Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Who - Lifehouse

The Who - Lifehouse
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:
1. Teenage Wasteland
2. Going Mobile
3. Baba O’Riley
4. Time is Passing
5. Love Ain’t For Keeping

Side B:
6. Bargain
7. Too Much of Anything
8. Greyhound Girl
9. Mary
10. Behind Blue Eyes

Side C:
11. I Don’t Even Know Myself
12. Put The Money Down
13. Pure and Easy
14. Getting in Tune
15. Let’s See Action

Side D:
16. Relay
17. Join Together
18. Won’t Get Fooled Again
19. The Song is Over



By 1970, The Who were undoubtedly the top rock band in the world.  After having released one of the first rock concept albums with The Who Sell Out in 1967, the first rock opera with Tommy and their messianic performance at Woodstock in 1969, and possibly one of the greatest live albums of all time with Live At Leeds in 1970, Pete Townshend had no choice but to up his own epic ante with the band’s next release.  His follow-up to a concept album and rock opera could only be a third conceptual, semi-operatic piece, but which also included a film tie-in and actual audience participation with the band’s performance that would steer the direction and plotline of the album itself.  As opposed to The Who’s previous rock opera, each song would also be able to stand on its own without the need for musical interludes to propel the storyline and explain the previous song; each song would be self-sufficient.  That album was to be called Lifehouse. 

Unfortunately, the Lifehouse’s plot-line was so convoluted and unexplainable, its execution so elaborate and unfeasible, not even his Townshend’s bandmates could comprehend it and the project was eventually scrapped.  Instead, the best of the album’s surviving songs became Who’s Next in 1971.  This is a reconstruction of what that double concept album/soundtrack called Lifehouse would have sounded like if it had been finished in 1971 as originally intended by The Who.  


320 kps mp3s 
FLAC part 1 
FLAC part 2
FLAC part 3
  

Sources used:
Who’s Next (1995 remaster)
Who’s Next (2003 delux edition)
30 Years of Maximum Rock n’Roll
Odds & Sods
Rarities 1966-1972 vol I & II
Pete Townshend - Lifehouse Chronicles


flac --> wav --> editing in Audacity and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


Album reconstruction notes: 



Lifehouse was a futuristic saga with diverging subplots to be unified at its conclusion, with an underlying secondary concept, acted out by The Who themselves through live footage and music.   The storyline takes place in a polluted futuristic world in which the populace is literally hard-wired onto “The Grid,” a Matrix-like computer system controlled by the government, meant to oppress and pacify.  All art is outlawed—especially music—as it promotes free-thinking, something The Grid is meant to do for you.  A scattered few live free from The Grid in the outskirts of the cities—the hippie gypsies of a teenage wasteland. 

The first of the three subplots of Lifehouse—also the opening sequence—centers around one of those gypsies free from The Grid, a turnip farmer named Ray.  He gathers his wife Sally and daughter Mary to journey to the city, to investigate the mysterious Lifehouse, which is broadcasting pirated rock music onto The Grid (Side A of my reconstruction).  The second subplot revolves around Mary’s own spiritual quest, as well as a glimpse of the villain Jumbo, a leading government official who controls The Grid (Side B of my reconstruction).  The third subplot centers around the young man who runs the Lifehouse itself, a musician named Bobby who attempts to discover the ‘universal chord’ which consists of ‘notes’ from all people on earth, thus constructing a chord for all (Side C of my reconstruction).  The finale of the album was envisioned as Ray, Sally and Mary’s arrival at the Lifehouse, Bobby’s performance of the universal chord, an epic battle against Jumbo and the freeing of the populace from The Grid (side D of my reconstruction). 

The aforementioned underlying concept of Lifehouse was the construction of Bobby’s universal chord, as performed by The Who.  The first phase of the recording sessions for Lifehouse consisted of The Who performing at The Young Vic theatre to an open-door audience, in which the band would interpret the emotions and souls of each individual audience member, to compose that member’s note, thus eventually creating Bobby’s universal chord.  The Lifehouse film was to have footage from The Live Vic intercut with the storyline itself, The Who performing live from the Lifehouse with Ray and Sally listening along to Bobby’s pirate radio broadcast as they traveled the countryside. 

As fate would have it, some mountains are just too high to climb.  The recordings from The Young Vic were not as promising as anticipated, and the lack of audience understanding or even interest was disheartening for Townshend.  Initial studio sessions with producer Kit Lambert in New York were sloppy and below-par for the critically acclaimed rock group.  Pete Townshend began to lose hope in his elaborate tale of a dismal future and universal musical salvation and began to drink heavily.  The situation reached a head when he overheard Lambert commenting that Lifehouse should be abandoned, which propelled Townshend into a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt.  After firing Lambert, recording sessions were rebooted in London with producer Glyn Johns.  The results were rejuvenating, having a cleaner fidelity and energetic performance.  But that was not enough to save the Lifehouse.  The dream finally ended after Townshend admitted it was simply too ambitious and the plot was too abstract.  The choice was made to take the best songs from the double-concept album and create a stronger single album without a unifying concept.  Ironically, the resulting Who’s Next was The Who’s most critically and financially successful album to date, continuing a mass of their most beloved songs. 

Townshend never gave up hope for his Lifehouse, having slowly added more songs to the unreleased mess.  Lifehouse often made references in his own work, such as on his Psychoderelect album in 1993.  Townshend eventually released The Lifehouse Chronicles boxset in 2000, consisting of his original demos of the project from 1970 and later, his synthesizer experimentations, orchestral renditions of the songs and a 1998 radio play based on Lifehouse.  This was what Lifehouse sounded like in 2000—not a finished album, but a scrapbook of a work-in-progress that was never finished.  But what would The Who’s version sound like?  Here is Lifehouse, as it was originally imagined. 

How could we possibly explain something that Townshend himself could not explain to The Who’s inner circle and what took him 30 years to elaborate into a finished product?   Surprisingly, Townshend left all the clues we really need in the form of his official tracklist on the Lifehouse Chronicles.  Using his tracklist as a blueprint, it is surprisingly easy to reconstruct Lifehouse, as that is presumably the correct and official running order.  Knowing the plotline as already explained, the tracklist seems to follow the narrative fairly well. 

The only exclusions that should be made are the songs not originally written for the album in 1970-1971.  Townshend claimed that Lifehouse was a continuous work in progress, and chose to include later The Who By Numbers and Who Are You-era tracks within the Lifehouse Cronicles.  Clearly those songs are excluded here, as they were simply not written by 1971.  This reconstruction attempts to be true to the project’s original inception.   Once this is done, we are left with approximately 90 minutes of material, adding up to two 45-minute discs.  Coincidence?

The next factor to consider is source material.  Nearly all versions in the reconstruction are the original 1971 studio Who recordings.  Although the original concept of Lifehouse included actual live Who performances—primarily at The Young Vic, that has been excluded here in the name of continuity and quality.  If live material was to be used, why bother recording studio versions at all?  Thus all versions on this reconstruction are the studio versions.  Just as well,1970 live staples “Water”, “Naked Eye” and “Baby Don’t You do It” are excluded from my reconstruction of Lifehouse, because they are unneeded and superfluous, having predated the Lifehouse concept and seem to be unrelated to the storyline altogether. 

Also, three tracks (“Teenage Wasteland”, “Greyhound Girl” and “Mary”) were taken from Townshend’s original demo tapes (as found on disc 1 of the Lifehouse Chronicles) because The Who had never recorded their own versions of the songs.  In the case of those three songs, they are entirely solo Pete Townshend recordings, with him performing all instrumentation.  Since they are vintage 1970 recordings and somehow fit perfectly into the album sonically, I have included them here.  Also without those three, the album ceases to be two 45-minute discs. 

Few instances of editing were needed beyond tighter crossfades to eliminate lead time between tracks and to create four continuous sides of music.  One of two exceptions includes my own unique edit of “Teenage Wasteland”.  While clearly the song eventually became and was replaced by “Baba O’Riley”, Townshend chose to include both versions on his final Lifehouse Chronicles.  I have decided to respect that artistic decision, but have edited out the final 3 minutes of the song, the sections that emulate what would later become “Baba O’Riley”, thus avoiding any musical and lyrical redundancies.  I have also included the beginning of “Baba M1”, one of Townshend’s synthesizer experiments that was later incorporated into “Baba O’Riley”, as a brief introduction to the album and representing the Universal Chord itself.   The second unique edit was the creation of a new “Love Ain’t For Keeping”, consisting of the classic Who’s Next acoustic version edited together with the 2-minute jam and coda from the electric version recorded at the scrapped New York sessions (found on Odds and Sods).  The effect is a an amazing end to Side A and a fresh look at a familiar song. 

32 comments:

  1. My hat's off to you, Great Album! In fact all of your comps. are fantastic. You put alot of thought into each one. How about the Stones "Black Album" or an album if the Beatles did not break up.

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  2. We need to see an album if the Beatles didn't break up. Like now. That would be so awesome. Here's a hypothetical track listing:

    1. Give Peace a Chance
    2. Junk
    3. Maybe I'm Amazed
    4. All Things Must Pass
    5. It Don't Come Easy
    6. Teddy Boy
    7. Mother

    That's all I can think of RIGHT this second.

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  3. Amazing compilation--the best I've seen so far--great sound editing (and a well written history)
    Thank you very much!

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  4. simply amazing!! so glad to see this great lost album come to light

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  5. It would be cool if you could do their never made album Jigsaw Puzzle
    Track order
    1. "I'm a Boy" (Slow version, released on Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy)
    2. "Run Run Run"
    3. "Don't Look Away"
    4. "Circles" (Version 2)
    5. "I Need You"
    6. "Cobwebs and Strange"
    7. "In the City"
    8. "Boris the Spider"
    9. "Whiskey Man"
    10. "See My Way"
    11. "Heat Wave"
    12. "Barbara Ann"

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  6. Love this - great job! You need to send your suggested Lifehouse track listing to Pete Townshend. Who Knows (pun intended) - maybe he'll produce it and release this as a commercial recording.

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  7. Do you mind reuploading this since the links are down?

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  8. Great blog! Think you may like mine also! If you are so inclined....:)
    http://thefrodisroomrockblog.blogspot.com/

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  9. Man...fantastic job. Reading Pete's 'Who I Am' right now and this really fills in a lot of blanks. Cheers!

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  10. Awesome. The only one thing I disagree with is Water. I know everybody says it doesn't belong on there but it just seems so much like Daltrey is singing as Bobby, decrying the desert-like condition of the Lifehouse world, and literally addressing Ray when he says "I met your daughter at the oasis" with the oasis probably referring to the Lifehouse theater. Music is water and water is God. These are Townshend themes. Look at all the water as god stuff in Quadrophenia, where Townshend decided to perhaps hunker down and develop those themes in a more realistic present-day setting, since the Lifehouse ambitiousness proved overwhelming. I put it as a start to the second half of the opera. An opening salvo and mission statement from Bobby. Water is important.

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    1. my version goes like this:
      1. Baba O'Riley
      2. Bargain
      3. Love Ain't For Keeping
      4. My Wife
      5. The Song Is Over
      6. Getting In Tune
      7. Going Mobile
      8. Behind Blue Eyes
      9. Won't Get Fooled Again
      10. Pure And Easy
      11. Baby Don't You Do It
      12. Naked Eye
      13. Water
      14. Too Much Of Anything
      15. I Don't Even Know Myself
      16. Behind Blue Eyes

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  11. Here's a show I made recreating Lifehouse, maybe you'd like to listen? http://www.mixcloud.com/TeenageWasteland/teenage-wasteland-4-lifehouse/

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  12. This is so well put together. You've given us the geratest The Who album ever! Thank you so much!

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  13. I think you should do the 1977 version of Lifehouse as a sequel

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  14. Great work on this one. Please do more Who projects if possible

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  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  16. As a Who fan, this is my favorite of your reconstructions. Although it's a shame that no proper stereo mix exists for "Time is Passing"; a minor stumble point in an otherwise perfect double LP. Excellent work!

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  17. Greetings from France, it's beautiful :):)
    The work on your version of Baba O Riley keyboards is marvelous !
    You know this isolated bass : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Lf10U0yZrs ???
    John is a "perfectionist" when he is art director of film "The Kids are alright" in 1979. He re-recorded all the bass. This is particaly perfect !
    Bonne continuation et merci

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  18. Wow. I was searching for better artwork for my version of Lifehouse. I used the trackslist from "Lifehouse Chronicles" to make my version. I noticed yours doesn't include "Music Must Change", "Sister Disco", "Slip Kid", and "Who Are You" is this because these are songs recorded later?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, because they were recorded later and Townshend continually revised the Lifehouse idea as he wrote new material throughout the 70s. I discarded those revisions here and stuck with his orignal set of songs.

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  19. Just discovered your blog - great stuff! I've had my own "Lifehouse" playlist put together for a while, pretty much the same as yours, but your edits make it flow really well.

    Just curious - why did you choose the Record Plant version of "Behind Blue Eyes", as opposed to the official "Who's Next" version?

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, the reason I chose the New York version of Behind Blue Eyes is because I've heard the official Who's Next version my whole life, and wanted to hear something different this time 'round. I think they're both good versions, really, and either would sit well I think.

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  20. On the Classic Albums' dvd of Who's Next, both Townshend and Daltrey mention that "Pure and Easy" begin the story of Lifehouse. Just wondering why you didn't consider this for your version?

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    Replies
    1. Strange that I am not getting email notifications of new comments here... Otherwise I would have answered this before...

      Good question. Now granted I haven't seen that Classic Albums episode in like 5 years, so it's not fresh in my memory, but I'm pretty sure they said "Pure and Easy" was the first song WRITTEN for the project, not that it is literally the first song. Just like "Amazing Journey" was (I believe) the first song written for Tommy, but yet it is not meant to begin the album. The genesis of the project came from the idea of The Universal Chord, but the project evolved to not specifically be about that.

      But putting that aside, "Pure and Easy" is not opening this reconstruction for three reasons:
      1) Townshend himself positioned it late in the album, so I followed that.
      2) Compared to other tracks (like "Baba O'Riley" or "Teenage Wasteland") it's not a very dynamic album-opner
      3) I felt that "Teenage Wasteland" (or even "Baba O'Riley") better set-up the setting of the rock-opera. It seemed more important to communicate where and when we are--Ray's story--rather than the universal chord--Bobby's story.

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  21. I noticed several times you mentioned the "original crop" songs, and I think you may have very slightly moved off that. I'm fairly sure that "Join Together," "Relay," and "Put the Money Down" were written at least slightly after the rest of the songs here. They've always just sounded a little different, and there exists an early double acetate album of Pete's demos (probably what he originally presented to the band) which includes nearly all the other songs but which omit these three. After reading Pete's Who I Am autobiography last year, in which he says that even as Who's Next was being compiled he was still holding out a smidgen of hope for Lifehouse, I feel reaffirmed in the belief that he may written them after Who's Next had been released even. However, I do greatly enjoy "Join Together" and "Relay" and tend to include them in my Lifehouse playlists. "Put the Money Down," not so much, so I omit it.

    I also wanted to share this, a stereo sync of the missing channel of "Time Is Passing" with the officially released channel. Very well done, and it sounds great.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oaS71pQtJ8

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  22. this is just incredible! absolutely stunning. i cant thank you enough!

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  23. Just found your site and I love the idea! Thanks for giving Pete and the boys the helpful shove to completion they needed.

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  24. Awesome version!! The only changes I would make: Time Is Passing (more recent stereo mix), Love Ain't For Keeping (Odds & Sods version), Behind Blue Eyes (Who's Next version) and Pure & Easy (Odds & Sods version).

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  25. Does anyone else find that because Lifehouse wasn't made it has become far and away the truest piece of art The Who created? It was a project whose entire basis was on audience participation to find the one note. In a way isn't that what the fans have been doing ever since? If the Lifehouse album itself represents the One Note, then I would argue that Pete's original goal for the album has been fulfilled. Here we are over 40 years later trying to piece it all together, to find the perfect compilation, of course everyone has their own interpretation of what that should be. Some include the songs from Who's Next, some exclude the ones written at the outset (Water, Naked Eye) no matter how you splice it up the fact that members of The Who's most dedicated fans are here all this time later trying to find that perfect fit too me proves Lifehouse eventually did in fact work out pretty damn close to how Pete intended. The song is never over.

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