A Global Army of Veteran Rockers
My reply generates controversy among those who love the early poppy stuff....but it is obvious that I am correct ;>)
The twin towers of the Who canon by a signficant margin are Who's Next and Quadrophenia, with Quadrophenia slightly on top.
For a start to the collection, if you started with those 2 plus Tommy and the greatest hits comp Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, you'd have enough to keep you going for a good long while.
Next up would be Live at Leeds, and nowadays (I gather, I haven't heard it...) there's the obilgatory enhanced reissued full show multidisk version. I only have the original 1 LP version.
Young Man Blues on there absolutely shreds and slays, and gives the lie to the canard that Townshend wasn't a great guitar player....he was, although he all too rarely took guitar leads, and seemed a rhythm player a la Peter Buck (say,....another great one..)
Of the earliest stuff (...the comp I mention rolls up the first 4 albums)...."Sell Out" is probably the best one, although the song "A Quick One" which was their first foray into their rock opera type specialty...is great.
I wouldnt get Who By Numbers until I had everything prior, and at some point (possibly even before Who By Numbers) you can kinda quit. If Quadrophenia is a 10 (and it is) then Who By Numbers and Who Are You are 6s and Face Dances and It's Hard are 3 or 4s
If you're still on board thru those last 2, then the Townhend solo stuff surely will hold some charms, especially Emply Glass, Chinese Eyes, and White City
Love it all! This is like "Sophie's Choice" and choosing between your kids. Big fan of the so-called "poppy" early singles but love the bombastic anthems as well. If forced to choose, my heart would lean to Quadrophenia. (For someone who is just getting in to the Who, perhaps a good compilation is a place to start. I love The Kids Are Alright soundtrack -- see the movie too.)
One I could possibly do without (though, I still like some of it) believe it or not, is Tommy. Skip 1992's It's Hard as well -- though pick up the single "Eminence Front" somewhere.
Ok, just picked up Quadrophenia! Thanks for the great insight. I live for this stuff. I just watched that documentary, Amazing Journey, and found myself being pulled in. Damn, Keith Moon was unbelievable...will post my reactions....
For me it has to be "The Who Sell Out" simply because I remember my brother buying it when I was a small person and being knocked out by it. Those Radio London jingles, the spoof songs and then joy of joys "Armenia, City In The Sky", brilliant stuff ! After that it would be "Tommy", "Who's Next" and then the only Who comp. you'll ever need "Meaty, Beaty Big and Bouncy". Classic stuff. I've never been a big fan of "Quadrophenia" as a whole, just certain tracks.
Live at Leeds (the deluxe 2-disc version)
The louder it's played, the more I like it. Best live rock album.
Who's Next. It was always a fave, but the re-issue tracks, especially "Baby Don't You Do It" and the demo of "Behind Blue Eyes" are stellar. And on the Deluxe Collector edition there's the electric version of "Love Ain't For Keeping" which is brilliant and the alternate early take of "Won't Get Fooled Again" which, though weaker than the version we grew up with, catches the energy of the band tearing the hell out of a song they still hadn't quite perfected.
Added bonus: when my daughter was 8 and first seriously listened to "Won't Get Fooled Again" and heard Roger's scream toward the end her eyes got wide and she said "Wow! So that's what Rock and Roll is!" Indeed.
I wore this album out in high school, but even though these days I tend to listen more to The Who Sell Out, Tommy, or Quadrophenia, I've still got to go with Who's Next as their overall best. Every song on it is a classic, but it becomes even more impressive when you consider what was left off: "Pure and Easy", "Naked Eye", "Let's See Action", "Long Live Rock", among others, were all recorded during the Lifehouse sessions and didn't make the cut for the final album. While most of these ended up on Odds and Sods, Who's Next could have easily been released as a double album and not lost any of it's power.
That being said, you can't go wrong with any of the others. IMHO, the Who have released more "must have" albums than anyone other than the Beatles and Dylan.
This is off on a tangent just a bit but....
I heard a new recording by a band named The Q, and it's soaked with influences from The Jam and The Who. The recording (available as an mp3 download only) is spotty but when they hit, they're right on target. The second half of the "album" is best and, if you've been longing for just one more record from the Jam, then this is the one.
It's entitled "Sonically Sounds", if memory serves. They have a CD Baby page if you'd like to hear samples.
Who's Next. Any album that starts with "Baba O'Riley" and ends with "We Won't Get Fooled Again" could be filled with white noise in between, and still be labeled the one of the Greatest of All Times. However, the "filler" between these two should be in no way discounted. "Love Ain't For Keeping" is nearly on the same plateau as the Alpha and the Omega.
And if one were to get the "Live at Leeds"--get the bonus version. Better engineered, and bonus material.
Your mileage may vary.
Well, I might as well reuse my words from another thread on fave live albums :)
"I personally think that Live At Leeds by The Who is the definitive live album.
Why do I think so? Roger Daltrey has hardly been the main reason anyone likes The Who. I suspect it is the power trio behind him. These three consummate masters of their instruments successfully challenge creams and zeppelins of the world.
They also establish the foundation for this album. While Townsend, Entwistle and Moon all perform like lead soloists, at the same time they bounce off each other and hit unpredictable crescendos together in perfect synchrony. They are almost like three distinct persons, yet of one and the same essence, with shared mind and purpose. On top of that, Daltrey sounds better than ever. He is the perfect frontman for those three musketeers reinforcing the brilliant performance.
What would I change if I had a chance to alter something on this album? Nothing. In its initial six track form, Live At Leeds is more than faultless. Just perfect."
Live at Leeds also happens to be my fave Who Album.