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The Punk Meets the Modfather
Kyle: A look at The Who - they certainly didn't dress like mods.
Mark: They did in the beginning.
Kyle: Yes they did, and indeed had some very spiffy clothes back in the
early days [my favorites are pictured in the photo found in Maximum R&B:
top page 10 and in The Who's Tommy: bottom page 11]. Soon after the
early days, they abandoned the mod fashion (as they abandoned the mod
music) because they had bigger things ahead of them. One of the reasons
The Who isn't quite as popular as it could be is because it was a group
without a movement. It was neither mod nor punk (as some on the list
have suggested), and its records varied immensely. Each CD in the
Maximum R&B set, for example, has a very different sound to it, from the
mod tones of disc one to the almost techno atmosphere of disc four. The
Who was a versatile unit, and tying itself to a particular movement would
have stifled this versatility.
Mark: The Who, on the other hand, were definitely Punks. Street Punks, to
be exact. AAA was the first Punk song.
Either a) I have a different definition of Punk or b) I disagree. I've
always thought of Punk as being anti-conformity for the sake of
anti-conformity or, in some cases, for the sake of the promotion of
anarchy. AAA was a statement of independence and a rejection of the
society that rejected the opressed in "My Generation" for superficial or
jealous reasons. It was rebellious, but there was a reason for
rebellion. Thus the Who was not a Punk group at all, unless my
definition is incorrect and in which case I would ask that you please
On a final note, I would like to acknowledge a bit of Townshend's
brilliance which I just realized: The word "mod" does not appear in any
of the lyrics for "Quadrophenia". This subtle restraint of Townshend's
is significant to me; it prevents the album from sounding fake, as does
the absence of words in the title song. It could have been awful:
"I'm just a crazy old sod
Yeah, just a crazy young mod
Do you know what I mean, yeah?
I suffer from QUADROPHEEN-YUH!"
Fortunately, it wasn't.
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