Talk From The Rock Room: May 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Little Feat - 'Roll Right Through the Night' - Live in Holland 1976

Featured in the ‘rock room’ today is an aural and visual feast of prime ‘Little Feat’. Spotlighting the band at the 1976 PinkPop Festival the Little Feat Live in Holland 1976 CD/DVD combo displays the band approaching the prime that would be musically expressed on the legendary live album Waiting for Columbus recorded in 1977. Here, the group plays an hour set and headlines the festival that also included ‘Uriah Heep’ and the ‘Outlaws.’ There are two songs included on the audio CD that do not have accompanying video, but otherwise the entire performance can be found between both discs. The pro shot video footage is vibrant and clean, the audio is a more than acceptable soundboard. One has to wonder what the delay has been in releasing this glittering rock gold to the public.

The footage finds the band in stellar form and supremely funky. Lowell George is fluid in his playing and his vocals are strong and assertive. His appearance is stoic and his performance masterful as he stands center stage with cowboy hat and tucked in button down shirt. Its performances like this one that illustrate the supreme talents of George prior to the health and drug issues that later affected his playing and songwriting. Barrere appears to be feeling no pain, red eyed and bouncy he disseminates a number of inspired solos over the course of the performance. Payne is his usual masterful self drizzling the diverse Feat arrangements with Rhodes, Moog and organ dressings. Rattling like jailers keys the rhythm section comprised of Gradney, Hayward and Clayton lock up the poly rhythmic grooves behind bars. This is the definitive version of the Feat and an absolute essential addition to any rock collection.

While the crowd sits on their hands for the opening segments the band stirs up a masterful set that by its midpoint cajoles the crowd to join in with the on stage celebrating. The concert opens with the favorite and standard opener ‘Skin It Back’ sung by Paul Barrere. Taught as a rubber band reaching its capacity the band snaps into the tight reverberant groove. The opening solo taken by Barerre is a highly charged and chorused departure from the theme and drops perfectly into the percussive opening of ‘Fat Man In the Bathtub’.

Without missing a beat the band slips into ‘Fat Man ’ using Clayton and George’s dueling cowbells to prompt the change. George’s cartoonist compositional sensibilities are on full display with this Feat classic. George’s perfect pitch is also spotlighted as his vocal investment can be studied in great detail with the accompanying video footage.

'One Love Stand' follows and exists only on the audio portion of the concert and settles into a chilled out groove based around the songs central descending riff. Te laid back attack allows the crowd to gather their senses momentarily. It seems as if the sound improves somewhat here with the recording receiving a bit more of the higher end.  Could just be me.The music becomes airy and takes its direction from the breeze. With the new direction the song seamlessly becomes the next, dropping into the opening of ‘Rock and Roll Doctor’ on a perfectly timed Barrere guitar strike.
George dons his scrubs for the musical check up. A thick southern fried funk is driven by Hayward’s left right drum punches. George is loose, singing flawlessly both vocally and with his blonde Stratocaster. When the band slides back into the verse following George’s sensual solo prepare to feel musical magic, the chills start, the groove hardens and you just wanna lean waaaay back with your eyes closed and go there. 

Shaking me from journey, Payne’s up tempo travelogue ‘Oh Atlanta’ changes the tempo from the swampy to the incendiary. The live vibe on this track is a highlight of the recording. No slickness here, just raw rockin and good time rolling. The collaborative vocals on the chorus are a joy to groove on.

The dynamic Barrere/Payne composition ‘All That You Dream’ comes next and chugs it way into the songs anthemic vocal opening. The soulful R and B groove epitomizes everything that ‘Little Feat’ is about. Gradney is all over it it with a playful bass line that he reiterates with each body movement and facial expression. The middle of the track becomes a syncopated bed that Richie Hayward highlights in florescent yellow with his hi hat strikes and cascading trips around his kit.

‘Cold, Cold, Cold’ is where the set really takes off. There is a tangible feeling that band knows they are knocking it out of the park illustrated by the following three song mini suite. George reveals his most amazing playing of the evening with his heavy 11/16 Craftsman socket scurrying across his beautiful blonde Stratocaster resulting in a series of stunning and flashing quotes. His vocal attack reaches the same lofty standard ranging from honey sweet to stone on stone gruff. Close up shots of his delicate finger picking tickling the taught strings is worth the price of admission alone. Contained within is some of the most inspired slide playing you will ever witness. Payne makes the bed of the instrumental jam with a keyboard base that squishes underneath Hayward’s heavy handed drumming. At this point on the video the entire group is busting a collective nut and before you know it they have slid seamlessly into ‘Dixie Chicken’.

Probably the most well known ‘Little Feat’ track by this point in the bands career it had become their centerpiece song and somewhat of a jam vehicle for the band. George slyly changes the lyrics to reflect going walking on down down to Amsterdam. Payne and Barrere face off during the intro groove serving each other a series of riffs that result in a pleasing little call and response leading to the vocals. Between the verses the egg cracks revealing unique jamming, highlighted by Payne taking a milky Rhodes spot and Barrere taking a marvelous solo spot featuring some ravishing playing. George soon joins in, cigarette hanging precariously from his lips and slight smiles as he watches Barrere ‘get off’. The two guitarists soon collaborate, provoking the solo segment into a smoke rising dual guitar salvo.

Again, there is no pause as the song segues stunningly into the rock and roll stomp and delicious dance groove of ‘Tripe Face Boogie’ from 1972’s Sailing Shoes. The band moves through this songs tasty rock changes before reaching a instrumental intersection that lets Bill Payne journey off trail with another extended and watery Fender Rhodes solo. Heavy. The rest of the band joins in with assorted percussion accents while Payne shakes his ass at his keyboard station. Hayward starts a banging psychedelic march that nudges Payne into another series of improvised soloing this time along with Barrere's wah-wah'd guitar. Payne dynamically brings the mixture to a rolling boil and George follows by serving out a substantial sampling of slide that takes the jam to another lofty landmark. Running out of room on the neck George brings his solo to a peak by touching the tippy top of the sonic spread of the strings, squinting as he reaches his instruments limits. This song segue would later be immortalized on Waiting For Columbus, but here it is played with a rough and ready abandon, reaching smile stretching peaks.
‘Feats Don’t Fail Me Now’ closes the set proper and gets everyone involved from the stage to the crew to the assembled crowd. Payne gets the jam moving with a steady jog across the keys before the bass and drums follow on his heels. Gradney and George grab some percussion to assist in eliciting the groove which slowly becomes a collaborative review with everyone handclapping, smiling and shaking whatever happens to be close by. George tosses the maracas into the crowd and makes a humorous face after one goes rogue. Each member leaves the stage as the groove slowly fades to dusk, kept alive by the repeated refrain of ‘roll right through the night’. The band continues the song off stage circled around the mic like a tribe, organically driving the melody in a give and take with the crowd initated through their bodies and voices. 

The band then returns to the stage and George lets loose with a few of his own soaring quotes on the theme vocally while the instruments start to puddle in. After reprising 'Feats', ‘Teenage Nervous’ Breakdown’ is unleashed from its ‘encore’ position. Literally playing out the song’s lyrics, the band teeters on the edge of musical madness, rolling through screaming ‘rave up’s charged by George and Barrere’s electric guitars. Bellowing tones coagulate into a boogie freak out and conclude the show in the only way anyone would want to see a rock concert end. My glass is raised and my mind is blown.

While ‘Little Feat’s’ 1978 live LP Waiting For Columbus would be and still is the definitive statement for the band, this weathered snapshot of audio with accompanying footage is a pure sampling of a band reaching their live performance summit. No overdubs or fancy posturing here, just straight up rock and roll soul music.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Now Playing: Grateful Dead - 'There Comes a Redeemer' December 4, 1973 Cincinatti Gardens

Jamming in the ‘rock room’ and waving its musical flag wide and high is yet another stellar Fall 1973 Grateful Dead performance. Today I am enjoying the bonus disc included in the Grateful Dead Winterland 1973 complete recordings box set.  The performance hails from December 4th, 1973 and is nestled snugly in the midst of a series of amazing live concerts put on the group. Surrounded by the Boston Music Hall performances (11/30-12/2) and the December 6th lift off in Cleveland (all immortalized by official releases) this particular night is branded with the same quality as the concerts that surround it.

The music from the night featured in today’s ‘Now Playing’ is unique because according to legend the Grateful Dead were supposed to appear at 8:00 and didn’t end up taking the stage until 11:00 PM. Travel issues and stage schematics are believed to be the cause of the tardiness. The usual three hour concert extravaganzas which were the norm from this tour did not take place on this evening because of the aforementioned late start.  I can state for certain that the Dead made up for any crowd disappointment by dealing a hand made up of spades. The music available here and on bootleg, is still consistent with the usual quality from the Fall tour, yet swings with a stoned party attitude that sits just outside of the lines. The late evening probably resulted in more social time than usual for the boys, but that never bother them before now did it? Special circumstances usually resulted in special shows for the band, while ‘big’ shows were famously underwhelming.

While the bonus disc that was included with the official Winterland release features the ‘best’ moments of the concert, a soundboard recording of the entire evening in available for those who want to experience it. The first set does contain some other moments of note like a rare ‘Johnny B Goode’ opener.

The bonus disc begins with a tight reading of a mid-first set ‘China Cat Sunflower’/’I Know You Rider’.  The band floats with a typical 1973 feathery sweetness, bouncing from winter blossom to blossom and displaying with a delicate heaviness. The midsection segue discovers Garcia springing to the surface with tightly coiled curly ‘q’s’, sprinkling the melody with playful luminescent quotes. The jam slips with enchantment into the ‘Feeling Groovy’ theme, before arriving at ‘Rider’ just on time. 
 The other highlighted first set rendering is of a compact ‘Truckin’/’Stella Blue’ that while fenced in still spotlights a stilted jam out of ‘Truckin’ that cuts corners sharply and disorients with its gradual disintegration into ‘Stella Blue’.  ‘Truckin’ is and would be capable of much more improve, but here in its first set position acts as a nice leg stretching exercise while still featuring unique passages.

The ‘Eyes of the World’ is the centerpiece of the night and acts as the jam vehicle for the evening, opening the second set and featuring the heaviest dose of jamming.   This ‘Eyes’ surpasses 20 minutes and is littered with Phil Lesh detonations, drones and discoveries which at points diffuse the melody into sunny fractals, only to be held together by barley visible threads of sound.  The verses of ‘Eyes’, like the songs preceding it on the recording are beautiful and sung with great investment by Garcia. After two scintillating Garcia solo spots the band begins to undress the framework of the song.

A militant march through the ‘Stronger than Dirt’ theme blinds the eyes with Billy K’s skipping and shimmering cymbal work. The jam falls apart momentarily when the licks decompose and begin to overlap in the bands enthusiasm. The jam teeters humorously on the edge of destruction, before an on stage yelp can be discerned. The yelp awakens the beast and journey continues as Garcia and Godchaux walk into a room with a sticky floor. The band tries to steady themselves with a newly unearthed Garcia riff that starts to coagulate the respective elements of the group. All bets are now off as a new musical form is being developed in real time.

After thirteen minutes Lesh begins to rattle the foundation of the venue and cracks and fissures start to become visible. Garcia and Godchaux scurry from the deafening noises like electronic mice while looking for clandestines corner to hide in. Lesh, as he has been throughout the performance must have had his hands in the backstage cookie jar. His playing is out of hand. He molds his bass notes into a pliable sound form that initiates a shifty and morphing layer of bedrock in which Garcia sleepily drapes clean tone statements. The sounds become something greater than the instrumental mediums. A moaning sonic beast comprised of sonic electrodes thrashes around the venue and through the ‘rock room’.
Soon, a feedback dance takes place in the outer limits taking form as large unknown objects brush against each other weightlessly soon triggering a wash of sound. Lesh slams his bass into an unmovable planetary body causing a disruption of a volcanic magnitude. Kreutzman uses the door blown open by Lesh to enter into the webby fabric of space dissolving into the mix with  a crisp series of snare strokes. 

Like an ice cube thrown onto smoldering rock, the jam liquefies, filling the crannies and pock marked landscape. Garcia and Godchaux team up for dazzling array of jams that become form long enough to expose trail markers before deconstructing into a Garcia flip book of alternative communications. Billy and Keith link arms to make a ring and contain the mellifluous mixture being stirred by Garcia. Still parts squish out from the edges. Lesh quits with his aggressive attitude and sits down, approving Garcia to continue his descent into madness. A ‘tiger’ almost spills over the top but is held in restraint by Garcia who continues  to pump his pedal into a toothy series of growls and a number of waxy bulbous drips. An aura of strangeness falls onto the stage like morning culminating the previous excursions.

Before I know it Weir has strummed the introduction to ‘Sugar Magnolia’ which trudges out from the thick sonic web of ‘Eyes’, stumbling slightly before Lesh turns on the faucet, permitting the groove to flow freely. ‘Sugar Magnolia’ picks up steam nicely, as all members fall into place resulting in a floral rendition that soon leads into the unusual segued placement of ‘Going Down the Road Feeling Bad’. 

While this second set is very short due to the circumstance surrounding the late start of the concert, the result of this fact is a unique series of song placements as well as the cool jam hidden in the recesses of ‘Eyes’. ‘GDTRFB’ has a nice leisurely opening that navigates the changes carefully before slowly climbing steps that lead to an all time version. A plethora of bubbly rock waves lap at the shore with the band raving up into a well deserved conclusion. Killer rock, and a unique pairing of Suga' Mags and 'GDTRFB'.

‘Casey Jones’ leaves the station slowly, caught in the dust spun up from the tires of ‘GDTRFB’.  A chunky funky version that alternates between sleepy and speedy but results in a rolling good time closer.  Garcia gets the band to push through the bumps finally cresting the hill and starting the long roll without breaks toward the finish. The resulting crowd approval audible on the soundboard proves that the band, in spite of the late start was still able to deliver in a big way.
Dead fans are familiar with the wealth of mind melt material to be found in the volumes of  the Fall of 1973, so this snippet of aural magic should come as no surprise. While somewhat obscured by the massive trees that surround it, there is still moving music waiting to be discovered for those willing to push aside the brush and search. Take a trip back to 1973 when a normal night by Grateful Dead  standards could still move musical mountains and blow collective minds.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Put the Boot In: Elvis Presley - 'All Shook Up' The Closing Season February 23, 1970 Las Vegas

Today in the ‘rock room’ we set the rock time machine for February 23, 1970 visiting Elvis Presley’s closing show of his Winter  1970 residence at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Presley’s official LP release On Stage, Feb, 1970 resulted from this run of appearances and is the reason for the existence of this particular soundboard line recording.

This is the final concert of a successful off season residency for Elvis who was following up his July 31, 1969 debut and return to live appearances at the Vegas venue. The recording I am enjoying is a reported first generation from the multi-tracks and sounds stellar, sparkling like aural stars. There is a light distant hiss but in my opinion the bass sounds better than previous boot releases and the vocal mix is perfection.

Elvis and band rip through an hour set that shows Elvis in superior form and the band triumphantly running through a show that concludes a four week long run with two shows a night and includes more than a few special performances. As Presley fans are aware, Elvis would often break out the special goods for the final nights of his runs, this night is no different. Elvis is loose, the band is tight and there is a humor and willingness to entertain that glows from the recording.

In the ‘rock room’s’ humble opinion this series of concerts are the zenith of Presley’s second peak as a performer, bursting with attitude, confidence and featuring a band as hot as a bed of glowing red musical embers.  This is one of the finest representations of the King in his element, on stage, performance unmatched. At this point in time Presley was still enjoying his Vegas residency’s  the enthusiasm is tangible, but he does sound thrilled to close out his current run in a big way.
The concert opens with a tribal and rumbling ‘All Shook Up’ that crashes in on rolling thunder percussion. The guitar and blasting horns initiate the opening as Presley’s voice enters boisterous and full. The usual opener for this particular Vegas season, the practiced group quivers their way through the breathless opener. The song is bundled into a package of pure undiluted musical excitement.

‘I Got a Woman’ follows briskly and keeps the tempo accelerated and the groove at a fevered pitch. Presley is all business, kicking his heels in and singing a undulating version that draws whoops from the backing singers following its conclusion.
‘Long Tall Sally’ sneaks down the alley in a blur, performed in a blink and you’ll miss it rendition.  Elvis is in gravel throat and convulsing with surging electric rock and roll gyrations. The opening one, two, three series of songs are an inspired and aggressive introduction to the performance
Elvis bids the crowd good evening, asks for a glass of water and makes some small talk on the stage and with the crowd. The soundboard picks up numerous and delightful pieces of dialog from the microphones.

Elvis continues with his current musical chart offering, ‘Don’t Cry Daddy’, performed delicately and to studio rendition perfection. Again, his vocals are knife point accurate and resonate with a gospel authority. The song is a beautiful musical respite from the scatter shot of rock that opened the concert.

Presley now introduces two of his earliest sides and the contributing melodies that initiated his stratospheric rise to fame. ‘Hound Dog’ snarls, a rabid beast that jumped the fence defiantly and in no way resembles the original. The song swings with a strobe light intensity and heel biting arrangement that contemporizes the original Presley reading.

‘Love Me Tender’ is the second of the two early Presley sides. ‘Love Me Tender’ is an opportunity for Presley to joke, drive his female fans into frenzy and walk around greeting the crowd. His wife Priscilla is one of the women who approach Elvis during his jaunt to plant a wet one on the King..
‘Kentucky Rain’ is exhilarating, driven by a frisky bass by line by Jerry Scheff that coaxes Elvis into hearty and warmed vocals. Elvis can be heard encouraging the band off mic at various points, his investment in the recent cut evident. Elvis drives hard during the chorus and pulls back dynamically during the rain whetted verses. The performance initiates the concerts steady ascension to a greater level. A stand out performance.

What would be the final concert performance of the ‘Everly Brothers’ classic, ‘Let It Be Me’ that follows  is nothing short of stunning. Silky strings intermingle with the tasteful backing vocals swirling into huge sandy spindrifts of swelling sound. Melodic dust devils abound, Presley pours himself out in a soulful ‘Oh’ over Burton’s tasteful solo break. The finale is substantial, paisley and fittingly glorious. 

‘Let It Be Me’ segues seamlessly into the opening of ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ a hand waving statement of allegiance rambling on the heavy left handed piano figure. Presley overloads the microphone at points, belting as the music begins to burst at the seams, sliced through by exploding cymbals.

‘C.C. Rider’ is pleasingly out of control, the song would become a standard high octane opener by 1972, here it sits mid set and refuses to return until Fall. Burton lights the fuse with a quick but intense solo spot. The tune becomes a call and response rave up that gets everybody fired up by the time it reaches its fitting conclusion.

Presley keeps the appeal widespread and the fare light when he begins ‘Sweet Caroline’. The chorus is sung with great affection by Presley and by the end of the song he and his band have made it their own. I can actually dig it with Presley and Band at the wheel, no offense to Mr. Diamond.

Scheff’s warm bass pulses combine with collaborative hand claps as Presley tells the story of ‘Polk Salad Annie’ for the assembled crowd. A highlight of the residency, this version fills the belly with heavy horns and pumping accentuated bass and drums interaction. Sticky scat vocals by the ‘Sweet Inspirations’ swamp vine with Presley’s ‘Jim Morrison’ vocal vamping while the band pulls the shades and lets out a deep breath.  The track fades out after six minutes, leading into Presley’s introductions of the band along with some humorous asides and gentle insults. Presley introduces the group with some curious ‘nicknames’ while setting the table for the closing extravaganza.

Elvis then directs the crowd to ‘hang loose’ as he sits down at the piano for a rare impromptu performance of ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ that starts one way and ends another. The song begins with a short instrumental quote of ‘Blueberry Hill’ before suddenly landing into the introduction of ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’. Presley digs in, surrounded and encouraged by a plethora of shouts from the stage encouraging the short but sweet treat for the audience and band.

Presley stays at the piano responding to the crowd request for ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and leads the band through a dirty version after replying, ‘I used to be Fats Domino’. This version sits under blue light while simmering with unrest. 

‘Cat do em all, but I’ll do some of them’, Elvis says to the assembled shouts from the crowd. Presley then straps on his electric for a pleading ‘One Night’ that visits in a slow hip grinding reading that Presley’s spits out in a guttural vibrato that sways between sweet and surely.  The band swells during the middle eight to which Presley responds with some of his most impassioned singing of the evening. 

The third rarity in a row comes next with a luxuriant, ‘It’s Now or Never’, with Elvis asking the band if they remember how to play it. This is the songs first concert appearance as far as I know. Presley remains on electric guitar for this cut as directs the band through sunny and dynamic changes leading them straight on to chilling chorus vocals. 
 Before I know it, Presley quickly instructs the band to ‘take it home’ and with barely a pause the group begins ‘Suspicious Minds’.  This version is the recipient of all of the good time vibes that have been building throughout the concert. Elvis swings, stutters, bucks and grinds his way through a wonderfully climactic and cinematic version.  

A moment is taken to thank everyone responsible for the run of Vegas performances with Elvis telling the crowd the band is moving onto Houston. Presley thanks the crowd sincerely before closing the night and the month out with ‘I Can’t Help Falling In Love’.  Swooning and strings collaborate in a typically perfect conclusion.

Elvis Presley and Band in 1970 had discovered the perfect blend of song choice, performance, attitude, and humor to deliver an exciting and satisfying concert experience.  Presley had also discovered an artistically fulfilling space, where the material was strong and his confidence was not disturbed by trappings of fame and drugs. Presley was primed and the band backed him with a front man aesthetic. The combination resulted in shows like the one reviewed here as well as more than a few representations on official releases. Hunt this one down and spend a regal evening with the King at the top of his rule.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Take One: The Who - 'Investigating Miles' - The 1970 Single 'The Seeker'

In this edition of the ‘rock room’s ‘Take One’ feature we examine a Who single well known by hardcore fans but often lost in the plentiful jambalaya of magical music created by the group. The tune of ‘The Seeker’ can be discovered nestled in the high plateau that lies between the summits of 1969’s Tommy LP and 1971’s Who’s Next. The band recorded the single during a brief respite from the critical acclaim and madness initiated by the success Tommy in early 1970.

Townshend referred to the songs meaning as ‘glorifying the ordinary man in the street’ as well as a statement of ‘divine desperation’. Townshend also revealed to Al Clark according to, The Complete Chronicle of the Who, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere 1958-1978 in regards to the track that , ‘It was meant to bridge the gap between the old Who sound and the new Who sound’ and that he was ‘a bit disappointed’ in the result. Songs recorded around the same time period that never found a proper place on a Who LP include ‘Water’, ‘I Don’t Even Know Myself’ and ‘Naked Eye’. Townshend was locked into a period of great creativity and it’s no surprise that many amazing compositions were shuffled around and/or displaced from having spotlight slots on albums.

The single of 'The Seeker' was recorded in January and released in March of 1970 in the UK and April in the US backed with the rare Roger Daltrey composition ‘Here for More’. The song was developed from a Townshend demo tape and bashed into shape by the band. The single levitated around the top 20 in the UK and settled for even less in the US, never really gaining any traction as far as commercial success. The single would later appear on the 1971 mish-mash compilation LP Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy which collected singles and non-album Who tracks.

The song investigates the fractured psyche of Townshend as well as the songs narrator. It not only poses questions of existence internally but also externally to the so called messengers of the era, (Dylan, Beatles) and to Townshend himself. Drugs and Timothy Leary are also taken to task as Townshend reiterates that he’s looked everywhere for divine directives and that the people or products purported to have the answers are illusions themselves. A series of dead ends exist for the narrator whether in music literature, hallucinogens or even in his own mind.

The song reveals itself with a rich and rippling leaden Pete Townshend guitar line to open.The texture of the lick as gentle as a wire brush. The elements of previous musical glories such as ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Substitute’ are legible in the melodic wood grains of the central riff. Moon and Entwistle enter like a bar room brawl and the song develops into an adamant melodic statement of questioning and aggressive searching for God and answers. Entwistle is unfortunately hidden in the mix which could be a result of the Who producing this track on their own for the first time in Kit Lambert’s absence.

The groove of ‘The Seeker’ is comprised of heavy doors slamming, tables being overturned, glasses being thrown and rooms being ransacked. The song elicits a psychological game of hide and go seek in the recesses of one’s own mind.  Daltrey’s earnest and slightly menacing vocal approach reflects the seriousness of the narrator’s predicament, his falsetto adornments are also critical in the shaky development of the track’s tale. The syncopated starting and stopping of the propulsive rhythm also draws the listener’s ears to specific and profound lyrical statements.

The answers that the narrator is seeking will not and cannot be found until they are no longer of this earth. The truth expressed in the lyrics is that only the freedom of death will offer the clandestine answers that the post -'Tommy' character longs to understand so much.

The middle eight of ‘The Seeker’ appears and is highlighted by Townshend’s overdubbed roly-poly piano that rings in the back ground like a phone in an empty home. The solo begins and sits in a comfortable contrast to the rest of the arrangement as Townshend scrubs a frothing series of acoustic scratching that almost feels triumphant and contradictory to the rest of the music.
During the lines that follow the acoustic solo segment, “I’m looking for me, you’re looking for you, we’re looking in at each other and we don’t know what to do’, Townshend lends a desperate creaking high harmony to Daltrey’s hearty vocal lines desperately increasing the songs intensity. The perfectly placed dual vocals also lend the song a reminder that we are all in this together and while the narrator is the seeker, we are all on a journey looking for the elusive ‘something’ ourselves.

Perfectly packaged in a tightly wrapped three and a half minute rock and roll ball, ‘The Seeker’ is everything Townshend envisioned for it. The song was unfortunately released into dead air when everyone’s heads were turned the other way looking at ‘Tommy’ in the sky. Now, its deep content and quintessential Who arrangement can be properly appreciated for what it is. An awesome and deep heavy duty rock cut with a thinking man's lyrics and a brutes attitude.
While ‘The Seeker’ had issues being appreciated publicly at the time, in intervening years the flowing hourglass has been kind. The track was only played briefly by the original Who lineup for a handful of performances shortly following its release. Now, (starting in 2006) the song is slotted consistently in ‘Who’ set lists and has left its ‘deep track’ status behind. Cover versions by ‘Rush’, ‘The Black Crowes’ and ‘The Raconteurs’ have kept the tune relevant and available to current musical seekers. During its genesis, ‘The Seeker’ may have paled in comparison to its nearby musical compositional relatives. Now, examined with the vision of hindsight, the song can be seen for what it is. A stellar Townshend creation captured from when the Who were experiencing their composing, recording and performing peak as a band.