Roger Daltrey’s soaring trademark vocals coupled with Keith Moon and John Entwistle’s driving rhythm section and Pete Townsend’s growling guitar helped define The Who’s rock and roll sound. But occasionally, the other bandmembers would come forward and pick up the mic. Here are five corkers that feature either Entwistle, Moon or Townsend on vocals.
Keith Moon, I Need You from A Quick One (1966)
Keith Moon purportedly wrote this about a big night out he had with The Beatles, during which he became convinced that John, Paul, George and Ringo had created an entirely new language so they could talk about Moon without him understanding what they were saying. Fittingly for a Keith Moon composition, it features a thundering drum track, and despite Kit Lambert’s awful mix here, I Need You is an excellent song.
John Entwistle, Heaven And Hell, B-Side to single Summertime Blues (1970)
This is The Ox at his best, playing his bass with dizzying speed. In fact, his vocal is damn good on this too. Unhappy with the studio version, it was parked on the B-side of the Summertime Blues single but it became a live standard; Heaven and Hell was the song with which The Who kicked off their 1969 Woodstock set.
Pete Townsend, Going Mobile from Who’s Next (1971)
Originally written for Townsend’s scrapped Lifehouse project, Going Mobile found a home on Who’s Next. Here Townsend demonstrates that The Who can still generate their trademark wall of sound even when he plays the acoustic. The song was apparently written about Townsend’s newfound love of travelling in his mobile home.
John Entwistle, Boris the Spider from A Quick One (1966)
This was the first song Entwistle wrote for The Who, and the title was supposedly conceived during a night of excessive drinking with The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman. Written in just six minutes, it became a regular feature in the band’s live shows and according to Pete Townsend in an interview with Rolling Stone, it was Jimmy Hendrix’s favourite Who song.
Pete Townsend, I’m One from Quadrophenia (1973)
Another from guitarist Pete Townsend, this was taken from the brilliant 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia (adapted into a film in 1979). I’m One begins with an impassioned Townsend vocal over a finger-picked acoustic, before the whole force of The Who kicks in on the second verse. Magnificent!