Wednesday, November 12, 2014

John Entwistle - Smash Your Head Against The Wall (1971 uk, essential varied rock)

Entwistle's quirky, labored solo debut still offers a lot of creative experiments and occasional Who-style thunder. Half the tunes would have worked on a Who album, including the stately acoustic guitar/piano ballad "What Are We Doing Here?", like a melancholy "Hey Jude," and the joyous sing-along "You're Mine," propelled by a rollicking piano line. 

The two centerpiece rockers are among his best compositions ever: the swaying, strutting "My Size," and the philosophical "Heaven And Hell," where he recreates the Who's standard live arrangement, but switches to a druggy, slowed-down tempo. Entwistle dubs horns and piano onto most tracks, and he's helped by Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and Pie/Who roadie Cy Langston, who's an effective, understated guitarist, even able to ape Townshend ("Heaven And Hell"). 

Entwistle's bass playing is as awesome as ever ("You're Mine"), his lead and harmony vocals are warm and even pretty (the deceptively sunny funeral ballad "Ted End"), and although the tunes don't always hold together ("Pick Me Up (Big Chicken)"), there's always something interesting going on: baroque horn riffs ("What Kind Of People Are They?"), psychedelic mantras ("You're Mine"), a bizarre percussion break featuring Keith Moon and Bonzo Dog Band members Neil Innes (the future Rutles mastermind) and Viv Stanshall ("No. 29 (External Youth)," otherwise standard fare). And he ends with a hysterical parody of John Lennon's "God" ("I Believe In Everything"). 

A must-have if you enjoy Entwistle's contributions on contemporary Who records. The CD includes an outtake cover of "Cinnamon Girl" that's remarkably close to the original. 
by John Alroy
1. My Size - 3:46
2. Pick Me Up (Big Chicken) - 3:44
3. What Are We Doing Here? - 3:50
4. What Kind Of People Are They? - 2:44
5. Heaven And Hell - 4:55
6. Ted End - 2:37
7. You're Mine - 4:38
8. No. 29 (Eternal Youth) - 5:37
9. I Believe In Everything - 3:11
10.Cinnamon Girl (Outtake) (Neil Young) - 3:05
11.It's Hard To Write A Love Song - 4:54
12.The Haunted Can Be Free -
13.World Behind My Face - 4:56
14.My Size (Early Take) - 3:50
15.What Kind Of People Are They? - 2:55
16.Pick Me Up (Big Chicken) - 3:07
17.No. 29 (Eternal Youth) - 4:38
18.Ted End - 1:56
All songs by John Entwistle, except where noted.
Tracks 11-18 Demo recordings

*John Entwistle - Vocals, Bass Guitar, Brass, Percussion, Piano, Keyboards
*Dave "Cyrano" Langston - Electric And Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
*Jerry Shirley - Drums, Percussion
*Keith Moon - Percussion, Vocals
*Neil Innes - Percussion, Vocals
*Vivian Stanshall - Percussion

1965  The Who - My Generation (Japan SHM Remaster)
1966  The Who - A Quick One (Japan SHM Remaster)
1967  The Who - Sell Out (Japan SHM Remaster) 
1968  The Who - Live At Fillmore East (Japan Edition)
1971  The Who - Who's Next (Japan SHM Remaster)

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