Saturday, August 20, 2011

ROCK Sex: "I CAN'T EXPLAIN" - The Who > David Bowie > The Clash > Fatboy Slim > The Hives

ROCK Sex can't explain but thinks it's love.

Creativity is each putting their own spin on an idea, advancing new directions. Here's another relay using one song.


The Who were tearing it up in their early days as a Mod band doing blasting R'n'B and Blues covers. But Pete Townshend found his feet composing his first song and their first Top 10 hit, "I Can't Explain".

The song was inspired in its punching chords riff by The Kinks' "All Day And All Of The Night" (which was inspired by "Louie Louie", which was inspired by a Cuban mambo as well as a Chuck Berry Calypso song, which connects on to songs from the Old World, and the short of it is that I'm your Great Grandfather from the future. But back to the story.)

THE KINKS -"All Day And All Of The Night" (1965)

That's the hand-off. Now here's our young punks creating the future in two minutes flat. (Check for bruises and your wallet before going to the next song.)

Note that from the very start, the band finds its identity in insular lyrics with anthemic power chords.

THE WHO -"I Can't Explain" (1965)

Equally tongue-tied are Italy's Gli Uragani in this cover version.

GLI URAGANI -"Con Quella Voce" (1966)

In the early '70s, as The Who turned its Mod beginnings into the rock opera "Quadrophenia" (1973), others began to look back also.

From the '50s revival in films (American Graffiti, That'll Be The Day) and Glam Rock (T-Rex, Suzi Quatro, Gary Glitter), to the seminal NUGGETS double-album anthology, to DAVID BOWIE's covers album, PIN UPS...

DAVID BOWIE -"I Can't Explain" (1973)

Fresh off her success as Mary Magdalene in the screen version of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (1973), here's Hawaiian (by way of Ireland, Japan, and China) Yvonne Elliman with one of the best, unheralded versions ever recorded.

This becomes important again later.

YVONNE ELLIMAN -"I Can't Explain" (1973)

The Who's rock opera TOMMY was adapted into a feature film by director Ken Russell, and Elton John integrates "I Can't Explain" (at 2:00) into this classic performance.

ELTON JOHN -"Pinball Wizard" (1975)

The Clash loved this riff and used it a few times: in "Clash City Rockers" (1977), "Capitol Radio" (1977), and "Guns on the Roof" (1978); as well as a sample at the end of Big Audio Dynamite's "Contact" (1989, at 3:04).

THE CLASH -"Clash City Rockers" (1977)

Keeping it Punk, here's Jimmy Lydon -the younger brother of John Lydon- with a PostPunk dub take. Who else thought to use a Jaw Harp then?

4" Be 2" -"I Can't Explain" (1980)

Not far off from that spirit in a Big Beat dance style, here's Fatboy Slim sampling the overlooked Yvonne Elliman version over the drums from Led Zeppelin's "The Crunge".

FATBOY SLIM -"Going Out Of My Head" (1997)

Like The Clash, here's more young punks putting new kick in the strut: the premiere neo-Garage Rock band The Hives from Sweden.

THE HIVES -"Walk Idiot Walk" (2004)

And here it is in a rewrite by Brazilian band Ultraje a Rigor done acoustically.

ULTRAJE A RIGOR -"Eu Nao Sei (I Don't Know)" (2005)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

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