operating very simple machinery to capture the performances.
There is rarely mystery in recording, but even knowing how I got the weird sound
on this cut doesn't mean I could do it again today.
This song is another professional recording. Not all of the songs herein are
'home' studio selections, but when I recorded this song AIR studios in London
became my home for two weeks as I assembled demos for FACE DANCES. Kenny Jones
played drums on this and it was engineered by John Walls who probably wondered
what was happening when I sang the vocal lying flat on my back on the studio
floor. The Who didn't record this song as it was to ordinary, but here, as is,
it doesn't sound ordinary at all, it sounds nuts.
It sounds like someone having a ball-even if they were lying on their back.
A very early demo recorded in Belgravia very close to ' 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.
Unused Piano: 'Quadrophenia'
There were several pieces I wrote for Quadrophenia that were left off the
completed album. One or two of them were incorporated into the film soundtrack
album. This theme was never finished, yet somehow it still captures the
atmosphere of triumph and futility to co-exist in the heart of the hero I
created. Part of this theme was eventually used as a chorus on CUT MY HAIR from
Melancholia Recorded at my Ebury Street studio this is a pre TOMMY
demo written around the time the band were facing a void in their career. It's
a tremendously haunting song, but was obviously totally wrong for the band at a
time we had just failed to get a hit with the glorious I CAN SEE FOR MILES. I
suppose I was really melancholic when I wrote it.
My first attempt at tape phasing or 'flanging' can be heard on some elements of
the track. I'm pretty sure The Who didn't even hear this song.
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.
Things Have Changed
A song written in 1965 that was probably too lightweight for The Who at the
time. Kit Lambert, our producer then, might even have prevented me from playing
it to the band, I can't remember.
Popular This was a last minute demo recorded ay my Soho studio by Chris Ludwinski
for the FACE DANCES album. The band reaction was luke warm, we were closing to
ending the album and were all unsure of what was happening. I later moved the
'Popular' chorus, replaced it with ' It's Hard' and managed to sell another
Behind Blue Eyes
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.
The Magic Bus 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.
Cache, Cache Recorded in Soho by Chris Ludwinski between drinking
bouts with John Lydon and his brother Jimmy one night. I had written this about
a very screwed up time in Europe,
a time that from my point of view still seems strange; The Who to long on the
road, me totally schizophrenic and everyone simply reacting by saying I was
The song is a jibe at them, the band, the managers, the hangers on, asking them
if they know what it's like. It's a bitter piece, but powerful. Roger saw
immediately what it was about when I tried to get him to do it on FACE DANCES
and made me sing it myself. By the time I came to do The Who version I had
forgiven everybody, or realised that they hadn't really been guilty of
anything in the first place. When I sang this demo I meant it.
Cookin' An early attempt at playing pedal steel, an instrument
I finally abandoned. I used a secret open tuning on the acoustic guitar , (which
I gave away in a music book called DECADE OF THE WHO) and invented a drum sound
that I hoped would sound like a wash-board. A chauvinistic little ditty, but
I'm chauvinistic towards men as well so it's OK isn't it?
You're So Clever 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
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.
Initial Machine Experiments This peace was played on my Yamaha CS80 synthesiser to
test a TEAC half inch eight track machine. This is very much indicative of the
kind meandering I get into when locked away with a synthesizer. Someone once
said that when you play around with a synthesizer you end up suffering from a
disease called 'synthesiseritis'. I suffer happily.
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
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
like the hoola hoop. I also strummed away on some cello strings.
Goin' Fishin' This song is really an impressionist piece. The lyric
is simply about my abhorrence of fishing, but the music was carefully structured
and recorded with three stereo bounces on Revox tape machines. I think I was
trying to create the kind of atmosphere the Beach Boys had achieved on SMILEY
SMILE. Home organ creates a lot of pure tone colour here, a very basic LOWERY
with only about six tabs. I used a nearby bathroom as a chamber to create the
cold ambience on the vocals and drums.
To Barney Kessell
A simple guitar chord chart I worked out and dedicated to a great guitar player.
I knocked this onto tape in one take while doing some demos at my country studio
for theWHO BY NUMBERS album. I
always intended to add a lead guitar part and did try a bass and drums, but
it's nice as it is. I play a lot like this, it isn't really exploratory jazz
as I work with fairly well tried chords, but it's a style of guitar I enjoy.
You Came Back This is a real favorite of mine about, you guessed it,
reincarnation. The fact that I never got around to putting drums on it makes the
exchanged guitar rhythms, played on an inexpensive CORAL guitar, more effective.
Lead guitar solo also missing I'm afraid.
Love Reign O'er Me 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.
Executive Producer Spike
Engineer Mike Pela
Helping hand Peter Townshend and Chris Ludwinski
Knob twiddling done at Eel Pie, Soho and the Boathouse
All photographs taken by Chris Morphet
Illustration Ian Wright
Art direction JB
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