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When I got into The Jam, I delved further into Paul Wellers influences and how he got into the whole Mod thing. I knew he was into The Beatles, as is evident by a lot of The Jams tracks especially 'Start!'. I read somewhere that he had listened to The Who 'My Generation' album and from then on, it influenced how he dressed to the musical direction that he wanted to take. I had searched for years for this album on CD and the closest I came to it was the American version; 'The Who Sings My Generation', slightly different to the British version, as they omitted 'I'm a Man' and they replaced it with 'Instant Party (Circles)'. This deluxe version of the album includes all the songs from both the American and English versions plus extra B-sides and bonus tracks a treasure trove for any fan of The Who.
==Who are The Who==
Rodger Daltrey - Vocals
Pete Townshend - Guitar
John Entwistle - Bass
Keith Moon - Drums
**What's in a name**
The Who were formed when in 1962, Rodger Daltrey who already had his own band, The Detours, met John Entwistle by chance. The two struck up a conversation and John agreed to join Rodgers band, along with his friend Pete Townshend. The band already had a drummer, he left the group unexpectedly in 1964 and the group used session drummers to fulfil their remaining gig obligations, while they searched for a permanent replacement. It was during one of these gigs that an impudent young boy came up to the band and said "I can play better than him!", so they gave him an audition which saw the boy literally smash up the poor session drummers drum kit...Keith Moon was invited to join and the line up was complete. It was not long after this that the band changed their name from The Detours to The Who. Under the guidance of their manager, Pete Meaden, The Who went through another name change, along with an identity change.
The Mod scene had been around for a few years prior to the bands formation, and Pete Meaden embraced the whole thing. He saw an audience for his band and encouraged them to change their name to The High Numbers, and wrote the bands first single 'Zoot Suit' backed with 'I'm The Face', it was a flop. Soon after this, the group met Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, who were looking for new up and coming bands to film, they paid Pete Meaden off and became The High Numbers managers, it wasn't before long, that The High Numbers reverted back to The Who; The name that they would remain with for the next 40 something years.
The band released 3 singles in 1965, before their album release ; 'I Can't Explain', which reached number 8 on the UK Singles Chart, 'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere', reached number 10 and the title track of their soon to be debut album, 'My Generation' reaching number 2. In December 1965 The Who released their debut album, it reached number 5 in the UK album charts and contained a mixture of cover versions and original compositions.
The album starts with Pete Townshend composition 'Out in the Street' a high tempo rhythm and blues number, with a similar intro to 'Anyway, Anyhow Anywhere', the song closes with a similar sounding outro. Daltrey sings through this track like he was born to sing the blues, Entwistles bass playing just chugs along and above all this you can hear Moon thrashing about on the drums desperate to be heard.
The next track is a cover of a James Brown song from 1961 'I Don't Mind', although Daltrey ain't no James Brown, he does make the song his own, and the tempo is speeded up, even though it is one of the slowest numbers on this album.
Another Townshend number up next, 'The Good's Gone'. Daltrey snarls through the lyrics as though he really means it, "I know when I've had enough, when I think your love is rough". This song has a lot of nice harmonies that only seem to really highlight Daltreys deep vocal. Moons drumbeat on this track just seems to carry it along, and it almost sounds like the lead instrument, in fact, you could probably take the bass and the guitar out of this track and it would still sound just as good.
After the depressing sound of 'The Good's Gone', we have a cheery poppy Townshend composition, 'La-La-La Lies'. The song is carried along by Moons drumming and session musician Nicky Hopkins on piano. Townshend was disappointed with this album as a whole because he wanted to replicate their stage sound, so I don't know where the piano came from. This song is quite cheesy but really catchy and it shows Daltrey as quite a versatile vocalist.
Much too much
Next up, we have the bands third single release and probably their best known song, the number 2 UK hit, 'My Generation', a song that sums up the whole Mod scene. Daltrey angrily stuttering through the lyric, Entwistles playing the bass like a lead instrument, Moon thrashing about the drums like a man possessed, and Townshend clanging away with his Rickenbacker like his life depended on it, it's almost like the whole band are competing with each other. Keep an ear out for Entwistles bass solo 55 seconds into the song, sublime! I never tire of hearing this track it is definitely THE strongest on the album.
'The Kids Are Alright', is up next, this was released as a single, but didn't fare well in the charts, reaching number 41. By the time this was released, The Who had jumped ship and were already releasing tracks on the Reaction record label. Despite this not being a big hit, it is a really good track and as such has made it onto countless greatest hits compilations by the band. The harmonies on this track would sit well next to any of the early singles by The Beatles.
'Please Please Please' is another cover of a James Brown standard, in my opinion, not a patch on the original and I would have thought replacing this with one of their pre-album singles would have been a better option.
'It's Not True' is another slice of pop written by Pete Townshend, the lyrics are a bit cheesy with the line "It's not true, so there". The song starts off quite jolly before Daltrey changes the tone in his voice for the middle part and goes back into jolly mode for the end.
This track proves that Daltrey really has what it takes to sing the blues, a cover of a track made famous by Bo Diddley; 'I'm a Man'. This song differs from the original by using feedback through it, and to be honest, it actually works really well. I think the track starts off well before descending into a jam session and that ruins it for me.
'A Legal Matter' is a song about teenage divorce and it was also released as a single, it reached number 31 in the UK Singles Charts. The reason for its low chart position was again down to The Who not promoting the track as they were releasing singles on the Reaction label. This single was released on 7th March 1966, while The Who had released 'Substitute' three days earlier. It is a nice little song and the intro is pretty cool, Pete Townshend lends his vocals to the track instead of Daltrey. I've never been sure about Townshends singing voice, although in later years he did take the lead on quite a few good songs, I couldn't imagine Daltrey singing this.
'The Ox' is an instrumental, listen out for Moons drumming, it just carries the song through, it seems like the energy he has is endless, well as it turns out, it was. This track seems like a jam session that they just decided to add onto the album and it makes use of a lot of feedback, a pretty new experimental thing at the time.
'Instant Party (Circles)' is a track that didn't appear on the original British album, it did appear on the American version however, and it was the B-side to 'Substitute'. It sounds a bit like the Beach Boys surf sound, I wouldn't be surprised if Keith Moon influenced the writing of this track, as he was a fan. In places the song seems psychedelic, way ahead of its time. This brings us to the end of both the British and American versions of the album, the tracks that follow are singles, B-sides, outtakes and rarities.
The bands first single as The Who, 'I Can't Explain' is up next. This track was written after Pete listened to The Kinks 'All Day and All of The Night' and thought "I could do something like that", the tune sounds so similar to The Kinks track musically. The song was released in January 1965, but they had to wait until April before it hit its highest chart position of number 8 in the UK singles chart. This is early Who/Mod at its best.
'Bald Headed Woman' is the B-side to 'I Can't Explain' and is notable by the lead guitar player on this track, it wasn't Pete Townshend, but none other than session musician extraordinaire...Jimmy Page (Yes he of Led Zeppelin fame). This was written by Shel Talmy, the bands producer, incidentally he had also produced The Kinks debut album a year earlier, where The Kinks also did a version of this song. Daltrey sings this track in a pseudo-American accent, and I am assuming it is him playing harmonica, not 100% sure on that.
'Daddy Rolling Stone' is the B-side to the bands second single, 'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere', it was written by Otis Blackwell (composer of such classics like 'Great Balls of Fire' and 'All Shook Up' amongst many others). Moons drumming on this track is excellent, he is the engine behind this, not only keeping time, but using the drums as more or less a lead instrument, I would love to hear an instrumental of this.
This disc starts with a Motown number written by prolific songwriters Holland, Dozier and Holland, 'Leaving Here' is a track that was performed by the band under their previous incarnation as The High Numbers. When I first heard this track I loved it, from the funky guitar rhythm, to the vocals, to Moons drumming, it is a nice fast paced track. I heard another version of this on 'The Who 30 Years Maximum R & B' (A great box set), the version here has a different more drawn out ending, after hearing both versions, I am at odds to which one I prefer, they are both equally as good.
'Lubie (Come Back Home)' another Shel Talmy number, it sounds more rhythm and blues than 'Bald Headed Woman' and it sits alongside the Motown and James Brown numbers very nicely. Daltreys vocal on this is very gruff and he sounds like a man much older than 21.
Another James Brown number, 'Shout and Shimmy', this was the B-side to 'My Generation'. The song sounds a little like Lulu's 1964 number 7 hit 'Shout' in places. I first heard this on a rarities album a few years ago, although it isn't the strongest song on this album it is nowhere near one of the weakest and it would have probably been better included on the actual 'My Generation' album than released as a B-side and ultimately resigned to a rarities CD.
Another Holland, Dozier, Holland composition up next with 'Heatwave'. I have heard so many different versions of this Motown song by different artists. The Who's follow up album, 'A Quick One' contained a version of this, and this one only differs slightly, at the beginning, with the lack of backing vocals, not really something I miss hearing. This version is just as good as any of the versions I have heard. The Supremes did a version of this, but that version seems to lack something that The Who's version doesn't ...the tempo is a lot faster on this version, that when I listen to the original there is just no contest, this version wins hands down.
'Motoring' is probably the worst out of all of these R n' B/Motown tracks in my opinion, it has a good rhythm to it, it sounds like an engine chugging along. I have nothing much to say on this track and it's probably best that I leave it for you to judge yourself.
'Anytime You Want Me' brings us to the last of the R n' B selection on this disc. This is a little known track written by Garnet Mimms, it sounds like something The Beatles could have recorded. If I was listening to this, without knowing the artist, I would never have guessed that it was The Who. It's quite a slow song full of harmonies, with the main instrument being played, a piano. Even though it isn't what I would call a classic Who track, I really enjoyed it, but then again I am a big fan of those harmonic Beatles songs from the early 60's.
Up next we have the bands 2nd single as The Who; a Townshend and Daltrey composition, 'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere', filled with lots of feedback, it really showcased The Who's stage sound at the time, albeit without the piano. This is one of my favourites from their early singles as it is an often forgotten track, it was released in May 1965 and reached number 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
'Instant party mixture' is a weird sort of track, it starts off sounding a bit like Shawaddywaddy before heading into a jam style 'Johnny B Goode' fade out. There are some comedy moments in it when the backing lyric doesn't have any relevance to the song whatsoever , in response to the main vocal" What makes grandpa do the Monster Mash? ", Keith Moon responds in a gruff voice "It's 'cause me pockets are full of Sausage 'n' Mash!". Do not get this track confused with 'Circles (Instant Party', the two songs are totally different, with this being the weaker version, full of Doo Wop " shoop-shoop shoop-sha-wadda-wadda".
'I Don't Mind' and 'The Good's Gone' full length versions are the next two tracks, not much difference between the original album tracks and these, apart from an extra 10 seconds added to 'I Don't Mind' and an extra 30 seconds added to 'The Good's Gone', that only a keen listener would be able to tell the difference. I think these were just added to make up the numbers.
For all the karaoke lovers out there, we have an instrumental version of 'My Generation', what a difference it makes listening to this track without the vocals. As much as I am not a fan of instrumentals, I love this one.
Next we have an a cappella version of 'Anytime You Want Me', What a beautiful version this is, you can really hear how good Daltreys voice really is, and the harmonies are really good too. This is my favourite track on this disc and is the song of the moment for me.
The album finishes with two mono mixes, ' A Legal Matter' and 'My Generation', both with guitar overdubs. You can definitely hear the difference when listening to them back to back with the stereo versions. They could have probably omitted these from this disc, mono does not compete with stereo at all, although you do hear the lead guitar more on 'My Generation'.
The Who went on from strength to strength after this album, releasing a number of singles (none of them got to number 1, they were so unfortunate). Later in their career they became more of an album band with the release of Pete Townshends rock opera 'Tommy', 'Who's Next', and 'Quadrophenia'. They became famous for their live stage act and were hailed as rock gods, and rightly so. Keith Moon sadly passed away after 14 years of excess in 1978, at the tender age of 32, living up to the line in 'My Generation', "I hope I die before I get old". John Entwistle passed away at the age of 57, from a heart attack brought on by the use of cocaine. Pete Townshend and Rodger Daltrey still record and tour to this day, as The Who and performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
All songs written by Townshend unless otherwise stated.
1) Out in the Street
2) I Don't Mind (Brown)
3) The Good's Gone
4) La-La-La Lies
5) Much Too Much
6) My Generation
7) The Kids Are Alright
8) Please Please Please (Brown, Terry)
9) It's Not True
10) I'm a Man (Bo Diddley)
11) A Legal Matter
12) The Ox (Townshend, Moon, Entwistle, Hopkins)
13) Instant Party (Circles)
14) I Can't Explain
15) Bald Headed Woman (Talmy)
16) Daddy Rolling Stone (Blackwell)
1) Leaving Here (Holland-Dozier-Holland)
2) Lubie (Come Back Home) (Talmy)
3) Shout and Shimmy (Brown)
4) (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (Holland-Dozier-Holland)
5) Motoring (Hunter, Jones, Stevenson)
6) Anytime You Want Me (Mimms)
7) Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (Townshend, Daltrey)
8) Instant Party Mixture
9) I Don't Mind
10) The Good's Gone
11) My Generation (Instrumental)
12) Anytime You Want Me (a cappella)
13) A Legal Matter (Mono with guitar overdub)
14) My Generation (Mono with guitar overdub)
There were two covers for the two different versions of the album; The British version showed the band standing next to some oil drums, looking up at the camera, John Entwistle has a Union Flag draped over his shoulders and stencil writing for the name of the band and the name of the album The American version has Big Ben in the background with the band looking straight at the camera. This version reverts back to the British album cover, which I feel is much better.
Quite expensive for a double CD, you can pick this album up for £22.86 from amazon.co.uk but for any fan of The Who, the price is definitely worth it.
Overall this special edition of the album is a great addition to my collection, due to the extra content on disc 2. I love the reworkings of the soul and R n' B classics here, and some of them, I feel, are better than the originals. The original album is not too bad, but compared to some of The Who's latter stuff it is one of their weakest. At a time when they were a four piece playing maximum R n' B, the introduction of the piano on some of the tracks they would have played during their live set at the time, kind of weakens it for me. This album, I would recommend purely to fans of the group and is certainly not a good place to start for anyone wishing to get into The Who, for that I would recommend 'The Ultimate Collection' or something similar. I give this album 4/5, and it only loses points for the piano, which I don't think adds anything to the songs at all. Granted there are a few weak numbers here, but the good songs more than make up for that.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Out In The Street
2 I Don't Mind
3 The Good's Gone
4 La La La Lies
5 Much Too Much
6 My Generation (Stereo)
7 The Kids Are Alright
8 Please, Please, Please
9 It's Not True
10 I'm A Man
11 A Legal Matter
12 The Ox
14 I Can't Explain
15 Bald Headed Woman
16 Daddy Rolling Stone
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Leaving Here
2 Lubie (Come Back Home)
3 Shout and Shimmy
4 (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave
6 Anytime You Want Me
7 Anyhow Anywhere Anyway
8 Instant Party Mixture
9 I Don't Mind
10 The Good's Gone
11 My Generation (Instr.)
12 Anytime You Want Me
13 A Legal Matter
14 My Generation (Mono)