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THE WHO

Proto-Prog • United Kingdom


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The Who picture
The Who biography
Formed in 1964, Hammersmith, London, UK - Split in 1982 (occasionally re-formed for live appearances)
Resumed regular touring in 1999 and recorded a new albums in 2006 and 2019

One of the greatest of all rock and roll bands and one of the most influential of all time, The Who formed in 1964, when drummer Keith Moon left the Beachcombers and joined The Detours, who included singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, and bassist John Entwistle. The Who arrived on the scene at a crossroads in the English music scene: The Beatles were still king but were beginning to turn from the bubble gum pop of previous albums, the Merseybeat boom was fading and London was becoming the center of English music. A residency at London's famed Marquis club gave them a stage to make their impression: above all, The Who were a live band that had to be seen as well as heard. There first hit, "I Can't Explain", led to regular TV appearances and a tour with The Beatles. It also got them signed to Decca Records, where they recorded their first album, "My Generation". The album was a hit in England, reaching #5 on the charts, while the title track became an anthem of sorts for the times and still perhaps their best known song.

The Who were very original in that their arrangements were far from the normal in rock those days. Pete was more of a rhythm player who had Keith and John playing around him instead of
merely holding a beat, an influence acknowledged by the way Prog rock turned conventional rock idioms on their ear with regards to arrangement and traditional roles of the instruments. Keith's drumming was described as 'lead' drumming and John was having bass solos as early as 1965 in rock music.

Success out of the gate gave the group some measure of creative control on their next album which they lacked on the first. Pete and manager Kit Lambert had been talking about extended themes and ideas in rock and roll for some time. When The Who went into the studio for their second album in 1966 each group member was to contribute songs to help generate more revenue in royalties for the group, the group having a rather high overhead in terms of destroyed guitars and drum kits. When the others were not able to meet their quota of songs for the new album, Pete and Kit stepped in to fill the album out, and came up with what would be one of the trademarks of prog music in the future, the extended song cycle "A Quick One", which would be the title o...
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THE WHO discography


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THE WHO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 226 ratings
My Generation
1965
3.02 | 210 ratings
A Quick One
1966
3.59 | 292 ratings
The Who Sell Out
1967
4.00 | 655 ratings
Tommy
1969
4.44 | 694 ratings
Who's Next
1971
4.50 | 693 ratings
Quadrophenia
1973
3.51 | 240 ratings
By Numbers
1975
3.43 | 250 ratings
Who Are You
1978
2.50 | 147 ratings
Face Dances
1981
2.62 | 135 ratings
It's Hard
1982
2.87 | 108 ratings
Endless Wire
2006
3.58 | 51 ratings
WHO
2019

THE WHO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 189 ratings
Live At Leeds
1970
4.06 | 59 ratings
The Kids Are Alright (Original Soundtrack of the Film)
1979
2.66 | 28 ratings
Whos Last
1984
3.16 | 19 ratings
Join Together
1990
2.86 | 5 ratings
The Who Live (Golden Age serie)
1993
3.38 | 41 ratings
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
1996
3.09 | 34 ratings
BBC Sessions
2000
3.91 | 25 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
2003
3.43 | 7 ratings
Greatest Hits Live
2010
4.00 | 17 ratings
Live At Hull
2012

THE WHO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.92 | 37 ratings
The Kids are Alright
1979
3.75 | 12 ratings
Who's Better, Who's Best
1988
3.60 | 20 ratings
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival
1998
4.00 | 14 ratings
Who's Next - Classic Albums
1999
3.92 | 17 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall
2000
2.86 | 7 ratings
Live & Alive
2003
2.71 | 7 ratings
The Vegas Job
2006
3.18 | 18 ratings
Amazing Journey
2007
3.77 | 17 ratings
The Who at Kilburn: 1977
2008
3.53 | 15 ratings
Maximum R&B Live
2009
3.70 | 10 ratings
Live in Texas '75
2012
3.26 | 12 ratings
Quadrophenia: Live in London
2014
3.84 | 6 ratings
Live in Hyde Park
2015
4.00 | 2 ratings
Tommy: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
2017

THE WHO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.26 | 19 ratings
Magic Bus: The Who on Tour
1968
3.41 | 42 ratings
Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
1971
3.73 | 47 ratings
Odds & Sods
1974
3.33 | 6 ratings
Who's Missing
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Two's Missing
1987
4.15 | 15 ratings
Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B
1994
3.81 | 27 ratings
My Generation - The Very Best of The Who
1996
2.26 | 4 ratings
The Who (budget compilation)
1997
4.06 | 30 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2002
3.29 | 16 ratings
Then and Now
2004
1.88 | 11 ratings
Greatest Hits
2009
5.00 | 8 ratings
Live At Leeds 40th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Collectors' Edition
2010
4.83 | 6 ratings
Quadrophenia - The Director's Cut (Super Deluxe Limited Edition)
2011
3.67 | 6 ratings
The Who Hits 50!
2014

THE WHO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
I Can't Explain
1965
0.00 | 0 ratings
A Legal Matter
1966
2.74 | 12 ratings
I'm a Boy
1966
2.79 | 11 ratings
Happy Jack
1966
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Last Time / Under My Thumb
1967
3.00 | 1 ratings
Pictures of Lily
1967
3.00 | 1 ratings
I Can See for Miles
1967
5.00 | 1 ratings
A Quick One, While He's Away
1967
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Seeker / Here for More
1970
3.67 | 6 ratings
Summertime Blues
1970
3.07 | 8 ratings
Let's See Action / When I Was A Boy
1971
5.00 | 3 ratings
Won't Get Fooled Again / Don't Know Myself
1971
3.67 | 3 ratings
Relay / Waspman
1972
4.10 | 10 ratings
5.15
1973
5.00 | 1 ratings
Substitute
1976
3.00 | 1 ratings
Long Live Rock / I'm the Face / My Wife
1979
2.50 | 2 ratings
Athena
1982
3.00 | 1 ratings
Ready Steady Who
1983
3.05 | 3 ratings
Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B sampler
1994

THE WHO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Face Dances by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.50 | 147 ratings

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Face Dances
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by SeeHatfield

3 stars Tiptoeing into high school, around fourteen going on fifteen, I had a bedside clock radio with embedded cassette player: a little box in faux wood veneer that sang me to sleep, woke me in the morning, and kept me tapped into Top Forty pop on the AM band. I followed the hit parade for a while, listened out for singles I especially liked, and began, slowly, to buy mainstream pop albums. This was the early 1980, and I'm still embarrassed by some of the records I liked back then. When I was not quite sixteen, one single I keenly listened out for was The Who's "You Better, You Bet," or its abridged AM version anyway, a song that has been on my mind ever since. I couldn't wait for that song to come round on my clock radio again and again. Frankly, I didn't understand the lyric; it was a hymn to hedonism with a desperate edge, a giddy, decadent thing about nightlife and sex and things I knew nothing about. Very adult. I might have thought I understood the lyric (I prided myself on getting the reference to a razor line), but no way could I have understood what it took to get Pete Townshend to write it. It's a song about a man who's a mess, after all.

The record sounded great to me at the time, and so Face Dances became my first Who album (unless it was Who Are You, which I got around the same time?). The Who may not be a prog band, but to my mind much of their work is progressive rock, and my interest in them helped nudge me out of Top Forty pop into album rock, so that, between sixteen and seventeen, I became a prog devotee. I listened to Face Dances a lot -- though, again, I'd say that I didn't really know where it was coming from, or what it made it so decadent and weird. I knew it had to do with Pete Townshend being unhappy, even unhappy with the business of being a rock star, but what could that possibly have meant to me?

In hindsight, I think Face Dances' main value was that it got me to listen to The Who. Alas, as an album it doesn't hold up. I started to figure that out long ago, and for years, I've faulted the production by American AOR ace Bill Szymzyk (of Eagles and Joe Walsh fame). The record sounds muffled and airless, deadened. But I have to admit that the songs too are a problem: a mixed bag, including several well-polished duds. Elaborately arranged, and awash in Townshend's and John (Rabbit) Bundrick's keyboards, the songs swirl and bubble, but percolating synths can't hide the general air of dissipation and anomie. Nor can the muscular playing of bassist John Entwistle and new drummer Kenny Jones, who ought to cut through the enveloping fug but can't, quite. The sound is bland and felted over, but more importantly, the songs are often wan, bemused, and self-regarding -- fatally self-conscious navel-gazers, at a time when Townshend was nearly killing himself with drink and drugs and clubbing, all to the tune of damn, I really hate being in this band that made me famous.

Tellingly, Townshend's solo albums from this period, produced by Chris Thomas, are way better than Face Dances or the Who albums that came right before and after it. They sound tighter and punchier despite Pete's self-absorption, and they boast many grand and piercing songs (Empty Glass is one of the great rock albums of the early 1980s). What's more, the demos for Face Dances that can be heard on Townshend's Scoop compilations are better than the final Who versions: Pete's "You Better, You Bet" sounds drunk and nuts (the piano glisses are insane), his "Don't Let Go the Coat" sounds like effervescing indy pop (so much more rhythmically exciting than The Who's take), and so on. At this point, even when Pete is losing it, he makes better tracks on his own than with his old band.

Pete's version of "You Better" outpaced The Who's in my heart years ago.

Townshend's reflexive, self-pitying lyrics here may not plumb the depths of bathos reached on Who Are You (whose outtake "No Road Romance" has got to be one of his most pitiful). But "Daily Records" gives the earlier record a run for its money: They say it's just a stage in life / But I know by now the problem is a stage. And when Townshend is not making his discontent obvious, the hermetic lyrics of "Cache, Cache" and "Did You Steal My Money" still sound like complaining, albeit through a filter of eyebrow-cocking irony. The latter song joins the cod-epic wanking anthem "How Can You Do It Alone?" on the list of Townshend's most obnoxious novelties, right up there with "Squeeze Box." It's embarrassing, the more so for touches of musical grandeur like the martial, pipe-and- drum (synth-and-drum) interval in the break. For a song about masturbation, it's, well, proggy.

Entwistle's two songs here are crusted with cliches, but "The Quiet One," a right snarler, spins the cliches to advantage, snapping at the hands that feed with vengeful irony (Still waters run deep / So be careful I don't drown you). It's a song about Entwistle's own taciturn reputation, suitably nasty, delivered in Entwistle's own harsh rasp. Musically, it slashes away nicely -- a quick burst of big chords and febrile drumming, seesawing among a very few notes while Pete works variations in the simple riff. This gives Pete a chance to let rip, and the record could have used more of that -- the wet blanket of Szymzyk's sound can't smother it. Entwistle's other number, "You," is draggier, a lumbering catalog of misogynistic rock 'n' roll chestnuts. In a word, bad.

Let's be honest: The Who were hell to work with in the studio at this point. Really, they weren't a functional band. Szymzyk, who has criticized the album's sound and called the job the worst of his career, tells stories about singer Roger Daltrey avoiding sessions with the other members of the band. The whole Who were hardly ever present together, as Daltrey's straight-edge careerism and hardheadedness put him at odds with the boozy fecklessness (frankly, alcoholism) that hovered round the rest of the group. Everything was a mess. Townshend was drinking like a sponge and offering Szymzyk and the band songs of either confessional or trivially humorous bent. Entwistle and Szymzyk fought over the bass parts; Entwistle would later complain of Szymzyk's numbing perfectionism and lack of spontaneity, and Szymzyk would complain of Entwistle overplaying. As for Kenny Jones, he was in the unenviable, post-Keith Moon drummer's stool, playing for keeps but in the very definition of a no-win situation. The Who had outlived itself and its members were half-broken. Szymzyk's brand of meticulousness -- comping vocals, insisting on multiple takes, trying to tamp down the craziness -- turned out to be no savior.

It's not all bad, of course. Face Dances is a Who album, so it features one of the smartest songwriters and arrangers in rock. The fact that Townshend was writing synth-pop at this point, rather than anthemic rock, maybe bugged some fans, but Pete was eager to do new things even when he was killing himself by degrees. The arrangements could have shimmered had they not been (by Szymzyk's own admission) compressed to death. "You Better, You Bet" is still a good single. And dig the chiming twelve-string guitars that anchor that song and "Daily Records" (the latter reminding me of the way The Beach Boys open "Sloop John B"). Meanwhile, Entwistle's bass, sometimes galloping, sometimes hopscotching, does great service. The way he works under and around the verse is the one good thing about "How Can You Do It Alone?" Jones, underrated, is a powerhouse, drumming solidly with occasional explosive fills. Granted, Jones would sound better if not recorded like Don Henley -- the big kit and high toms are very 70s, with little snare and no sizzle, and the mix is turgid. Jones, in other words, gets Szymzyked.

Daltrey works as hard as anyone, with a deliberate, at times droll delivery, as when he caresses some of the sleazier lyrics in "Did You Steal My Money" and "How Can You Do It Alone?" (They simply relax and lay back, etc.). He works over these lines theatrically; I bet he thought carefully about how to deliver them, and then sang them the same damn way, over and over. He probably didn't know what to think of the insular "Daily Records" and "Cache, Cache," but he sang them anyway. Daltrey by this period strikes me as a mannered rather than spontaneous singer: he works hard to make Townshend's lyrics scan, comes up with phrasing and asides to fill the empty spaces, and then replays the same seemingly tossed-off bits over and over, on demand. Though in life Daltrey was far from sympathizing with Pete's excesses, he interprets the lyrics here with a professional's patience and a certain lusty hamminess (and a bit of wink-wink-nudge-nudge, know what I mean?). Roger, the sane and settled pro, ends up play-acting through Pete's sybaritic overkill. The results, which are mannerist and funny, will appeal to some listeners and repel others. Daltrey does try.

It's strange to feel grateful for an album that you don't think is very good. I do feel grateful, though I find myself daydreaming about Townshend leaving The Who after Moon's death, or even earlier, and following his muse into other things. Above all, Face Dances feels like a determinedly adult (hell, middle-aged by rock standards) delaying action that thematizes growing up and the inevitability of compromise but also sounds, well, sadly compromised. Kudos to Townshend and the band for not sitting still thematically -- but this one sounds like it's coming well after the fire. Pete's next album, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, is much better.

 Quadrophenia by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.50 | 693 ratings

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Quadrophenia
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by The Anders

4 stars Being their proggiest release, it should be no surprise that Quadrophenia is the most popular Who album on ProgArchives. The symphonic structure of many tracks obviously does the trick, and indeed Quadrophenia is a very well constructed suite, at least from a solely musical point of view. The album as a whole feels like a cohesive musical journey, and it may be one of their strongest efforts in that respect.

However, an album is the sum of all its parts, and - unfortunately for a concept album - the concept just isn't very interesting. For one thing, the story is set in the mid 60's mod culture in Britain, and that harmonizes very badly with the synth-driven and symphonic nature of the music. In fact, the only mod-like sound is the short glimpse of "The Kids Are Alright" at the beginning of "Is It In My Head?". Moreover, the story itself is a rather banal piece of social realism: Jimmy is the stereotype mod kid who tries to balance himself between the social norms of his parents and the group pressure of the mod environment. As I have never been a mod myself, and as I have never truly been able to relate to the macho ideals of such cultures, I can not really identify with the story, but of course this is a highly personal and subjective thing. Others might have different experiences.

Once you are familiar with the story, there is not much left to uncover. This is especially sad, because the concept of Tommy was much more universal, and it was more open to interpretation. I still uncover layers in Tommy, but I have never had that experience with Quadrophenia.

One aspect of the concept, however, is very strong, and that is the idea of Jimmy's four-sided personality (hence the album title), each side reflecting the personality of the four members of The Who. They each have their own theme: Roger Daltrey as the tough guy ("Helpless Dancer"), John Entwistle as the quiet romantic guy ("Is It Me For A Moment?"), Keith Moon as the lunatic ("Bell Boy"), and Pete Townshend as a self-declared hypocrite ("Love Reign O'er Me"). The themes each pop up on several occasions during the album, like Wagnerian "leitmotifs", and, with the exception of "Is It Me?", they all have their own song.

And this leads me to the music itself which is by far the strongest part of the album. The symphonic element is of course very dominant, for instance in the instrumental tracks "Quadrophenia" and "The Rock" (both containing variations of the four themes), as well as in a song like "Doctor Jimmy", but overall there is a fine balance between these complex compositions and some more straight forward tracks like "I'm One", "Is It In My Head?" or "Cut My Hair". The tracks I enjoy the most are often the more emotionally intense ones. These include the two instrumentals as well as "I'm One", "The Punk and the Godfather" and especially "Is It In My Head?" - the latter is probably my favourite song on the album, especially as it also has a romantic sentiment to it.

Overall I think I enjoy The Who's 1960's recordings better. After Tommy, they moved towards stadium rock, and their sound became heavier. Whether one likes that or not, is of course a matter of taste, but I always felt that their 60's sound was a bit more subtle - the combination between, on one side, the aggressive playing, and on the other side a pop sensibility in the compositions, is a fascinating one, and that aspect somehow faded away as they turned the amps up to 11 and Daltrey became a hard rock screamer. Thus, I often find his singing rather tiresome, especially in the more macho-driven numbers, for instance "The Real Me", "Helpless Dancer", "5:15" and "Doctor Jimmy". The playing on the album is, as always, excellent, and for instance I think there's a lot of poetry in Keith Moon's drumming - he is not just showing off, he is actually communicating through his drums. And then of course there is a very creative use of synthesizers, even though they can become a bit too bombastic at times.

All in all, Quadrophenia is a strong album, at least musically, but it is not one that truly grips me anymore. I was crazy about it, when I first heard it as a teenager, but in recent years I have found myself listening to it less and less - whereas Tommy continues to fascinate me. I will give Quadrophenia 3,5 stars for its musical brilliance, but the other aspects prevent me from giving it a full house.

 A Quick One, While He's Away by WHO, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1967
5.00 | 1 ratings

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A Quick One, While He's Away
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
5 stars This really could be the most progressive 7" singles recorded in 1966! When The Who were making their second album that eventually was to be titled A Quick One, their producer and manager Kit Lambert encouraged Pete Townshend to write a longer piece to fill up the album length. 'A Quick One, While He's Away' (9:10) is a suite of six song fragments, and it tells about a girl who has an affair while her lover is away but is forgiven.

The intro 'Her Man's Gone' is a multi-vocal a cappella piece lasting only about 25 seconds, followed by an uptempo rocker 'Crying Town'. 'We Have a Remedy' is a charming movement with its la-la-la-la-la-laa harmonies, and the hilarious 'Ivor the Engine Driver' introduces the other man in the first person. 'Soon Be Home' has a laid-back country feel and The Beach Boys reminding vocal harmonies repeating the title's words. The cathartic finale 'You Are Forgiven' starts the B side of the single. The Who wanted cellos there, but Kit Lambert could not afford it so the band ended up singing "Cello, cello, cello" at the beginning of the movement.

In the performance on Live at Leeds Townshend calls the song a mini-opera and introduces it as Tommy's parents. Indeed it is a clear precursor to the seminal "rock opera" Tommy (1969). Within nine minutes you hear many things that stylistically have an equivalent somewhere along the 2-LP of Tommy. It sure feels very hectic and tightly packed, but that's an essential part of its peculiar charm. The movements follow each other in a hurry, and yet the whole is very coherent. The production is very good for its time.

'A Quick One, While He's Away' has a tragic background underneath its cheerfulness. It was inspired by Townsend's childhood experiences, as he reveals in his 2012 autobiography Who I Am. (I am citing the Wikipedia article.) The song "briefly refers to his molestation as a child, but not explicitly. 'Ivor the Engine Driver' is said by Townshend to be a metaphor for the possible abuser. The 'Her Man's Been Gone' section refers to Townshend's separation from his parents and spending time with his grandmother, Denny. The crying in the 'Crying Town' portion is his own, for his parents to pick him up and to leave Denny, who is said by Townshend to have been the person who brought in unknown men into her home. The 'little girl' referred to in his song is actually a make-believe 'imaginary constant friend' and 'twin girl who suffered every privation I suffered'. 'You Are Forgiven' presents someone coming to Townshend's rescue: his mother. The lyric about sitting on Ivor the Engine Driver's lap 'and later with him had a nap' also hints at what may have happened. The song ends with the verbal chant of 'you are forgiven', which Townshend states that when The Who performed the song, he would always get into a frenzy. He states that those who were being forgiven was everyone referred to in the song's lyrics, including himself."

In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked 'A Quick One, While He's Away' number 4 on its list of the 50 greatest songs by The Who.

The single's B side continues with 'So Sad About Us' which on A Quick One album comes before the epic final piece. It's a good lesser known song from The Who, combining the raw rock energy and The Moody Blues reminding melodicism. I'm tempted to give the breathtaking musical contents of this unique single five stars. The Who definitely were ahead of their time in 1966.

 My Generation by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.03 | 226 ratings

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My Generation
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

3 stars [Hello from the future! I really don't know how it used to be, but it must be said: We aren't judging Proto-Prog on its merits as being "Progressive Rock", but simply as "Rock Music", per the rating standards. I also must acknowledge here and now that I not only rated this before I was actually reviewing (a grave sin, I know), but that perhaps my mind can, by appearance, change in admittedly a very short period of time; hopefully more a reflection of me honing my ratings and therefore overall personal standards. Generally speaking, perhaps the greater Prog fandom genuinely doesn't care for early The Who. On second thought, "the greater Prog fandom" seems to be right on the money here.]

The Who started off here, I always thought most strongly, in 1965, in the midst of the British Invasion (John Entwistle already sporting the Union Jack...et... with pride). Reps of the Mods with their contemporaries The Small Faces, they and plenty other Brits of the era nerdily inspired by Black American culture (whether Soul-loving Mods or Merseybeat R&B-obsessive Rockers), straddle the line between the cool 'n soulful and the booming 'n searing. [This will be a review for the... apparently 2002 Remaster edition... selected most selectively, just so I can talk about "I Can't Explain" even briefly haha.]

A tell of the time from certain tracks, we get straight-ahead, early Garage Rock in the opener, "Out in the Street" (ballsy for the time, for sure); and "The Good's Gone", featuring some Proto-Punky chillout, to my ears a la Iggy Pop-esque vocals (maybe? Lou Reed?). I definitely enjoy this'n, despite its momentary indifference to the guns-blazing Rock of The Who's most memorable numbers. "Much Too Much" is a bit of a mix of these two modes, even expressing the first moments of their brand of genre-defining Power Pop with bright drums and a simple melody. The Garage-ready "It's Not True" is just fine. Back in this mode from a quick hiatus is "A Legal Matter", a decent track with obviously lesser vocals from our primary songwriter, the otherwise fantastic Pete Townsend. Rolling drums blast into our ears on "The Ox", by far the heaviest song of the whole, featuring, though too, some striding keys.

Yet another sign of the time was the to me now-somewhat-surprising presence of R&B, heard prominently on the second track(?!) of this album, "I Don't Mind". This track has some real heft in the midst of classic, melodic B.A.M. observance. It's fine haha, but it has something. This sound results specifically in a soft dance number in "La-La-La Lies", reminiscent to me immediately of The Beatles' "Tell Me Why", released a year and a half earlier on A Hard Days Night (1964). The Soul continues on "Please, Please, Please". "I'm A Man" is a... poorly aged rendition of a sort of Howlin' Wolf Blues number; decent ideas, but nothing that drives it to anything great. The final track of this Afro-American mode is the wonky "Daddy Rolling Stone", the final bonus track. Pretty cool, pretty funky, with some sort of honky-tonk piano.

Squarely in the middle of the release, the title track, "My Generation", is of course a must-hear, an era-defining moment in music history. It's hooky, punky, and, frankly, daringly cool as hell. We have unique, stuttering vocals from Daltry and the insane, flailing drumming from Keith Moon. Right up next, starting the second side, is one of the strongest on the album, the best example of early Power Pop present here, "The Kids Are Alright". Excellent melody, great and memorable instrumentation. And the bridge!!! Good God Almighty! Another highlight/must-hear is the Garage-Pop of "Circles". Awesome melody, and heavy instrumentation. It's pretty much got it all. What I can say is that I would actually recommend the Freakbeat cover of this by Fleur De Lys all the more. Absolutely fantastic stuff. As mentioned in my intro, I had to take time for the bonus track "I Can't Explain", a single backed with "Bald Headed Woman" (a bombastic White R&B track, which only gets better as it goes). "I Can't Explain" is yet another quintessential Power Pop tune, to be sure.

Overall, a solid debut LP (better to my ears than, say, Please Please Me, for instance). See my [super]boldings for the best of the best. Other slight standout tracks are "The Good's Gone" and "The Ox". A lowered re-rate was certainly in order.

 The Who Live (Golden Age serie) by WHO, THE album cover Live, 1993
2.86 | 5 ratings

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The Who Live (Golden Age serie)
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Prog123

3 stars The world of budget compilations is truly a world that can be very interesting. But it is also a risky world. Many budget compilations are only of modest quality. Others end up being real bootlegs. Other times they allow you to listen to songs in live version with not always good quality. And, in the latter case, it is not uncommon that given the success they have, they end up obtaining a restoration and a 100% official publication. With the arrival of the CD or, better still, CDs for everyone (late 80s / 90s), these budget compilations multiply. Often because the rights on the recordings expired or because certain labels decided to sell off their catalogs. Other times it happened that there was no interest on the part of the labels for certain artists who, however, were in great demand. Thus were born several labels that bought the recordings of those artists or had new versions of famous songs recorded and put them on the market. This budget live compilation is at the limit of legality since there are recordings of Leeds 1970 that are already contained in the official live of The Who and because the others are from 1968 and 1969 and, therefore, at the limit of exercising copyright on the recordings. In any case, if you were lucky enough to find it, I would recommend it. After all, there is no Progressive here, just Hard Rock (they are all 60s songs) but very valid also for a Progressive lover, given that Hard Rock, at the time these songs were written and recorded, was an innovative genre and played the role of the Progressive of the following decades. Some (I think of "Boris The Spider", for example) have a certain appeal to a Progressive lover for the structure of the writing, for example. But, in general, you can hear great Hard Rock and Proto Metal here.

What to say, to conclude? That this budget live compilation is a good example of what The Who was like at the time. But don't look for a (live) compilation for audiophiles or true Progressive lovers here.

 The Who Sell Out by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.59 | 292 ratings

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The Who Sell Out
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by dvukelja

4 stars There was a lot going on in the musical world of 1967. The year that brought to the world the first albums from Pink Floyd and the Doors, Sgt. Pepper and Days of Future Past among many others. The Who Sell Out is another great title that came out in the said year, but unfortunately, often overlooked and rarely talked about, despite having some amazing tunes and being one of the first real rock concept albums, with a very original form. One can argue about the "progressiveness" of the songs, but if put in the context of the time of its release, there are some boundaries pushed, and isn't that what prog is all about? But I'm prolonging this, let's start with the album. So the album starts with the only song not actually written by a member of the band, "Armenia City in the Sky". I never really liked this one, it just sounds really different from the rest of the album and it would be kind of unnoticeable if it was removed from it. The second track "Heinz Baked Beans" opens the door for the "commercial" side of the album. But not commercial as in appealing to the masses, I mean literal commercials in song forms (and I don't mean jingles, because there's a lot of that too on the album). The finest of these three (Third is Entwistle-sung "Medac") is Townshend's "Odorono", telling the story of a singer on an audition, failing because she used an inferior deodorant, in a couple of verses with an interesting harmonic foundation based on sequencing seventh chords. "Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand" shows a gentler side of The Who. The song features acoustic guitars, interesting percussion (it almost sounds as Moon is playing the spoons, I wouldn't be surprised) and characteristical harmony. The song itself is pretty funny (it is a string of joke tracks: Beans - Marry Anne - Odorono - Tattoo), telling the listener that despite other girls have respectable qualities, Mary knows how to use her hands. It is the mocking of radio that is the real point of this album and it is done brilliantly through fake commercials and songs like this one. "Our Love Was" is another Townsend-sung simple song which has my favorite five seconds of the album, right there in the middle, the song stops and a Capella harmony kicks in, followed by a modulation. Brilliant. "I Can See For Miles" is the conclusion of the first side and it does and with a bang. If I have to pick one song to represent early Who, this would be the one. In my opinion the best performance by Keith Moon, fantastic vocals by Daltrey, very interesting harmonies in the chorus and that plain energy in the form of a song really wraps it up. Now, as much as I love this album and the first side is one of my favorite "proto-prog" album sides, I must say that the second side, despite having nice, catchy songs, isn't as interesting. I don't have much to say about the songs on it except the grand finale - Rael. "Rael" was Townshend's first idea for a rock opera (after writing the 9-minute "A Quick One While He's Away", arguably the first "epic") which was then scrapped, but parts of it were used for this album. For people that don't find The Who "prog enough", this song can prove otherwise. Despite being little under six minutes, it has several different parts, a story about a hero, vocal harmony, instrumental breaks... If it had been finished (with music in this style), I would have taken "Rael - the album" before "Tommy" any day, but that's for some other time. I conclude this rather longish review by saying that if the rest of the second side had been as good as the first one, this would be a five star album for me. This way, I give it four stars because it is something that every fan of proto-prog should hear.
 My Generation by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.03 | 226 ratings

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My Generation
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

3 stars Following in the trendy 60s mod and art pop scenes as the Detours, the band that changed its name to THE WHO quickly wooed audiences with its slick crafty menagerie of garage rock mixed with rhythm & blues and found instant success with the single "I Can't Explain" which was admittedly a derivative of The Kinks "You Really Got Me" which shot up the British charts and launched the band into the big leagues right out of the gate. The unexpected success of that single that hit #8 on the charts opened the doors and quickly followed by another top 10 in the form of "Daddy Rolling Stone." Due to these two high charting singles THE WHO was rushed into the studio where they cranked out their debut album MY GENERATION which debuted in December of 1965 and while a bit fashionably late to the British rock invasion, once THE WHO had arrived they wouldn't stop until they hit the big time which happened practically overnight.

Like many albums of the era, MY GENERATION found two slightly different releases for its British audiences and another for the US with two different album covers. While a rushed job for sure with a mixed bag of varied tracks, MY GENERATION is notable for being one of the first British rock albums to showcase a more energetic aggressive approach which by today's standards sounds laughable but around 1965-66 was quite shocking and single-handedly signaled an arms race of heavier and faster guitar riffs that ultimately led to the unthinkable variety of extreme metal and punk that would come a few decades down the road. That means THE WHO are considered both a proto-metal as well as a proto-punk band and although the songs on MY GENERATION are fairly standard blues driven pop rock that was fairly common for the British scene of the mid-60s, the drumming prowess of Keith Moon in particular along with heavier jangle guitars upped the ante in harder rock.

While i wouldn't call MY GENERATION the most essential release by THE WHO, the album is interesting in connecting the dots between classic 50s rock and roll with the hard rock and proto-punk bands that followed. The title track was the only single off of this one which was a huge hit peaking at #2 on the British charts but also one of the best songs THE WHO ever did in its early years. The other notable songs are the opening "Out In The Street" and the instrumental "The Ox" which prognosticated the heavier and more progressive route that the band would take. This feisty number features incessantly heavy drums, a hyperactive piano groove and a punkish guitar and bass attack unlike anything that had been released at the time although it still retained a melodic connection to the R&B driven rock and roll era that THE WHO emerged from.

The album is decent but many rushed albums in the 60s included fluff and this album is no exception. The album features not one but two covers from James Brown: "I Don't Mind" and "Please, Please, Please" as well as "I'm A Man" from Bo Diddley. Decently done but nothing more than adequate covers that really don't hold up well over time. While touted as a masterpiece of the ages, i really don't find MY GENERATION to be that exciting of a listen other than tuning into the zeitgeist of the mod scene of the mid-60s. Other than the title track and "The Ox" there is really nothing memorable about this album however if you have the Deluxe remastered version (the one i have) then you will be treated by extras such as the excellent track "Circles" as well as the singles that were released before MY GENERATION. Overall, this is a decent slice of mid-60s British blues fueled pop rock but hardly the best the era had to offer and certainly not THE WHO's magnum opus but a great place to explore the band's music for sure.

3.5 rounded down

 WHO by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.58 | 51 ratings

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WHO
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A few years ago, I saw an interview with Roger Daltrey, in which the legendary Who vocalist waxed lyrical about how his old sparring partner, Pete Townsend, had "written the book" on teenage life, angst, and growing up in a harsh world, but hoped that he would one day write the definitive album about growing old.

Well, 2019 saw the release of "Who", a brand new collection of Townsend songs written for his cohort and recorded virtually, with Daltrey allegedly taking some time to "get into it".

Is it the definitive old rocker collection of words? Well, maybe not, but what it is is a fine collection, and, to this long-standing fan, that is likely as much as we are entitled to.

To these ears, Townsend has absolutely rediscovered his ear for fine and catchy rock tunes. The album leaps out at you with the opener, All This Music Must Fade, a somewhat bitter rock track, and Townsend shows that he has lost none of his old penchant for awkwardness when, at the close, he follows up a monologue with "who gives a [%*!#]?". Indeed.

Daltrey sounds absolutely fantastic throughout. Of course, the range is a lot narrower than days of yore, but for a man in his 70's, it ain't half bad.

Ball & Chain opens with delicate piano and guitar, before providing us with a fine modern day blues riff discussing the horrors of Guantanamo Bay. And therein probably lies my deepest satisfaction with this album. I like it that Townsend still has the ability to have a damned good old rant, and that Daltrey is still the only singer and man alive with the capability of translating this into the polished product.

I adore I Don't Wanna Get Wise, a testimony to growing old in rather rude fashion, this rips along at such a pace that you really believe it is being performed by a group half their age.

Zak Starkey and Pink Palladino shine on drums and bass on Detour, a richly produced rock number with more than a nod to the past (Detours was the forerunner of The Who).

Talking of production, there are hints of some of the rich keys which blessed albums such as Who's Next and Quadrophenia all the way through, and nowhere more than on the expansive ballad Beads On One String, and my only minor gripe here is that it would have been nice to have a lot more, because they allow this track to soar in places. Ditto with Street Song, which contains keys which both remind one of Baba O'Reilly in parts, and provide a touch of Middle Eastern textures, and had this been more to the fore, a better track might have followed. As it is, I find it one of the rare throwaway tracks present.

Having said that, nowhere does the entire album sound better than on the wonderful Hero Ground Zero, with orchestral soundscapes backing a very strong Daltrey vocal. This track was written by Townsend as the opener to an as yet unfinished opera, and it is utter proof how just how much Daltrey brought into the recording process. The pair of them might have fought like cat and dog for decades, but they clearly respect each other, and I dare say love each other very much. Music this good doesn't come out of hatred.

Townsend saves for himself the longest track, at just over five minutes, I'll Be Back, a ballad sung and played by him, with Daltrey supporting on harmonica only, and it again features some good orchestration. An interesting track which provides an eclectic contrast to the overall album. The closing chord, by the way, is straight out of Quadrophenia.

The album reasserts itself strongly with the fine single release, Break The News, a song which simply shouts out the pleasure of still being alive, performing together, and rising above the chaos of being the world's greatest rock band. This track was the first I knew about the impending release of a new album when I heard it played on Planet Rock Radio. It was, and remains, a joy to listen to, and worth the admission price alone.

Rockin' In Rage does what it says on the tin, and probably only Daltrey could get away with this at his age. As a latter day protest rock song, it doesn't quite work for me, and I regard this as the other "filler track", being a wee bit too forced.

The album closes with She Rocked My World, a blues infused curio.

That these two are still knocking out music of any, let alone this, quality some 56 years after they started (they have been playing some 6 months longer that I have been alive) is nothing short of miraculous. They have weathered the loss of two of the greatest rock musicians ever to stride this Earth, and, more to the point, they still sound vital and relevant.

Four stars for this. I think fans old and new will enjoy much of what these two old geezers still have to offer. If this is their recording swan song, it is a fine way to go out.

 Tommy: Live at the Royal Albert Hall by WHO, THE album cover DVD/Video, 2017
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Tommy: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Mortte

4 stars First: this review is made from the audio-version. It was released also as 3LP and 2CD. Little bit odd was, that there was no DVD in vinyl version as there was in 'Live In Hyde Park'. On the other hand 'Quadrophenia: Live In London' didn't come vinyl at all, only as DVD & 2CD. Anyway this review is based from the one I made in Finnish prog sites 2017. Today I listened first listening after that year. Little bit odd was, that they decided to make this two years before Tommy would have been 50 years old. Well, maybe they thought this had to be done before it's too late, Daltrey had had some health problems just before this. Because the horrible acoustic of Royal Albert Hall of rock concert they originally planned this to be acoustic version. But as Roger said in the begin of concert, their four weeks rehearsal's wouldn't benefit the charity where the concert profits were going, so they decided to play Tommy in as they've played it many years.

But adverts still says this was first time when Who played Tommy as it entirety. It's not exactly true, over ten minutes 'Undertune' is just few minutes piece and played only by guitar. Really would liked to hear Starkey's doing some original kind of drumming in that. But what's great here was first time really good live version of 'Welcome' that was the one of the most proggy pieces in Tommy. Really wonderful also was they've added in 'Overture' the horn parts originally played by Entwistle. I am not going to write about every songs from this album just because they're mostly very loyal to original. But have to say Starkey's drumming is little bit sticky at first (just like he's predecessor Moon had in some gigs). But when he warms up, it's again very amazing to hear! Daltrey singns as usual, although he's voice has become little bit thicker, also some songs goes into lower keys as original. Townshend has lost his voice and it's his brother Simon who sings the highest parts of Peter's. As in always the Who plays Tommy in gigs, here are also other their classic pieces in the end of the album. They played all of them already in 'Live In Hyde Park' and versions are as great. I believe they have played 'Baba O`Riley' & 'Won't Get Fooled Again' almost in their all gigs after sixties, but they sounds in this album like they were new songs!

At the moment there won't come in my mind any others in the begin of sixties started bands that still can play their old classics so well as the Who and The Rolling Stones. I just can't give this great live album five stars, because this still don't rise into level of the original masterpiece, maybe partly because that torso version of Undertune, but also they just couldn't full achieve the freshness of Tommy 1969 (who could after 50 years). But I think this is great live album to those, who don't like those more sixties sounds of the original version, also in this live vocals are not as front. Still this is not sounding too clean. Really this was a concert I would have liked to be with!

 A Quick One by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
3.02 | 210 ratings

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A Quick One
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars The Who showed their ambitions and potential on this still early album. While not reaching the sophistication of Beatles at that time, they were ahead of other rocking peers such as Rolling Stones. There isn't the studio trickery of the Beatles, songs are still quite clearly rooted in rock. The inclusion of French horn and tuba was quite inventive followed closely by creative guitar playing (including acoustic guitar) and dynamic drumming. Melodies are quite good, sometimes even reaching the pop-rock territory because of not so raw vocal harmonies.

This is hardly a proto-prog yet but remains a testimony and important album of 66 in the UK. For proggers, the 9-minute suite is worth listening multiple times. Creativity, energy and young spirit on this record are infectious and memorable. My first favourite The Who album. Other highlights "Boris the spider" with semi-growling and progressive melody, "Cobwebs and strange" with its semi-avantgarde structure accelerating drums and brass instruments. "Don't look away" is a pop track with excellent harmonies.

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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