John Entwistle

Band members                             Related acts

- John Entwistle (RIP 2002) -- vocals, bass, piano, horns,



  backing musicians (1971)

- Neil Innes -- percussion backing vocals

- Dave "Cyrano" Langston -- guitar, percussion, backing vocals

- Keith Moon (RIP ) -- drums, percussion

- Greg Ridley -- bass

- Jerry Shirley -- drums, percussion

- Vivian Stanshall (RIP) -- percussion


  backing musicians: (1972)

- Gordon Barton -- drums

- Rod Coombes -- drums

- Peter Frampton -- lead guitar

- Jimmy McCulloch -- rhythm guitar, lead guitar

- Alan Ross -- acoustic guitar, backing vocals

- Neil Sheppard -- keyboards

- Johnny Weider -- violin

- Brian Williams -- trombone




- The Best

- The Confederates

- The Crowd

- Rigor Motris

The Who




Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Smash Your Head Against the Wall

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL  7-9183

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2929

Price: $10.00


Perhaps inspired by the success of 1971's "Who's Next",  John Entwistle was the first member of The Who to step out with a solo album.  Perhaps that shouldn't have come as a surprise since he was a prolific writer, who, like George Harrison, was seldom given a chance to spotlight his material on albums released by his band.  


To my ears much of 1971's self-produced "Smash Your Head Against the Wall"  reflected a distinctive Who sound.  The fact Keith Moon and Who roadie Cy Langston provided support throughout the album may have had something to do with The Who-styled sound.  Enwistle may not have been as gifted a singer as Roger Daltry, but his vocals were every bit as good as Pete Townshend.  And while lots of folks will argue, Entwistle was a talented writer, with a knack for highly catchy melodies.  His dark sense of humor was also a welcomed change from Townshend's wallowing self-pity.  Ultimately you were to scratch your head and wonder why the band passed up the chance to record tunes like the blazing 'My Size', 'Heaven and Hell' and 'You're Mine'. 


The hideous Graham Hughes cover photo that reflected Entwistle wearing a death mask superimposed over an x-ray of a terminal heart patient probably didn't help sales, though the LP managed to hit # 126 in the States.    


"Smash Your Head Against the Wall" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) My Size   (John Entwistle) - 3:43   rating: **** stars

Apparently under pressure from management to include 'Boris the Spider' on his solo debut, Enwistle settled for appropriating the song's bass line for 'My Size'.  That said, between Who roadie Dave Langston's crunching lead guitar and Enwistle's rumbling bass line, damn if this wouldn't have made a killer Who tune ...   As it was, the blazing hard rocker 'My Size' was one of the best tune Entwistle ever recorded.   In the States the song was tapped as the lead off single, though throughout the rest of the world 'I Believe In Everything' was the "A" side and 'My Size' was the flip side.

- 1971's 'My Size' b/w 'I Believe In Everything' (Decca catalog number 32896)

2.) Pick Me Up (Big Chicken)   (John Entwistle) - 3:43   rating: **** stars

Another great tune clearly inspired by the band's legendary party moves and issues with alcohol ...  "Take Me out and put me in taxi; Tell the driver where to go 'cos I don't think I know; See you all tomorrow in the bar"

3.) What Are We Doing Here   (John Entwistle) - 3:49   rating: **** stars

And for anyone who thought Townshend was the band's deep, sensitive song writer, the pretty ballad  'What Are You Doing Here' was going to come as a surprise.  Apparently written after The Who were given a hard time over the length of their hair while touring Canada, the result was one of the sweetest melodies and touching lyrics Entwistle ever wrote.

4.) What Kind of People Are They   (John Entwistle) - 2:44   rating: **** stars

Always though 'What Kind of People Are They' nailed The Who's early song to a tee.  Perfect example of Entwistle's dry and somewhat disturbing sense of humor.   

5.) Heaven and Hell   (John Entwistle) - 4:50   rating: **** stars

Reportedly inspired by his interest in the concepts of heaven and hell, the song had previously been part of The Who's live show (they opened with it for several years - you can hear a version on "Live At Leeds").  Enwistle's solo version slowed the track down, adding a horn section.  Personally I like it far better than The Who version.


(side 2)

1.) Ted End   (John Entwistle) - 2:33   rating: **** stars

Maybe it's just my beat up, old ears, but with it's dark, social commentary, 'Ted End' has always reminded me of something that Ray Davies and the Kinks might have written. Add in a touch of 'Eleanor Rigby' and some nice horn charts and it made for one of my favorite songs on the set.

2.) You're Mine   (John Entwistle) - 4:39   rating: **** stars

Possibly the album's standout performance, 'You're Mine' had the kind of anthem sound that I normally associate with Townshend.  I've never been quite sure about the lyric - good versus bad fighting it out over a soul ?   

3.) No 29 (Eternal Youth)   (John Entwistle) - 5:25   rating: **** stars

Classic Entwstle with support from Humble Pie's Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley.   Neil Innes, Keith Moon, and Vivian Stanshall provide the percussion at the end of the song.  Another killer melody that sported some of the most cutting social commentary you'll ever hear.  Always wondered if it was actually about plastic surgery ...

4.) I Believe In Everything   (John Entwistle) - 3:07

Given the beautiful melody that opened the song and the sweet lyrics, it was easy to see why 'I Believe In Everything' was tapped as the "A" side throughout most of the world.  The 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer' fade out was a bit strange.  As mentioned above, this was the single throughout most of the world:

- 1971's 'I Believe In Everything' b/w 'My Size' (Track catalog number 2009 84)





Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Whistle Rymes

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL  7-9190

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1199

Price: $20.00


Released in 1972, "Whistle Rymes was simply the most cohesive and enjoyable solo album John Entwistle ever released.  With a  title supposedly inspired by people's constant misspelling of his name, the-Entwistle and John Alcock produced album featured all original material which served to showcase Entwistle's dark sense of humor, as well as his overlooked knack for crafting insidiously catchy melodies.   The album also underscored his overlooked voice - maybe not as powerful as Roger Daltry's, but to my ears he was easily as consistent as Pete Townshend.  Maybe because I have a dark, cynical sense of humor (so says the wife and my closest friends), I've always enjoyed Entwistle's material.   Tracks like the take-no-prisoners divorce tune 'I Feel Better', the instantly obscure single 'I Wonder', and the Peeping Tom-themed 'The Window Shopper' were simultaneously hysterical and harrowing.  Yeah, there was just something kind of creepy in these grooves. and you kind of understood why Townsend and Daltry only allowed Entwistle to have one or two tunes on a Who album - a little bit of Entwistle went a long way; especially for folks who didn't share his dark outlook on affairs.     


"Whistle Rymes" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ten Little Friends   (John Entwistle) - 4:03   rating: **** stars

Great little boogie rocker with Peter Frampton providing the  blazing lead guitar.   As for the song, I've read different different stories including it was inspired by a pack of toy trolls given to Enwistle by Keith Moon.  The trolls included a character named "Mr. Bones".  An alternative story traced the song to an autobiographical base - namely a reflection of Entwistle's musical dexterity on multiple instruments.   Regardless, it was one killer tune.
2.)  Apron Strings 
   (John Entwistle) - 3:47   rating: **** stars

'Apron Strings' is another tune that's been interpreted in a number of ways ... If I had to pick one of the stories,  I'd go with it being a reflection of Entwistle's difficult childhood - divorced parents; growing up with grandparents, etc..   No disrespect to Pete Townshend, but all hyperbole aside, the ballad 'Apron Strings' was simply one of the pretties and most haunting tunes in the entire Who family catalog.   Frampton turned in one of his best lead solos.   
3 )  I Feel Better 
   (John Entwistle) - 4:46   rating: **** stars

Geez, talk about a bitter break-up song !!!  A blazing list of things he hates about an ex ....   "I remember you were the worst lay I ever had ..."   Entwistle simply had a special knack for exposing his frustrations.   LOL, having gone through a bitter divorce I can certainly identify with the anger and frustration that came streaming out of the man.    
4.)  Thinkin' It Over 
   (John Entwistle) - 3:12   rating: **** stars

And just when you thought 'I Feel Better' was a fantastic break-up song, along comes 'Thinkin' It Over' ... Even more disturbing for it's suicide theme, the song had one of Entwistle's prettiest melodies - kind of a black waltz.  The song also featured some early synth bass.     
5.)  Who Cares? 
   (John Entwistle) - 4:28    rating: *** stars 

The lyrics were a nice example of Entwistle's unique look at life (why worry about things?),  but musically 'Who Cares' was the first mild disappointment.  Kind of a forgettable mid-temp rocker without a lot to make it memorable.  

(side 2)
1.)  I Wonder  
   (John Entwistle) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

Another wonderful melody with intriguing lyrics and, yes, Entwistle was responsible for the killer trumpet arrangement.   My only complaint was the totally unexpected abrupt ending.  

In the States Decca released the track as a single:






- 1972's 'I Wonder' b/w 'Who Cares' (Decca catalog number  33052)









2.)  I Was Just Being Friendly     (John Entwistle - 3:33    rating: *** stars 

Hopefully this one wasn't autobiographical, though the tale of mistaken identity might have had a real life basis.  Bet his wife wasn't thrilled with this one.   
3.)  The Window Shopper
   (John Entwistle) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

Peeping John ?    Supposedly inspired by Entwistle's evening walks with his dogs ...   Lots on interesting going ons in his neighborhood.    Great melody and one of those slightly ominous auras that Entwistle was so good at generating.   
4 .)  I Found Out  
   (John Entwistle) - 3:51    rating: *** stars 

Showcasing Entwistle on piano (he often wrote material using keyboards, 'I Found Out' actually sounded like a demo.  The stark arrangement; just keyboard, bass and Alan Ross on acoustic guitar, underscored a sense of disappointment and despair.    
5.)  Nightmare (Please Wake Me Up)
   (John Entwistle) - 6:16    rating: *** stars 

Hum, the closer was a nice example of the truth-in-advertising concept, even if it wasn't particular enjoyable.   A truly ominous tune the degenerated into nightmarish chaos, the song was apparently built on real-life experience (the man clearly had some internal issues).  The tune sported some of Entwistle's heaviest bass moves, as well as John Weider's  equally scary violin.  


Song-for-song easily one of my favorite John Entwistle solo albums.