Who Came First
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Audio CD, April 20, 2018
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Who Came First is the debut album by Pete Townshend, released in 1972. It includes demos from the abandoned concept album Lifehouse, part of which became Who's Next. The original release had a gatefold cover and included a poster with additional photos of Meher Baba from the Louis van Gasteren film Beyond Words.
The cover photo of Townshend standing on eggs is a reference to the eternal question: 'Who came first? The chicken or the egg.' It peaked at number 30 on the UK album chart and at number 69 on the US Billboard 200.
We celebrate the 45th Anniversary with a 2CD expanded version of the album, housed in 8 panel Digi DVD packaging, the original poster from the 1972 release and 24 page booklet which contains rare images of Meher Baba and Pete in his recording studio. Also included are new sleeve notes provided by Pete himself.
Remastering has been carried out by long term Pete Townshend and The Who collaborator Jon Astley, using original master tapes. CD1 consists of the original album as it was released, CD2 includes unreleased tracks, alternative versions of songs such as Parvardigar, Day Of Silence and live performances.
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"Pure & Easy" is one of the best songs Townshend ever wrote. While I prefer the Who version on ODDS & SODs, Townshend does a great acoustic version here. Lane takes the lead on "Evolution" which is...well, very Ronnie Lane-ish. Like your neighbor sitting on his back step with a guitar and a pint of Guiness.
I love the sappy acoustic tunes "Time Is Passing," "There's A Heartache Following Me" and, especially and always, "Sheraton Gibson." Just great great great stuff from a period when Townshend could do anything--ANYTHING--on the guitar. The most intimidating wizard of all, in my book, even more so than Hendrix because Townshend never lost the beat in the midst of his revery (how's that for a poetic twitch?).
And "Content" is almost angelic. Other than George Harrison I can't imagine anyone in Rock at the time (1972) who would have dared be this fragile and prostrate on a solo LP.
For all his human shortcomings, Townshend remains my hero--guitar, spiritual, philosophical, whatever--and this album demonstrates the real heart of why that came to be. There are no hits, and that's really the point: this was a demonstration of a kind of faith, not an attempt to conquer Top Of The Pops.
Later in the 70's Townshend would fight an internal battle to mix this kind of spiritual enlightenment with an urge to remain commercially viable; he would try to inject this kind of philosophical openness into a Rock/Pop Rock format. Whether or not he was successful--and whether or not that effort led, in part or in whole, to the creative collapse of the Who--is a wordy issued we can debate some other time.
This is a great record,, though, no matter how you approach it.
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