The Popstream: The Who, "5:15"


The problem with being a big-time pop music junkie and taking in just about everything you can is that sometimes it's easy to take obvious, familiar greatness for granted. If I had to rattle off a list of my 50 or even 100 favorite musical acts of all time, I'd probably wind up omitting the Who -- not because I don't like them, but because... well, for one thing, they're another generation's band, so I didn't experience them firsthand (unless vague memories of hearing "Eminence Front" on the radio when I was five counts). More specifically, they're so heavily ingrained in the rock'n'roll consciousness that at some point I got tired of hearing about them, even though I haven't gotten tired of actually hearing their music, and so sometimes I get a flash out of nowhere, like "damn, Who's Next really was wall-to-wall great" or "Entwistle-Moon might be the greatest rhythm section in rock history". Or, better yet, "they really used to tear shit up on TV, didn't they?"

Even if their main TV pop-culture presence right now involves serving as David Caruso's rimshot, there was a time where hearing the Who on the tube meant that they were actually performing on TV, and such an event was typically one that would unravel in a somewhat chaotic fashion: maybe Keith Moon would blow up his drumkit, maybe he'd run around in his underpants -- or maybe Pete Townsend would go berserk and just start smashing everything, like he does in this infamous clip from a '73 episode of BBC rock-TV mainstay Top of the Pops, which got them banned from the show. I don't blame him, to be honest, since host Noel Edmunds claimed "they haven't had a single out for two years" when "Join Together" was a chart hit in '72 and seems to be a bit befuddled as to the title of the album itself ("Er, Quadrophenia, I think it's called?"). I don't know what's funnier: the fact that the drums on the backing track are still rumbling away as Pete knocks them over, or the fact that the crowd starts throwing wigs at him after he gives them the ol' "V" sign.


Keith's drums going kaboom, 1967

A somewhat disastrous interview with Russell Harty, 1973