The punks meet the godfathers. Green Day mastered the mini-rock opera on “American Idiot” with two 10-minute rock operas: “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Homecoming.” Here Green Day pay homage with a damn terrific cover of the original mini-rock opera, the Who’s “A Quick One (While He’s Away),” recorded as a bonus track for “21st Century Breakdown.” This is my favorite Who track of all-time and Green Day delivers magnificently.
For those that only know Roxy Music by the smooth crooning of 1982’s “Avalon” album need to understand that the band was not always so slick. The material that Roxy recorded during the period between 1972 and 1975 was a wonderful mix of the sleazy and the sublime. “Mother of Pearl” is arguably the greatest song of that period, and arguably the greatest thing they ever recorded.
The first 1:23 of this song is pure metallic freakout by guitarist Phil Manzanera while lead singer Bryan Ferry sings about all of the meaningless sex he’s getting, albeit with a very frenetic, panicked tone. Then, the song slows down considerably and Ferry finally confesses that he’s found what he was looking for all along … true love … and that he will give up everything to spend the rest of his life with his “mother of pearl.” Critics cite the Who’s “A Quick One” as the greatest mini-rock opera of all time. I totally love “A Quick One,” but I would also add “Mother of Pearl” to that very short list. It’s an absolutely thrilling and emotional epic. The song was used in a very pivotal early episode of the hit TV show “How I Met Your Mother” and also in the film “SLC Punk.”
(On a side note, I would also add Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia” to that very short list of greatest mini-rock operas of all time. But I’ve already discussed that in an earlier post).
A positively brilliant use of one of the Who’s best songs in the splendidly droll Wes Anderson comedy “Rushmore.”
The fact that this Who song is not in heavy rotation on classic rock and oldies stations is a major crime. A beautiful 60s era pop song that blows the doors off most hits from the era.