Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane: “My Baby Gives It Away”
Hard to imagine that there is an obscure Pete Townshend recording, but actually, there are no less than two, at least relative to the Who’s albums, and both are fantastically appealing in their own way: His first solo album, Who Came First, released in 1972, was made up of a variety of songs he’d recorded on his own, some written for but not used by the Who and many of them sounding very much like the demos they probably were (Townshend was a perfectionist when it came to demos, though, and they usually were very close to how the final recordings ended up sounding). It sounds homemade, and that’s one of its greatest strengths. The other is 1977’s Rough Mix, which was actually a collaboration between Townshend and his close friend, Ronnie Lane of the Faces, and credited to both. It was a more polished album than Who Came First, but like the former, didn’t really result in any well-known singles and seems to have become a forgotten cousin in the family of Who albums. I can’t think of the last time I heard a song from this on the radio, in fact, but if there was one you’d be likely to hear, it might be this one. Tight, catchy, and rockin’, “My Baby Gives It Away” leads off the album with a blast of energy and features great guitar playing and singing from Townshend (who, if truth be told, I’ve always preferred as a vocalist over Roger Daltrey). The propulsive beat is provided by guest drummer Charlie Watts, who pushes the song along like the human timepiece that he is.