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Proto-Prog • United Kingdom

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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 album in 2006.

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 of the new...
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THE WHO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

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

2.92 | 159 ratings
My Generation
2.92 | 147 ratings
A Quick One
3.52 | 213 ratings
The Who Sell Out
3.93 | 513 ratings
4.36 | 528 ratings
Who's Next
4.50 | 542 ratings
3.52 | 181 ratings
By Numbers
3.31 | 186 ratings
Who Are You
2.48 | 106 ratings
Face Dances
2.59 | 101 ratings
It's Hard
2.89 | 80 ratings
Endless Wire

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

4.01 | 142 ratings
Live At Leeds
4.04 | 42 ratings
The Kids Are Alright (Original Soundtrack of the Film)
2.69 | 23 ratings
Whoīs Last
3.21 | 14 ratings
Join Together
3.50 | 4 ratings
The Who Live (Golden Age serie)
3.26 | 31 ratings
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
2.89 | 27 ratings
BBC Sessions
3.92 | 20 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
3.83 | 6 ratings
Greatest Hits Live
3.94 | 13 ratings
Live At Hull

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

3.88 | 27 ratings
The Kids are Alright
3.67 | 9 ratings
Who's Better, Who's Best
3.56 | 16 ratings
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival
3.94 | 12 ratings
Who's Next - Classic Albums
3.88 | 14 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall
2.86 | 7 ratings
Live & Alive
2.71 | 7 ratings
The Vegas Job
3.11 | 16 ratings
Amazing Journey
3.73 | 14 ratings
The Who at Kilburn: 1977
3.48 | 14 ratings
Maximum R&B Live
3.88 | 8 ratings
Live in Texas '75
3.17 | 10 ratings
Quadrophenia: Live in London
3.83 | 5 ratings
Live in Hyde Park

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

2.23 | 14 ratings
Magic Bus: The Who on Tour
3.33 | 28 ratings
Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
3.76 | 34 ratings
Odds & Sods
3.33 | 6 ratings
Who's Missing
4.07 | 11 ratings
Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B
3.80 | 25 ratings
My Generation - The Very Best of The Who
2.26 | 4 ratings
The Who (budget compilation)
4.04 | 28 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
3.27 | 15 ratings
Then and Now
1.79 | 9 ratings
Greatest Hits
5.00 | 5 ratings
Live At Leeds 40th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Collectors' Edition
4.83 | 6 ratings
Quadrophenia - The Director's Cut (Super Deluxe Limited Edition)
3.50 | 4 ratings
The Who Hits 50!

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

2.70 | 9 ratings
I'm a Boy
2.76 | 9 ratings
Happy Jack
3.75 | 4 ratings
Summertime Blues
3.05 | 6 ratings
Let's See Action / When I Was A Boy
4.13 | 8 ratings
3.05 | 3 ratings
Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B sampler

THE WHO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Who Sell Out by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.52 | 213 ratings

The Who Sell Out
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Mortte

5 stars Plenty of reviews written about this, I donīt think I can say anything new about it, but because I found the last review of it a bit poor, I think I should say something about it. I think the last review is a part of that trend in 2000`s to try to prove sixties music wasnīt as great as it was. I know there are many people, who think 2000`s music is as great as sixties and or/seventies, or maybe even better. I am not saying all the 2000 music is [&*!#], there are still great musicmakers, but in 60-70 specially major record companies hadnīt made their artists that kind of money making products as today. Of course money making has always been their priority, but the artists freedom to make music was much more bigger then, record companies gave them many chances to try to make selling albums before they throw them away than today. And I think that was one reason to the great music of 60-70, not the only.

About this masterpiece, I have listened Who now thirteen years and over a decade this has been the greatest Who album to me. Of course I really love also Tommy, Whoīs Next and Quadrophenia, but I have also always loved the energy of first Who albums. This album has both: energy of first Who albums, but also the more progressive music from the later albums. Only true sixties pop songs in this album are "Our Love Was" and "Canīt Reach You". I find the first side of the album as great as the second. "Odorono" and "Tattoo" are really spiritual, the latter is also very acoustic with great symbal playing from Moon. The side one ending piece "I can see for miles" is the greatest Who single to me, it has that great Who-energy and starting "Armenia City In the sky" too. "Silas Stingy" and "Sunrise" in the b-side are also very spiritual songs. The endind "Rael" is a crown of this album! Towshend used part of this song later in Tommy, as he did also some other earlier songs released later in Odds and Sodds, but I have found this version the best. Rael was also Towshendīs will to do larger entities just like "A Quick One, While Heīs Away" was a year later, but I think it was better although it was only almost six minutes long. There was part 2 of "Rael" that ended only into first album version credits, it was released later in the "Thirty Years of Maxium R`n`B".

About commercialism in music, even the Who had pressures of selling records that time. Their singles werenīt selling much in 1967 and although the Who Sell Out is masterpiece, it didnīt sell well. But what band of today decides to make an rockopera after commercial failings? The Who took a big risk into it, but it was worth of it. Tommy become one of their biggest artistic and commercial success. 1967 was the begin year of concept albums. I think the Who sell out was one of the most genius concept albums of that year. To built up album round the pirate radio channel Radio London was very original and rebellious idea and it still works well.

This is really not prog album, specially if you think prog is the same as Genesis and Yes seventies albums. I listen a lot progmusic, but to me any music genre is not better than the other. To me this Who album is one of the ten best all time albums. Itīs just because itīs genius sad melodies also itīs brilliant idea of concept album. Really have always loved the cover of it. I recommend people who donīt like sixties music generally, doesnīt listen it and really doesnīt write reviews about it. Although Whoīs best years are over, they continue to play their great music. I was really happy about their latest great live version of Tommy. "Endless Wire" from 2006 was also really great new album, to me itīs better than "Who by Numbers" or "Who are You". So I am not sad although most of the new music just bores me. Although I have now listened music forty years, I still found great albums from sixties and seventies that Iīve never heard.

 The Who Sell Out by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.52 | 213 ratings

The Who Sell Out
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This jaunty, sarcastic, sometimes cynical, sometimes brilliant, sometimes tedious release by the Who reminds me that many legendary rock bands sound nothing like what we hear today on classic rock FM. For example, who would guess that the band that blasts out "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" would find rave reviews with this dithering collection of tongue-in-cheek songs? Listeners born after 1975 beware: The Who Sell Out is probably not what you think it is.

So what is it? It's a mostly goofy art-pop album that sounds very '60's and very British. Is it bad? No, it's just ... The Who Sell Out. Be prepared for a handful of genuinely fun pop tunes like "Our Love", a few moments of Who-style heaviness, and songs that will probably make you shrug your shoulders with ambivalence. I found the second side of the album more musically engaging.

The album's best moments are the faux-commercials, which are legitimately brilliant at times. Commendable cynicism-- something I can't imagine a massive pop-star of today coming close to including in their work. Frankly, this is what elevates the song for 3-star status to me. Maybe some of the B-sides will reveal themselves to me in the future, but for now, I think that this music will probably hook some listeners much more than others.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 My Generation by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
2.92 | 159 ratings

My Generation
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by BigDaddyAEL1964

3 stars That debut album by the Who was just another Britpop - rock album... kinda.

Listening carefully, you can see the signs if their lyrical intelligence and their compositional skills. Paying tribute to their influences was an essential back then (with James Brown's "Please Please Please" and the classic Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man"), but the y struck gold with their on hit single too, "My Generation", on of the most well known songs of the 60s.

Absolutely no prog here yet, but an album worth owning for historical as well as musical reasons.

3 stars by me, for a significant effort that helped built a storied career.

 The Who Sell Out by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.52 | 213 ratings

The Who Sell Out
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

3 stars Another impact like a musical collision in 1967. This greatly sensational concept album released in the same year as The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is quite impressive and addictive through kinda fictitious radio show with some fictitious advertisements. As a concept album, this one could be felt "so-called theatrical" sorry, but their incredible intention to follow The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" should be enough understandable. Each track was positively and acceptably composed and produced (and appropriate for the pop chart!), although entangled musical / melodic phrases or cynical footprints are here and there ... maybe Pete's unique and hilarious idea was breathed into this creation.

Above mentioned, every "leading" song between jingles is pretty pop and catchy flooded with light rhythm bases and mid-60s psychedelic keyboard-based ornaments. We can say it could not connote "so-called progressive" essence in itself. An important point is that quirky jingles like an old-fashioned Radio London programme or fantastic advertisements like "Heinz Baked Beans" or "Odorono" are very innovative and play the momentous role to consolidate a radio fantasia together all around the album. Easily guess they had created and produced this funny radio programme guide with laughing out loudly, and composition with serious appearance. Yes they made sure to "sell out" the concept (in a sense) album, we can mention here after listening to "Sell Out".

Anyway let me emphasize this funky sleeve pics completely explain the content in this funky sleeve. Enjoy the inside and outside.

 Live At Leeds by WHO, THE album cover Live, 1970
4.01 | 142 ratings

Live At Leeds
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This review is about the original LP release from 1970.

"The greatest live album of all time". Well. In my opinion, it isn't. I expected great things from this album after I read that it was considered by many people as a great live album. Maybe if I have listened to this album when I was a 13-15 year old teenager maybe I could consider this album as "the greatest live album of all time". But now...

Anyway, it is an energetic live album, with "raw" and spontaneus performances by a young band. But even with all these things being considered, I still think that there are better performances of some of these songs in other live albums. For example: the live version of "Young Man Blues" which was released in "The Kids Are Alright" soundtrack album in 1979 is better than the live version which was included in "Live at Leeds". The live version of "Summertime Blues" which was included in the "Woodstock" film is also better than the live version which was included in "Live at Leeds".

"My Generation" in "Live at Leeds" is a long version which also has a lot of improvisation from the band, also including some parts from other songs like "See Me, Feel Me" and "Sparks" from the "Tommy" Rock Opera. It is too long (15 minutes in duration) and it is not very interesting for me. The song "Magic Bus" has never been one of my favorite songs from the band, and this live version is not so good.

Anyway, "Live at Leeds" includes very energetic performances from the band, which are good but not better than other live recordings from the band, with Keith Moon's "hyperactive" drums playing, Pete Townshend's heavy guitar playing, John Entwistle's "thunderfingers" bass playing, and Roger Daltrey's very good lead vocals. But the original "Live at Leeds" album from 1970 also showed some mistakes in their playing and singing. Maybe due to this, it could be considered as an "honest" and "raw" live recording from this band, with the later expanded editions from this album being released with "corrections" done in the recording studio. So, the original LP release of "Live at Leeds" has it merits due to the more spontaneous playing and singing. Also, the cover design was a very good idea, with it being like a parody from a bootleg LP.

Good but not- essential, at least for me.

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 513 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As someone who is familiar with the Who from hearing their handful of hits on classic rock FM, it's a nice surprise to find Tommy, a thoughtfully composed and well played concept album. There's a lot to like here, and I think the reviews here on the Archives speak the truth in that one's enjoyment of this album will depend on taste and biography. For me, Tommy is a mixed experience.

It's at its most enjoyable when the band is playing ambitiously, such as on songs like "Overture," "Underture." These songs have dynamic energy and very skilled delivery. The band sounds great, and it's fun to hear music from the most classic or classic rock era so skillfully played; it's a vintage sound that stands the test of time. For me this is light-years more enjoyable than anything the Beatles ever put out.

I suppose it's not a coincidence for me that my favorite songs are both instrumentals, because I found the story, lyrics, and vocal inflection bland. This is definitely a "rock-opera" album, which is a euphemism for "musical with electric guitars." I do not like musicals, and the amount of storytelling that the Who crams into this album is cumbersome and distracting. The best concept albums allow their concept to drift in and out of the abstract, so that the listener can chose to be all in to the story, or enjoy songs individually without loosing much. You can't do that with Tommy, because every song is narrative.

The rave reviews of this album often have phrases like, "when I first heard this," or, "I remember when," which points strongly towards the high marks on this album coming from nostalgia. I don't have a problem with nostalgia, because it colors much of what we like and dislike, but because I am nostalgia-less when it comes to the Who, my experience listening to Tommy was one that grabbed hold of the great moments, and was left waiting during the downtime. The flow and momentum is too weird to be a straight ahead rock album, but not so well composed to be a true prog-rock album.

An album with that many highs and lows is worth a rock-solid 3 stars. Check it out if you like the Who's "greatest hits," or if you're interested in the development of the prog-rock movement.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 Live in Hyde Park by WHO, THE album cover DVD/Video, 2015
3.83 | 5 ratings

Live in Hyde Park
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This is the last show of their 50th anniversary tour in London's Hyde Park. The show start in the daylight atmosphere being a outdoor venue. It's still amazing to see Pete Townsend playing with this energy level after many years. And listening to him in this show, the band bring back the question each tour about being the possible last tour of the band, and they keep touring. The set list here is almost perfect with some of their classics, only the song "Join Together" didn't connect with me, but the pacing of all the songs is well done. I rediscovered how good were the songs "Amazing Journey" and "Sparks" that was done in a medley. The ending is the epic and great song "Wont Get Fooled Again" with all the atmosphere of the keyboards parts that was created by Pete Townsend. Roger Daltrey is still young enough to deliver a decent performance that could go along with those younger musicians behind him. I also find quiet enjoyable those short stories that share different artists between some songs explaining the influence of the Who in their life. The show in High Definition is nice to watch and the big screen in the back has plenty of beautiful projections throughout the show.
 Quadrophenia by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.50 | 542 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Quinino
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #11

Pete Townshend is a Genius, this album is a Giant Masterpiece and the Mighty Who rule(d)

Global Appraisal

You want to know when I do get the maximum pleasure a human being can receive exclusively from music? Being alone at home, pushing the volume on the stereo and going to shower while listening and singing (shouting, in fact) full breath along Roger Daltrey. Over Quadrophenia, no other else!

It never fails to uplift and put me in a sunny mood, that's the reason I always remained a faithful worshiper going from vinyl (religiously kept, oh yeah) to tape and finally to cd immediately after it was released back in '84. What a glorious-happy-energetic-music.


First the composition, all by PT, is top notch and as exciting today as it was then.
The vocals, of course, no one can refute RD is one of the best in his trade.
I get the feeling the bassists tend to be wrongly undervalued about their contribution and in the Who that would be a terrible huge mistake - John Entwistle is surely a pillar for the foundations of the band's sound and if you try, as I sometimes do, to follow the songs focusing on his playing, you'll be amazed.

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 513 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

1 stars Before I discourage anyone from giving this album a listen I'd just like to say that it does have some redeeming features, including and limited to a concept addressing many different facets of life and a level of ambition that was revolutionary at its time of release. So bear these in mind all ye who still dare to listen after reading my review.

Tommy is a concept double album rock opera and has been hailed as one of the first and finest thereof. I don't think there's any need for me to give a synopsis of the plot of Tommy's tale as if you listen to any of the songs on this 74 minute monstrosity you will invariably be reminded every other verse of Tommy's ailments, which brings me to the first problem I have with this album. It is not at all subtle and that is a huge pet peeve of mine in concept albums. The concept feels incredibly forced and it doesn't take very long before you being to get very sick of having obvious facts reiterated again and again. Did you know that the kid is deaf, dumb and blind?

"Tedious" describes this album very well and the conspicuous narration is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the album's tedious facets. If one were to take a look at the track listing of the album, they'd see that the band has written a novel of Tolstoy-esque proportions. The album's track listing is muddled and filled with redundancies and filler. Dozens of short (under 2 minute) tracks that fall flat of moving the narrative along are interspersed among stale instrumentals that don't develop. At this point you may be wondering to yourself, "well maybe the instrumental work on some of the tracks is good?" - Oh how I hoped that that were true. "Are the vocals good at least?" - Lifeless and cheesy. "Would the album cover at least look pretty sitting on my shelf?" - Unfortunately they couldn't even pull that off.

If you're ever feeling particularly masochistic, have 74 minutes to kill and have run out of paint to dry or grass to grow, Tommy would be the perfect album for you to listen to. Over 20 back to back, non-emotive spectacles of poor musicianship avail themselves on this overdrawn, megalithic flop. Admittedly there are two songs on the entire album that I can listen to without needing to physical restrain myself from skipping them, the hit "Pinball Wizard", which is more in The Who's classic hard rock vein, and "Miracle Cure", which is short enough that I wouldn't fall asleep before it's finished. In summary, "Tommy" is an incredibly overrated concept album that could have been worked out far more concisely and tolerably in a well-written single album or a one-side suite. Unappealing as it is, Tommy doesn't even deserve two stars as it should not be of much interest to fans of The Who given that there is none of the rowdy, rambunctious rock 'n' roll, or even the slightest hint of upbeat energy characteristic of their sound, on it. One star for an album that should not have come from a band so talented.

 A Quick One by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
2.92 | 147 ratings

A Quick One
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My Generation was more than just an album when it came out back in 1965... it was a game-changer. The way it mixed soft R&B covers and pop rock tunes with a previously-unheard hard rock edge and raw production was ingenious, and the affectionate nods to the Mod subculture were icing on the cake. It seems as though I'm exaggerating when I state that The Who's debut was a decade-defining piece of work, but it truly was. So how would these London boys follow it up? Well, how about giving songwriting roles to every band member while becoming a hell of a lot sillier in the process?

What came of this question was A Quick One, one truly bizarre and inconsistent foray into more cheery and poppy territory. Here, we get everything ranging from blues rock, quirky comedic tunes, the band's first "rock-opera" track," folk rock sections, and more. It becomes clear very quickly which musicians really shine in the songwriting department, however: Pete Townshend and John Entwistle. In fact, the latter created perhaps one of the band's most iconic and entertaining songs in the form of "Boris the Spider"; aside from containing vocals that likely (and probably inadvertently) influenced a legion of death metal singers, the song's cheesy horror lyrics just add to its fun camp value. Curiously, Entwistle's other contribution "Whiskey Man" is a pretty standard fast-paced blues rock track compared to the amount of personality "Boris the Spider" had, but it's still a decent addition nonetheless. Of course, just as with My Generation, Townshend still manages to be the real driving force writing-wise. The title track, which is easily his best contribution on here, is an excellent prelude to the band's future rock operas; it also ends up being among the first progressive rock tunes with its varying sections and relatively long length of nine minutes. The whole thing is very elaborate, especially in terms of Roger Daltrey's vocal harmonies and Keith Moon's busy percussion, as the lyrics essentially give the listener a prelude to the story of the 1969 record Tommy. Seriously, this was some ambitious stuff in the mid-60s, especially considering the fact that it predates other proto-prog gems of the decade such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Days of Future Passed.

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake of A Quick One was letting Keith Moon assist in any part of the songwriting process. He might be an amazing drummer, but his songs are seriously lacking compared to what the other members bring. First, we get an uninspired folky power ballad with "I Need You," which has some extremely obnoxious and raucous drumming during the chorus; it's so raucous that it literally overpowers the production itself. The other song he wrote might just be the single worst track to ever be released by The Who, that tune being "Cobwebs and Strange." Remember what I said about this album being really cheery? Well, "Cobwebs and Strange" basically manages to sound like a marching band performance at a Disneyland parade with its bright horns and stiff, angular drumming; that is, until the song turns into a disjointed mess of disparate musical ideas. The second half of the song is pretty much just a glorified Keith Moon drum solo, but it's not very engaging when combined with such an ugly jumble of instruments and styles. As for Roger Daltrey, his sole contribution "See My Way" is a decent pop song that thankfully tones down the dynamics of the album along with the previous Pete Townshend number "Don't Look Away." However, despite the weird mishmash of styles present in A Quick One, I have to give it credit for at least having some sort of overall focus and knowing what it is: a cheesy pop rock record. It often doesn't take itself too seriously, which is why incredibly fun songs like "Boris the Spider" and the title track were able to fit in so well with the experience as a whole. Basically, my advice is to enjoy the Townshend and Entwistle tracks and try to forget the Keith Moon tracks ever happened; I know that sounds harsh, but Moon is simply better off doing what he does best: drumming. In the end, if you don't want to stick with the familiar Who classics and want to delve into something a bit more quirky and strange, this is a pretty good bet. Despite how unusual and flawed it is, A Quick One is actually really fun and a refreshing oddball in the band's catalog.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

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

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