Episode 210: The WHO Pat once again welcomes Frank Biernat to the guest Co-Host chair this time to discuss the sheer force and Maximum R&B of the legendary rock band The WHO! From July 23, 2015
With your host:
Pat welcomes us to the show. He is recording this in jolly ol' London with former Rock Solid guest and noted Swiss Frank Biernat! Pat is on vacation in England while his wife Pilar teaches and actually makes the family some money. They're going to Rome afterwards. Frank enjoys Rome because the driving laws are a little less stringent, and by that I mean that are none. Basically no one stops at red lights. Were there any bar fights or jail time? Only when Frank left. His drunk friends, meanwhile, fell off their Vespa in front of cops carrying machine guns.
Anyway, Frank flew over all the way from Switzerland just to do this podcast. The man spent good money to be with Pat Francis, I can't believe it. He even bought recording equipment. Today Pat and Frank are discussing their mutual love of The Who. Frank recently saw The Who in Hyde Park. It was part of a concert week for him. First he saw Faith No More. It was a great concert, but a little too short for him. Frank prefers at least a two hour show from a headlining act.
Then he saw Billy Idol with his longtime lady friend. Frank's not a big fan of Billy, but he went anyway. He notes how Steve Stevens the guitarist is from another time and place with his hairdo and get-up. Billy himself is an enigma: He's got the body of Channing Tatum, but the face of Angus Scrimm from Phantasm. Get it? He's got an old face. There was a lot of rock star acting from Billy; Frank was not a fan of that. His voice is good when he's in his comfort zone. The sound engineer was a wizard.
Billy only did a 90-minute show, earning a poor endurance grade from Frank. Then Frank went to London to see The Who in London at the British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park. His plane was late, but he made it in time to see the band. They came on and Frank was stunned the entire time. Tears were in his eyes, the whole crowd was singing; it was a very magical moment.
There were giant screens behind the band that showed artwork and never-before-seen photos. Then they put up a huge portrait of Keith Moon and Frank starts bawling his eyes out like a baby boy. Roger sounded great and he looked great too. Roger's always looked great, says Pat. Pete told the crowd how much all of this means to him.
Pat's seen The Who a bunch of times when they came to L.A. It's like a religious experience. Frank would have loved to have seen them with John and Keith. The writing was on the wall for Keith, so it wasn't a massive shock when he died, but John was in his sixties and still doing blow with strippers. God bless him; he truly died before he got old. Pat saw The Who a few weeks after Entwistle died and they explained how the crew needed these gigs to put food on the table. Roger and Pete are old men now, but they are not anachronistic or slow-moving.
Frank's friend Kevin saw The Who on the Who's Next tour. It was his first concert, so it was all downhill from there. But enough about Frank's lucky duck of a friend, let's play some music. Frank begins with the first Who song he ever heard when he discovered them on Rockpalast. Off of Face Dances, it's "You Better You Bet". Pat brings up once again how Face Dances and It's Hard are unfairly maligned. Maybe it was a bit too poppy, maybe it was too soon after Keith's death.
Kenney Jones' drumming is technically crisp and great, so he's not trying to imitate Keith. Pat's friends played "You Better You Bet" at an assembly and he didn't know it was a Who song. Frank recently re-listened to Face Dances and loved it. All of the four members of The Who put their individual strengths into the band to make it great: Pete had the lyrics, Roger had the voice, John had the technique, and Keith had the power.
Pat brings up the debate about The Rolling Stones vs. The Who. The Stones have the better collection of singles and riffs, but The Who has more emotion. Frank feels that the Stones had more interest in commercial gains. Pat's first pick is a song by The Who before they were The Who. It's The High Numbers with "I'm the Face" from the album Odds and Sods. All four guys come from varying backgrounds. Roger was the alpha dog, while Pete was the creative force.
Frank plays another song from Face Dances called "How Can You Do It Alone". There's a real weight to the lyrics.
Pat plays a live cut from the album Live at Hull. It's "Tattoo". Frank bends over backwards to extol Pete's lyrics.
Pete can get very dark, though. Frank shows this with the song "Pictures of Lily" from the compilation album Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. That's right, a song about giving a picture of a hot girl to your son so he can jack off to it. That song is a bit dated. Nowadays all it takes is a few click-clacks on the keyboard and you've got a lifetime of masturbation fodder at your disposal. On a related note, a friend of Frank's once got "the talk" from his mom when he was a kid and she gave him an offer to watch his parents fuck. Uh....
Pat's next pick is from Who's Next, which Pat considers the best rock album ever made. He plays "Bargain". Entwistle's bass playing is lauded. While Keith is going crazy on the drums with his entire body, Entwistle is keeping up with only his hands.
It's Frank's turn to play a live song and this time it is the elongated version of "My Generation" from Live at Leeds. Frank is awed how Keith can keep up the power for an entire concert. Frank would be dead after the second chorus of the first song. Pat and Frank discuss how every member is playing the lead.
The Who has a lot of raw energy, unlike The Stones but very much like early Kinks. Pat continues the musical journey with a song from The Who's debut album My Generation called "The Kids Are Alright". When Frank discovered The Who, he quickly became a Mod. He played The Who at parties, but never played them at home. He really enjoyed the pure rock aspect of the band, but that clashed with his mob sensibilities.
Frank's next song has what he calls "the best drum intro ever played." Off the album Quadrophenia, it's "Bell Boy". When Frank saw The Who, they played Keith's vocals on the big screen. Pat wonders how you can be in this type of mindset at such a young age to write these kinds of songs.
Pat plays another song from Quadrophenia called "Sea and Sand".
Frank could relate to Quadrophenia because he had a rough childhood growing up with his parents. He learned a lot because he had to fend for himself when he was a teenager. Pete Townshend's autobiography is a very dark, serious book. He had a rough childhood too. Frank remarks that Pete was able to express his pain through his music, but even at 70 he is still an angry young man.
Pat brings up The Who at Shea Stadium in '82. Pete looks so dour. Granted he was still on speed at the time, so that probably didn't help his emotional spectrum. And who knows, maybe Pete was angry at the horrible 80s fashion that he and Roger were wearing. Frank ends the Quadrophenia section with a song called "The Rock".
Pat plays a song that he has repeatedly referred to as one of his mental patient songs. Off of Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, it's "I Can't Explain". Again, very crisp. The Who's riffs never got as famous as The Stones' riffs.
Conversation turns to the album Who Are You. Frank plays a song that really gave him confidence called "Guitar and Pen".
You can be alone and the world might get you down, but you can always go back and write some music. Then again, you might also suck at writing music. Then what, Townshend? Huh? THEN WHAT?! Pat ignores my consternation and moves on to his next song, which has John on both vocals and lyrics. Off of Face Dances, it's "The Quiet One". John was certainly not "The Quiet One" in this song. Nor was he so quiet in real life. With the exception of heroin, he and Keith were brothers-in-harms.
Of the four, Roger could certainly handle the drugs the best. He would get pissed when someone showed up to the studio fucked up. I can only imagine what it must have been like whenever Keith showed up to the studio after a few gulps. Still, you can't stay mad at a guy like Keith because he was a sweetie. Frank returns to the music with an album called The Who by Numbers, which gets less play in the Francis household than other Who albums. Frank plays a song called "Red, Blue and Grey".
Frank plays another song from the album called "How Many Friends". The song really showcases their musical abilities; Roger is able to showcase his vocal power without screaming. Pat and Frank reminisce about reading the lyrics on the album sleeve. That was how Frank learned English.
Pat goes back to The Who's second album A Quick One for his next pick. He plays "So Sad About Us".
The first time Pat heard the song it was a cover done by Shaun Cassidy. He plays that version too. Somehow the conversation turns to the band W.A.S.P., "Mony Mony," and "Sweet Caroline." Hey, I'm just the recapper.
Frank plays his second-to-last pick. It's a bonus track from Who's Next called "Pure and Easy".
Pat and Frank talk about the most recent Who album Endless Wire from 2006. Pat plays "Black Widow's Eyes". The Who are very universal with their songs, while The Kinks are very English and put a lot of the English lifestyle into their music.
Pat went around London and looked at a lot of Who and Kinks landmarks. I heard he even saw the street corner where Keith Moon puked on the bassist of Status Quo's shoes after a bender on St. Patrick's Day. Man, what a landmark. Anyway, Frank plays his last pick. Off of Odds and Sods, he plays "Naked Eye".
Thank you to Frank Biernat for being here and recording another fun episode. It's great to have someone so passionate on the podcast. If you want to say hello to him on Twitter, you can find him @FrankBiernat. Pat takes us out with a song from Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy called "Substitute".