A Quick Guide to a Landmark DLC Release
Over the past weekend a roomful of rock luminaries paid tribute to the Who, in a “Rock Honors” show that VH1 will air this coming weekend. Not to be outdone, we at Rock Band have our own Who package this week—the most DLC we’ve ever offered at once by a single band. There’s no other way to deal with one of the greatest bands in rock history — and according to a Guinness record set in the '70s, the loudest in history as well.
Guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey themselves helped select our 12-song Who pack.
Guitarist Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey themselves helped select our 12-song Who pack, which spans the band’s 40-year history and includes some of the essential hits…along with some equally great tracks that may be less familiar. For those who aren’t up on the full story, we present this brief course in Who 101:
In the beginning, the Who was a “Maximum R&B” band, picking songs from the American soul records they loved and playing them with unique volume and intensity. They were part of London’s Mod movement, which required the proper clothes, the proper swagger, and the right collection of Motown 45s. Nobody embodied the Mod life better than Daltrey, whose sharp hairstyle and cool attitude were something to emulate. From this era comes “Leaving Here,” a song first done by Eddie Holland (of Motown’s immortal Holland/Dozier/Holland songwriting team) and sung with proper grit by Daltrey. Note the proto-feminist lyric!
But even while the Who were doing soul for the Mod kids, Townshend was reaching for something grander The Who’s more ambitious streak appeared early on, as Townshend pushed himself to write longer multi-part songs with involved storylines. This reached its peak with 1969’s Tommy, the double album that put the term “rock opera” into the vocabulary. Perhaps the most underrated song in the whole set, “Amazing Journey” outlines the epic’s entire plot, with a classic Townshend guitar lick Brace yourself for the first drum entrance, Keith Moon wasn’t the type to stay too long in the sidelines.
Tommy proved a sensation on its release in 1969; some US magazines even had their classical critics review it. This led the Who to remind everybody that they were still a rock’n’roll band: “Live at Leeds” was a raw and noisy live album; the original vinyl copies even had a note right on the label to say that its “crackling noises” were intentional. From that set comes “Young Man’s Blues” — a slice of punk attitude written by jazz great Mose Allison—plus their cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and the rearranged “My Generation”; all showing the mighty effect of Townshend’s lead and John Entwistle’s cranked-up bass. Add your own crackling noises.
The Who’s second rock opera was meant to be “Lifehouse,” a multimedia extravaganza that envisioned a worldwide computer network linking peoples’ thoughts and feelings—nowadays we’d probably call it the Internet. But such ideas seemed farfetched in 1971 — not only did the project collapse, Townshend nearly did as well. Instead the Who reappeared with an album of unconnected songs—namely “Who’s Next,” which many fans still consider their peak. The disc began and ended with anthems; nowadays the band wouldn’t dare go onstage without playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (already in Rock Band) or “Baba O’Riley.” But note Townshend’s ode to RV living, “Going Mobile,” which catches the band in a more lighthearted mood.
Things were a little different when Townshend did complete another rock opera: By now the Who’s sound had gotten bigger and grander with his love of synthesizers, and Townshend was looking back on his Mod roots with bittersweet feelings. One of “Quadrophenia’s” highlights was “Sea & Sand,” which catches the hero Jimmy in an introspective mood. During the fadeout he borrows some lyrics from “I’m the Face,” which was the Who’s first single ten years earlier.
Another dramatic moment came in 1978, when an out-of-sorts Townshend discovered a couple of the Sex Pistols hanging out in his favorite club.
Another dramatic moment came in 1978, when an out-of-sorts Townshend discovered a couple of the Sex Pistols hanging out in his favorite club, and stumbled home after a late-night showdown with them. He told the whole story in “Who Are You,” which turned a personal low point into an arena-rock bandstormer — quite the feat.
“Eminence Front” brings us into the early 80’s—not a period that Who fans remember too fondly, but one that found Townshend summoning his best righteous anger on a song you could dance to. That was supposed to be the end of the Who—but against all odds the band reappeared over time, building tours around complete “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” performances. It took until 2004 before we finally got some new songs, but “Real Good Looking Boy” was a surprise: Even down to just two original members, they still sounded just like the Who, as Townshend wrote about his first glimpse of Elvis Presley.
Every Who fan has their own favorite era of the band, but with this DLC you can program your own set and make your own history. One word of advice, though: No matter how good Townshend looked doing it, don’t go smashing your plastic guitar. You’ll only regret it later.
“I Want My, I Want My DLC!”
The songs in Rock Band are only the beginning. Each week we’ll be rolling out more downloadable songs, essential tracks (and sometimes whole albums) from every era of rock history. Check the Rock Band website to find out what’s new.
Tracks will usually sell for $1.99 each; with three-pack specials costing $5.49. (On the Xbox 360, that’s 160 Microsoft Points per track and 440 per three-pack). Occasional special or discounted tracks may cost a dollar more or less.
Downloadable content for the Xbox 360 is available through the XBOX LIVE marketplace. Downloads for the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Rock Band are available through the PLAYSTATION Network Store. In each case, the songs are downloaded onto your hard drive.
If you’re playing solo, you can start rocking right away. For head-to-head or multi-player online, all players will need to download the song.