My Top 1000 Songs #423: Too Much Of Anything
It's a testament to the remarkable greatness of The Who that some of what I consider to be among their best songs weren't even deemed good enough for proper release by the band. "Too Much Of Anything" is yet another great outtake that first saw light on their 1974 Odds & Sods compilation. It was originally recorded in 1971 for the aborted Lifehouse concept album; yet it (inexplicably!) didn't make the cut to be among the tracks salvaged for Who's Next. (The band recently released a massive box set collecting Who's Next alongside various outtakes and concert performances from the era, including an alternate version of "Anything," albeit not the (IMHO superior) version on Sods.)
The song walks the line between the catchy art-pop of their late 60s work and the harder-edged rock of their post-Tommy early 70s material. It starts out quite pretty, a restrained Daltrey croon backed by Nicky Hopkins' piano and some gentle Townshend guitars; but it gradually opens up a bit, Daltrey getting to wail a little (hitting some remarkable high notes) as the band lets loose (though still helmed in large part by the always-welcome Hopkins). And the harmonies, which the band enlisted far too infrequently after the 60s pop era, are a delight.
It's always struck as crazy that this was never an A-list part of the Who classic rock canon; for me, it's the band at an artistic peak.Live 1971 (audio only):Pete Townshend solo acoustic, 2006:Never much of a live staple, here's a surprise live appearance of the song in 1989 (audio only, starting at 1:30:37 in the video):