Circles (The Who song)

"Circles" (also released as "Circles (Instant Party)", "Instant Party (Circles)" and "Instant Party") is a song by The Who. The song, initially planned to be a Who single, saw a complicated release history. There are versions produced by The Who and by Shel Talmy.[1]

Circles (The Who song).jpg
Song by The Who
from the album The Who Sings My Generation & Ready Steady Who
Released7 March 1966 (UK)
25 April 1966 (US)
Recorded12–13 January 1966
GenrePower pop
LabelReaction ("Substitute" B-side UK single release)
Decca (The Who Sings My Generation US release)
Brunswick 05956 (Unreleased single)
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Shel Talmy (Unreleased single version, US album version)
The Who (B-side to "Substitute", Ready Steady Who release)


"Circles" was written as an attempt to find a different sound after the band's debut album, My Generation. Upon finding out from Pete Townshend that bassist John Entwistle could play trumpet, the band's manager, Kit Lambert, decided to allow the band to try creating a song featuring Entwistle's horns:

When we recorded our first LP and wanted a bit of a different sound, Pete told our manager, Kit Lambert, that I could play trumpet. He thought Pete was joking at first but then said he'd give it a try. I showed him I could play the trumpet and in the end we used French horn.[2]


"Circles," backed with the song "Instant Party Mixture," was originally planned to be released as the follow-up single to the band's smash hit, "My Generation," on the Brunswick label.[2] However, the band secretly broke their contract with producer Shel Talmy and rerecorded the song as the B-side to their new UK single "Substitute", and Talmy took legal action against the band for the use of a song he had originally produced for them. The charge was lifted on 25 March 1966, but not before the US (and some later UK) releases of the single saw the B-side changed first by renaming "Circles" to "Instant Party", then replaced altogether by "Waltz for a Pig", an instrumental by The Graham Bond Organisation.[3] Townshend later said of the legal action Talmy took against the group:

We did two versions of "Circles," which were both identical because they were both copies of my demo. Shel [Talmy] put in a High Court injunction, saying there was copyright in the recording. In other words, if you're a record producer and you produce a song with a group, and you make a creative contribution, then you own that sound....He took it to the high-court judge and he said things like 'And then on bar thirty-six I suggested to the lead guitarist that he play a diminuendo, forget the adagio, and play thirty-six bars modulating to the key of E flat,' which was all total bullshit -- he used to fall asleep at the desk…[3]

"Circles" later was released on the band's EP, Ready Steady Who, as well as on some European releases as the B-side to "Dogs." While The Who recording did not see another US release until the 1987 rarities album Two's Missing,[3] a home demo version recorded by Townshend appeared on his 1983 solo compilation release Scoop.


In 1966, the English band Les Fleur de Lys released their version (Immediate Records IM032) produced by Jimmy Page.


  1. ^ The Who UK singles
  2. ^ a b Cady, Brian. "'My Generation' liner notes". The Hypertext Who.
  3. ^ a b c Cady, Brian. "'Who's Left' liner notes". The Hypertext Who.