The Who - Greatest Hits and more...

2010-05-21 14:50
 Many people would say that if there was an anthem for the British First Wave, it was probably performed by The Beatles or the Stones. And sure, there are many songs by either of those bands that remain evergreen in the popular consciousness.

But nothing in those respective catalogues really captures the spirit of the First Wave as energetically or emphatically as The Who’s single My Generation, marrying as it does the sweaty, maniacal, raw energy of rock n’ roll with the musical back and forth of utterly singable pop.

Add to that the very direct dressing down of the haters (“Why don’t you just fffffffffffffffffffffff-aaaade awaaayyyy!!!”), and you’ve got the cocksure swagger of what rock n’ roll was supposed to be in the time before Sgt. Pepper’s.  

That they could still belt out seemingly innocuous radio hits then (Pictures of Lily, et al.) speaks volumes about Townshend’s talent, not least of which was his ability at the time to gently push “sensible” boundaries.

And yet The Who’s mark on modern music is also quite anomalous; consider that in the last few years Limp Bizkit (of all artists) chose to attempt a take on Behind Blue Eyes; and while C.S.I. was wildly popular as a TV show, it was the theme song (Who Are You?) that always brought a smile to your dad’s face, wasn’t it?

By the time Pinball Wizard arrives on this compilation, you’ve hit The Who that most recall, a band that in time became known more for progressive tangents and crazy live energy than pop music. “Rock operas” like Tommy and Quadrophenia do dominate most old rockers’ memories, and do perhaps require a bit more focus to appreciate when and how they were done.  

But this collection of singular tunes does a great job of outlining a band that is often overlooked for its contribution to a part of rock all but lost in the sameness of today’s radio playlisting. Put bluntly, it’s hard to call yourself a classic rock fan if you have no The Who in your collection, and this is as good a place to start as any if you need to fix that.  

PS: The compilation contains a bonus disc of vigorous live performances, which as any fan knows, is really the base standard for any ambitious rock band.  

The UK's dark horses get a cracking compilation that's essential to your rock history collection.

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