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The Who - A Quick One CD (album) cover


The Who



2.95 | 160 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars As far as Who albums one, A Quick One is a really *weird* one. Particularly side one - on which five of the six songs weren't written by Townshend, and four of them don't have Roger Daltrey on lead vocals. But actually, the songs gel together quite well - the first four all of them have a slightly off-kilter, gritty, even slightly dark tone shot through with flashes of humour here and there (often thanks to John Entwhistle - Boris the Spider and Whiskey Man sit perfectly halfway between creepy and funny), until the triumphant cover of Heat Wave comes on and breaks through the booze-and-pills-induced haze with a little sunshine. (Keith Moon's Cobwebs and Strange, closing off the side, is a bit of silliness acting as a cover for some furious drum solos.)

The other side sees Daltrey finally returning to the mic and Townshend taking the lead on songwriting (aside from See My Way, which is by Daltrey and, bless him, might be a little explanation why he didn't write more). The first three songs are fairly light R&B numbers that are a bit closer to the material on My Generation - the best is probably So Sad About Us - but then you have A Quick One (While He's Away), famed as Townshend's first flirtation with the idea of rock opera.

Musically speaking we're talking mid-60s rock with psych influences, though a few notches heavier and just a little faster than many of their contemporaries could manage. Both the recording quality and songwriting have come on leaps and bounds since the previous album, and the Who's own bizarre personality at last shines through - whereas on My Generation I thought they were a bit too similar to the other British Invasion groups of their era. Comparable to little else from the same time period - aside from, perhaps, Brown Shoes Don't Make It by Frank Zappa, the song is obviously important to prog fans because, whilst no individual segment is particularly complex, the overall effect achieved by taken all of these little songlets and stringing them together into one piece is undeniably influential on later prog epics - prior to A Quick One and Brown Shoes, long tracks on rock albums tended to be one song stretched out to epic lengths rather than a whole bunch of different tunes integrated into a single composition, as tends to be the norm for prog epics.

I can't in all honesty give this one a high rating, however, because whilst there's some great moments here and there there's also some clunkers - even a few parts of A Quick One aren't to my liking (usually the ones which borrow the heaviest from actual opera) - and to give full marks to an album with See My Way on it would be a travesty. Though A Quick One is undeniably important to the Who's continued development, at the same time it's a bit of a weird, directless beast judged on its own merits, with all the band members pulling in different directions and none of them quite reaching the full mastery of their particular compositional styles they would attain on subsequent releases.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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