How I discovered “The Who”


Shitamachi means Low City

Shitamachi means Low City


Gosh how do you talk about Tokyo ! ! !

It is a city of 30 million people divided into (maybe ) a million mini neighborhoods.   But there is one real division that exists in Tokyo and it is between  Yamanote  and Shitamachi

Oh Dear - Its A Histiry Lesson! ! !

Oh Dear – Its A History Lesson! ! !

In the Edo period of Japanese history the capital of Japan moved from Kyoto to Edo.  Edo was the old name for Tokyo and the emperor and his court moved from Kyoto to Tokyo and of course so did the feudal lords and samurai.

I live in Meguro

I live in Meguro

These feudal overlords built thier homes in the higher land to the west of the imperial palace and the tradesmen and merchants serving then built there homes in the lowlands between the imperial palace and the Sumida river and the sea.

These days the effect of this is really that the plots of land are bigger in Yamanote   and so the houses and apartment blocks are bigger and more spacious and there are more green areas such as parks, gardens and wide avenues in Yamanote.

Shitamachi is more industrial and the plots of land are smaller so this means the buildings are more cramped and the population density is much higher.

I live in Meguro which is in Yamanote  and it is relatively green and spacious neighborhood.  There are parks and the Meguro river runs through the neighborhood and is lined with flowering cherry trees   which are  a major attraction in spring.

It is an area where we have musicians such as Miwa and YUI living here and also embassies from many counties and the Crown Princess (the daughter of the emperor) lives here also.

Yamamote has lots of Beautiful parks

Yamamote has lots of Beautiful parks

Really it is a wonderful place to live.  There is a thriving artistic community, many world class restaurants, a great alternative culture and the coffee shops that go with that.

Near Meguro are the areas of Ebisu . Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku and, actually these areas are the areas where artists and musicians and fashion designers are all concentrated.

My university is located here and of course my life always centered around Yamanote, and Shitamachi was somehow like a different world and even if it was only a short subway ride away, I never seemed to go there.

However, Kanda is a neighborhood in Shitamachi famous for old book shops and antiques.  One day I went to Kanda in search of

In Shitamchi the life is on the street

In Shitamchi the life is on the street

book and found a new  love.

I came  out of the railway station at Kanda and  walked past the brothels and strip clubs and came to a neighborhood of second hand bookshops and antique shops

I lost myself in the shops and time past quickly and before I realized it was quite late and I started on my way back to the station through the maze of tiny streets and alleyways that are typical of Shitamachi

I cam to a street stall selling vintage records and I stopped to see what they had.  I began talking to the stall holder, but time was flying and I had a train to catch.

So I asked the stall holder ”What is the best British rock album you have? “  He gave a this record.  I paid and put it in my bag and ran for the train . . . . .

With out even knowing what it was, the CD stayed in my bag for many days and eventually I took it out and played it .

WOW ! ! !  It was the missing link between punk and the Beatles ! ! !  So many pieces in the puzzle  that is British rock finally came into place ! ! !

Much later, with my dad I listened to this track together and he said that it was probably the best 9 minutes of rock ever recoded.  I did not disagree with him.

I have never been able to find the stall again, but I have spent many happy hours getting lost in the maze that is Shitamachi looking for it ! ! !

The Best Nine Minutes of British Rock Ever ? ? ? ? 

Rock on Spillers ! ! !

27 thoughts on “How I discovered “The Who”

  1. Nice piece. I’d argue that Who’s Next is actually The Who’s best album.

    It emerged from the ruins of a huge project of Pete Townshend’s called Lifehouse. Theer are a lot of songs around that were intended for the Lifehouse project, a grandiose blend of music, theatre and a primitive interactive concept.

    Almost certainly an impossibility with the technology of the day, at least it gave birth to this album.

    If you like this, Hoshina Sakura, can I point you at a contemporary live album, Live At Leeds? If you look for it, you should be able to find an extended reissue with additional tracks, which really gives you an idea of the huge energy of a Who live show in 1970 or 71.

    For me, the band died along with Keith Moon in 1978 but I was lucky enough to see them in their glory years. A truly amazing live act and my partner’s favourite band.

    • Sod it. Why is there no edit facility? I’ve misspelt the word “There” and there is a broken HTML closing tag. I thought I’d checked the tags. Clearly not.

      • Hi Carol ! ! !

        Thank for the recommendation I just now ordered it ! ! ! It was not so expensive for an import actually and I am really looking forward to listening to it ! ! !

        Thank you ! ! !

  2. Very enjoyable read, Sakura! Definitely one of The Who’s greatest songs. The first time I heard it was when they were playing the German Rockpalast TV concert series. I was in a hotel lounge watching it with a few friends along with the Country & Western singer George Hamilton IV and his band who were playing in the ballroom that night. Not sure what they would have made of it but George is still touring at the ripe age of 76!

    • Well Pete Townshend is 70 next year (and 69 on Monday). This single was the first record I ever bought and we didn’t have a record player in the house at the time so I had to buy one from my mum’s Grattan catalogue.

  3. Hi Llamalpaca ! ! !

    I am really pleased yo enjoyed the post ! ! !

    Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment ! ! !

  4. Who’s Next is the only Who album I own on vinyl. Just dug it out and of course there are a few scratches and points where the stylus sticks and repeats the same bit of music over and over. Must seek out a replacement.
    I do like the mix of local colour, biography and musical discovery in these posts. Do keep them coming.

    • HI Severin

      I am really pleased you like the post ! ! ! Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment ! ! !

  5. Hoshino Sakura, another well written, interesting and informative article but The Best Nine Minutes of British Rock Ever ? ? ? ? NO

    My ‘prejudice’, that’s probably too strong a word, but certainly dislike for The Who stems from my teenage years when they were still seen as a band liked by Mods (Wiki -Mod_(subculture)) albeit as the article says they did change their musical style but still had that hangover from their formative years.

    I was firmly in the ‘rocker’ camp but with definite leanings towards the ‘hippy’ end of the spectrum. There remained a strong divide between rockers and Mods (see Quadrophenia) and that certainly meant that as a rocker you wouldn’t listen let alone own anything by a ‘mod’ band.

    How naive I was then and whilst i am very fond nay love The Jam I have never subsequently enjoyed The Who’s music with the possible exception of their rock opera “Tommy”, I’m also quite partial to Roger Daltrey’s vocals on the McVicar album as reflected in my dond for DsD’s recent nomination of Free Me, which sounds a lot like The Who (MHO)

    I’m not completely closed-minded about The Who and even B-Listed them when I did RRSA Whiskey for Whiskey Man but the best nine minutes of rock, not in my humble opinion.

    • Hi leaveitallbehind ! ! !

      It is interesting that there was so much rivalry between the mods and the rockers ! ! ! Music seems a strange thing to be rivals about.

      Of course everyone will have their personal favorites and hoped people might tell me theirs ! ! !

      • ” Music seems a strange thing to be rivals about.”

        Not if you were growing up in the UK in the early 80s – rivalry over music seemed to be part of everyday life! There was this fixed idea with a lot of young people that you could only be into one type of music.In fact I remember the word “poser” being used as an insult to anyone who liked more than genre of music. I knew one lad at school who went through a metal phase, then a mod phase, then a punk phase. For each new phase he disowned the records he’d bought during his previous phase. All very strange!
        I felt detached from it all as I was into Dexys who didn’t seem to be part of any of it (I was happily oblivious to the mod element in their following)

    • I had a similar aversion to anything Mod related when I was a teenager. In hindsight it’s just funny that all these kids were listening to Quadrophenia because it somehow went hand in hand with their fishtail parkas and scooters when in fact, like all The Who’s 70s output, there was nothing mod about it musically.

  6. I’d always imagined Sakura living in a sparkly castle made of pink spun sugar set in a field of strawberries on which unicorns grazed and surviving off peach nectar daintily sipped from a crystal goblet the size of a thimble.
    Now I find out she just lives in a posh part of Tokyo ! How disappointing !

    The ‘oo have always been a problem for me, I love the singles ( I’d have recommended “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy”), the albums go on a bit too much for me and Daltrey tends to stray into the “cock rock” areas which I don’t go for.

    Which leaves the question as to what constitutes the Best British Rock Album Ever Made ( BBRAEM) open.

    I’d suggest 5 ( very much personal choices) – to whit

    1. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
    A complete package with no wasted space, every song a well arranged “pop” tune and a suite of songs on side 2 that tell a story in a very effective manner.
    Key Track – Rock and Roll Suicide

    2. Syd Barrett- The Madcap Laughs
    The sound of a man on the edge, dealing with deeply disturbing demons and yet still managing to play with the words and music in a unique fashion. Unpolished, it would sounded totally alien back then and still does today.
    Key Track – Dark Glob

    3. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks.
    Set free from a label that wanted “hits”, Van was able to expand lyrically and musically and did so with aplomb.
    Key track – Madame George

    4. The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
    At last the music matched the vision of Morrisey’s Kenneth Williams/Sylvia Plath hybrid lyrics. All life is here.
    Key track – The Queen is Dead

    5. The Rolling Stones – Beggar’s Banquet.
    A “back to basics” type of a record, Brian Jones’ last outing and still sounding , like fruit, fresh today.
    Key track – Sympathy for the Devil

    If I had to pick one it would , probably, be Ziggy.

    • HI Mr P ! ! !

      I had to move from the castle because the unicorns made problems with the neighbors ! ! !

      I must listen to Ziggy Stardust again. I have not listened to it for a long time now and actually i do not own a copy, but it is easy to find I think.

      Beggars Banquet is also my favourite Stones album, but I have never been able to really get into The Smiths – somehow they do not touch me emotionally, maybe because I am girl or maybe I just do not get the lyrics ? ? ?

      It is great list and thank you stopping by and commenting – Back to He Said – She Said now ! ! !

      Love you

      Sakura x x x

  7. Some weeks ago I posted a piece here where I looked for your “ALL-TIME favorite album”. the one album from your collection that you thought was the ‘Best Ever’: what a dumb idea. I started off by choosing ‘Graceland’ but I quickly realized that there could be no single ‘best’, so I expanded it to the ‘dozen best’. All that was off the top of my head, another dumb idea. That ‘dozen’ were all from memory, I deliberately didn’t want to go though my entire vinyl collection, that would have taken forever.
    But after some time had passed I did browse the vinyl, at least through the ‘pop’ section. Here’s some of what I might have chosen. I limited this to only ‘pop’, no jazz, blues, R&B, reggae or African, just pop.
    Here’s what I might have selected from.

    Quicksilver – Happy Trails.
    Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow.
    Paul Simon – Bookends.
    Simon & Garfunkle – Bridge over Troubled Waters
    Van Morrison – Astral Weeks.
    Traffic – Mr. Fantasy.
    Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells.
    Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland.
    The Who – Tommy.
    Monterey Pop.+ Woodstock.
    Procol Harem – Grand Hotel
    John Cale – Paris 1910.
    The Police – Synchronicity
    Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant.
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors.
    Elton – Yellow Brick Road.
    Creedence – Bayou Country.
    CSNY, or CSN if you prefer – CSN
    John Cale – Church of Anthrax.
    Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man.
    Springfield. – Buffalo Springfield.
    Matthews Southern Comfort – Later that same year.
    Bowie – Hunky Dory.
    Beatles – Rubber Soul et al.
    Nina Simone – Little Girl Blue
    Nina Simone – Nina at Newport
    Stones – Beggars or Satanic.
    The Who – Who’s Next or Tommy.
    Sting – Dream of Blue Turtles,
    Doors – The Doors
    Judy Collins – Fifth Album
    Neill Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
    Fairport Convention – Holidays
    Don Maclean – American Pie.
    Love – Forever Changes.
    Chambers Bros. – Time.
    Dylan – Everything.
    I’m not suggesting these as a playlist, just some thoughts of passed happy listening and a positive confirmation that seeking that ‘best ever’ is an impossible task. I’m sure that I’m still ignoring many favorite albums, plus I’m sure that Spillers could assemble a similar list of favorites.

    • HI GF ! ! !

      It is interesting that you choose Hunky Dory as your Bowie Album and Mr P choose Ziggy Stardust . . . .

      I am not familiar with Hunky Dory – I will see I f I can find it on line and listen to it. There are lots of great albums in that list ! ! !

      Actually of course the “Best” is a term that is silly to use for music as of course it is all personal taste and actually my “Best” changes every day ! ! !

      Except of course my opinion that “Tokyo” is the best YUI track ! ! !

  8. Sakura: I think you might be wrong about that ‘thirty million people’, Wiki puts it much lower for the entire metropolitan area.

    • Hi Goneforeign ! ! !

      It depends how you measure Tokyo ! ! ! Actually there are lots of ways of defining it. The real definition would be the 23 special wards which make up the administrative area of Tokyo and this is about 8 million people

      But basically the buildings and urban areas just continue into other towns and if you count this single urban area ( It is called Tōkyō Dai-toshi-ken or Tokyo Major Metropolitan Area ) then the number is 31 million people.

  9. Pictures Of Lily (musically, before I even understood what the subject was!), Magic Bus and My Generation (learning bass as I was at the time, soon realized that just playing the notes was only a small part of copying the Ox. Never did get the sound quite right.)

  10. Partial to a bit of The Who myself, certainly the best band to come out of the 60s imho. I agree Who’s Next is the best album,although my favourite track by them is I Can See For Miles (nominated this week).
    I haven’t clicked on the link due to the fact that it’ll possibly cause my computer to grind to a halt for the rest of the evening, but I’m guessing it’s Won’t Get Fooled Again. I think the background to the song was that with this being the end of the 60s/start of the 70s there was some pressure on The Who to get behind various revolutionary causes, Townshend has even claimed they were being asked to buy guns for some faction (an exageration perhaps). Won’t Get Fooled Again was Townshend’s response.
    I saw The Who in 1989, great on the night, but in hindsight a long way off being the highpoint of them as a live act.

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