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The Who - Maximum As & Bs

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Maximum As & Bs

The Who

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Given the sheer number of Who compilations over the years -- including The Who Hits 50!, a career-capping retrospective that appeared just three years prior to this 2017 box -- it may be easy to cast a cynical eye upon Maximum A's & B's, which it doesn't deserve. For one, there hasn't been a large-scale Who box set since 1994's Thirty Years of Maximum R&B -- most of the comps have been simple hits collections -- and, secondly, the Who benefit from having attention being drawn to their singles. At the dawn of their career, the Who mastered 7" blasts of pop art and even when Pete Townshend toiled over rock operas, he couldn't resist the pull of a 45, releasing non-LP singles as late as 1972 and hiding excellent songs on B-sides along the way. The Who continued to release singles over three-plus decades, using them as calling cards for reunions or samplers of latter-day live albums, and Maximum A's & B's collects them all, give or take a couple of variations in international markets. Its very comprehensiveness can be something of an Achilles Heel, particularly in the late '80s and '90s when the group were cranking out singles from fine but forgettable live albums, but putting the flops and B-sides alongside the weary warhorses winds up reviving the entirety of the Who's catalog. These oddities provide a bracing jolt of context: when they were Mods, they were grooving with the "Batman" theme -- later revived by the Jam in this arrangement -- saluted the Stones once Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were imprisoned, and invented Brit-pop with the flop "Dogs." After Tommy, some of Townshend's best songs found no room on albums -- "The Seeker," "Don't Know Myself," "Let's See Action," "Join Together," and "The Relay" never found a home -- as did a performance as phenomenal as a live 1972 B-side "Baby Don't You Do It," which has never been reissued prior to this collection. But perhaps the real revelation of Maximum A's & B's is how the 21st century reunion wound up producing bittersweet tunes that serve as an effective elegiac coda to their career. Usually, this latter-day material seems like an afterthought, but thanks to the weight of this box, it's given its proper space and helps illustrate just how remarkable the entirety of the Who's career is.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Maximum As & Bs

The Who

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1
Zoot Suit
The High Numbers
00:02:00

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - The High Numbers, MainArtist - Peter Meaden, Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1964 Mercury Records Limited

2
I'm The Face
The High Numbers
00:02:33

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - The High Numbers, MainArtist - Peter Meaden, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Chris Parmeinter, Producer

℗ 1964 Mercury Records Limited

3
I Can't Explain Mono Version
The Who
00:02:04

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer - The Ivy League, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1965 Geffen Records

4
Bald Headed Woman Mono Version
The Who
00:02:09

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer - Sheldon Talmy, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

5
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere Mono Version
The Who
00:02:42

Nicky Hopkins, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Geffen Records

6
Daddy Rolling Stone Mono Version
The Who
00:02:49

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Otis Blackwell, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1994 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

7
My Generation Mono Version
The Who
00:03:18

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Shout And Shimmy
The Who
00:03:17

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES BROWN, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

9
Circles Revised Mono Version
The Who
00:03:12

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

10
Instant Party Mixture Mono Version
The Who
00:03:28

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - GLYN JOHNS, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

11
A Legal Matter Mono Version
The Who
00:02:49

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Geffen Records

12
The Kids Are Alright Mono Version
The Who
00:03:06

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

13
The Ox Mono Version
The Who
00:03:49

Nicky Hopkins, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

14
La-La-La-Lies Mono Version
The Who
00:02:15

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

15
The Good's Gone Mono Version
The Who
00:04:01

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

DISC 2

1
Substitute Single Version
The Who
00:03:47

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1966 Geffen Records

2
Circles Revised Second Mono Version
The Who
00:02:30

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

3
Waltz For A Pig
The Graham Bond Organisation
00:02:25

Dick Heckstall-Smith, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Jon Hiseman, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Ginger Baker, ComposerLyricist - The Graham Bond Organisation, MainArtist - Graham Bond, Producer, Organ, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Falana, Trumpet, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

4
I'm A Boy Mono Version
The Who
00:02:41

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

5
In The City Mono Version
The Who
00:02:23

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

6
Disguises Mono Version
The Who
00:03:13

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

7
Batman Mono Version
The Who
00:01:25

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Neal Hefti, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

8
Bucket T Mono Version
The Who
00:02:10

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Christian, ComposerLyricist - Donald J. Altfeld, ComposerLyricist - Jan Berry, ComposerLyricist - Dean Torrence, ComposerLyricist - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

9
Barbara Ann Mono Version
The Who
00:02:01

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Fred Fassert, ComposerLyricist - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

10
Happy Jack Single Version
The Who
00:02:11

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Geffen Records

11
I've Been Away Mono Version
The Who
00:02:09

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1966 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

12
Pictures Of Lily
The Who
00:02:45

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Chris Stamp, Producer

℗ 1967 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

13
Doctor, Doctor Mono Version
The Who
00:03:01

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1967 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

14
The Last Time
The Who
00:02:51

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - KEITH RICHARDS, ComposerLyricist - MICK JAGGER, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1987 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

15
Under My Thumb
The Who
00:02:38

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - KEITH RICHARDS, ComposerLyricist - MICK JAGGER, ComposerLyricist - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Producer, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Peter Meaden, Producer - Chris Parmeinter, Producer

℗ 1965 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

16
I Can See For Miles Mono Version
The Who
00:04:04

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1967 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

17
Someone's Coming
The Who
00:02:31

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1967 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

18
Dogs
The Who
00:03:06

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1968 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

19
Call Me Lightning
The Who
00:02:25

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1968 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

20
Magic Bus Edit Mono Version
The Who
00:03:19

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1968 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

21
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
The Who
00:02:36

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1968 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

DISC 3

1
Pinball Wizard
The Who
00:03:01

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Damon Lyon-Shaw, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Stamp, Producer, Executive Producer

℗ 1969 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

2
Dogs Part Two
The Who
00:02:27

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 2003 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

3
The Seeker Edit
The Who
00:03:13

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, Additional Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Shel Talmy, Producer

℗ 1970 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

4
Here For More
The Who
00:02:26

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1970 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

5
Summertime Blues Live
The Who
00:03:24

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Guitar, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Eddie Cochran, ComposerLyricist - Jerry Capehart, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1970 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

6
Heaven And Hell Mono Version
The Who
00:03:34

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Chris Stamp, Producer

℗ 1970 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

7
See Me, Feel Me Single Version
The Who
00:03:38

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer

℗ 1970 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

8
Overture
The Who
00:04:00

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Damon Lyon-Shaw, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Stamp, Producer, Executive Producer

℗ 1969 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

9
Christmas Edit
The Who
00:01:56

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Damon Lyon-Shaw, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Stamp, Producer, Executive Producer

℗ 1969 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

10
I'm Free
The Who
00:02:41

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Kit Lambert, Producer - Damon Lyon-Shaw, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Stamp, Producer, Executive Producer

℗ 1969 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

11
Won't Get Fooled Again Single Version
The Who
00:03:38

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - GLYN JOHNS, Producer

℗ 1971 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

12
Don't Know Myself
The Who
00:05:01

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - GLYN JOHNS, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1971 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

13
Let's See Action
The Who
00:03:58

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - GLYN JOHNS, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1971 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

14
When I Was A Boy
The Who
00:03:29

John Entwistle, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Moon, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Who, Producer, MainArtist - Pete Townshend, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roger Daltrey, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - GLYN JOHNS, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1971 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

Albumbeschreibung

Given the sheer number of Who compilations over the years -- including The Who Hits 50!, a career-capping retrospective that appeared just three years prior to this 2017 box -- it may be easy to cast a cynical eye upon Maximum A's & B's, which it doesn't deserve. For one, there hasn't been a large-scale Who box set since 1994's Thirty Years of Maximum R&B -- most of the comps have been simple hits collections -- and, secondly, the Who benefit from having attention being drawn to their singles. At the dawn of their career, the Who mastered 7" blasts of pop art and even when Pete Townshend toiled over rock operas, he couldn't resist the pull of a 45, releasing non-LP singles as late as 1972 and hiding excellent songs on B-sides along the way. The Who continued to release singles over three-plus decades, using them as calling cards for reunions or samplers of latter-day live albums, and Maximum A's & B's collects them all, give or take a couple of variations in international markets. Its very comprehensiveness can be something of an Achilles Heel, particularly in the late '80s and '90s when the group were cranking out singles from fine but forgettable live albums, but putting the flops and B-sides alongside the weary warhorses winds up reviving the entirety of the Who's catalog. These oddities provide a bracing jolt of context: when they were Mods, they were grooving with the "Batman" theme -- later revived by the Jam in this arrangement -- saluted the Stones once Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were imprisoned, and invented Brit-pop with the flop "Dogs." After Tommy, some of Townshend's best songs found no room on albums -- "The Seeker," "Don't Know Myself," "Let's See Action," "Join Together," and "The Relay" never found a home -- as did a performance as phenomenal as a live 1972 B-side "Baby Don't You Do It," which has never been reissued prior to this collection. But perhaps the real revelation of Maximum A's & B's is how the 21st century reunion wound up producing bittersweet tunes that serve as an effective elegiac coda to their career. Usually, this latter-day material seems like an afterthought, but thanks to the weight of this box, it's given its proper space and helps illustrate just how remarkable the entirety of the Who's career is.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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