Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
The Who - My Generation CD (album) cover

MY GENERATION

The Who

 

Proto-Prog

2.95 | 167 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Necrotica
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Who's entrance into 60s popular music was a hell of a game changer. With a rock landscape still heavily dominated by poppier and more melodically driven artists such as pre-Revolver-era Beatles as well as more folk-oriented groups like Simon and Garfunkel, it was inevitable that someone would try amping up the volume and increasing the distortion a bit. Well, Britain's answer came indirectly in the form of the Mod subculture. Mod was essentially based around British youths during the 60s and involved motor scooters, soul and "modern jazz" (as they tended to call it, usually referring to bebop) music, and drug-filled nights of club dancing. Anyway, long story short, mods and rockers did not get along during the mid-60s because of differing ideals, which even led to straight-up physical violence between the two! They eventually began to settle their differences, mainly because one certain band was able to combine aspects of both subcultures into their sound as if a musical truce was being called. Of course, that band would be The Who, with their phenomenal and revolutionary debut My Generation. It was a record that combined the rebellion and raucousness of both the mods and rockers, but has also maintained its status as a classic record over the years; you see it on best-of lists by Rolling Stone, Mojo, Q, and so forth. So what made it so good? Well, the answer is simple: it rocked. Hard.

My Generation, along with Jimi Hendrix's work a few years later, would truly become the blueprint heavy metal and punk rock in the years to come. Between guitarist Pete Townshend's aggressive and distorted playing, the way Roger Daltrey mixes gruff blues and hard rock vocals, John Entwistle's already-established presence as one of rock's earliest bass virtuoso players, and Keith Moon's ridiculous amount of energy on the drums, this must have been a sound to behold back then. That's not to say some of the elements typical of that era don't slip through; there are still plenty of poppy and soulful vocal harmonies, as well as three covers of classic R&B tunes. However, it's the raw and unhinged execution that makes it so influential. The production itself is quite bare, focusing more on sheer volume and impact than being lavish or slick; this definitely assisted in propelling the legendary title track and "It's Not True" to their status as youth culture anthems by contributing to their clangorous nature and proto-punk sound. But going back to what I said about John Entwistle earlier, the great thing about My Generation is that its high level of energy is still accompanied by an equally high level of instrumental proficiency and chemistry within the group. If I had to pick a standout musician, however, Pete Townshend would be that person. His work on the album really helped to expand the sonic boundaries of what the electric guitar could do, between more tightly-constructed hard rock numbers and more experimental jams. The latter is represented most strongly by "The Ox," an instrumental piece that has Townshend playing around with intense guitar feedback and very low tunings for the time period. The song's presence on the record might seem a bit unnecessary today, but it was just another innovative piece of work when it came out.

However, all influence and innovation aside, the age-old question remains: how well does the forty-year-old album hold up today? Well, that depends on which aspect of the record you look at. Unfortunately, the biggest flaw of My Generation really is its production; yes, it fits the style and vibe of the experience as a whole, but it's also very thin and more dated-sounding than other contemporary albums of the day such as The Beatles' Revolver or The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Luckily, the songwriting and musicianship are completely timeless. Countless punk bands still cover the title track and "It's Not True" to this day, not just because they're influential to the genre, but because they still evoke the classic themes of rebellion and being young. While the band later regarded this album as a weak and rushed effort, you'd never believe when listening to such well-crafted gems like the melodic vocally-layered pop rock anthem "The Kids Are Alright" or the slightly more somber and mellow "The Good's Gone." Also, while many blues or R&B covers may feel out of place on a record, the three that are featured on My Generation fit quite well as they display that the young band were still on their way to fully developing their sound. Plus, in the case of "I Don't Mind" and "Please, Please, Please," Roger Daltrey's charismatic and aggressive vocals are a perfect fit for James Brown's often bright and energetic material.

My Generation may not suit all tastes, but one can't deny its immeasurable influence on rock music as a whole. The energy, distortion, intensity, rawness, and sonic experimentation present on the album were very rarely heard prior to its release, and its ability to mix different subcultures and bring them together is just stunning. Sure, the record doesn't quite have the songwriting or maturity to match future classics like Tommy and Quadrophenia (the latter also being about the mod scene), but it makes up for that with sheer raw energy and aggression. My Generation is just a ton of fun, and I know I'll continue to play it as long as I feel young and rebellious...

'cause "I'm not tryin' to cause a big sensation, I'm just talking about my generation!"

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

Necrotica | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this THE WHO review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives