Take The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from 1971. Now break it down, separating out the tracks instrument by instrument, and you get some insight into how rock ‘n roll anthems come together. Above, we have Keith Moon’s driving drum track. Then Pete Townshend playing the power chords on guitar (plus some synthesizer); John Entwistle thumping out the bass; and Roger Daltrey on vocals. Put them back together and the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.
These broken-down tracks are fascinating – there’s a growing number of them out there now. Someone put up the separate tracks of Gimme Shelter, and I’m sure there are some Sgt Pepper ones out there too. I love how Sixties music is now part of the canon of ‘serious’ art that can be subjected to close readings. Even if the obsession with outtakes is yielding diminishing returns. Has the era of original work that stands up to such scrutiny now passed, I wonder? Will anyone do a similar excavation job on U2 or Radiohead?