“Who are you? Who who? Who who?”
We’ve all heard it on the radio, at sporting events and on “CSI.”
With “The Who Hits 50!,” that question is answered, providing the listener with a collection that spans the band’s entire career, even before they were known as The Who.
The album comes in a standard edition, featuring 21 songs, and a deluxe edition, featuring 42 songs.
Though both feature most of the band’s biggest hits, the standard edition sticks mostly to the band’s earlier material, oddly leaving out major hits such as “Behind Blue Eyes,” “See Me, Feel Me” and “You Better You Bet.”
Hardcore fans of The Who will be pleased to see that “Zoot Suit,” recorded when the band was known as The High Numbers, is on this album.
For the band’s earliest hits, such as “I Can’t Explain” and “My Generation,” this album features the original mono recordings, as opposed to digital remasters.
The songs chosen for this album create a sticky situation. On one hand, this album includes several lesser-known songs from the band’s catalogue. On the other hand, it includes these at the expense of songs that helped shape the band, such as “The Real Me” from the band’s groundbreaking rock opera album, “Quadrophenia.”
On both the standard and deluxe editions, you’ll find a new song — “Be Lucky” — that was the band’s first studio effort since 2006’s “Endless Wire.”
The band now features both living, founding members, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, along with new band members, including Townshend’s brother, Simon. Original bass player, John Entwistle, and original drummer, Keith Moon, are now both deceased.
The song sounds like a strange mix between The Who and a 1980s one-hit-wonder band. The verses are heavy, as they should be, but the chorus lacks the power that The Who is known for.
Granted, much of that power came from the intense playing style of all four original members; however, Daltrey and Townshend have always been the masterminds behind the music, especially Townshend.
My only question is why can’t Daltrey and Townshend bring the same power to The Who that they’ve had in the individual solo projects over the years?
Just a few years ago, I had the privilege of seeing Daltrey’s solo band live. Daltrey performed a couple of new songs that were much stronger than what’s heard on this album.
So, with “The Who Hits 50!” possibly being the band’s final release, as they embark on what its calling “The Long Farewell,” one thing remains certain: This band, regardless of the strength of its current material, has had an incredible, influential body of work that will stand the test of time.
“The Who Hits 50!” is available in stores and online. For more information, visit www.thewho.com