The Secret Policeman's Ball was a comedy/music fundraiser for Amnesty International. The four shows at Her Majesty's Theatre, London ran on consecutive days from 27th-30th June 1979. Two live albums came out from the gigs, one comedy one music.
Performers included Peter Cook, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly and most of the Monty Python team for the comics, and Pete Townshend, Tom Robinson, Neil Innes and John Williams in the muso corner.
Incidentally, that's the British classical guitarist and then Sky member John Williams, not the guy who does the music for all the Spielberg movies.
One of these days I'll sort out doing a Glad To Be Gay month, putting up the dozen or so released versions of Tom Robinson's masterpiece (the Secret Policeman version is particuarly good, the first updated lyric and delivered with more venom than on any other).
But for now, Pete Townshend's startling acoustic Won't Get Fooled Again. It's credited to the unlikely combo of Townshend and Williams, but you have to strain to hear anything that could be the latter fret-fingerer.
Not that it matters. The real glory is hearing Townshend's masterful riffing unaccompanied. For all his electric powerchordery, it's that clipped staccato approach, that tight twitchy tension that grips you so hard.
These are tight, mean hard riffs right in your face. The sparse setting makes them all the more powerful in the same way that a psychotic killer creeping up behind you and whispering in your ear is much scarier than seeing them come screaming from 800 metres away.
I'm this far in and I haven't even mentioned that this is one of his greatest lyrics; whilst not shying away from the late 60s revolutionary fervour, he points to the way all changes of leadership are just a switch of the brand name on your shackles.
A couple of years back there was a documentary on Jagger's latest tedious solo effort, and it showed Townshend recording a guest guitar spot. On the album it's buried politely in the mix, but on the TV show it had Pete in the studio, greying and a tad rotund, yet as soon as his guitar was on it was a loud, violent ak-ak-ak-ak of power and control that blew your head off. This track has much the same effect.
[MP3 deleted to make room for new ones. Sorry!. Leave a note with your email address in the comments if you want me to send it to you. I've also encoded Pinball wizard and Drowned from the same album, if you want either of those too just say]