People try to put us down....
Released on 3 December 1965
Running time 36.13
By the time of this, The Who's debut album, both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had released a fair amount of material and bands like The Yardbirds, The Kinks and The Animals from the British blues explosion were doing the same, so The Who were just a tiny bit late on the scene. However, that didn't matter when one hears this stunning first offering. It was definitely the hardest rocking initial album from any of the bands at the time - full of Keith Moon's precocious and ebullient drums, Pete Townshend's pre-Hendrix feedback-drenched cutting guitar sound, John Entwistle's huge, deep bass sound and Roger Daltrey's strong, bluesy vocal.
Yes, there were definite Beatles influences in the vocal harmonies and chorus hooks, but what made The Who unique were Keith Moon's irrepressible drum rolls and, of course, Pete Townshend's knife through butter guitar. Also, nine of the twelve tracks were Townshend songs, whereas many of the other bands at the time released debut albums full of covers, The Beatles and The Stones included.
1. Out In The Street
2. I Don't Mind
3. The Good's Gone
4. La-La-La-La Lies
5. Much Too Much
6. My Generation
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
Out In The Street has a staccato, Bo Diddley-style fast bluesy shuffling rhythm. It introduced, briefly, Pete Townshend's feedback guitar break. I Don't Mind is a slow, rock 'n' roll influenced ballad but with that bluesy style that The Who made their own on this album. It was originally done by James Brown, hence the r 'n' b feel to it. The Good's Gone is a mysterious-sounding Townshend original, featuring a deep, sonorous vocal from Roger Daltrey. There is a bit of that freakbeat vibe about it. Once more that guitar sound is used again, particularly at the end. The Jam would use similar riffs twelve or thirteen years later on tracks like In The Crowd and Time For Truth.
La-La-La la Lies is a poppy piece of r 'n' b but with a dark, cynical lyric that would have suited the character of Jimmy in Quadrophenia. Girls always let you down, don't they? The lyric is quite Lennon-esque too. Much Too Much is a catchy upbeat number that finds Keith Moon's powerhouse drumming beginning to make itself known. Once again, the young Roger Daltrey's voice is surprisingly much deeper here than it became in later years. He is trying to be more "soul" than "rock".
Then there is the huge, iconic hit My Generation - a frantic, energetic call to arms for the young to tell everyone to stick it. It was punk eleven years early. I can't listen to this since 1979 without thinking of the "party" scene in the film Quadrophenia. Mods jumping up and down, lads singing the song together like punks. My generation indeed. Oh, and there is John Entwistle's killer bass line.
The Who go all Beatles in the harmonies of The Kids Are Alright but it is far harder and punchy than The Beatles with great drums, guitar and bass giving it a more edgy, raw feel. Keith Moon's drumming was sensational and the whole band's vibrant interplay on the instrumental breaks is outstanding.
The band's other James Brown cover was the the soul/blues of Please Please Please, with Roger Daltrey doing his best Brown impersonation. The track has a great bit of blues guitar from Townshend and fits right in with the British blues boom of 1964-1966. It's Not True is a lively number with some amusing lyrics. Some of the guitar/drum breaks are sensational, easily up there with The Beatles and The Stones.
Bo Diddley's solid, muscular blues of I'm A Man is done next and done credibly with an impressive gruff blues vocal from Daltrey. Townshend's runs on the guitar give the track something else. This was strong stuff for the time. Moon's drumming is leading the way too. A Legal Matter gives probably the first sign to the sort of material that The Who would produce over the subsequent three years or so. Townshend's lyrics were wry for one so young. The Ox was a really impressive, pulsating instrumental to end with, featuring more superb drumming.
Onwards and upwards for The Who after this excellent arrival on the scene. They were going to be something special.