The Who vocal performance Pete Townshend hated

Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend has always been the band’s beating heart since the band’s inception. Townshend was the one plunging into the depths of his psyche to sculpt their masterpieces. He wrote most of the band’s material across masterpieces like Tommy and Who’s Next. Daltrey’s vocals were one of the band’s most valuable assets. But one of his show-stopping performances left Townshend unimpressed.

The band began as a neglected club act for most of their early career. But they quickly evolved into a rock and roll machine in the late 1960s. He toyed with making longer epics on songs like ‘A Quick One While He’s Away’. But Townshend decided it was time to delve deeper into the band’s later output. He conceived the idea of creating an entire album around the story of a deaf, dumb, and blind kid finding release through music.

Tommy would become one of the world’s first celebrated rock operas. It is with every band member playing a part in the story, as Daltrey sang about the protagonist’s fragile mind. Townshend envisioned doing the same thing again with the Lifehouse project. But the rest of the band never got it. The material was eventually folded into Who’s Next.

Townshend’s next vision was an ode to the Mod movement he grew up in. By the time he had time away from writing. He had a chance to cut loose with the band live on albums like Live at Leeds. Quadrophenia, which told the story of a disenfranchised ex-Mod, would become the band’s most daring project. It is with state-of-the-art production overseen by Townshend.

The album would also include some of the band’s most cinematic songs. It includes a brilliant use of horns on ‘The Real Me‘ and culminates in one of Daltrey’s most extravagant performances on the song ‘Love Reign O’er Me‘. Singing the song with conviction is a difficult task for anyone. But Daltrey was disappointed when Townshend didn’t like it.

Daltrey recalled Pete Townshend being cold about the performance during his time working on the track in the studio. He said, “When he heard ‘Love, Reign o’er Me,’ he hated it.” It devastated me. Perhaps it could be better. He heard it as a quiet love song. But I heard the ‘Love, Reign O’er Me,’ main theme as the orgasm, a primal thing that we are born out of. It could be just love, and you can’t get like Dusty Springfield saying that”.

However, considering where the song falls at the end of the album, Daltrey made the best decision by reaching for the fences. Instead of leaving the protagonist, Jimmy, feeling defeated on a rock, Daltrey sounds like he’s pleading for some kind of answer to descend from the sky. They made it for a showstopping finale that leaves the audience with a musical question mark. Townshend may have wanted to get as close to his vision as possible. But Daltrey’s delivery was far too powerful to overlook.

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