Roger Daltrey is 73 today so maybe we can forgive him for enlisting some vocal help when The Who perform “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” a song that contains my second favorite scream in history. A vivid memory of July 31, 1971 includes Roger. Second show of their U.S. Tour at the old Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” had been released in June so I had heard the song on WNEW-FM, but the album Who’s Next was not coming out for another week. When The Who played the song midway through the set, I was seized with a moment of panic. There were sounds emanating from the stage but no one was playing an instrument. It was the first time I had ever been at a concert where a synthesizer was being used and the long synthesized intro prompted me to turn to a friend and say, “WHAT’S GOING ON?!” 1971. The Who’s Next Tour.
Today my musical memory exercise involves my favorite screams in rock history. I made the mistake of saying Roger’s scream was my second favorite. Why do I put myself on the spot like that? Now I was forced to consider Joe Walsh’s exuberant intro to “Meadows.” Jim Morrison’s scream in “When The Music’s Over” which I promise I’ll play during the apocalypse. Half the Little Richard catalog. Helter Skelter. The singing screams of Kurt Cobain.
Favorite screams. Here you go.
5. John Lennon-Mother. This is what happens when you dabble in primal scream therapy and you have a complicated memory of your mother. The album version. Accept no bullcrap edited version.
4. The Stooges-L.A. Blues. One of the most glorious pieces of recorded chaos you will come across in all your life. You’re probably saying to yourself, “I’ve never heard this. Why don’t you play it on your morning show.” Listen to it and then you can apologize. Warning: There is screaming.
3. Pink Floyd-Be Careful with that Ax, Eugene. Apparently, Eugene was not careful. It sounds as if he were careless.
2. The Who-Won’t Get Fooled Again. The relevance of this masterpiece seems undiminished by the passage of time. The well-placed Daltrey scream is an exquisite punctuation. And what the hell, I actually found the actual live version I heard in 1971.
And number 1:
Robert Fripp-Exposure. The song begins with the spoken phrase, “It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering.” As the song proceeds, Terre Roche begins to scream the title of the song. By the end she sounds so unhinged that you’re sure she will be sent to her room. Yeah. It’s my favorite.