Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Who - Underture

Continuing on the subject of “Sparks/Underture” from my previous posts here and here, the above is a YouTube video with the studio version of “Underture” being played and accompanied by some pictures of The Who throughout their years together.

Although "Underture" is on the Tommy album, the music actually first showed up on the latter portion of “Rael 1,” which is off of The Who Sell Out; an incredibly sophisticated album which deserves multiple listens. Pete Townshend's art school background is on full display on Sell Out, so for some people that only know The Who through Who's Next, they may not initially "get" Sell Out.

When you listen to “Underture” it is quite clear that there’s a lot going on. I think it is definitely one of Pete's best and most complex compositions, however, it's probably also a song that people foolishly skip over when they listen to Tommy. I also think that it is one of those rare songs that every time I listen to it, I hear something new that I hadn't heard before.

The first part I love is around the one minute mark, which is where the heavy bass moves into some frenetically tight drumming – an oxymoron in most cases, but not when your drummer is Keith Moon. Basically, it sounds as though a machine gun is being fired, but there is not a hint of sloppiness to Moon's drumming, just ferocity. I can envision Moon going around and around on his massive drum kit and making sure he doesn’t leave one component of the kit untouched. His drumming is equally as fierce at the 2:33 and 7:33 marks.

The song slows down around 6:38 and seems to bide its time for about 30 seconds or so before hitting the climax and then fading.

I found a demo of "Underture" on YouTube (of course), which was released on Pete's demo collection, The Genuine Scoop. Here is a link to it; an amazingly rich sound; which, for me, only Pete Townshend could and can achieve. Not even an orchestra can match the genius that is Pete Townshend.

"Yes, the Who can help you find God. But then so can surviving a terrible plane crash." –Pete Townshend

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