Thursday, October 13, 2011
Who is better than the Stones
If the Beatles is the greatest band in the history of rock and roll, Who is second best.
I'm not asking, I'm telling.
With Who frontman Roger Daltrey's Winnipeg show just around the corner, let's set the record straight: the Who, not the Rolling Stones, is the second-greatest band in the history of rock and roll.
In Winnipeg, this requires clarification: I'm talking about the Who, the great British rock and roll band with songs like "Won't Get Fooled Again," "My Generation," and "Baba O'Riley," not the Guess Who, the lame Winnipeg rock and roll band with songs like "No Sugar Tonight," "American Woman," and nothing else.
To some, the Rolling Stones will always come second to the Beatles, because they're the edgier, arrogant, bad-boy version of the lovable mop tops. The Stones took the Beatles' template, melded it with Chuck Berry, and sold it back to America at a profit, with massive stadium shows, loud guitars, and a big lips and tongue logo.
But one man's "white blues" is another man's "desperate guy in puffy shirts flapping around a stage."
To me, the Stones always seemed faux-dangerous. They had all the attitude, but were too commercially aware of what they were doing to be real Street Fighting Men.
The Who seemed truly dangerous, because they were out of control and smart. Where the Stones looked the part and had the moves, the Who had the ambition, the intensity, and what the Rolling Stone Record guide calls "internal tension," which sometimes resulted in the band members punching each other out.
It resulted in some great music: streetwise, operatic, experimental, furious, sensitive, and impossible to compile satisfactorily on a greatest hits.
The Who and the Stones have an embarrassment of great songs. The big, deciding factor for me is that the Who has far fewer bad songs than the Stones; and yeah: I'll take "Athena" over "Harlem Shuffle" any day.
I've seen both bands live twice, and the Who wins by a mile, even without two of its original members. I'll be in the front row when Roger Daltrey plays MTS Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Enjoy the back of my head, suckas!
Legend has it that the Stones shelved their Rock and Roll Circus film when the Who upstaged them. Watch the Who's performance in the clip, and if you still think the Stones are better: you aren't forgiven.