For Whotles, the Bell Tolls

I wish I had the foresight to copyright the idea and name of the Whotles when I first came up with the idea and blogged about it. Now the Whotles – Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – are all over the place. For example, a ‘live CD’ was recently listed on Ebay. Understandably, nobody was keen to shell out the ‘Buy It Now’ asking price of US$10,000. But the set list was interesting:

  1. When I Was 64
  2. Won't Get Fooled On A Hill Again
  3. Hello… Who Are You… Goodbye
  4. Baba O’Rigby
  5. Sgt. Pinball Pepper
  6. Behind Yellow Eyes
  7. Ob-La-Di, Ob-Baba-Da
  8. Magic Submarine
  9. PS I Love Your Squeezebox
  10. Lady Madonna, Who Are You
  11. See Me Help Me
  12. Here Comes The Magic Bus
  13. Call Me Beethoven
  14. Tommy, You Won't See Me
  15. You Better Get Back
  16. Revolution 515
  17. Hey Jude I Can See Your Eminence Front
  18. She’s A Bargain
  19. Baby, You’re A Substitute
  20. The Ballad Of John And John And Keith And George

Closer inspection shows more care could have been taken, however. From a comedy point of view, chose which Baba O’Reilly gag you want to make and use it (preferably, the best one – although it’s a hard call between Baba O’Rigby and Ob-La-Di, Ob-Baba-Da; Ob-La-Di, Baba-Da sounds just a bit better than the latter, but I think I like Baba O’Rigby better). The Magic Bus reference never worked in either instance – in fact, most of the offerings are a bit ‘first draft’. Here are some that I came up with:

Come Join Together (this should be the ‘title track’ of the album, clearly)
Magical Mystery Tour Bus
One After 515
Who Are You? I Am The Walrus
You’ve Got To Hide Your Eminence Front
See Me Feel Fine
I’m Looking Through Your Pictures Of Lilly
Come And Get Fooled Again

ADDENDUM - November 20, 2008

At the time of writing this blog, I had no idea – that is to say, no recollection – that I’d already come up with some of the song titles some months earlier in reply to someone who commented on the initial Whotles-related blog. I only discovered it now in the process of copying the URL of that blog for a publicist who has just announced the Who’s latest Aussie tour! Who knows – I may have even inspired the e-bayer.

The Beachles

A while ago I spent some time ruminating on the best course of action for the Who and the Beatles, seeing as the former band have lost their original drummer and bass player, while the latter are down to their drummer and bass player. Make way, then for the Whotles: Roger Daltry, Pete Townshend, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. In the same little blog entry, I suggested that it were far more likely that the pushy, bass playing, mutual back-slapping, musical genii of the Beach Boys and the Beatles would join together first: Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney of the Beachles.

Well, it seems someone else has liked that idea.

Make way for Sgt Petsounds, by the Beachles!


If I were brutally honest, I’d be forced to admit that these mash-ups are quite heavy-handed compared to, say, The Grey Album by Danger Mouse (the mash-up of The Beatles’ so-called ‘White Album’ and Jay-Z’s Black Album). Sgt Petsounds is still a worthy undertaking nonetheless.

Thanks to Michael Larson for pointing its existence out to me!


Clayton Counts, the artist behind the Beachles’ Sgt Petsounds project, writes

…Your honesty is appreciated, but I'd like to point something out to you. I am friends with a good number of producers and DJs, and like me a great number of them feel as if the Grey Album is sub-standard. I could give you examples, and even show you just how little work went into the construction of those tracks. Many of them are one or two loops set to a simple beat, and there's hardly any Beatles material on the record. You even get the impression at times that Dangermouse doesn't much like the Beatles.

Don't get me wrong... I do like Dangermouse's solo work, but this project of mine is a different sort of mashup record. I don't think of it as heavy handed, or a mashup record at all, in the sense that it is intended as an abstract reinterpretation, in the vein of Negativland, Emergency Broadcast Network, the Residents, and the like. Certainly some people have felt the way you do, though I dare say that it is really because we have grown to accept and even expect that which is most easily digested. This record is a challenge to make, especially since it's being done almost exclusively track for track, and it should be equally challenging to listen to. And anyway, it would be a disservice to the people who enjoy my original music if I were to lay a simple beat under all of it. Feel free to check that stuff out, but it's not for everyone.

And of course I'm not complaining... it’s probably best if people get a warning before they dive in. It's avant garde / noise music, but I can assure you that a lot of hard work has gone into this. It doesn't take patience to make a beat-driven record... it only takes a beat. (I do make a ton of dance music, and when I play out people dance to it, but it's far less satisfying to me artistically.)

Okay... sorry for rambling. Very funny that we would cross paths! Take care.

And so I’d like to add that I agree, Dangermouse’s Grey Album is simplistic in it’s approach, is beat driven, does resort to loops… and I realise that’s why I like it more than Sgt Petsounds — which I love in concept, much as I also like the Residents, but listen to their gorgeous, glorious noise quite infrequently.

I do like my mashups easily accessible and beat-driven rather than avanguarde and harder to ingest, and Clayton clearly knows what he’s talking about here because, on the same site, he features a Paul McCartney & Wings Vs Ne-Yo mash-up that does tick all the traditional, on-the-beat, easily digestible boxes!

2 Who or not 2 Who

Earlier this month (November 2004), Pete Townshend announced via the official Who website that he and Roger Daltrey were getting together in December, with whatever bits of song they’d managed to write thus far, in order to see if it was worth proceeding any further with plans for a new Who album. The project was apparently tentatively title Who2, clearly a reference to the remaining original members of the band.

Okay. The name sucks. But what about the idea?

A friend of mine likens the concept of new Who songs to re-animating a dinosaur skeleton.

I disagree.

When I saw The Who at the Sydney Entertainment Centre some months ago, I was impressed: despite lead guitarist Pete Townshend and vocalist Roger Daltrey illuminated by a spotlight as a duo, accompanied by a backing band who spent most of the evening in the shade, they were good. The backing band were essential to the enjoyment, providing the solid bed upon which Pete and Roger could rock.

And what a backing band: Zak Starkey, forever destined to have the middle name ‘Son-of-Ringo’, was the perfect drummer. Simon Townshend – slated to appear  downunder as The Who’s guitarist in a mid-90s tour that was, thankfully, called off (see, the world really is wonderful!) before it could taint the outlaw memory the band had created in their one and only previous Aussie tour, in 1968, when they were given the bum’s rush out of the country for being ‘unruly’ on a flight – backed up big brother Pete as rhythm guitarist. Pino Palladino, session bass player extraordinaire deputised for the most recently departed Ox, John Entwistle. But it was John ‘Bunny’ Bundrick, on keyboards, who proved his worth, playing fantastically.

Indeed, ‘Bunny’ delivered the most gorgeously majestic introduction to ‘Love Reign O’er Me’, that Daltrey had to go and ruin. That’s right. Ruin. Daltrey’s onstage ‘move’ for most of the night consisted oof swinging the microphone by its lead, often having it wrap around him and then unwrap before he’d catch it. Only, one time, it led to the ‘Spinal Tap’ moment of the evening, when he dropped the damn thing. Which resulted in a faulty connection, static, and ultimately, malfunction. But only at the most delicately dramatic moment of the evening, after that awesome introduction that reigned over ‘Love Rein O’er Me’. And there was no choice: stop the song mid-verse, pick it up again. However, rather than risk ‘Bunny’ attempting to reproduce that brilliant intro again, and failing, they chose to pick it up from the verse.

But that was ultimately forgiveable. Why? The true test of whether this version of The Who cut it was with songs like ‘Who Are You’. In fact, specifically the song ‘Who Are You’. The choruses were faultless, with perfectly falsetto’d ‘Hu! Hu! Hu! Hu!’s following each ‘Whoooooo are youuuuu?’.

Those harmonic interludes of “Whooooh-aaaaah-ooooh-aaaaah-ooooh-aaaaah” were, likewise, note-perfectly reproductions of that song. It was heaven.

The band played their token new ‘single’ – the recently recorded ‘Real Good Looking Boy’ (a tribute to Elvis and rock, based around the ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ melody) and ‘Old Red Wine’. The songs appear as ‘bonus’ tracks in the recently released singles box set and the most recent Who compilation The Who: Then & Now. It was after playing the songs that Pete admitted that they were considering recording a new album. The cheering didn’t increase noticeably, but nobody boo’d. Clearly, we’d given the idea our approval.

So back to the new album.

I think the idea is almost, but not quite right, and even though Pete and Roger don’t realise this, the people around them certainly do. Consider again their greatest hits collection Then and Now


Does it look familiar to you?


Hint: the word ‘fab’, describing the ‘new recordings’, is a bit of a give-away.


If you’ll recall, The Who’s ‘The Kids Are All Right’ always was the best Merseybeat song that The Beatles never wrote. So it’s kind of fitting that The Who are ‘ripping off’ the ‘ripped’ artwork for The Beatles’ Anthology series.


Indeed, The Who could have gone all the way: instead of Then and Now they could have called the album Yesterday And Today, like the Beatles did, in America, in 1965. And there you have the perfect solution to the problem. With the passing of Keith Moon (drums) and John Entwistle (bass), The Who have lost their rhythm section. All The Beatles have left is Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – their rhythm section. They should combine forces and record an album as The Whotles.

Unfortunately, another band has beaten The Who to this collaboration: former Beach Boy Brian Wilson has already let slip, in interview, that he intends to record with Paul McCartney next year. It won’t be the first time: Paul McCartney munched a carrot on the original recording of ‘Vegetables’, for the ill-fated Smile album (which, nearly forty years later, Brian Wilson has gone and re-recorded). Macca also appeared, along with Eric Clapton and Elton John, on Wilson’s album Gettin’ In Over My Head earlier this year. However, next year’s collaboration may prove to be more significant. Which is fitting: two great bass players who are also pushy song writers who orchestrated their respective bands’ best albums, who also happened to be born within days of each other, and admire each other greatly… most likely we’ll get a Beachles album before we get a Whotles album.