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The Who - My Generation CD (album) cover


The Who



2.97 | 208 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

This group took the world (or at least the rock realm) by storm with the title track of their debut album the anthemic and stuttering My Generation and its uncontrolled feedback in the middle solo. Their sound was brutal up-front in your face and radically new. It's always a little puzzling to see such a hard rocking (with plenty of energy in their music and on stage through the bashing of instruments) group claiming to be a Mod. However huge was My Generation, the surrounding singles like Happy Jack, Substitute, Can't Explain and Anyway, Anyhow were less all-out rockers and much closer to the poppier material, hence the Mod label. So when The Who got the go-ahead to record a full album, instead of placing a good deal of their own singles on the album or covers done in concert, they wrote a bunch of tracks in a hurry and the least we can say is that the results have something unfinished.

While the group was mainly songwriter (and sometimes singer) Pete Townshend's main vehicle, it is hard to imagine The Who without one of the four members as all had their indubitable imprint on the band. Drummer Keith Moon was not only the joker/clown of the band, but he was always from far the most exciting and unorthodox and unpredictable drummer playing with his guts more than through flashy chops and he certainly was very influential in the next generation of drummers. Bassist John Entwhistle is one of the three bassists that rewrote the rock-bass playing book in the mid-60's, along with Jack Casady and Jack Bruce. Not only did he also write the odd tune and sing, but he also played some brass instruments. Townshend was no slouch at his guitar with some techniques and unique to him (the windmill), and he could play a mean solo, but he never sought to be a guitar hero, and was also dabbling in keyboards. I am probably not going to make friends here by saying that Daltrey could be regarded as the weaker link, despite having one great voice, he was thankfully more "instrumental" (pun intended) on stage with a fairly strong presence.

Outside My Generation, you get a bunch of pop rock tracks that lack the real catchy hooks that their singles had, and the covers (like J Brown's I Don't Mind) bring nothing new to the original or even massacring it (Please), but it's mostly the tiny details that will signal the group's future greatness: the short brass interventions courtesy of Entwistle, the non- playing of Townshend when expected, Moon's unorthodox playing or not playing, Townsend's chaotic solos etc?.. This group's mostly onto something different. And it ill be clear in the album's only climax (other than the title track): indeed The Ox is a four-minutes instrumental where session man extraordinaire Nicky Hopkins completes the quartet on piano that's laying the foundations of a future psyched-out hard rock: imagine a hard rock version of Wipe Out with a super bass.. Note that this song's title will become Entwistle's nickname.

I suppose this album has received many reissues with plenty of bonus tracks in which hopefully will stand the aforementioned singles and their B-sides, but probably as well the tracks that didn't appear on the album, depending on which side of the Atlantic you stood at. Sooooo, calling The Who's debut album groundbreaking might seem exaggerated to some, but it has its historical significance in rock music, although for progheads, it will certainly not essential, despite this album's early appearance in the time frame of this site.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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