September 15, 2006

Unplayable 45s I won't throw out, #2.

This is not only the most unplayable 45 I won't throw out, it is the most excellent 45 I won't throw out.

Unplayable 45

ADDED: Here's a shrine to the single "Substitute." And here's an article in today's NYT about The Who concert in NYC on Wednesday, which I hadn't noticed when I wrote this post. I'm not a fan of Who comeback concerts, and, in fact, my love for The Who is all about the pre-"Tommy" things, back when Keith Moon was not only not dead, but looked like he was just a kid.

34 comments:

Truly said...

You know, there's got to be some way you can incorporate these into your decor. They may be unplayable, but they're too fabulous to sit in a box in the back of your closet. Hang them in display boxes on the wall, perhaps? Maybe put some in your office?

Obob said...

I agree with your morally just decsion. Throwing away LPs is a cardinal sin of the church. Little known edict from Vatican III, the Basement Tapes

Ann Althouse said...

obob: It's not an LP!

truly: Well, I'm using them in the decor of my blog. And actually, I do have one 45 that's been leaning on the mantle for a long time. As far as actual LPs are concerned, I do have 6 of them framed and hanging over the fireplace. There's an old post about that.

MadisonMan said...

Unlike yesterday's, this 45 did not leap immediately to the tongue. I don't know if that's because it's less singable, less memorable (to me), or what.

Who broke it?

the Rising Jurist said...

Didn't leap to the tongue?!

Sub-sti-tute.
Me for him.
Sub-sti-tute.
My coke for gin.

What a great song!

David said...

Use it for a coaster!

MadisonMan said...

Didn't leap to the tongue?!

Sad but true. Yesterday I immediately started singing Walk like a man, talk like a man, walk like a man my so-o-o-o-on (Apologies to those who just got that out of their head), but today I had to think: "How's that go? Oh yeah, Substitute...". And that's the only word in the song I Know!

Ann Althouse said...

If you don't know "Substitute," you should at least know not to admit it. Unless you shun all popular music, it's cultural illiteracy not to know this one. Go to iTunes and download it. Then come back and talk about it. I like the single version, but "Live at Leeds" is a classic too.

Mark Daniels said...

Ann:
Photographs of your old 45s bring me a set of sad memories.

When my wife and I were married thirty-two years ago, the apartment into which we moved was too small for me to take all my stuff. So, I left behind my 45s, as well as my Matchbox cars, baseball cards, and some 30 Tonka trucks.

All were pretty much destroyed by my family. Six 45s (out of about 150) survived. The baseball cards were all thrown away. All but about ten Matchbox cars bit the dust. (Their demise I didn't mind so much; they were played with first, by my kid brother, and then by my nephews and nieces.)

I was shocked a few years ago when I learned that my sister had eight of the thirty big Tonka trucks, my most cherished childhood possessions, setting in barrels. My wife found a way to display them in our home and, in fact, two of them set on a shelf above my computer and I look at them every day.

I know that I shouldn't do it and most of the time I attach little significance to material things, as I've written to Sippican before. But I do wish that I could have been the one to decide which 45s to get rid, if any.

All the Veejay, Capitol, and Apple singles by the Beatles were among the collection, as were songs by Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, and lots of others. Included was 'Hey Jude,' which, as far as I'm aware, was the first 45 to be in stereo rather than mono.

Pardon me for whimpering and whining over something totally inconsequential.

(Fortunately, I took all my LPs with me and they all survive. They set on a bookshelf behind me now. I still play some of them from time to time.)

Mark

Paul Zrimsek said...

Aren't you going to tell us what the B side is? Probably something that will make Sippican even more jealous.

Mark Daniels said...

Madison Man's comment about the single not leaping immediately to the tongue made me laugh...it looks like somebody bit the record. So, maybe it did leap to someone's tongue.

Mark

MadisonMan said...

So I shouldn't admit I never saw the appeal of the Who? There are Who songs I can listen to -- Won't get Fooled again, for example -- but they've never wormed their way into my brain like, say, all the songs on Surrealistic Pillow. I've always preferred the vocal part of songs, so I can sing along with them. I don't find Who songs singalongable, hence my lack of interest in them.

I'll add that I've never liked the Who's Next album cover either. I see it and think: don't they know they're polluting?

I know. Hopelessly square, in 1960s parlance.

quietnorth said...

Great song! But help me:

"See right through your plastic what?"

Chris said...

What on earth did you do to the 45 to take that chunk out of it?

stoqboy said...

I'm a substitute for another guy/Look pretty tall, but my heels are high/The simple things you see are all complicated/I look pretty young but I'm just backdated.

I'm not a big fan of The Who, but this song is one of their most singable. I have the album, Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy which also includes Boris the Spider, Happy Jack (from the Hummer commercial, for the kids) and The Magic Bus.

Hazy Dave said...

On ATCO records, even! Most impressive. I had no idea that any label but Decca released their records in the USA. The 'Oo equivalent of Beatles singles on Vee-Jay, I suppose... Did you see Pete and Roger on Letterman last night?

Icepick said...

Ann, can you post images of the B-sides too? I admit I'm too young to know what the B-side of this was, although I'm sure I know the tune.

And Ann is correct that you should know this song! I will have it in my head the rest of the day, no need for iTunes, no need for a device of any kind. I think the weekend just officially started!

Icepick said...

Substitute your lies for fact
I can see right through your plastic mac
I look all white, but my dad was black
My fine looking suit is really made out of sack


Apparently, The Who weren't Apple fans....

corporate law drudge said...

"I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth" - The Who

"Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." - Ann Richards

johnstodderinexile said...

"plastic mac" = one of those transparent raincoats that maybe the Mods liked to wear?

Before I ever heard this song, I knew its lyrics, because it was one of the songs listed in "The Poetry of Rock."

My parents were taken with the idea that, after Sgt. Pepper, rock was now culturally respectable, but only if the music was "sophisticated" and the lyrics "literary" (or alternately, political). So I was given this insufferable book analyzing rock song lyrics as poetry as a Christmas present.

"Substitute" was seen as a statement about racial prejudice -- I think just because of that one line, 'I look all white but my dad was black,' which is to me pretty clearly meant to taunt the person the singer is addressing, not to advance the cause of civil rights.

Ann Althouse said...

Hazy Dave: I'm glad you appreciate the ATCO label! I probably bought that record the day it came out. And let me just add that I was a member of the Who fan club before their first album was released in the U.S., and based on the first single ("I Can't Explain") and reading about them in magazines. I read a lot about the song "My Generation" before it was released here. Also: I never cared much for the later Who, which for me is "Tommy" and everything after. I'm all about the early singles. I even have something of a problem with "Happy Jack."

The B side is "Waltz for a Pig."

Drew W said...

Like sharp little Frisbees, 45s were imminently fling-able. Once, one of my big sisters was at a slumber party where the 45 single of Tommy James & the Shondells' "Crimson & Clover" was played . . . you guessed it, over and over. (And over and over, ad infinitum.) Two girls at the party (one possibly being my sister), finally had enough of it. They yanked it off the turntable and ceremoniously smashed it into bits. Hearing the story at the time, I was horrified that someone would do such a thing to a defenseless single.

I wished I'd been so conscientious a few years later, when, as a mindlessly destructive pre-adolescent, I enjoyed what I wittily designated a "record-breaking" afternoon, and reduced nearly all the old family 45s to a pile of shattered vinyl and paper. (Thankfully, I spared "Surfin' Bird.") One other survivor of that dreadful day was the Capitol 45 of Cannonball Adderley's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy." It's presently right in front of me, thumb-tacked to the bulletin board in my office -- tacked through the center of that once-omnipresent little yellow adapter that you stuck in 45s so they could fit on a turntable spindle.

Beyond being a purely decorative item, I think I may also have placed it there as a reminder to my many 20-something co-workers: I'm an old guy who was alive when we used to listen to music on these things.

ak21 said...

I loved my 45s. Listening to my older siblings records was my first intro to music. Even before I could read I knew which 45s were which by their label design. "Stagger Lee" was black with a muli-colored snake, "Cathy's Clown" was pink, etc. The only problem was that all the Beatles 45s looked alike. Orange and yellow swirls.

I was never a big Who fan until I heard "A Quick One While He's Away" on the Rushmore soundtrack. I started listening to some of the 40,000 Who albums my husband owns, and I've really come to appreciate them.

Wickedpinto said...

When I was about 13 or so , I think maybe 12, my best friend and I got into a fight, a small one, but he through a hard back book at me, and somehow I got a paper cut, so I jumped up, and dodged the playful violence that we were going through, and I grabbed a 45, and I hit him in the face, while throwing it like a discuss.

The greatest blasphemy I have every engaged it, was getting involved in a missile like fight with my best friend, throwing my 45's across the room at eachother. It was also prolly one of the most painful ones.

We thought we cleaned up the mess after the fact, but it turned out that there were disc's stuck in the various crownings of my front/family room, and I didn't realize it, but a couple fragments in the kitchen sink.

My old man went NUTS! When I got expelled, he was less angry than he was, seeing the musical carnage my friend and I left in the house. Thank god he didn't see the damage we did to eachothers bodies. A 45 thrown hard enough can cut pretty friggen deep, thank goodness we missed eachothers faces and necks.

Ann Althouse said...

Wickedpinto: Funny. Reminds me of my brother, who once tried to burn a record he didn't like by pouring gasoline on it and lighting it, but he'd dripped gasoline all the way from the garage to the driveway and the whole line of drippings blew up in flames, and "the old man" looked out the window and saw huge flames billowing out of the house. Nothing serious really happened, but the old man went nuts (and rightly so).

Rob said...

When I was in law school in dear old Bloomington, IN I bought "Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy" and could not believe that somehow I had missed the great pre-"Pinball Wizard" songs by The Who. Many of the great British Invasion era singles of The Who did not hit it big in the U.S., despite the fact they were as catchy as The Beatles' singles, and Townsend probably had a better sense of humor than Lennon and McCartney. C'mon, "Substitute", "The Kids are Alright", "Pictures of Lily", for goodness sakes. We blasted that album from our front porch as we played frisbee in Bryan Park.

I can't believe Ann doesn't like late songs by The Who. OK, the world could have done without "Squeeze Box", but "Baba O'Riley", "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "I Can See For Miles" are great! Aren't they?
What I miss about 45s is the way that every little small town five and dime and drug store had a rack of singles, usually sorted by their position in the top 40. It was great to go in and see if any new single from one of your favorite singers or groups had appeared the lower reaches of the charts. Then you could follow the progress of a song up the charts as you might follow the standings of a sports league.
In the glory days of the 45, WLS dominated the midwest, and whenever you met a fellow teen within 200 miles of Chicago, they were listening to the same songs you were. For midwestern Boomers, it was a shared history of hit singles and favorite disk jockeys.

dmm9999 said...

Long time reader, first time poster...

Re: rob, while I don't fully support Ann's pre-Tommy sentiments with regard to the Who, "I Can See for Miles" is from '67--off "The Who Sell Out"--and so is safe under the pre-'69 rubric.

Ann, are you a fan, retroactively or otherwise, of their stuff as the "High Numbers"?

TMink said...

A sad picture that. I am much more of an lp guy myself. Lately, when I can, I have a Friday (or Saturday) night record club where I vacuum clean some of my collection, then listen to them while I transfer them to cds and then my ipod.

The who STILL work for me. They are one of the important rock groups in my head, along with Neil Young (when he chooses to rock,) Jimi, Chicago (when they chose to rock) and others. The Who certainly lost a lot when they lost Keith and later John, but Roger and Pete still have it as far as I am concerned.

There is a new pressing of Who's Next by Classic Records that gets rave reviews, and I have seen but not yet bought a SACD of their first record. In my collection, my most valuable piece is a minty fresh 10 inch of Chet Baker. It was my mother in laws, she never played it, and I cannot part with it!

Thanks for the post and the pic.

Trey

Ann Althouse said...

Trey: The Who, with "Tommy" and what went after, were the very foundation of arena rock and the source of a whole lot of what went bad about rock music. In the 70s, their music and other things like it were on the radio all the time. The early Who inspired a different line, and the musicians who picked up that thread are the rock heroes of the 70s. I don't think "Tommy" is bad. "Who's Next" is good, but in the big picture, I have a problem with it, and the early Who is absolutely central to what I like about rock music.

Rob said...

It does not seem fair to blame The Who for Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon and (HEHEH) Air Supply. They were not really stadium rockers, but I remember one of their songs bragged something like: "...and I can make all the stadiums rock...." which I always found hilarious coming from a weenie rock band like Air Supply. What would be the nadir of "stadium rock"?

"Substitute" has great lyrics and a great instrumental track. Unlike some of the band's songs, Daltrey does not go out of control. It is interesting to listen to the "Scoop" albums released by Townsend, which contain his demos for the band. While Townsend does sometimes sing for The Who, I think perhaps he should have sung more.

Which leads to this question. What do the commenters think of Townsend's solo singles such as "Slit Skirts" and "Let My Love Open the Door"?

amba said...

Well, just to show how ancient it's possible to be, one of the first singles I owned, and would kill to still have, was the martyred Ritchie Valens' "Donna" on one side and "La Bamba" on the other. "La Bamba" was the side I favored and the singer's death in a small-plane crash in February 1959 along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper was the first death that really hit me hard. I still have my journal entries about it -- two months short of age 13.

CGHill said...

If I remember correctly, the Atco release of "Substitute" was expurgated: the line about "I look all white but my dad was black" was replaced with the more-innocuous "I try walking forward but my feet walk back."

"Waltz for a Pig," incidentally, is not the Who at all, but the Graham Bond Organisation, featuring Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, who made bigger names for themselves later elsewhere.

Ann Althouse said...

CGHill: You're right. It definitely had the "feet" line, which is also what we heard on the radio. I can't imagine the song with the "dad was black" line being played on the radio in the United States.

JazzBass said...

Ann Althouse uses the words "Live At Leeds" and I swoon. Good job, Professor.

Now...not singalongable? The Who? ok then, I won't sing "Pictures of Lily" any more and I'll try to remember those catchy lyrics to "3/5ths of a mile in ten seconds" or whatever it's called. only good thing about the airplane was Jack Casady.

and yes, a plastic mac means a plastic mackintosh. a raincoat. Pete Townshend's opinion about The Beatles is forever recorded in the movie "The Kids Are Alright" in which he refers to the fab four's music sans vocals as "flippin' lousy".

oooh, the kids are alright, another great heavily singalongable song.

The Good's Gone, evidently. Time to take the 5:15.