Peter Townshend Chris Welch - Essay

Chris Welch

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Since the [Who's] inception they have been bedevilled by ideas that haven't quite come off, by schemes that haven't always worked out, and by a confused battle for real acceptance.

While they have a tremendous image, the public, hardcore fans apart, have tended to regard the Who as either amusing or scandalous, but never musically valid.

The ideas of Peter Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon have been smothered in a fog of feuding, and a clutter of broken amplifiers and blitzed drums.

Occasionally some of their musical promise has come through on the odd A or B side, while their first album ["The Who Sings My Generation"] was frankly a disappointment.

But ["A Quick One"] is a collection of compositions and treatments that captures the Who essence, humour, cynicism, nervous drive, violence, and delicacy….

Pete's musical achievement [to date is "A Quick One While He's Away"]—a sort of miniature pop opera, with a cute story about a girl who cries so much she becomes a big drag to all the neighbours, crying all day because her boy friend is a year late showing up. Then a wicked engine driver, played by John comes into the picture, and fills the duties unfulfilled by the absent cowboy. Then he shows up, and there is a big apology scene, followed by the cowboy's forgiveness. There are several sections, including a country and western bit and some 18th century music. It's fun, and a new departure for any pop group. (p. 11)

Chris Welch, "The Who Fulfilled—and a Mini-Opera, Yet!" in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), Vol. 41, December 10, 1966, pp. 10-11.