The Who – Who’s Next (1971)

AllMusic Review: Much of Who’s Next derives from Lifehouse, an ambitious sci-fi rock opera Pete Townshend abandoned after suffering a nervous breakdown, caused in part from working on the sequel to Tommy. There’s no discernable theme behind these songs, yet this album is stronger than Tommy, falling just behind Who Sell Out as the finest record the Who ever cut. Townshend developed an infatuation with synthesizers during the recording of the album, and they’re all over this album, adding texture where needed and amplifying the force, which is already at a fever pitch. Apart from Live at Leeds, the Who have never sounded as LOUD and unhinged as they do here, yet that’s balanced by ballads, both lovely (“The Song Is Over”) and scathing (“Behind Blue Eyes”). That’s the key to Who’s Next — there’s anger and sorrow, humor and regret, passion and tumult, all wrapped up in a blistering package where the rage is as affecting as the heartbreak. This is a retreat from the ’60s, as Townshend declares the “Song Is Over,” scorns the teenage wasteland, and bitterly declares that we “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” For all the sorrow and heartbreak that runs beneath the surface, this is an invigorating record, not just because Keith Moon runs rampant or because Roger Daltrey has never sung better or because John Entwistle spins out manic basslines that are as captivating as his “My Wife” is funny. This is invigorating because it has all of that, plus Townshend laying his soul bare in ways that are funny, painful, and utterly life-affirming. That is what the Who was about, not the rock operas, and that’s why Who’s Next is truer than Tommy or the abandoned Lifehouse. Those were art — this, even with its pretensions, is rock & roll. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing:

All tracks are written by Pete Townshend, except “My Wife” by John Entwistle.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocal Length
1. “Baba O’Riley”
  • Roger Daltrey (verses)
  • Townshend (bridge)
2. “Bargain”
  • Daltrey (verses)
  • Townshend (bridge)
3. “Love Ain’t for Keeping” Daltrey 2:10
4. “My Wife” Entwistle 3:41
5. “The Song Is Over”
  • Townshend (verses)
  • Daltrey (chorus)
Total length: 22:47
Side two
No. Title Lead vocal Length
1. “Getting in Tune” Daltrey 4:50
2. “Going Mobile” Townshend 3:42
3. “Behind Blue Eyes” Daltrey 3:42
4. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Daltrey 8:32
Total length: 20:46



Schill Score: 10/10

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The Who – Live At Leeds (1970)

AllMusic Review: Rushed out in 1970 as a way to bide time as the Who toiled away on their follow-up to Tommy, Live at Leeds wasn’t intended to be the definitive Who live album, and many collectors maintain that the band had better shows available on bootlegs. But those shows weren’t easily available whereas Live at Leeds was, and even if this show may not have been the absolute best, it’s so damn close to it that it would be impossible for anybody but aficionados to argue. Here, the Who sound vicious — as heavy as Led Zeppelin but twice as volatile — as they careen through early classics with the confidence of a band that had finally achieved acclaim but had yet to become preoccupied with making art. In that regard, this recording — in its many different forms — may have been perfectly timed in terms of capturing the band at a pivotal moment in its history. — Bruce Eder

Track Listing

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Young Man Blues” (Mose Allison) 4:46
2. “Substitute” 2:10
3. “Summertime Blues” (Jerry Capehart, Eddie Cochran) 3:22
4. “Shakin’ All Over” (Johnny Kidd) 4:20
Total length: 14:38
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “My Generation” 14:45
2. “Magic Bus” 7:57
Total length: 22:42


Schill Score:  9/10


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The Who – Tommy (1968)

AllMusic Review: The full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy that launched the band to international superstardom, written almost entirely by Pete Townshend. Hailed as a breakthrough upon its release, its critical standing has diminished somewhat in the ensuing decades because of the occasional pretensions of the concept and because of the insubstantial nature of some of the songs that functioned as little more than devices to advance the rather sketchy plot. Nonetheless, the double album has many excellent songs, including “I’m Free,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Sensation,” “Christmas,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and the dramatic ten-minute instrumental “Underture.” Though the album was slightly flawed, Townshend’s ability to construct a lengthy conceptual narrative brought new possibilities to rock music. Despite the complexity of the project, he and the Who never lost sight of solid pop melodies, harmonies, and forceful instrumentation, imbuing the material with a suitably powerful grace. — Richie Unterberger

Track Listing:

All tracks are written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Overture” Townshend 3:50
2. “It’s a Boy” Townshend 2:07
3. “1921” Townshend, with John Entwistle and Roger Daltrey on chorus 3:14
4. “Amazing Journey” Daltrey 3:25
5. “Sparks” instrumental 3:45
6. “The Hawker” Sonny Boy Williamson II Daltrey 2:15
Total length: 18:36
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Christmas” Daltrey, Townshend on bridge 4:34
2. “Cousin Kevin” John Entwistle Townshend and Entwistle 4:03
3. “The Acid Queen” Townshend 3:31
4. “Underture” instrumental 10:10
Total length: 22:18
Side three
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Do You Think It’s Alright?” Townshend and Daltrey 0:24
2. “Fiddle About” Entwistle Entwistle 1:26
3. “Pinball Wizard” Daltrey, Townshend on bridge 3:01
4. “There’s a Doctor” Townshend, with Entwistle and Daltrey 0:25
5. “Go to the Mirror!” Daltrey, Townshend on bridge 3:50
6. “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” Townshend, Entwistle, and Daltrey 1:35
7. “Smash the Mirror” Daltrey 1:20
8. “Sensation” Townshend 2:32
Total length: 14:33
Side four
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Miracle Cure” Townshend, Entwistle, and Daltrey 0:10
2. “Sally Simpson” Daltrey 4:10
3. “I’m Free” Daltrey 2:40
4. “Welcome” Daltrey, Townshend on bridge, Entwistle on spoken word 4:30
5. “Tommy’s Holiday Camp” Keith Moon Townshend 0:57
6. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” Daltrey, with Townshend and Entwistle 7:06
Total length: 19:31


Schill Score: 9/10


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The Who – The Who Sell Out (1967)

The Who Sell Out is the third studio album by the British rock band the Who. It was released on 15 December 1967 by Track Records in the UK and Decca Records in the US.

A concept album, The Who Sell Out is structured as a collection of unrelated songs interspersed with fake commercials and public service announcements. The album purports to be a broadcast by pirate radio station Radio London. The reference to “selling out” was an intended irony, as the Who had been making real commercials during that period of their career, some of which are included as bonus tracks on the remastered CD.

The album was primarily written by guitarist Pete Townshend, though three tracks were penned by bassist John Entwistle and one by Thunderclap Newman vocalist Speedy Keen, who also sings. Townshend and Entwistle are joined by vocalist Roger Daltrey and drummer Keith Moon, and organist Al Kooper makes a guest appearance on two tracks. The album was produced by the band’s manager Kit Lambert.

The album’s release was reportedly followed by lawsuits due to the mention of real-world commercial interests in the faux commercials and on the album covers, and by the makers of the real jingles (Radio London jingles), who claimed the Who used them without permission. (The jingles were produced by PAMS Productions of Dallas, Texas, which created thousands of station ID jingles in the 1960s and 1970s.) The deodorant company Odorono took offence that Chris Stamp made a request for endorsement dollars. “I Can See for Miles” was released as a single and peaked at number 10 in the UK and number 9 in the US.

The Who Sell Out has received widespread acclaim from critics, some of whom viewed it as the Who’s best record. It has also frequently been featured on all-time lists of the best albums, including Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

Track Listing

All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted. The between song jingles apparently have no official titles and are not listed anywhere on the original album packaging (although they are listed in the inner booklet of the 1995 remaster).

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Armenia City in the Sky” Speedy Keen Daltrey and Keen 3:48
2. “Heinz Baked Beans” John Entwistle Entwistle, Moon and Townshend (spoken word) 1:00
3. “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand” Daltrey and Townshend 2:28
4. “Odorono” Townshend 2:34
5. “Tattoo” Daltrey, with Townshend 2:51
6. “Our Love Was” (Original US LPs listed the title as “Our Love Was, Is”) Townshend 3:23
7. “I Can See for Miles” Daltrey 4:05
Total length: 20:09
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. “Can’t Reach You” (Retitled “I Can’t Reach You” on various reissues) Townshend 3:03
2. “Medac” (Retitled “Spotted Henry” on original US LPs) Entwistle Entwistle 0:57
3. “Relax” Daltrey and Townshend 2:41
4. “Silas Stingy” Entwistle Entwistle 3:07
5. “Sunrise” Townshend 3:06
6. “Rael (1 and 2)” (Retitled “Rael 1” on 1995 reissue) Daltrey 5:44
Total length: 18:38

AllMusic Review: Pete Townshend originally planned The Who Sell Out as a concept album of sorts that would simultaneously mock and pay tribute to pirate radio stations, complete with fake jingles and commercials linking the tracks. For reasons that remain somewhat ill defined, the concept wasn’t quite driven to completion, breaking down around the middle of side two (on the original vinyl configuration). Nonetheless, on strictly musical merits, it’s a terrific set of songs that ultimately stands as one of the group’s greatest achievements. “I Can See for Miles” (a Top Ten hit) is the Who at their most thunderous; tinges of psychedelia add a rush to “Armenia City in the Sky” and “Relax”; “I Can’t Reach You” finds Townshend beginning to stretch himself into quasi-spiritual territory; and “Tattoo” and the acoustic “Sunrise” show introspective, vulnerable sides to the singer/songwriter that had previously been hidden. “Rael” was another mini-opera, with musical motifs that reappeared in Tommy. The album is as perfect a balance between melodic mod pop and powerful instrumentation as the Who (or any other group) would achieve; psychedelic pop was never as jubilant, not to say funny (the fake commercials and jingles interspersed between the songs are a hoot). [Subsequent reissues added over half a dozen interesting outtakes from the time of the sessions, as well as unused commercials, the B-side “Someone’s Coming,” and an alternate version of “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand.”] — Richie Unterberger

Schill Score: 8/10

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The Who – My Generation (1965)

My Generation is the debut studio album by English rock band the Who, released on 3 December 1965 by Brunswick Records in the United Kingdom, and Festival Records in Australia. In the United States, it was released on 25 April 1966 by Decca Records as The Who Sings My Generation, with a different cover and a slightly altered track listing. Besides the members of the Who, being Roger Daltrey (vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar), John Entwistle (bass) and Keith Moon (drums), the album features contributions by session musicians Nicky Hopkins (piano) and Jimmy Page (guitar) and vocal group the Ivy League.

The album was made immediately after the Who got their first singles on the charts and according to the booklet in the Deluxe Edition, it was later dismissed by the band as something of a rush job that did not accurately represent their stage performance of the time. While it didn’t sell as well as later albums, peaking at #5 on the UK charts and failing to chart in the US, critics have since retrospectively rated it as one of the best rock albums of all time, especially noting its hard sound unusual for the time, and presaging various hard rock styles such as punk and heavy metal.

Track Listing:

Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Out in the Street” 2:31
2. “I Don’t Mind” Brown 2:36
3. “The Good’s Gone” 4:04
4. “La-La-La Lies” 2:16
5. “Much Too Much” 2:44
6. “My Generation” 3:20
7. “The Kids Are Alright” 3:07
8. “Please, Please, Please” Brown, Terry 2:46
9. “It’s Not True” 2:32
10. “I’m a Man” Diddley 3:21
11. “A Legal Matter” 2:50
12. “The Ox” Townshend, Moon, Entwistle, Hopkins 3:53
13. “I Can’t Explain” 2:05
14. “Bald Headed Woman” Talmy 2:10
15. “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” Townshend, Daltrey 2:41
16. “Daddy Rolling Stone” Otis Blackwell 2:48
17. “Anytime You Want Me” Mimms 2:36
18. “Shout and Shimmy” Brown 3:18
19. “Circles (Revised)” 3:13
20. “Leaving Here” (erroneously credited to the High Numbers) Holland, Dozier, Holland 2:49
21. “Lubie (Come Back Home)” Revere, Lindsay 3:37
22. “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave” Holland, Dozier, Holland 2:41
23. “Motoring” Hunter, Jones, Stevenson 2:49
24. “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (French EP Mono Version) Townshend, Daltrey 2:44
25. “Instant Party Mixture” 3:26
Total length: 72:57

Review: An explosive debut, and the hardest mod pop recorded by anyone. At the time of its release, it also had the most ferociously powerful guitars and drums yet captured on a rock record. Pete Townshend’s exhilarating chord crunches and guitar distortions threaten to leap off the grooves on “My Generation” and “Out in the Street”; Keith Moon attacks the drums with a lightning, ruthless finesse throughout. Some “Maximum R&B” influence lingered in the two James Brown covers, but much of Townshend’s original material fused Beatlesque hooks and power chords with anthemic mod lyrics, with “The Good’s Gone,” “Much Too Much,” “La La La Lies,” and especially “The Kids Are Alright” being highlights. “A Legal Matter” hinted at more ambitious lyrical concerns, and “The Ox” was instrumental mayhem that pushed the envelope of 1965 amplification with its guitar feedback and nonstop crashing drum rolls. While the execution was sometimes crude, and the songwriting not as sophisticated as it would shortly become, the Who never surpassed the pure energy level of this record. — Richie Unterberger

Schill Score: 8.75/10

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