My Record Collection 210

The Who – early stuff

As a teenager I loved the singles of the Who from the mid-sixties onwards.  They were ‘Poppy’, but with a dangerous and rebellious edge – you always thought they might be on the point of exploding.  The stuttering f f f in My Generation, a secret clue.  My first album proper of theirs was a compilation on Track records, the fabulously titled Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy (1972).  This had everything – almost all the singles ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Anyway, Anywhere, Anyhow’, Happy Jack’ and Pictures of Lily’ which I always knew was about wanking.  As well as a few other not so well-known songs – I played the original vinyl to death.   I bought a couple of earlier albums later.  A Quick One came out in late ’66 – but I bought it much later.  Rather pop than rock, and with some pretty bizarre songs – already Townshend was writing about the weirdest stuff – but this also included a few songs by Daltrey, Entwistle and even Keith Moon ‘Cobwebs and Strange’ and there are about 10 bonus tracks on this CD, not sure if they were ‘b’ sides or just stuff they recorded around this time.  Best tracks are ‘So Sad About Us’, ’Boris the Spider’ and ‘Disguises’.  An interesting  glimpse back from the later glory years.  As is The Who Sell Out (1967). A great cover and a great concept; while other bands were into psychedelica, The Who made an album of songs with commercials interspersed.  Best are ‘Armenia City in The Sky’, ‘Our Love Was’ and ‘I Can See For Miles and Miles’ – there is also a mini opera ‘Rael’ which I don’t really like, and several bonus tracks again of varying quality.   Then, of course, came the first BIG ONE – Tommy (1969).  I bought this soon after seeing the film version by Ken Russell but knew quite a few songs from the radio earlier.  What an album, and what an achievement – it puts Sargeant Pepper a bit in the shade really.  This is pure rock music, but actually a very varied album.  Daltrey’s vocals are superb, and he commands your attention.  The whole thing is a product of Townshend’s fertile imagination, and unbelievable as the story is, it all makes some sort of sense.  Tommy has had a life of it’s own – a film, orchestral arrangements, and many many live performnces by the band and various guest singers.  But the original still stands supreme.   Hard to pick a favourite from such a complex and unified piece but maybe ‘1921’, ‘Sally Simpson’ and of course – ‘Pinball Wizard’.  I also have from mostly about this time The BBC Sessions – the band were regular guets at the Beeb in the Sixtiies and early Seventies.  Most of the versions are pretty much as they appear on record – but a few rarities – ‘Just You And Me Darling’, ‘Man With The Money’ and a cracking version of ‘Dancing in The Street’.

Group portrait of English rock band The Who, standing in front of flags wearing mod clothing, London, circa 1966. Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, Roger...