The Who – Sings My Generation

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 1)

The Who are a difficult band for me. They went through so many changes, and I am pretty sure they have had more “final” tours than albums at this point. I really only like very early Who – when they were in their power-pop period, before Pete Townsend decided to write concept albums, and before they became a hard rock band. Ketih Moon’s loose, boomy drumming is a lot of fun.

What I Think of This Album

This is the American version of the debut, hence the silly “Sings” in the title. Other differences are a bit of resequencing on side 2 and the swapping of “Instant Party (Circles)” in place of a cover of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,” and worst of all, using the single edit of “The Kids Are Alright.” If you eliminate the covers and the R&B pastiches, you are left with some decent early power-pop songs, two undeniable classics, one mostly interesting instrumental, and a fascinating experiment, and maybe a couple of other okay songs. It’s a bit uneven, but there is enough there to justify owning.

Moon’s drums and guest Nicky Hopkins’s (Stones, Kinks, Beatles) piano introduce and ultimately dominate the pretty “La La La Lies,” which admittedly has a noticeable Beatles influence; the tom-heavy approach is the right way to go, as far as I am concerned. “Much Too Much” is a bit drawly (Roger Daltrey was always the weak point in this band, mostly for being annoying), and nothing special but not bad either. Obviously, “My Generation” is a milestone – the bass is menacing, the lyrics are defiant and angry, Daltrey’s stutter is flawlessly employed, and there is a guitar solo, a bass solo, and a drum solo. The handclaps are sassy as shit.

Power-pop is elevated by the harmony-filled, chiming “The Kids Are Alright,” a watershed in the genre. The melody is great, the vocals are wonderful, and Moon’s drumming is phenomenal; the guitar chord at the intro still send a chill down my spine. “It’s Not True” betrays a country influence, even as it gets a little gritty and harder as it develops; the piano again is a nice touch. Instrumental “The Ox” is really all about Moon’s frantic drumming and Hopkins’s mile-a-minute fingerwork; it does go on a bit. Townsend sings lead on “A Legal Matter,” which again benefits from Hopkins’s piano work, and I like the clean two-note riff. “Instant Party (Circles)” has a bizarre history and an even more compelling sound. This is sort of power-pop mixed with art rock (Bassist John Entwistle plays trumpet on it). “The Good’s Gone” is distressingly repetitive but there is some nice guitar chording in there.

The Best Thing About This Album

“The Kids Are Alright” is one of their best songs.

Release Date

December 1965 (UK); April 1966 (US)

The Cover Art

I am pretty sure this sort of portraiture was standard back then. I guess Big Ben is interesting.

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