The Who – The Collection Vol.1

The Who are one of the great British bands, having come to prominence in the mid 60 and after the odd break here and there, they have continued to release new music up until the modern day. This month, I am posting a series of Who playlists that I have put together which looks at their career from 1965 to 1968. The songs here are when they went out as The Who and I did not include any of the bands recordings when they were The High Numbers as these did not fit in with the rest of the compilation, sound wise. 

The first CD cover the band in earliest incarnation as an R&B covers band and even though the band recorded enough cover versions to fill an album, these were mostly rejected in favour of material written by guitar player Pete Townshend. Even though this early period of The Who would give rise to such classics as ‘Substitute’ and ‘My Generation’, I found when putting this together that the bands covers neatly fitted into the overall sound that they had. When I normally put compilations like this together I tend to ignore covers and stick to their original material. If I had done this with The Who, this first CD would have been a bit short. 

CD 2 focuses on their next two LPs (‘A Quick One’ and ‘The Who Sell Out’), one EP (‘Ready Steady Who), and assorted singles. Townshend continued to produce a number of classic songs during this period but as this was era of the single, when it came to recording ‘A Quick One’, he didn’t have enough material to fill the record. ‘A Quick One’ is a curious beast as it is the most democratic of all Who albums in terms of songwriting credits. Either to secure a publishing deal for each member of the band, or as part of the marketing push to promote it, each member of the band were tasked with supplying at least two songs. Daltrey only managed one, so a cover of ‘Heat Wave’ was included to fill the gap. Townshend supplied what he would later call a min-opera in the form of ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’. Made up of six songs he had not finished, the song made up a cohesive narrative of a women who’s love has been away for over a year, so she had a fling with Ivor the Engine Driver. When the original lover comes back, she reveals her transgression and all is forgiven. 

Apart from Heat Wave, the second CD shows The Who evolving away from the R&B band of the first CD and into something else. It is a bit hard to say what because in the era when everyone else seemed to be going all psychedelic, The Who did not really embrace that genre. Granted, on ‘The Who Sell Out’ there are two bonafide psych classics in ‘Armenia, City In The Sky’ and ‘I Can See For Miles’.  These two songs do not make the cut here as they did not fit into the sound of this compilation; well, to my ears anyway. ‘The Who Sell Out’ could be argued to be one of the first concept albums as it was designed to celebrate the culture of Pirate Radio, so the album was mixed with jingles and fake adverts. They recorded so much material for that album that when an expanded addition of this album was released in the mid 1990s, the compilers were able to continue the fake radio concept through out the entire CD. 

‘The Who Sell Out’ also revealed a more mellow side to Townshend with the inclusion of the beautiful ‘Sunrise’ and the almost psychedelic ‘Relax’. It is also the album with the most humour, with the bands self written adverts showing a side of the band that would rarely come to the fore after this. There was even room for a mini opera in the form of ‘Real’ and the at the time unreleased ‘Glow Girl’ gave hints as to what was coming with ‘Tommy. What these two CDs highlight is how quickly the band changed their sound and how bit by bit, the pieces for what was coming next were being put into place. 

Disc 1

  1. Out In The Street
  2. Daddy Rolling Stone
  3. Leaving Here
  4. Baby Don’t You Do It (Mono Acetate Version)
  5. Lubie (Come Back Home)
  6. Just You & Me, Darling (BBC Session Saturday Club 29/05/1965)
  7. Good Lovin’ (BBC Session Saturday Club 29/05/1965)
  8. Shout & Shimmy
  9. Instant Party mix
  10. I Can’t Explain
  11. Much Too Much
  12. The Ox
  13. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (Mono)
  14. My Generation (Monaural Version w/ Guitar Overdubs)
  15. Substitute (Mono)
  16. The Kids Are Alright
  17. A Legal Matter (Monaural Version w/ Guitar Overdubs)
  18. I Don’t Mind (Full Length Version)
  19. Circles
  20. Anytime You Want Me
  21. The Good’s Gone (Full Length Version)

Disc 2

  1. Run Run Run
  2. Happy Jack
  3. Boris The Spider
  4. I’m A Boy
  5. Disguises
  6. So Sad About Us
  7. Don’t Look Away
  8. I Can’t Reach You
  9. Melancholia
  10. Jaguar
  11. Tattoo
  12. Our Love Was
  13. Sunrise
  14. Relax
  15. Magic Bus
  16. Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand
  17. Pictures Of Lily
  18. Doctor, Doctor
  19. Call Me Lightning
  20. I’ve Been Away
  21. A Quick One, While He’s Away

The cover is adapted from a band posters used to advertise some of their earliest gigs. 

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