Lost Treasures: The Who – “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands”

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This week’s Lost Treasure by The Who was released in 1967 on Decca Records.  “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands” is the B-side of “I Can See For Miles”.  The mono mix heard here is unique to the US/Canada Decca single & is one of 4 versions of the song recorded by the group.  In the UK & elsewhere, “I Can See For Miles” was issued with a different B-side. The first released version is to be found on the 1967 album “The Who Sell Out” a brilliant ‘concept album’ that would pave the way for what would be known as ‘rock opera’ with the band’s release of “Tommy”.  “The Who Sell Out” was designed to sound like one of Britain’s pirate radio stations which had been instrumental in the bands’s establishment as hit-making musicians. 

The album included mock commercials & radio jingles interspersed with the songs & included “I Can See For Miles” which was the only single released from this brilliant album. The LP mix of “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands” was recorded with acoustic guitars in a stereo version & is shorter in length than the mix on the US/Canada single, & had a slightly altered chorus line.  The US/Canada Decca single is longer in length & electric guitar is prominent giving this 2nd mix a different sound than the original. The third version of the song was recorded in New York & had an organ present on the mix played by session keyboardist Al Kooper.  This version was shelved in favor of the mix appearing on the US/Canada 45 but would later get released on The Who’s “Odds & Sods” rarities & outtakes album.  The 4th version was recorded live in 2000 at the Royal Albert Hall & issued on a 2003 album. 

This single version of the song got considerable airplay on the embryonic FM “underground rock” stations beginning to show up on the FM dial in late 1967.  These stations rejected 45 rpm singles as ‘too commercial’ for the most part & based their format & sound on contemporary album’s issued during this era.  However, on occasion rare airplay of singles – particularly those not getting playlisted on top 40 AM stations would get spins on FM rock radio.  “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands” was one of those rare singles that got considerable airplay throughout the US & Canada on “progressive rock” FM outlets.  The innuendo of the lyrics has been written about by music critics & historians who often compare it to another sexually driven Who song: “Pictures Of Lilly” released a littler earlier in 1967. A 1998 remastered version of “The Who Sell Out” contains the US/Canada single version remixed in stereo, & tremelo is added to Roger Daltrey’s voice on the chorus.  Enjoy a rare issue from one of the later groups from the British Invasion to climb the charts & dominate airplay on both AM & FM rock radio.  Have a great weekend & thanks for making Puget Sound Media part of your day!

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Mike Cherry

Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

4 thoughts on “Lost Treasures: The Who – “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands”

  1. I witnessed a couple dozen of the best groups from that era..the Who were the best of the lot…but Townshend got weird in the later years, and was accused of being some sort of pedophile…and he also gave an interview,wherein he talked of his repressed feelings for possibly being a woman…People seem to not remember this bizarre phase of Mr.
    townshend.

  2. The first song I ever heard by the Who was on CKLG in 66. I liked it but really weird lyrics…called I’m a Boy. I dont think it made it in the US. Had I been listening to radio earlier I would have heard My Ggggggeneration and Substitute. Shortly after Boy they had Happy Jack and Pics of Lilly.

  3. I don’t know who was stranger – Pete Townshend or drummer Keith Moon. Pete did get a little weird at a later point in his life. I’m actually amazed this band stayed together as long as it did considering how volatile most of the band members were. I don’t think “I’m A Boy” got much airplay in the US or whether it was even released as a single there, unlike Canada. Niether did “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” which only got released in the UK, Canada, Australia & NZ as a single.

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