Deep Album Cuts Vol. 50: The Who

For the 50th installment of this little series I started less than 3 years ago, I wanted to do something special. And naturally, my mind drifted towards a band that is currently between legs of a tour celebrating their 50th anniversary (although really they're 51 now and may be 52 by the time the tour is finished). Of course, the whole spirit of the series is to spotlight artists who are often dismissed as 'singles acts' and give consideration to albums that have not been critically canonized, and obviously that is not the case with The Who. But when you do this many playlists, there's room to mess around with the formula and cover whoever you feel like.

The Who Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Much Too Much
2. I Don't Mind
3. The Ox
4. Boris The Spider
5. A Quick One, While He's Away
6. So Sad About Us
7. Armenia City In The Sky
8. Odorono
9. Tattoo
10. The Acid Queen
11. Tommy Can You Hear Me?
12. My Wife
13. Getting In Tune
14. The Punk And The Godfather
15. Sea And Sand
16. In A Hand Or A Face
17. New Song
18. You
19. Cry If You Want
20. Mike Post Theme

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from My Generation (1965)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from A Quick One (1966)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 from The Who Sell Out (1967)
Tracks 10 and 11 from Tommy (1969)
Tracks 12 and 13 from Who's Next (1971)
Tracks 14 and 15 from Quadrophenia (1973)
Track 16 from The Who By Numbers (1975)
Track 17 from Who Are You (1978)
Track 18 from Face Dances (1981)
Track 19 from It's Hard (1982)
Track 20 from Endless Wire (2006)

It's a testament to how rich The Who's catalog is that this tracklist still kind of looks like a greatest hits, even though I avoided A-sides of singles and anything in classic rock radio rotation. A number of these songs are concert staples, or have been used memorably in television and film. And that's despite the fact that they never released albums as frequently as their contemporaries, even in the '60s -- they still don't have as many albums as The Beatles, despite being around for decades longer. Really, they were the first band to go away for 2 years at a time to formulate an ambitious concept album, which makes the abundance of songs that stand up by themselves all the more remarkable. I mean, the fact that "Odorono" was thrown together for the theme of The Who Sell Out and actually works as a song is amazing.

"A Quick One, While He's Away" is probably the greatest Who song, almost feels like cheating to include it, but it'd be silly not to, since it was never a single or radio hit. The live versions, particularly from "The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus" TV special and Live At Leeds, stomp all over the studio version, but the album recording is still pretty great on its own merits. And I mean, "Tattoo," "So Sad About Us," "Getting In Tune," you can put those up against any other band's very best.

It was fun to give myself a reason to listen to The Who, because lately I've just been going through a phase of Keith Moon worship as a drummer. I mean, I'm always in a state of Keith Moon worship. But lately I've had a good setup with cymbals and toms to really play in that style and this year I started a band that has the right sound to do some Moon-style fills. But the whole band is remarkable, it's hard to think of any other band where every member is one of the absolute best in their respective field and originated sounds and approaches that musicians still use every day.

Given that Pete Townshend wrote virtually all of The Who's most famous songs, it was fun to highlight some of the songs he didn't write. I put three of John Entwistle's tunes on here (the live favorites "Boris The Spider" and "My Wife" as well as the underrated "You," probably the hardest rocker of the post-Moon years). "Armenia City In The Sky" the only Who original not written by a member of the band, Speedy Keen (who went on to write Thunderclap Newman's Townshend-produced hit "Something In The Air"). And "I Don't Mind" is one of several James Brown covers in The Who's early repertoire that is just one of my favorite things the band ever recorded and one of the personal favorites I just had to choose over some more canonical originals. Keith Moon and Roger Daltrey also wrote here and there, including some nice songs on A Quick One, but I ran out of room for them.

Even with the undeniable diminishing returns of their later albums, it's still a lot of fun to dig into The Who's catalog and find gems, including "New Song," which kind of rages against the pitfalls of being an established band competing with its own history. "In A Hand Or A Face" was one that really jumped out at me for the first time putting this together. And "Mike Post Theme" is the song that for me justifies the existence of Endless Wire and makes me glad they gave it one more go. It's funny to think that they're doing their 'last' major tour now, 33 years after their first 'farewell tour' -- one of my favorite bands has been saying goodbye for literally my entire life. I'll probably never get to see them live at this point, but I'm good with the Moon-era live footage, and these records.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Mötley Crüe
« Home | Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »
| Next »

Post a Comment