ONE of the unfortunate things about rock music as compared to jazz, say, is that it lacks a namable quality ("swing" in jazz) the absence or presence of which would indicate a band's essential worth. You'd think by now that we could all agree on what it is to "rock".
Instead of slagging Sheena Easton because she might be the kind of person who votes Conservative or because she doesn't conform to some hack's definition of non-conformity, all we really need to say is: "Hey, man, she doesn't rock." - And then we wouldn't have to devote pages of precious space to that particular form of insignificance.
This is where The Who come in, because what The Who do is to rock in a manner that defines the form.
After Paulo Heweitt's recent piece I for one was expecting something only a trifle room lively than a Tories-Against-the Nazis rally, but we lucky Edinburghers got one of the best rock concerts I've seen in ages, an object lesson in the art of ebb and flow, rock'n roll, anger and exhortation.
The Who still angry after all these years?
Perhaps, perhaps not. I personally wouldn't be over surprised if The Who were 100 per cent cynical - let's face it they worked in a business which has much claim to moral integrity as say the American presidential process or the monopolistic ownership of the British press (oops).
Suffice to say that, despite missing out loads of platinum oldies (including "My Generation") The Who play essential body music that this soul-starved sould really appreciates. Where The Who rock they roll as well and maybe that's the mystical ingredient that rock journalists should endeavour to define, because some have definitely got it and others definitely have not. So what does Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Parker have that Gary Numan and Sheena don't?
Ask Pete Townshend. Whatever it is, it transcends age; and in the most ageist business I know, that'y the best thought I can offer you, Pete.