Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Who - Who's Lily (UPGRADE)

The Who – Who’s Lily
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)
March 2020 Upgrade

Side A:
1.  Armenia City in The Sky
2.  Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand
3.  Pictures of Lily
4.  In The Hall of The Mountain King
5.  Our Love Was
6.  I Can See For Miles

Side B:
7.  I Can’t Reach You
8.  Girl’s Eyes
9.  Early Morning Cold Taxi
10.  Relax
11.  Sodding About
12.  Rael

Continuing my set of “Social Distancing” bonus uploads—once a week until we’re out of quarantine—is a long-requested upgrade to The Who’s unreleased 1967 album Who’s Lily.  Standing as the working title of their follow-up to A Quick One—or Jigsaw Puzzle in my continuity—the album was revised from a loose collection of songs into a conceptual framework that mimicked a pirate radio broadcast and released as their seminal album The Who Sell Out.  This reconstruction attempts to reproduce what the original incarnation of the album could have sounded like, before the Sell Out concept.  Some new edits were created and several tracks crossfaded for continuity.   The album is again presented all in mono—as all early The Who should!—and uses the best possible masters for each track.  

Upgrades to this March 2020 edition are:

  • Dropped “Silas Stingy”, “Glittering Girl” and “Tattoo” for historical accuracy.
  • Added “Girl’s Eyes”, “Early Morning Taxi” and “Sodding About” for historical accuracy.
  • New mono fold of “In The Hall of the Mountain King”, including the into. 
  • New edit of Sell Out mix of “Our Love Was”, with a clean intro and outro from the alternate mono mix.
  • New edit of “Rael” parts 1 and 2

As London entered 1967 and became a lot more swingin', The Who found themselves in a rapidly changing music scene.  Contemporaries Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were laying the ground for a more wild sound and The Who’s mod image was beginning to seem outdated.  To keep up with their competition, The Who returned to IBC studios in early April to cut a handful of songs for a new single: “Glittering Girl”, “Doctor Doctor” and “Pictures of Lily”, the later being an exquisite specimen of power pop, concerning masturbation.  The song was just what The Who needed and shot up the charts, establishing The Who as a force that once again could be reckoned with in this upcoming year of musical change.  In keeping up with these tides, the band planned to follow the single with a purely instrumental EP and even recorded a duo of songs for it—the bass-driven “Sodding About” and a crazed rendition of Edvard Greig’s “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt.  Although the duo of songs seemed to anticipate and embrace the forthcoming psychedelia craze, the results were less than satisfactory and the instrumentals were set aside, the EP concept scrapped.  The Who would have to go back to what they did best: writing great pop songs and performing them with gusto.

In May the band returned to the studio to cut a slew of new songs for their forthcoming third album, built around the previous month’s success of “Pictures of Lily”, making the album’s provisional title Who’s Lily.  Much had been learned from splitting the songwriting duties on A Quick One, and all Who members once again contributed original material: Daltrey offered “Early Morning Cold Taxi”; Moon offered “Girl’s Eyes”; Entwhistle offered “Someone’s Coming”; Pete offered what he thought was his magnum opus, “I Can See For Miles”; and finally “Armenia City in the Sky”, a song written by Pete’s driver Speedy Keen (of Thunderclap Newman) which fully captured the current psychedelic era.   With half an album started, The Who turned their eyes across the Atlantic for a handful of shows in New York and a spot in the famous Montery Pop Festival, co-headlining with The Who’s chief British competition: The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  Briefly returning home to De Lane Lea Studios in July, The Who cut the basics for two more Who’s Lily tracks, “I Can’t Reach You” and “Relax”.  They immediately left for a three-month tour of North America with Herman’s Hermits and additional work on Who’s Lily would have to be done on the road, across the ocean.

The Who's seafaring seemed to be an influence on the new album, as Townshend unearthed a rock opera he had been composing since the beginning of the year, concerning a soldier from the fictional country of Rael who travels across the sea to battle the invading Chinese.  In an attempt to finish Who’s Lily for its proposed summer release, Townshend whittled his rock opera down from 30 minutes into a 10 minute opus; it was further whittled down as much as possible for consideration as a single!  “Rael” was recorded at Mirasound Studios in New York with Bob Dylan’s keyboardist Al Kooper, but it’s 6-minute run time excluded it from a single release and "Rael" was tossed into the batch of other album-contenders.  Two more songs were recorded at Mirasound with further August recording at Columbia Studios in Nashville for the single that “Rael” could not occupy: a balled called “Our Love Was” and another power-pop song about masturbation, “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand”, the later released as a single in the US.  After more work was done at Columbia Studios to complete the unfinished tracks recorded throughout the year, as well as a September session at Goldstar in LA to complete “I Can See For Miles”, a total of ten album contenders were to be paired with “Pictures of Lily” (and possibly it’s b-side “Doctor Doctor” or session outtake “Glittering Girl”).  This was most certainly the Who’s Lily album, but was it the best album The Who could muster in this changing musical climate?  Was it a good idea to build an album around a straight-ahead power-pop song midst the increasingly colorful Summer of Love?  The Who gave pause to Who’s Lily and they would have to come up with the album’s selling point.   

Throughout 1967, The Who recorded various commercial jingles, including adverts for Coke in April and Great Shakes in May.  Perhaps the success of these adverts inspired The Who to use it as a framework for a redesigned Who’s Lily.  Upon returning home in October, The Who hit the studio and cut a number of ridiculous faux commercial jingles: “Medac”, “Top Gear”, “Heinz Baked Beans” and “Odorono”.  These jingles would be interspersed throughout the proper Who songs on their upcoming album, designed to replicate a pirate radio broadcast.  This sudden burst of inspiration fueled the band to pump out several more proper Who songs to trump the weaker material recorded earlier in the year: Entwhistle’s creepy character-study “Silas Stingy”; Townshend’s paced classic “Tattoo” and the atmospheric acoustic ballad “Sunrise”; updated versions of “Glittering Girl” (now with a stronger rhythm and Roger’s vocal), “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand” (now acoustically laid-back) and “Rael” (now more typically power-pop but lacking the psychedelic majesty of the New York version).  Choosing the original “Rael” over the new version (although the final minute was edited off due to time limitations of the LP), several more jingles were cut—"Jaguar", “Premiere Drums”, “Rotosound String”, “John Mason Cars”, “Bag O’ Nails”, “Charles Atlas” and “Track Records”—and Sell Out was completed.  Released in December, it was a critical and commercial success, being one of the most obvious and intentional rock concept albums, one which pushed into the borders of pop-art.  But is there a way we can hear the original commercial-free version?

For this reconstruction of Who’s Lily we will stick to the batch of songs prepared up until the end of the American tour, as that seems to be the point where Who’s Lily became Sell Out.  We will also exclusively keep the album in mono for two reasons: 1) a stereo “Pictures of Lily” does not exist and 2) early The Who simply sounds better in mono!  All the songs recorded between April and August 1967 are fair game, although we will drop the two weaker Entwhistle tracks “Doctor, Doctor” and “Someone’s Coming”, already featured as b-sides anyways.  We will also exclude “Glittering Girl”, since the more refined version was not recorded until October (which could be saved for Who’s For Tennis, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…).  Leaving only ten real contenders for the album, we will use both of the instrumentals from April, as they give the album a slightly different and more heavy, psychedelic atmosphere, making Who’s Lily more contemporaneous for 1967. 

Side A of my reconstruction begins with “Armenia City in The Sky”, taken from the 2014 HD Tracks remaster of Sell Out, the most pristine source of its original mono mix.  Following is the original US single mono mix of “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand”, a bonus track from the aforementioned HDTracks remaster.  The pseudo-title-track follows, “Pictures of Lily” taken from its currently best source, The Who Hits 50.  In a nod to the band’s brief initial concept of an instrumental EP, I have included a mono fold of “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from the 2009 Sell Out Deluxe; although admittedly this track probably would not have been featured on Who’s Lily, it serves as an interesting diversion and fits the psychedelic theme of the album.  Following is “Our Love Was” from the 2014 HDTracks remaster, but using the clean intro and outro from the alternate mono mix found.  Closing Side B is the song that is essential to be heard in mono: “I Can See For Miles” from the 2014 HDTracks remaster.

Side B starts appropriately with the 2014 mono remaster of “I Can’t Reach You”, followed by John Entwhistle’s featured lead-vocal on Who’s Lily, Moon’s “Girl’s Eyes”, taken from the 2009 remaster of Sell Out and collapsed to mono.  Likewise, the power-pop bliss of “Early Morning Cold Taxi” follows, taken from the 1995 remaster of Sell Out and, again, collapsed to mono.  The droning psyche-rock of “Relax” follows, also taken from the 2014 mono remaster, followed by the second heavy psyche instrumental “Sodding About” which creates a musical continuity to the album, taken from the 2009 Sell Out remaster and collapsed to mono.  The album concludes with the cleaner-sounding early mono mix of “Rael” that includes an otherwise extracted verse, with its actual part 2 tagged onto the end, as the song was meant to be heard in its full six-and-a-half minute glory, both found on the 2009 Sell Out remaster.  Who's Lily's final touch is the psychedelic cover art by Mark Heggen, taken from the poster included with the original copies of Sell Out--truly a picture of Lily!   

Sources used:
Sell Out (1995 Polydor remaster)
Sell Out (2009 Polydor Deluxe Edition)
Sell Out (2014 HDTracks mono remaster)
The Who Hits 50! (2014 Geffin Records)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included


  1. What would be the tracklist to a follow up "Who Sell Out" album?

    1. It would be my upgraded Who's For Tennis, which will be up in April.

  2. After hearing that you will post weekly, it has felt like Christmas here. Especially looking forward to your Tennis upgrade, as the original is the one that got me here in the first place.

    Sad to hear that you consider Someone's Coming as one of Entwistle's weaker compositions, as I hoped including it would have been one of the upgrades. Personally I regard it as the definition of an underrated gem. Entwistle's horns have never sounded better, and I think it fits sonically very well with other Tennis-era songs. Well, everyone has their favorite underdogs (Personally I never cared for neither version of Glittering Girl. First one sounds too sparse and unfinished, and the second one is way too dense, giving instruments too little room to breathe).
    Speaking of which, it's weird hearing Girl's Eyes and Early Morning Cold Taxi among other Sell Out songs. In my head, their place is in Who's for Tennis, mostly thanks to your original tracklist.
    On the other hand, I'm glad to see that Sodding About finally got some recognition. Placement of the song is also spot on.
    I secretly wished that this upgrade would have also included a stereo-version, as the Sell Out stereo mix is really great. But your point about Pictures of Lily as mono only is hard to argue against.

    Anyway, good job as always! These really make my day and are the best thing to come out of this quarantine.

    Any chance you will give us your take on the early, single album version of Tommy? It is suspiciously missing from your series of alternative Who-albums.

    1. I agree, Girl's Eyes and EMCT sound strange here, and in my brain I always group them with Whos For Tennis. But it's only slight addressed in the write-up, but I really goofed originally, in making Who's For Tennis *before* Who's Lily. Since Who's For Tennis would in theory use some of the Sell Out outtakes, Lily should have been made first. Now they are more "historically accurate".

      Not familiar with the single-disc Tommy. Source on that? imo Tommy is perfect as is! I have been working on a single-disc The Wall though...

    2. I don't think there is any definitive single-disc version of Tommy, but rather several different ones, as the production on the album ebbed and flowed over the course of a year, but none really definitive or fully formed.

      I first heard about single disc Tommy from some tv-documentary, maybe it was called Amazing Journey, where it was just briefly mentioned that at some point during the recording sessions they decided to make it a double album. But I cannot swear on this, as I saw it many years ago.

      However, after your request I did check it from my copy of Before I Get Old, and there are mentions of earlier iterations of Tommy.

      Few takeaways:
      - Townshend first mentioned working on a rock opera about deaf, dumb and blind boy in June 1968 (p.259). So, roughly a year before the album was released. In the interview, Pete describes the story of Tommy in quite a detail, as it existed in his head at that time. Apparently the record was known at the time as "Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy" (p.267).
      - It is known that many of Tommy's songs came from different times. Marsh mentions Welcome, We're Not Gonna Take It, Sensation, Sally Simpson and Amazing Journey being completed rather early on (p.262), as most of them were made for other purposes.
      - Marsh also mentions that the group was aiming for the album to be ready by Christmas 1968 (p.265), and their managers Lambert and Stamp also expected so when they were booking the band's gigs for the end of the year (p.267).
      - Now the big one: Entwistle mentions how Pete asked him to write a couple of nasty songs, and I quote: "It was only when we decided to make a double album that it became much easier to work out the story line. Before, when we put it all together, it just didn't seem to make any sense, so we cut off the ending, stuck Tommy's Holiday Camp on and finished off with another bit of See Me, Feel Me." (p.266). Not very encouraging words, but there you go. The placement of the text seems to imply that this happened before the Rock & Roll Circus gig, but Entwistle mentions the song Tommy's Holiday Camp by name, while Marsh writes later on that they came up with the name of the album (and the character) later, possibly in early 1969, when Pete and Kit wrote the script for Tommy.

      I hope this helps, and bears some fruit in the future! ;)

  3. Dear Sonic,
    In 1993-'94 Prince worked on his 3-part magnum opus "The Dawn". Unfortunately it became one of his many unfinished projects.
    I found a wedsite to help you out
    I am really curious what you can do of what it is known about this.
    Prince was amazingly prolific in the first half of the 90's and made some amazing tracks, some still not available.

  4. I like reading your blog you inspire me to improve in speech and expression. Love this The Who installment. Wanted to offer up a project that hopefully you'll consider I know you'll make it as audible as complete, and unique (in terms of artwork) as possible. So see here thank you advancely:

  5. When can we expect the newly remade Who's for Tennis? :)

  6. I couldn't find Jigsaw Puxzzle on the site, is it deleted or just a different name for A Quick One


  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Another great effort in glorious mono

  9. It's brilliant, a kind-of pocket Sell Out without the jingles

  10. empty3


  11. So I had the "brilliant idea" to snip off the jingles at the end of all the tracks to make my own unique "anti-sell out" mix of the album. As soon as I had finished a couple I remembered you've beat me to the punch! Glad I did remember though. I did however do this for any of the cuts that didn't make the Lily or For Tennis albums and added them on as bonus tracks. Very much looking forward to whatever comes next, dear pal. Once Feel Flows finally gets released I formally request a "Poops/Hubba Hubba" from Dennis Wilson!

  12. Will you be re-examining this now that the Sell Out box set is available? I'd be really interested to see how its contents inform your idea of this "Lily" album!

  13. Can you please repost the Who links?

  14. A re-up of this would be much appreciated!

  15. I'd really appreciate an empty three reup of this and Tennis - I lost my originals and they're not available even via the location that I discovered by being The Seeker... Thanks