May 6, 2021

Young Man Blues

From the "Odds & Sods" liner notes by Brian Cady.

Produced by Kit Lambert at IBC Studios, London October 1968.

The track called "Blues" on Mose Allison’s 1957 Back Country Suite LP had been a Who live staple from at least mid-1964.

In October 1968, The Who began recording a studio version to be shoehorned into the opera that would ultimately be known as Tommy. It was eventually dropped along with Allison’s "One Room Country Shack" after all attempts to make it have a meaning in the story of the deaf, dumb & blind boy failed.

One of the studio versions done at a brisk tempo and running 2’48 later appeared on the U.K. Track Records compilation LP The House That Track Built.

The version that appears as Track 11 on the 1998 Odds & Sods CD is, despite the CD’s liner notes and packaging, a different, slower-paced take. The House That Track Built version, same take but different mix, can be found on Tommy: Deluxe Edition.

The Who recorded it most successfully Live At Leeds.

From the Live at Leeds liner notes by Chris Charlesworth with additions by Brian Cady:

Mose Allison’s blues song, which he first recorded in 1957, is given a whole new lease of life in The Who’s violent stop-start reading. It’s attack and counter attack, with Keith leading the assault against Roger’s vocals, John contributing his usual high speed runs and Pete slashing away on a hot blues riff until the solos allow him to stretch out. The version here is tighter and more assured than usual, not quite as long as The Who sometimes played it but hugely impressive as a showcase for improvised streams that slide apart and reconnect with effortless precision.

Mose’s original version was recorded March 7, 1957 when he was 29, not "nearly 40" as Pete puts it, and released as "Blues" on his LP Back Country Suite as part of the title suite. It runs only 1’24. Pete says he first heard it in November 1963 and The Who were playing it by 1964 as a tape from that era shows.

The Who had tried to shoehorn it into Tommy and recorded at least two studio versions then.

In the U.S., this track was planned as the second single released from Live At Leeds, but was pulled after a few stock copies were pressed.

Alternate live versions appear on The Kids Are Alright (1969), Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 and Who’s Next Deluxe Edition (1971). This is track #1 on the original LP where it runs 4’45. On the 1995 and 2001 CD’s it’s track #5 and runs 4’56. The unedited original is 5’07.