The Who

Backtrack, Vol. 8

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Across its first seven releases, the Backtrack series of budget albums concentrated upon rounding up stray singles, hot hits and the like, to be unleashed across some genuinely great compilations. From here on in, however, the label's approach would change somewhat, to offer up straightforward budget reissues of the Track label's album catalog. Excluding compilations, between 1967-70, Track released no less than ten albums, three apiece by the Who and Jimi Hendrix, two by American comedian Murray Roman, and one each by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Thunderclap Newman. November 1970 would see six of these reissued in the Backtrack series, each retailing for a budget-priced One Pound (a penny more than the first six releases!), and collectors quickly learned that some remarkable nuggets lurked within the sequence. Ever since the release of Tommy, interest in Pete Townshend's earlier attempts at a rock opera had been high -- hence, presumably, the reissue of his first stab at the form, 1966's A Quick One While He's Away album. Of course, the operatic title track itself consumes considerably less vinyl than Tommy would -- it is just one of four tracks on Side Two of the album. But the germ of the deaf, dumb and blind acorn is visible nonetheless. Elsewhere, the album ventured into further unknown territory, as Townshend's bandmates, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle were themselves encouraged to contribute to the proceedings. The latter's writing abilities, of course, were already well established, and his "Boris the Spider" remains one of the Who's best-loved numbers, even today. His colleagues, however, tapped surprising wellsprings of their own, and Moon's "I Need You" is certainly one of the album's other highlights. A Quick One was one of several Backtrack albums to be reissued in mono only. A fine stereo mix was prepared and saw release in Germany (and elsewhere) back in 1966. This, however, remains the only band-approved version.

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