Who's Next


I picked this up at the Half-Price Books in Mentor, Ohio for $6.99 (minus my 10% teacher discount) this past September when the Princess and I were on the way back from the Geneva Grape JAMboree.  They had two editions available: this and a newer remastered version with additional tracks.  But I generally hate post-2000 remasters (the loudness war ushered in by the mp3 era makes things sound worse, not better) so I went with the older copy.  I was kind of surprised I didn’t own this already, as I do consider myself a fan of the Who, but then I realized that the only Who albums I actually own are “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy” and “Tommy”, both of which I picked up in college.  I just thought I owned a lot of Who albums because I know a lot of Who songs.  And the reason I know a lot of Who songs is because I listen to a lot of Pearl Jam.

In fact, it was Edward Louis Severson III who introduced me to the Who back in the early 90s.  Edward credits the Who’s “Quadrophenia” with having changed and possibly saved his life when he was a teenager.  Because of this, Edward would often cover Who songs during Pearl Jam concerts, especially “Baba O’Riley” and “The Kids Are Alright”.  Actually, I was lucky enough to hear PJ play “Baba O’Riley” twice live…the first time at Blossom Music Center on August 26th, 1998 and the second time in Cincinnati on June 24th, 2006.  Both times I was with Lord Bacchus (who is still the biggest PJ fan I know), but the first time was especially memorable because he was on crutches after breaking his leg in three places during an intense game of tackle basketball with Black Cloud.  We drove up from Columbus in the Blue Lagoon, and somehow I had a ticket to the show (lawn seat) but he didn’t.  So I went on a mission to scalp a ticket for him while he waited in the car, and when I came back with his ticket he had already bought one. So then I went on another mission to sell the extra seat (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t hard…the concert was beyond sold out as it was the first time they had played in Ohio since their war with Ticketmaster).  However, there had been quite a bit of rain that week, and the lawn at Blossom was more like a mud pit, which made it really difficult for Lord Bacchus to stand on his crutches for the entire show.  But like a true disciple of Pearl Jam (again, Eddie admitted it was a religion here in Cbus) he soldiered through without a single complaint.  I did feel bad for him when the rubber tip of his crutch fell off in the mud in front of a port-o-potty though…that was pretty gross.

So yeah, I’ve known the song “Baba O’Riley” for a long time, as well as the other two big songs from this album “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (featured in the original Rock Band) and “Behind Blue Eyes”.  I really wasn’t familiar with the rest of the songs on this album, and honestly, most of them are pretty average at best.  But the Big 3 are amazing enough to carry this album and make it memorable.  Actually, sometimes I think the Who sort of get lost in the shuffle of all the great British rock bands from the 60s and 70s, but they truly were one of the most creative and they were definitely light years ahead of most of their American hard rock contemporaries.  Being the primary songwriter, Pete Townshend deservedly gets most of the credit for their sound, but truthfully, Roger Daltrey’s voice is pure rock and roll and I can’t imagine the Who with any other singer.

Other lists: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is #134 and “Baba O’Riley” is #349 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  The Who is #29 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists, Roger Daltrey is #61 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers (under-rated in my opinion), and Pete Townshend is #10 on the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.

My favourite track: “Baba O’Riley”

Honourable mention: “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

Quote 1: “I don’t need to fight to prove I’m right”

Quote 2: “Meet the new boss…same as the old boss”