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Bill's Pete Townshend Pages › Scoop Liner Notes

Scoop Liner Notes

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
creative outlet.
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.
Discovered Synthesisers!
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
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.
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...
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.
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.
Built a tiny studio in our new family home using the NEVE rack system. I have difficulty
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?


So, Sad
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.

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.

Dirty Water
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.

Piano: 'Tipperary'

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 Quad.

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.

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 song.

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. Daft punters

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 schizophrenic.
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.

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 enough space.

Body Language
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 double.

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.

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 the  WHO 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

WDK 2008

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