Pictures of the sex pistols performing live

If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. One true sign of a truly great band is when said band ardently defies categorisation, pictures of the sex pistols performing live is, when for every “well, they sound like this reggae-influenced heavy metal band playing avantgarde bebop” remark you can have yourself a “funny, I thought they were this raw punk outfit doing acoustic folk” counterproposal.

And I don’t simply mean “being diverse” here, I mean “being different”. Blazing off every colour of the spectrum. Baring one’s soul in all of its existing aspects. Few bands were as good at that as the Who. When they started out on their recording spree in 1965, the pop music world was only beginning to get slowly adjusted to the idea that, instead of making artists rot in the rut by recording the same record as long as there were enough fans to compensate the expenses, it might be more reasonable to let the artists change and evolve into something completely different. Not that this alone should be enough for granting them top honours. More important is the idea that, unlike so many others, the Who were rarely following trends – they were setting them.

They weren’t above borrowing ideas off others, of course: in this world of constantly interlocking interests, nobody really is. But that was never an overriding concern for the band. Many people define the Who as the quintessential rock’n’roll band, with a heavy emphasis on the “rock” thing. DC or Motorhead or certain other rock’n’roll bands that came later and truly redefined the meaning of “raw sound” as we used to know it. In a way, this is true. The truth, I think, is that the Who, from the very beginning, were essentially an art band, and rock’n’roll, for them, was primarily an art object rather than a lifestyle.

I can’t even begin to imagine what a song like ‘Honky Tonk Women’ or ‘Rip This Joint’ would sound like in the hands of the Who. To put it differently, where other bands just used rock’n’roll for fun, the Who used rock’n’roll as a medium to let out their “spirituality”. Which brings us to the next point, namely, Pete Townshend as one of the finest composers of his generation and maybe the pop music world in general. What I mean is, for Pete Townshend “art” was never just an empty word. Maybe “art” was different from “real life”, but it was still an evident piece of “reality”, and you only have to watch a few minutes of any of the Who’s classic live shows from around 1969-71 to see the truth of it. As is the case with the Kinks, the biggest flaw that can be ascribed to the Who is the lack of a second equally gifted songwriter within the band.

Yet on the positive side, the Who had something that neither the Kinks nor 99. Pete Townshend may have been the band’s creative leader, primary songwriter, and guitar wiz par excellence, but the Who were never just “Pete Townshend and the Who”. First, there was Roger Daltrey – vocals – the quintessential rowdy suburban kid who started out as little more than an annoying arrogant bully but eventually became the father of the Big, Brawny, Heroic Anthem Delivery. His patented lionine roar, as forever immortalised in the wall-rattling scream at the end of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, is nowadays a rock cliche, but, believe it or not, there actually was a time when it wasn’t. Second, there’s John Entwistle – the guy that, at one time, finally convinced me of the importance and potential of the instrument we commonly refer to as the bass guitar. Finally, the drummer was Keith Moon, a figure as legendary in its own rights as JFK or Martin Luther King and therefore not really worth writing a lot about. The only issue I’d like to address is that some people seem to seriously believe that the only thing Keith Moon could ever do was bash, thrash, and crash.