Who Came First (1972) was Pete Townshend’s first solo album after leaving The Who. While the title was likely somewhat of a dig at the band itself, it was also a play on words, referring to the teachings of his spiritual master Meher Baba. The album was dedicated to Meher Baba, and the cover featured both photos of him, and a painting done by him.

Some of the lyrics reflect the dreamy, idealistic side of the sixties and early seventies. Others are inspired by the Eastern Spiritual views Townshend was following at the time. "Pure and Easy" reflects an unique sense of energy and optimism.

We all know success, when we all find our own dreams
And our love is enough to knock down any walls
And the future's been seen, as men try to realize
The simple secret of the note in us all in us all

The album also includes songs like "Time is Passing" that describe a bitter-sweet longing.

Find it, I got to hear it all again...
My heart has heard the sound of harmony
Blind to it, as my tears fall again
It's only by the music I'll be free

My personal favorite song on the album is "Evolution". The first verse appears to echo the Eastern spiritual view of reincarnation and evolution of the soul. The verses describe a series of incarnations, of ever increasing levels-from a stone, to a daisy, to a frog, ultimately culminating in a human verse. The last verse describes the destiny of a human incarnation, speaking of finding a master who can reveal the secrets of the universe:

Well, I've been a tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor
Known good times and disaster
but now I have a teacher and my teacher has a master
and the master is perfection, so he'll help us get there faster
Up until this point, the song could have been written or sung by just about any spiritual seeker. But then, will a flourish only Townshend could pull off he adds:
Don't need no proof, 'cause that's the truth,
and I'll drink to that!

Song list:

  • Pure and Easy (Pete Townshend)
  • Evolution (Ronnie Lane)
  • Forever is No Time at All (Billy Nichols/ Caleb Quaye)
  • Nothing is Everything(Pete Townshend)
  • Time is Passing (Pete Townshend)
  • There's a Heartache Following Me (Reeves)
  • Sheraton Gibson (Pete Townshend)
  • Content (Pete Townshend)
  • Parvardigar (Pete Townshend; Adopted from Meher Baba's Universal Prayer)
  • Who Came First was Pete Townshend's first effort as a solo artist. It was recorded in late 1971 and was released on Decca Records in October of 1972, reaching #69 in the charts.

    Who Came First was a collection of Demos and thrown-out songs. Three came from the Lifehouse project, "Pure and Easy", "Nothing is Everything (Let's See Action)", and "Time is Passing." Pete played all the instruments, and produced the album himself. Who Came First was sort of an homage to Pete's mentor, Meher Baba, who had passed away three years prior; and was directed more at his followers.

    Like his songs in the Who, the album is pure and sensitive. It seems that sometimes, Pete's voice is more suited for some of the songs that the Who sings, and his solo albums often present those songs. A mostly acoustic album, it is beautiful, achingly sweet, innocently conceived music. At the time, no one (other than the one and only George Harrison) would dare to bare themselves like this on record. From the beginning notes of "Pure and Easy" until the beautiful fade of "Parvardigar", Townshend's "attempt" is a classic gem. It wasn't trying to make hits, it wasn't trying to be hip or cool-it was just a humble nod to his spirituality.

    Who Came First was re-released in October of 1992 with six bonus tracks, including Pete's take on The Who's "The Seeker".

    The Songs:
    1. Pure & Easy - The main song of the Lifehouse project, it lays down the "one note" theory. I've always semi-interpreted this as to being the "om", since Pete was so spiritual at the time. Explainging the literal meaning would mean going into an explaination of Lifehouse, which I won't do here, but "Pure and Easy" just lays down the theory that one pure note can bring us all together.

    2. Evolution - written and sung by Ronnie Lane, this is a quirky acoustic incarnation of Ronnie's signature song.

    3. Forever's No Time at All - The loudest song on the album, it's signature raunchy Pete guitar. It came from that point where Pete could do anything with his guitarwork.

    4. Nothing is Everything (Let's See Action) - A more dynamic version than the Who's, this is another selection from Lifehouse about finding yourself, as most of the Who's numbers were in that time period...

    5. There's a Heartache Following Me
    6. Sheraton Gibson - a tribute to Pete's signature red Gibson SG.

    7. Content - another angelic spritual song, this song is very revealing, poetic, and sensitive. It flows, thematically, with the next song, "Parvardigar"

    8. Parvardigar - In my opinion, the best song on the album. A great choice for the ender, "Parvardigar" is adpated from Meher Baba's Universal Prayer. The first time I heard this song, I got shivery all over. Pete's vocals are passionate and deep-he sounds naked (vocally). It's so beautiful, sensitive, spiritual, and blissful. This is Pete Townshend at his purest, when his mind, heart, and spirit culminated in the expression of all his best attributes, both musically and personally.

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