Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: The Who

Squeezebox

First recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1974).
Hit version by The Who (US #16 1975 |UK #10/CAN #1/AUS #1 1976).

From the wiki: “‘Squeeze Box’ was written by Pete Townshend, and was originally intended for a Who television special planned in 1974. (The lyrics are couched in sexual double entendres. In the planned performance of the song, the members of the band were to be surrounded by one-hundred semi-naked women playing ‘squeezeboxes’ – a colloquial expression for accordions and concertinas – as the song was played.) Townshend first recorded demo of the song featured a Farfisa arrangement, as well as Bluegrass banjos. When the TV special did not materialize, The Who recorded ‘Squeeze Box’ and the song was released as the first single from The Who by Numbers in 1975 in the US and 1976 in the UK. ‘Squeezebox’ became an international hit, becoming the band’s first Top 10 hit in Britain since 1972.

One Man Band

First recorded by Roger Daltry (1973).
Hit version by co-writer Leo Sawyer (US #96/UK #6 1974).

From the wiki: “‘One Man Band’ is a song first recorded by The Who’s lead singer, Roger Daltrey, for his debut solo album Daltrey. It was written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer (‘The Show Must Go On‘, ‘More Than I Can Say‘), and features Daltrey’s Acoustic guitar strumming. According to Daltrey, it ‘reminiscences of Shepherd’s Bush’ (a place in west London where Daltrey had grown up and where The Who were formed) and became one the albums highlights; later being released as a single in its own right in some European territories but without any US chart success.

“The song was covered by the co-writer, Leo Sayer, a year later for his solo album Just a Boy and was also released as a single which later became one of Sayer’s biggest UK hits.”

Behind Blues Eyes

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1971).
Hit versions by The Who (US #34 1971), Limp Bizkit (US #71/UK #18/AUS #4/SPN #1 2003).

From the wiki: “‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was originally written by Pete Townshend for his aborted Lifehouse project. The song is sung from the point of view of the main villain of Lifehouse, Jumbo. The lyrics are a first-person lament from Jumbo, who is always angry and full of angst because of all the pressure and temptation that surrounds him, and the song was intended to be his ‘theme song’ had the project been completed.

“The version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ on the original Who’s Next album was the second version the band recorded; the first was recorded at the Record Plant in New York on 18 March 1971 and features Al Kooper on Hammond organ. It would not be released until 1995, as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Who’s Next. The released album version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was recorded 8 July 1971 at Olympic Studios in London.”

Who Are You

First recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1978).
Hit version by The Who (US #14/UK #18 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Who Are You’ was written by Pete Townshend and which became the title-track of The Who’s 1978 album, Who Are You, the last album released before drummer Keith Moon’s death in September 1978. According to Townshend, the inspiration for the song began with a very long, excruciating meeting in New York City regarding royalties for his songs (the reference to ‘Tin Pan Alley’ in the song). After the meeting, he received a large check for royalties, left and went to a bar and got completely drunk. In that bar he encountered Paul Cook and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols, who thought very highly of Pete for paving the way for Punk rock music.

Baba O’Riley

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1970).
Hit version by The Who (NETH #11 1972).

From the wiki: “‘Baba O’Riley’ was written by Pete Townshend, of The Who, who originally wrote the song for his Lifehouse project – the Rock opera follow-up to The Who’s 1969 opera, Tommy. When Lifehouse was scrapped, many of the songs were released on The Who’s 1971 album Who’s Next. ‘Baba O’Riley’ was released as a single in several European countries, but not in the US or the UK where the song was available only as the lead track on Who’s Next. It was, however, the perfect song for the up-and-coming Album Oriented Rock (AOR) radio format that was picking up steam on FM radio. ‘Baba’ became a Classic Rock staple and remains on many playlists.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (c. 1970).
Hit version by The Who (US #15/UK #9/AUS #14 1971).

From the wiki: “‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was written by Pete Townshend for inclusion into Lifehouse, the science fiction rock opera by The Who intended as a follow-up to Tommy. It was abandoned as a rock opera in favor of creating the traditional rock album, Who’s Next, though its songs would appear on various albums and singles by The Who, as well as Pete Townshend solo albums. (Years later, in the liner notes to the remastered Who’s Next CD, Townshend wrote that the failure of the project led him to the verge of a suicidal nervous breakdown.) After giving up on recording some of the Lifehouse tracks in New York, The Who went back into the studio with new producer Glyn Johns and started over.

“Although the Lifehouse concept was abandoned, scraps of the project remained present in the final album including the song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.

Magic Bus

First recorded by The Pudding (1967).
Hit version by The Who (US #25/UK #26 1968).

From the wiki: “‘Magic Bus’ was written by Pete Townshend during the sessions in 1965 that produced My Generation. However, ‘Magic Bus’ was not recorded by The Who until 1968. At the time it was written, The Who’s management and music publisher circulated a Townshend demo recording of the song in 1966. A version was released as a single in the UK in April 1967 by an obscure band called The Pudding, in the UK on Decca and in the US on London’s Press label. It was not a hit.

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