In 1973 Roger Daltrey released his first solo album. In my family the album was a big hit, maybe even the biggest. We all own a copy of the album. The story of Daltrey, which helped Roger Daltrey experience first hand, that he could be successful without Pete Townsend.
Early 1973, for the first time in many years, The Who members had some time off. Roger Daltrey had had a wish for a long time to record and sing songs outside of The Who’s constraints. So, what to do with your spare time?
Within a period of 6 weeks in January and February of 1973, the music for the album was recorded at Daltrey’s own Barn Studio in Burwash, East Sussex. The vocals and overdubs were recorded at Nova Sound Studios and The Beatles’ Apple Studios, London, England. The vocals to One Man Band (Reprise) were recorded on the Apple rooftop, where, in 1969, The Beatles had performed their last concert.
After recording his solo album, The Who reconvened in the studio for recording sessions that would result in the second Who concept album Quadrophenia. On April 20th, 1973, towards the end of the sessions, Daltrey’s solo album, simply called Daltrey, was released.
The Who fans were probably surprised by the album. It didn’t really resemble The Who. Was the singer deliberately distancing himself from the band?
Eight (out of ten) songs were written by Leo Sayer, at the time an unknown writer. Within a year, Sayer would be (world)famous and score many hits. The songs sound richly orchestrated, melancholy and sentimental.
The cover also deviated from Daltrey’s rock image. Daltrey looked straight into the camera with large Bambi-like eyes. The story goes that the photo was taken on the set of the (film) musical Tommy.
It’s hard to disassociate the album from my youth and the overall feeling it gives me. But, aside from such sentiments, I think it’s a great album. Daltrey’s singing is very convincing. Some instrumental intermezzo’s are outright moving. It contains some truly magnificent songs, but the album’s core resides on the beginning of side B (on the LP). It’s A Hard Life (a hit in The Netherlands) and first single (and hit) Giving It All Away are two beautiful songs in which Daltrey gives his all vocally, and convinces (me) emotionally.
On December 5th (Sinterklaas Day in The Netherlands), 1973, I received my very first single: Roger Daltrey’s It’s A Hard Life. Great song.
My father had the album. He was a great Who admirer. Tommy in particular, was a major hit within our household. I can dream the album from start to finish. I loved Quadrophenia as well, with its beautiful fold out cover end the impressive booklet.
But Daltrey’s solo album was, as much as it differed from the Who material, loved just as much within our family. My mother adored Daltrey’s looks. But, of course, it all came down to the music. And that was played often. The problem was that the house contained just 1 copy. The album had been out of print for quite some time.
So, at the time the album was re-pressed in 1985, I got the LP for my birthday in that year. I finally had a copy of my own! When it was announced the album was being re-released on cd, I pre-ordered it. But not just for myself, I ordered a copy for all of us. They arrived on January 28th, 1999.
All songs written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer, unless stated otherwise.
- One Man Band
- The Way Of The World *
- You Are Yourself
- You And Me *
- It’s A Hard Life
- Giving It All Away
- The Story So Far
- When The Music Stops
- One Man Band (Reprise)
- There Is Love (B-side to Thinking, not on the LP
* = Written by Adam Faith and David Courtney
- Roger Daltrey – Vocals and acoustic guitar
- Dave Courtney – Piano
- Russ Ballard – Guitar and piano
- Bob Henrit – Drums
- Dave Wintour – Bass
- Brian Cole – Steel guitar
- Roy Young Band – Brass
- Dave Arbus – Violin on The Way Of The World
- Jimmy Page – Guitar on There Is Love
His solo album’s success made Daltrey more (self)assured when it came to The Who. He became more involved with (the direction of) The Who. The Who management worried about the possible consequences. More strongly even, they tried to sabotage his solo album. Upon learning about that, Daltrey entrusted his affairs with someone else. The dealings contributed to the decision of firing the management in 1974
Daltrey would release more solo albums, some of which produced hit singles. Of those singles, Without Your Love was the biggest hit in The Netherlands. Daltrey’s solo career never had a negative impact on The Who.
Do you know this album by Roger Daltrey? What do you think? Let me know!
Roger Daltrey solo image: thisismyjam.com
Roger Daltrey – Daltrey image: lpcover.wordpress.com
Roger Daltrey – It’s A Hard Life image: 45cat.com
Roger Daltrey – Daltrey advert image: thewho.info