Category: The Who

The Who – Live at Leeds


TITLE: Live at Leeds



SINGLES: Summertime Blues (#27 US, #38 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I mean, it’s a live Who album. You’re gonna know the songs.

LINEUP: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the best live albums of all time, and a showcase for the Who in their glory years.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The original Live at Leeds was just a teaser. Only six tracks, and it blazes in with “Young Man Blues’, their cover of Mose Allison. “Summertime Blues” rumbles in the middle, and their workout of “My Generation” dazzles everyne, and it’s over after six tracks.

Of course there was more to that concert, and twice, they’ve delivered more. First, they gave us all of the non-Tommy songs and slotted in two tracks from the live performance of the rock opera. Then, they released every track, putting Tommy on the second disc.

If any live album is worth your streams or CD purchase it’s this one. The Who do justice to their singles, covers album tracks, B-sides, and Tommy. Starting out with John Entwistle’s “Heaven and Hell” is genius, as the song gets everyone’s attention even though it’s a B-side. The best track for me is their live version of “A Quick One (While He’s Away)”, which was a prelude to Tommy. Townshend’s introduction is genius, and Entwistle’s falsetto in the final part of the track is incredible.

 The power and performance and the songs are spot on. There hasn’t been many live albums to surpass this, as all of the elements that make a live performance worthwhile are captured.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: If you really want to be anal about it, you can program a play list with the actual running order by slotting the Tommy songs between “A Quick One” and “Summertime Blues”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: As listed above, and one of the versions has Live at Hull, recorded the next night. It’s a little more ragged than this performance, but still worth hearing.

 GRADE: A+: If anything should be played loud, this is it.

The Who – Tommy

ARTIST: The Who 

TITLE: Tommy



SINGLES: Pinball Wizard (#19 US, #4 UK), I’m Free (#37 US), See Me Feel Me (#12 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: We’re Not Gonna Take It (which also includes See Me Feel Me), The Acid Queen

LINEUP: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Not the first rock opera, but the first one people really noticed.


SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For better or worse, the Who’s Tommy popularized the concept album and ‘rock opera’. Lauded by the press and fans, performed in whole (well…not exactly whole), staged, and filmed, Tommy mostly succeeds in long form storytelling. Even the cover of “Eyesight to the Blind” and two sinister John Entwistle tunes fold in seamlessly to the narrative.

The performances on the studio album are tight and among the Who’s best. The only real embellishment to the core quartet was Entwistle’s work on French horn, Datlrey’s harmonica, and some keyboards played by Townshend. The four of them collaborated and pulled this off, and then pulled it off on stage.

There are many classic songs on this, of course, and the climactic cut presages the anthems the Who would put forward in the early 70’s.

However…it’s not perfect. A few songs seem forced for length or shoehorned in to move the story, and “Underture” is probably filler to make up the sides. It’s long, unnecessary, and I exiled it. The drawback to many concept albums are making a cohesive narrative with no filler or padding and this is no different.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For live performances, four tracks (“Cousin Kevin”, “Underture”, “Sensation”, and “Welcome”) were excluded. The more contemporary performances reinstate “Cousin Kevin” and “Sensation”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes a couple of outtake tracks are on a couple of editions.

 GRADE: A-: Worthy of praise, worthy of its historical significance, but it has flaws.

The Who – Magic Bus: The Who on Tour

ARTIST: The Who                         220px-Who_bus

TITLE: Magic Bus: The Who on Tour



SINGLES: Magic Bus (#25 US, #26 UK), Call Me Lightning (#40 US), Pictures of Lily (#51 US, #4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Yeah, because some of these tracks were on other albums, too.

LINEUP: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Keith Moon.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A cash grab by the US record company, and basically disavowed by the band. BUT, there’s one track that’s totally missing online. And despite the title, it’s NOT live, at all. Yeesh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even after the Beatles’ album successes, bands didn’t have control over what their record companies did with their tracks. Decca Records thought that with the success of the single “Magic Bus”, the Who needed a new album.

So they took B-sides, non album A-sides, EP tracks, and three songs from previous albums, and, there’s an 11 track album for the shelves. Never mind the continuity, and that the songs were up to three years old. PRODUCT MAN, PRODUCT!

The songs are pretty great for the most part, and John Entwistle got three tracks here (he was the B-side master of the Who), but there’s no flow, continuity, or purpose except dough for Decca.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One song, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, is only on the Maximum A’s & B’s compilation, which isn’t streaming everywhere. Just so you know.


GRADE: D+: The songs would be a B+ or so, but, even 50 years later, I can’t abide by the profiteering here. These tracks (save one) are found in much better collections and albums.

The Who – The Who Sell Out

ARTIST: The Who The_who_sell_out_album_front
TITLE: The Who Sell Out
SINGLES: I Can See for Miles (#9 US, #10 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You know, radio didn’t play anything else, which is a shame.
LINEUP: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A day-in-the-life of a pirate radio station, with songs spanning all sorts of genres and types, plus fake commercials.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pete Townshend and the Who came up with a glorious concept album – an album mimicking the UK pirate radio stations. Each song is of a different style, but each song is definitely a Who song. The fake commercials were also brilliant, with a full song for Odorono deodorant.

It’s mostly brilliant. It’s the best set of Who songs released to date. They also got a great contribution from a friend of the band (Speedy Keen, later of Thunderclap Newman) for “Armenia City In The Sky”. Songs like “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand”, “Tattoo” and “Can’t Reach You” would have been hits or sure-fire radio cuts for almost any other band.

The only downer of the album is the last couple of cuts. “Rael” isn’t a strong closer – it would be better in the middle somewhere – and Pete’s solo song takes away the high-spirited mood. Still, it’s a must purchase especially for anyone interested in 60’s radio.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: While recording this album, the UK shut down the pirate radio stations. Pity.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes! And they are worth it! The first deluxe is my favorite, as it’s all great outtakes and more fake commericals with the great song “Melancholia” (missing from the second deluxe edition for some reason).

GRADE: A: Add in just one of the outtakes at the end, and you’d have an A+

The Who – A Quick One

ARTIST: The Who A_quick_one
TITLE: A Quck One (Happy Jack in the US)
SINGLES: Happy Jack (US Version only) (#3 UK, #24 US, #13 US Cashbox)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: So Sad About Us, A Quick One While He’s Away, Boris the Spider
LINEUP: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second Who record seems a bit scattered as the songwriting was distributed among the group, but it does contain some Who classics (especially the US version)

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: On advice of management (and possibly to help Pete Townshend recharge his batteries), the other members of the Who were encouraged to become songwriters. Entwistle already had some songs and was a prolific B-side writer, but Daltrey and Moon also penned tracks for this album.

The results were mixed. Daltrey’s song was decent enough, but Moon’s two were ‘interesting’ experiments to say the least. To my ears, they disturb the flow a bit.

However, take that with the classics listed above, and the fact that “Happy Jack” replaced a perfunctory cover of “Heat Wave” in the US, you have the makings of a good album. The highlight is “A Quick One”, a mini-opera of sorts with six movements that lets every member of the band stand out. It’s a bona fide rock-and-roll classic, even though it’s too long for radio.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Because they couldn’t afford strings, during the last part of “A Quick One”, the group sings ‘cello cello cello…’ to denote where the string section would have played.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, it’s the UK version with four tracks from the Ready Steady Who EP, three B-sides and a couple of unreleased tracks.

GRADE: B+: The flow is a bit interrupted by Moon’s stuff, and it would have been better had “Happy Jack” been on the album now available. Still the good stuff is fantastic.

The Who – My Generation

ARTIST: The Who 220px-My-Generation--2
TITLE: My Generation (or The Who Sings My Generation for us Americans)
CHART ACTION: #5 UK (No charting in the US!)
SINGLES: Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (#10 UK), My Generation (#2 UK, #74, #99 US 220px-The_Who_sings_My_GenerationCashbox), A Legal Matter (#32 UK), The Kids Are Alright (#41 UK, #85 US Cashbox), La-La-La-Lies
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Circles (Instant Party) (US Version)
LINEUP: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend. Nicky Hopkins plays piano.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Loud and raucous debut from the premier Mod group. Hide the children; it’s so loud!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After this exploded on turntables in 1965 and 1966, nothing really was the same. Bands could push the VU meters to red and not worry about distortion. Distortion is what they wanted. The kids really could stick it to their ol’ man and ol’ lady with the volume!

The sound here’s not clean. It’s loud and sounds loud. The band wants to out-do each other in volume, and Nicky Hopkins is back there trying to keep up on piano. Townshend’s eight (nine on the US version) originals are perfect for the band, and Entwistle’s showcase instrumental is fine too. And loud.

The only demerits here are the covers – two James Brown covers and a Bo Diddley cover. Daltrey’s not Brown nor Diddley and while the band does OK by them it’s just not The Who in all their glory (except for the guitar tricks from Townshend on “I’m a Man” – that saves it for the most part).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The US added “Circles” and deleted “I’m a Man” because the lyrics were ‘raunchy’ – never mind Bo Diddley had no problem releasing it. They moved “The Ox” to the middle of side 2 instead of the closing track.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes! The original album, the US cut, lots of alternate takes and outtakes.

GRADE: A-: What a great start to a great career. Only the covers trip the band up.