“Odds & Sods” was an album of rarities that The Who had John Entwistle assemble while the members of the band were engrossed in other film and career projects. The year was 1974. John came up with an album that had “I’m The Face”, The Who’s very first single from 1964 (when they were known as The High Numbers), a song that was always very popular onstage like “Naked Eye” (from an aborted post “Who’s Next” EP) and the tune that had inspired “Lifehouse”, “Pure & Easy”. That was by far the most notable omission on the finished “Who’s Next” (remember, the band did not choose the songs that were featured – Glyn Johns did), and its inclusion on an official album was long overdue
Two other songs from that troubled but incredibly fruitful period include “Put The Money Down” and “Now I’m A Farmer”. The first is actually every bit as good as any other song Pete wrote about performers and fans. The jawbone synthesizer is also noticeable, if only because it gives Keith a chance to play around the beat like only he could do in his prime. The song also has one of Roger’s most bestial screams ever, I am a bit perplexed that the fact is seldom mentioned.
On the other hand, “Now I’m A Farmer” is a jumble of a song, jumping from a rockier tune to a silly folksier number back and forth and back and forth, and with Keith Moon impersonating an old farmer at the end. The song was even shortly considered for inclusion on “Tommy” right before the band decided to make it a double album – that was a time when they also thought about including “Young Man Blues” on the deaf, dumb and blind boy’s opera.
Entwistle’s one contribution to the album was “Postcard”, a song about the band’s life on the road which was fine, although only devoted fans got the full joke. (There’s kangaroos and we’re bad news in Australia/Thrown off the plane for drinking beer/So long on the plane it drove us insane/So long on the plane). The song was to be the one and only Entwistle-penned composition to be issued as a Who A-side.
Of course, the album also had “Long Live Rock”, the song in which the band was to remind every punk and tough guy that was to come afterwards that “We were the first band to vomit in the bar/and find the distance to the stage too far”. The song was eventually issued as a single to promote “The Kids Are Alright” in 1979.
“Odds & Sods” also had some early stuff like “Little Billy”, a song that the American Cancer Association had commissioned Pete to write, but which they eventually rejected since they found it too gross for its intended audience – children. The song was also notable for having Keith Moon play a hi-hat.
Likewise, the album had “Faith On Something Bigger”, self-touted by Pete as one his worst acid-fueled compositions. I beg to disagree, seeing that the companion pieces to that period were songs like “Dogs”, and that was released as a single.
Far more substantial was “Glow Girl”, a song that constituted the true womb of Tommy, with its reincarnation ending and the lines “It’s a girl, Ms. Walker, It’s a girl”. If anything, the song showcased how Pete had labored at the famed opera and how the finished piece came from just everywhere. Townshend stated his outright enthusiasm for the inclusion of the song on “Odds & Sods” upon being interviewed by the NME when the album was issued. That interview, incidentally, is used as the accompanying text for the remastered “Odds & Sods” that saw release in 1998. The new version had more than twice the number of tracks the original album had, and you can read about it in part 2 of this review.
Read Part 2 of this review: the remastered “Odds & Sods” scrutinized.