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wonders never cease Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19th, 2010play list of the week: the punk meets the godfather to wish him happy birth

[caption id="attachment_4267" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="click to listen"]peteandjoey[/caption]This week's play list honors two men born on this day who changed the face of music and - may we be so bold - the world. The first is a rock legend, born in 1945 London to two musician parents. Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend went on to form one of the most influential bands in rock history, writing hundreds of songs, including the two seminal rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia. He also influenced a generation of musicians, including the second honoree, born six years later across the Atlantic Ocean in the NYC borough of Queens. Jeffry Ross Hymen idolized the brilliant guitarist of The Who, known for his energetic, unpredictable and destructive live shows. In 1974, Jeffry formed a band with two of his pals and they all adopted the surname Ramone. Jeffry became Joey Ramone and was originally the band's drummer, with Dee Dee Ramone as the lead singer. However, Dee Dee shredded his vocal chords trying to sing the first few songs, and Joey stepped out from behind the drum kit and up to the mike, charting the course for punk rock in the USA. Happy Birthday, Pete and Joey, and thanks for the music.

1. Who Are You - The Who
The title track on the 1978 album, the chart success of which was overshadowed by Keith Moon's death later that year. The album version of this song was longer and contained an entirely new verse, including this great line that summed up Townshend's sentiment at the time, "I used to check my reflection, jumping with my cheap guitar. I must have lost my direction, 'cause I ended up a superstar."

2. Rock and Roll Radio - The Ramones
The second single from 1980's End Of The Century, this stroll down memory lane signaled a dramatic departure from the stripped down simplicity of the Ramones' previous work and reflected the influence of their new producer, Phil Spector. Despite the more complex arrangements, the lyrics reflected the band's original philosophy, declaring "We need change, we need it fast, before rock's just part of the past, 'cause lately it all sounds the same to me."

3. Love Reign O'er Me - Betty LaVette
Betty LaVette belts out the Who classic at the 2008 Kennedy Center Music Awards at which Townshend was honored with a lifetime achievement award.

4. I Remember You - U2
In a moving tribute by U2 at a live show following Joey's death, Bono gives new meaning to Joey's lyrics for this song from Leave Home, The Ramones' landmark second album, singing "I remember lying awake at night and thinking just of you, but things don't last forever and somehow, baby, they never really do" as the crowd sings along with the chorus in full voice.

5. I Can't Explain - The Who
An early hit that helped launch these four Englishmen to stardom, Townshend copied the writing of The Kinks' Ray Davies, recorded the single with Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar and released it as The Who's first single. It's hard to recognize the four teenagers in the video performing their first hit song.

6. Substitute - The Ramones
Too fun to pass up, this is Joey and the Ramones covering their idol, Pete Townshend and The Who, in a 1993 video complete with a story line lead in.

7. My Generation - The Who
The band often referred to as "Rock's Greatest Live Performers" play this signature hit (and 24 other songs) at the concert often referred to as the "Greatest Live Event in Rock History," 1969's Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

8. What A Wonderful World - Joey Ramone
A much-covered song first recorded by Louis Armstrong, this was the opening track on Joey's only solo album, Don't Worry About Me, released a few months after his death. The video for this song was directed by Debbie Harry of Blondie.

9. Eminence Front - The Who
Written and sung by Townshend for the 1982 studio album, It's Hard, the video was filmed as the band prepared for a concert at the old Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.

10. You Can't Kill Joey Ramone - Sloppy Seconds
A Ramones-influenced punk band from Indianapolis honors their fallen idol with a fast guitar and lyrics reflecting their feeling of loss after Joey's death.

11. Squeeze Box - Tenacious D
The comedic duo perform the unexpected Townshend hit at a VH1 concert honoring The Who. Townshend wrote that he recorded the song for fun one day when he had bought himself an accordion. The accordion gave the song a polka-esque rhythm and the lyrics were "intended as a poorly aimed dirty joke."

12. I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
One of the best known Ramones songs, Joey wrote this in reaction to the grind of the road after spending Christmas in a London hotel watching American movies on the hotel TV while the city is shut down for the holiday. The iconic video features a relaxed Ramones sitting at a table apparently oblivious while mayhem erupts in the room around them.

13. Baba O'Riley - Blue Man Group
Oddly-painted percussionists somehow capture the spirit of this classic song on the reality show America's Got Talent despite some pretty uninspired vocals. Maybe it was the fact that Blue Man Group employed about 20 musicians to accompany them, pretty much replicating the energy and passion of the original four members of The Who, including an impressive violin solo from the aforementioned vocalist. Keith Moon would be proud.

14. In A Little While - U2
This U2 track was the last song heard by Joey before he died and was performed here by Bono as a moving tribute after Joey's death.

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