The Who – I Can't Explain


Forget all the stadium rock band bollocks. The Who were at their very best on the singles they produced between 1965 and 1968. And their best album, by far, is Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy, which collects those singles.

My dad had Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy when I was around five-years-old. The house on the front cover looked a bit like the house we lived in. The urchin kids looked like me and my brother and the kids on our street. I used to stare at that cover for ages and wonder about the relationship between the group and the kids. I liked looking at Keith Moon. He seemed a bit mad and exotic and he looked more like a Beatle than the others did.

My favourite of their singles was I Can’t Explain. It was mainly the riff which, as Pete Townshend explained, was basically taken from Louie Louie via The Kinks. To me, this was how pop music should sound.

Clean, crisp and precise. Classic power pop.

I also like it because it features one of Townshend’s more straightforward lyrics. The object of his affection – and the affection itself – isn’t treated ironically or sarcastically. It’s an almost straightforward love song. Roger Daltrey sings it with passion, restraint and just the right amount of attitude.

And a young Jimmy Page contributes rhythm guitar.

NB: The Clash ripped off the riff for their Guns on The Roof. I’ve never liked The Clash.

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About Paul Saxton

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