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Rock - Released January 1, 1971 | Geffen

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 1971 | Geffen

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Geffen

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Rushed out in 1970 as a way to bide time as the Who toiled away on their follow-up to Tommy, Live at Leeds wasn't intended to be the definitive Who live album, and many collectors maintain that the band had better shows available on bootlegs. But those shows weren't easily available whereas Live at Leeds was, and even if this show may not have been the absolute best, it's so damn close to it that it would be impossible for anybody but aficionados to argue. Here, the Who sound vicious -- as heavy as Led Zeppelin but twice as volatile -- as they careen through early classics with the confidence of a band that had finally achieved acclaim but had yet to become preoccupied with making art. In that regard, this recording -- in its many different forms -- may have been perfectly timed in terms of capturing the band at a pivotal moment in its history. There is certainly no better record of how this band was a volcano of violence on-stage, teetering on the edge of chaos but never blowing apart. This was most true on the original LP, which was a trim six tracks, three of them covers ("Young Man Blues," "Summertime Blues," "Shakin' All Over") and three originals from the mid-'60s, two of those ("Substitute," "My Generation") vintage parts of their repertory and only "Magic Bus" representing anything resembling a recent original, with none bearing a trace of their mod roots. This was pure, distilled power, all the better for its brevity; throughout the '70s the album was seen as one of the gold standards in live rock & roll, and certainly it had a fury that no proper Who studio album achieved. It was also notable as one of the earliest legitimate albums to implicitly acknowledge -- and go head to head with -- the existence of bootleg LPs. Indeed, its very existence owed something to the efforts of Pete Townshend and company to stymie the bootleggers. The Who had made extensive recordings of performances along their 1969 tour, with the intention of preparing a live album from that material, but they recognized when it was over that none of them had the time or patience to go through the many dozens of hours of live performances in order to sort out what to use for the proposed album. According to one account, the band destroyed those tapes in a massive bonfire, so that none of the material would ever surface without permission. They then decided to go to the other extreme in preparing a live album, scheduling this concert at Leeds University and arranging the taping, determined to do enough that was worthwhile at the one show. As it turned out, even here they generated an embarrassment of riches -- the band did all of Tommy, as audiences of the time would have expected (and, indeed, demanded), but as the opera was already starting to feel like an albatross hanging around the collective neck of the band (and especially Townshend), they opted to leave out any part of their most famous work apart from a few instrumental strains in one of the jams. Instead, the original LP was limited to the six tracks named, and that was more than fine as far as anyone cared. And fans who bought the LP got a package of extra treats for their money. The album's plain brown sleeve was, itself, a nod and nudge to the bootleggers, resembling the packaging of such early underground LP classics as the Bob Dylan Great White Wonder set and the Rolling Stones concert bootleg Liver Than You'll Ever Be, from the latter group's 1969 tour -- and it was a sign of just how far the Who had come in just two years that they could possibly (and correctly) equate interest in their work as being on a par with Dylan and the Stones. But Live at Leeds' jacket was a fold-out sleeve with a pocket that contained a package of memorabilia associated with the band, including a really cool poster, copies of early contracts, etc. It was, along with Tommy, the first truly good job of packaging for this band ever to come from Decca Records; the label even chose to forgo the presence of its rainbow logo, carrying the bootleg pose to the plain label and handwritten song titles, and the note about not correcting the clicks and pops. At the time, you just bought this as a fan, but looking back 30 or 40 years on, those now seem to be quietly heady days for the band (and for fans who had supported them for years), finally seeing the music world and millions of listeners catch up. ~ Bruce Eder & Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | Polydor Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Much of Who's Next derives from Lifehouse, an ambitious sci-fi rock opera Pete Townshend abandoned after suffering a nervous breakdown, caused in part from working on the sequel to Tommy. There's no discernable theme behind these songs, yet this album is stronger than Tommy, falling just behind Who Sell Out as the finest record the Who ever cut. Townshend developed an infatuation with synthesizers during the recording of the album, and they're all over this album, adding texture where needed and amplifying the force, which is already at a fever pitch. Apart from Live at Leeds, the Who have never sounded as LOUD and unhinged as they do here, yet that's balanced by ballads, both lovely ("The Song Is Over") and scathing ("Behind Blue Eyes"). That's the key to Who's Next -- there's anger and sorrow, humor and regret, passion and tumult, all wrapped up in a blistering package where the rage is as affecting as the heartbreak. This is a retreat from the '60s, as Townshend declares the "Song Is Over," scorns the teenage wasteland, and bitterly declares that we "Won't Get Fooled Again." For all the sorrow and heartbreak that runs beneath the surface, this is an invigorating record, not just because Keith Moon runs rampant or because Roger Daltrey has never sung better or because John Entwistle spins out manic basslines that are as captivating as his "My Wife" is funny. This is invigorating because it has all of that, plus Townshend laying his soul bare in ways that are funny, painful, and utterly life-affirming. That is what the Who was about, not the rock operas, and that's why Who's Next is truer than Tommy or the abandoned Lifehouse. Those were art -- this, even with its pretensions, is rock & roll. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Geffen*

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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WHO

Rock - Released December 6, 2019 | Polydor Records

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Thirteen years after Endless Wire, the eminence grise Pete Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey are back together again with the simply named album Who. They are the only two surviving members of The Who; their eccentric drummer Keith Moon died from an overdose in 1978 and their bassist John Entwistle had a cardiac arrest in 2002. Townshend wrote the songs with the aim of inspiring Daltrey, with whom he doesn’t keep up much contact these days. Everything was composed in 2018 and written for his 70-year-old voice. Townshend says that the album is made up of “dark ballads, heavy rock stuff, experimental electronica, sampled stuff and Who-ish tunes that began with a guitar that goes yanga-dang”. Sure, it’s got The Who written all over it: a radiant rock energy, striking guitars and Daltrey at his finest. Though it is less experimental. While The Who have previously stood out for their mini-operas both short (Wire & Glass, A Quick One) and long (Tommy, Quadrophenia), this last work concentrates on eleven songs without trying to turn them into a cohesive whole. Townsend commented “there is no theme, no concept, no story, just a set of songs”. Despite their age, this album is a brilliantly vibrant patchwork and while it does not reach the poetic heights of Who’s Next, it has the merit of cementing Townshend’s genius. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Rock - Released May 23, 1969 | Geffen

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Rock - Released November 1, 1973 | Geffen* Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1965 | Geffen

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Rock - Released January 1, 1967 | Geffen

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Pop - Released January 1, 1990 | Geffen

Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy has the distinction of being the first in a long line of Who compilations. It also has the distinction of being the best. Part of the reason why it is so successful is that it has an actual purpose. Meaty was designed as a collection of the group's singles, many of which never appeared on albums. The Who recorded their share of great albums during the '60s, but condensing their highlights to just the singles is an electrifying experience. "The Kids Are Alright" follows "I Can't Explain," "I Can See for Miles" bleeds into "Pictures of Lily" and "My Generation," "Magic Bus" gives way to "Substitute" and "I'm a Boy" -- it's an extraordinary lineup, and each song builds on its predecessor's power. Since it was released prior to Who's Next, it contains none of the group's album rock hits, but that's for the best -- their '60s singles have a kinetic, frenzied power that the louder, harder AOR cuts simply couldn't touch. Also, there is such a distinct change in sound with Who's Next that the two eras don't quite sound right on one greatest-hits collection, as My Generation and Who's Better, Who's Best proved. By concentrating on the early years -- when the Who were fresh and Pete Townshend was developing his own songwriting identity -- Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is musically unified and incredibly powerful. This is what the Who sounded like when they were a great band. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Geffen

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The Who by Numbers functions as Pete Townshend's confessional singer/songwriter album, as he chronicles his problems with alcohol ("However Much I Booze"), women ("Dreaming From the Waist" and "They Are All in Love"), and life in general. However, his introspective musings are rendered ineffective by Roger Daltrey's bluster and the cloying, lightweight filler of "Squeeze Box." In addition, Townshend's songs tend to be underdeveloped, relying on verbosity instead of melodicism, with only the simple power of "Slip Kid," the grace of "Blue Red and Grey," and John Entwistle's heavy rocker "Success Story" making much of an impact. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 27, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released September 4, 1982 | Geffen

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Driven by Pete Townshend's arching musical ambitions, It's Hard was an undistinguished final effort from the Who. Featuring layers of synthesizers and long-winded, twisting song structures, the album featured few memorable melodies and little energy, with only the anthemic "Athena" and the terse "Eminence Front" making a lasting impression. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 27, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released August 18, 1978 | Geffen

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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | Geffen

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Rock - Released January 1, 1981 | Geffen

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Rock - Released June 10, 2014 | UME Direct

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Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Geffen

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The Who in the magazine
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