Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Story of the Who - The Who

The Story of the Who
The Who
Polydor 2683 069

This was the first Who album I ever bought.  When I got into record collecting, I thought of the Who as a 1970s hard rock band.  At the time they were one of the biggest bands in the world.  I only knew them from "Baba O'Riley" which I had on my "Get It Together" comp.  I liked that song a lot but I was into the 1960s and not knowing much about rock history aside from what I heard on the radio, I didn't really think of them as a 1960s band.  I was listening to oldies stations by then, but they were not playing the Who.  Then one evening I was riding in the car with my Dad passing through Sacramento on our way home from a long road trip and I heard the opening to "I Can See For Miles."  I was half asleep but I instantly woke up, the thunderclaps of Keith Moon's drums and the stinging licks of Pete Townshend's guitar got my heart pounding.  It was such an exciting song, it had the exact sound that I was looking for.  When it was over, I could not wait to hear it again.  I knew what I would be looking for next time I went to the record store.  I found it on this album and bought it, but I have no idea why I bought this pricey import rather than "Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy" except that I probably didn't realize that the latter was also a compilation album.  I also didn't realize that there was a rather large problem with this double record set, namely you cannot tell the story of the Who without including "I Can't Explain," "The Kids are Alright," "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" or the original version of "My Generation" (this record substitutes an abridged version of the one from "Live at Leeds.")  In fact there is nothing from the "My Generation" album at all.  I can only assume that some licensing issue or copyright dispute prevented this, but still the absence of this music makes this record pointless.  Instead you get such marginal stuff as "Run, Run, Run" and their useless cover of "Heat Wave", a bunch of stuff from "Who's Next" and an album side devoted to "Tommy" that features more marginal stuff like "Fiddle About" and "Tommy's Holiday Camp" which were presumably included to give some songwriting revenues to John Entwistle and Keith Moon.  Yet there is nothing from "Quadrophenia" because according to the liner notes, the band felt it was inappropriate to isolate individual cuts from the whole of the album.  Nonsense, "5:15" or "Love, Reign O'er Me" could just as easily stand by themselves as any of the stuff from "Tommy" and they were actually released as singles.  In their place we get some cuts from "The Who By Numbers" which is a pretty dubious exchange.  It doesn't even bother to include the hit single "Join Together" which at least would have made it a little useful.  On the plus side it does have a short booklet outlining the history of the band with some funny pictures.  I like the cover art too.  Basically though this record is a failure.  My copy doesn't even sound all that good.  I've had all sorts of bad luck with Polydor imports from the 1970s, they must have had the worst pressing plant in the U. K. judging from the surface noise I've heard on their records.  In short I'm not sure who I could possibly recommend this to.  There are so many Who comps out there, I'm sure any of them would be better than this.  I guess if you hate Mods and their music but are still interested in the Who for some reason, I would recommend this comp to you.

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