The Who – Odds And Sods

Odds And Sods (1974)


1. I’m The Face 2. Leaving Here 3. Baby Don’t You Do It 4. Summertime Blues 5. Under My Thumb 6. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand 7. My Way 8. Faith In Something Bigger 9. Glow Girl 10. Little Billy 11. Young Man Blues 12. Cousin Kevin Model Child 13. Love Ain’t For Keeping 14. Time Is Passing 15. Pure And Easy 16. Too Much Of Anything 17. Long Live Rock 18. Put The Money Down 19. We Close Tonight 20. Postcard 21. Now I’m A Farmer 22. Water 23. Naked Eye


Wanna hear a funny joke? OK, here goes:

Three guys wanted to marry the princess. So the king tells them, “OK, whoever comes back here in a year with the most ping pong balls gets to marry my daughter.” So the three guys go out on their quest. After about six months, the first guy comes back with a car full of ping-pong balls and asks the king, “can I marry your daughter?” and the king tells him to wait until the other two guys get back. Another five months later, the second guy shows up with a whole truckload of ping-pong balls. He asks the king, “can I marry your daughter?” and the king is like, “nah, not yet, we gotta wait for the last guy.” So the final month passes and the king and the two guys who had returned are standing outside the castle counting down the final seconds and looking for any sign of the last guy. The king starts counting down: “Ten… nine… eight…” when suddenly they hear, “WAAAAAAIIIIT!!!” In the distance, they see the last guy approaching. His face is all disfigured, half his limbs are torn off, and he has horrible scars all over his body. And the only thing he has with him is a tiny paper bag. The king stares at him in bewilderment, gestures to the paper bag, and asks the guy, “That’s all you brought? Where are all your ping-pong balls?” The guy replies: “Ping-pong balls? I thought you said King Kong’s balls!”

HAHAHAHAHA!!! I first heard that joke when I was six. It’s still awesome.

I don’t know why I felt like starting the review off with a joke. Maybe because Odds & Sods is a funny album title and it got my own funny bone working. Isn’t it kind of a silly name? Those Whotles and their schoolboy humor, driving cars into swimming pools and looking at kiddie porn on the internet. They also recorded a lot of songs that didn’t make their albums, so they put together this rarities and outtakes collection so we could all listen to them. That’s cool, because it turns out a lot of those songs are really good!

The original version, released in 1974, only had eleven tracks on it, a number which more than doubled sometime during the CD era when a reissue came out. The expanded tracklist essentially provides an (almost) chronological document of the Who’s musical evolution without any of the hits (excepting the 1972 stand alone single “Long Live Rock,” a kinda stupid hard rock boogie track that was to be the basis of Pete’s second rock opera before he began work on Quadrophenia. It starts out with some early R&B-inflected stuff, including the band’s debut single, released under the name the High Numbers, “I’m The Face,” which was written by their then-manager, Pete Meaden (and by “written,” I mean “baldly stolen from Slim Harpo’s ‘Got Love If You Want It,’ with the lyrics replaced by instantly datable Mod slang”). As I mentioned in my Sings My Generation review, R&B covers weren’t the Who’s strong suit. “Leaving Here” actually rocks pretty darn nicely, but the versions of “Summertime Blues” and Marvin Gaye’s “Baby Don’t You Do It” sound sorta dinky in comparison to the versions they did for Live At Leeds and during the Who’s Next sessions, respectively. Fortunately, we quickly move on to the Sell Out power pop era, with delights abound. We get the organ-heavy b-side version of “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand,” which is noticeably superior to the album version. Also notable is the catchy anti-smoking jingle “Little Billy,” which gets its message across several times more effectively than any of those stupid assed Above The Influence commercials. There’s also a perfunctory cover of “Under My Thumb” that they did to show solidarity with the Stones during Mick and Keith’s drug trials in 1967.

But the real fun begins after the musically nondescript Tommy outtake “Cousin Kevin Model Child” (which ends on the same chord that “Cousin Kevin” starts on!) with the Lifehouse outtakes. The forgotten single “Pure And Easy” was basically the Lifehouse theme song, and has a cool rocked up coda, but I prefer the heavy, atmospheric rock songs “Water” and the bitter conspiracy-minded fan fav “Naked Eye,” which cryptically explores the effects of living under Big Brother (or the Grid or Richard Nixon or whatever). Listen to these tunes alongside the folksy/bombastic “Time Is Passing” and the gorgeously sung acoustic ballad “Too Much Of Anything” and keep in mind that these are outtakes. Hard to believe. Finally, there’s a nice Quadrophenia outtake sung by John and Keith, “We Close Tonight,” and a couple of forgettable outtakes from around ’68 (John’s electric piano-driven “Postcard” is just characteristically quirky enough to be saved from total forgettability, but Pete’s “Now I’m A Farmer” is just plain weird). Speaking of those tunes, how come the album stops being chronological after track 19? What’s up with that? Is no one else curious about this? No? Just me? Oh.

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