Also used for Round 15 of ABC Wednesday, W is for The Who.
The Who’s lead singer hits the big seven-oh. The first album I had of the group was Tommy, which is why it dominates my personal chart. While I heard them on the radio, I didn’t own the earlier hits until the collection Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (MBBB).
The Top 10 are pretty solidly on the list, but some of the second 10 could probably be replaced by others. No live versions with one, probably predictable, exception.
18. Happy Jack – Happy Jack. I enjoy this from the intro. And the la-la’s.
17. The Kids Are Alright – MBBB. Must be the jangly guitar, and the harmonies, especially at the end.
16. Pinball Wizard -Tommy. I’m more impressed by this song after realizing that Pete Townsend added the pinball aspect at a late stage to please an early critic.
15. Magic Bus – Magic Bus: The Who On Tour. as much as anything, it’s the percussion that sells the song.
14. Sally Simpson -Tommy. Let’s face it; there aren’t always songs on Tommy, but a lot of pastiches. So that’s why I I liked this story-song. Also, loved Daltrey’s vocals on the last verse.
13. Pictures of Lily – Magic Bus. Nice harmonies, but my favorite part is the bridge.
12. I Can’t Explain -MBBB. “I think it’s love.”
11. Underture – Tommy. I used to, not exactly meditate, but reflect to this in the day.
10. Rael – The Who Sell Out. Very much suggesting what we’d hear in Tommy.
9. Boris the Spider – Happy Jack. How could I resist that chorus? “Creepy, crawly.”
8. Summertime Blues – Live At Leeds. A great, gritty live cut.
7. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Tommy. A great summation of the narrative. Still remember my father walking by and hearing, “We forsake you, gonna rape you, let’s forget you better still,” and surmised that he was thinking, “What IS that boy listening to?” Of course this segues into the See Me, Feel Me section.
6. Baba O’Riley – Who’s Next. That “teenage wasteland” song with the hypnotic beginning.
5. I’m Free – Tommy. I swear the whole first half of the first chorus is out of synch, with an extra drum fill, which gave it a bit extra enjoyment. “No one had the guts to leave the temple.”
4. Love Reign o’er Me – Quadrophenia. I actually got turned onto this again after hearing Bettye LaVette sing it to Daltrey and Townsend, surviving members of the band, at the Kennedy Center Honors a few years ago.
3. My Generation – MBBB. Well, he didn’t die before he got old. Love the stutter in lieu of the curse. “F=f-fade away.”
2. I Can See For Miles – The Who Sell Out. I could tell this was on the radio long before the vocals came up.
1. Won’t Get Fooled Again – Who’s Next. I had this boss who, back in the day when I could play music aloud in my office (before cubicleland), would wander in and listen; he LOVED that song. “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.”