The Who - Greatest Hits & More
Back in the day it was de rigueur to be a part of a tribe; bands were required to fall into line and play the game, unless of course, your band was The Who. The Small Faces were mods, the Pistols were punks and Led Zep were metal – you knew where you were with them, but, no matter what your tribal allegiance, The Who always found a natural home in your record collection. Sure they were LOUD, but they had the classic songs to underpin that. They may have been dangerous and debauched but, gawd bless ‘em, they always wore a nice sharp whistle.
No wonder then that they remain one of the biggest names in the world and have been invited to follow in the footsteps of The Boss as the half time entertainment at the 2010 Superbowl. This gives the boys the opportunity to do the two things they do best, play live and release compilation albums. Yes, it seems that barely a year passes during which the Who don’t release at least one collection of their hits and Greatest Hits & More does exactly what it says on the tin, with the more element comprising a comprehensive collection of classic live renditions culled from throughout the decades from places as diverse as San Francisco, The Albert Hall and, er, Swansea. The studio versions are immense but it is on stage that Townsend comes into his own, not so much playing that iconic Stratocaster as taming it as one might a ferocious wild beast before battering it into submission in a hurricane of feedback and splinters. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Townsend’s chaotic aural assault was made possible by the power and precision of a now sadly departed rhythm section, featuring the dependable ‘Ox’ on bass and the unpredictable genius of Keith Moon on the skins, and nowhere is that fact better underlined than in these brief but illuminating live tracks.
The days of destructive excess are in the past however and, while they remain a powerful live act, these days Pete and Roger are probably most widely recognizable for their role in providing theme tunes for CSI, both of which, from the mighty, burbling intro to ‘Baba O’Riley’ to the thunderous sprawl of 'Who Are You', are included here. The lynchpin of a Who hits album rmains, as ever, the heartbursting, rebellious rush of ‘My Generation’, featuring surely the best bass riff in the history of music which sounds as vital now as it did back in the days when they really could have died before they were old. ‘Substitute’ remains a peerless mod classic which even a sneering Johnny Rotten failed to tame in his nascent Pistols days and who can honestly resist pulling on their best dancing shoes upon hearing the chiming chords of ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘The Kids Are Alright’?
If you don’t already own these songs then you need to sort your life out and grab a copy of this collection but if, like me, you already have a couple of Who compilations secreted about the house then you need to get on your knees and pray that you don’t get fooled again.