Series – Greatest Hits: The Who

UPDATE: I got this disc for $2, in pristine shape. I consider this a rescue.

Writing this up doesn’t even feel fair. I mean, I am built to love this disc. I’ve heard the Who’s songs for so long (haven’t we all), they’re so ingrained in our culture and in rock music as to be inseparable and indelible.

Still, in playing this disc now, I am reminded of two things, predominantly: 1) the Who wrote really freaking incredible songs, and 2) Robert Pollard totally nicked the vocal delivery (he’s a noted Who fan). Good on ya, Bob!

The track list here is nigh on impeccable:

Substitute / The Seeker / Magic Bus / My Generation / Pinball Wizard / Happy Jack / Won’t Get Fooled Again / My Wife / Squeeze Box / The Relay / 5:15 / Love Reign O’er Me / Who Are You.

You’ll notice I didn’t even have to comment on any of these songs. You knew them all, right? Right.

But there are glaring omissions here. I mean, first and foremost, Baba O’Riley. Seriously, what. I’d slot it in right after Won’t Get Fooled Again, or right at the end.

Second, I was going to say you should just go buy Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy as a companion to this disc, because you’re still missing the following other tracks that it adds to the mix…

I Can’t Explain / The Kids Are Alright / I Can See For Miles / Pictures Of Lily / Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere / A Legal Matter / Boris The Spider / I’m a Boy.

And there’s still no You Better You Bet, amongst several others… Glad they left off Behind Blue Eyes, though. I never did like that song.

But wait! Here ya go, there’s a 2CD set called The Who: The Ultimate Collection that looks like it’d get you pretty well sorted.

Oh. Sorry, I got carried away, there. Back to the disc at hand. Ahem.

All the missing tracks aside, this single disc is still a great primer for newbies and old hands alike. You knew it would be. It plays huge in the car and it’s totally fun, though it is difficult to do the guitar arm swings in such an enclosed space.

50 thoughts on “Series – Greatest Hits: The Who

  1. Deke says:

    I know I have mentioned over at Richs site The Who Live In Toronto from the 82 tour! I love that one man. I know Rich is not too keen on the era but for me for some reason that one live just I dunno I dig it!

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    1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

      I love that era for their studio albums, Deke, but I thought they were a little flat as a live band at the time. Of course, I didn’t feel that way when I saw them at Shea Stadium in ’82 as a 16-year-old. My first Who concert was a phenomenal experience, even though in hindsight they weren’t at the top of their game.

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        1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

          I like both of them but I have more of an affinity for Face Dances. “Don’t Let Go The Coat” is a particular favorite. I also love Townshend’s two solo albums from that era, Empty Glass & All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. Both are pretty close to perfect records.

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  2. mikeladano says:

    I have a few Who albums including some deluxe editions, and I have not one but TWO different greatest hits sets that are not this one!

    Limp Bizkit ruined Behind Blue Eyes.

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  3. Heavy Metal Overload says:

    Got a ton of Who stuff so wouldn’t need this myself. Looks like a very basic selection though. I think even newbies would be better getting one of the two disc comps for the missing tracks you mentioned.

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          1. Heavy Metal Overload says:

            It’s just something a lot of UK bands did in the 60s and early 70s. A lot of Slade songs were just singles, even Rock classics like Black Night and Strange Kind of Woman were singles at first in the UK before eventually showing up on comps and then later as bonus tracks.

            The 30 Years of Maximum R&B set is a pretty good bet but I’d still recommend buying albums. They’re too good to be a one-stop shop kind of band. A lot of the albums are deluxes too so you often get singles as bonus tracks on those.

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                1. keepsmealive says:

                  Do you feel your set is complete? Not missing anything? Your list would be appreciated!

                  The danger in asking Rich is I think he probably owns ALL of it and I couldn’t keep up! 🙂 But sure, if anyone has input, lemme know!

                  Here’s what I have here right now:

                  CD

                  Who Are You
                  Who’s Next
                  Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy
                  Greatest Hits

                  LP

                  Live At Leeds

                  Clearly, this meager collection has a few holes in it…

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                  1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

                    The “30 Years Of Maximum R&B” box set is fantastic and would probably be a perfect one-stop shop for anyone who doesn’t want to buy all of the individual albums. I also highly recommend the similarly-titled video compilation of live performances as the perfect companion piece, especially for the brilliant version of the b-side “Water” (as well as pretty much everything else they included, since The Who in their prime were almost untouchable). I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s cool to know all the rarities, but in this case it’s one of those sadly unheralded songs that got lost because it didn’t fit on either of the albums at the time (Who’s Next and Quadrophenia). It’s not actually a “great song,” per se, but in concert it took on a life of its own (and I discovered it via that video collection).

                    The Who have released so many compilations that it’s hard to know if there’s a definitive one for casual fans, but Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy was an important one for me as a teenager. Combine that with The Who Sell Out, Tommy, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia and you have all the key components to a great Who collection. Yes, I own them all, and there are several others that are indispensable for me, but I understand that not everyone needs them all, so those are the ones I think every newbie should have.

                    Oh, and of course Live At Leeds in any form. The original is a perfect short blast of brilliance, and the original expanded edition was even better. It’s been expanded further one or two more times, but I’ve never gotten any of those. Even a completist has his limits.

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                    1. keepsmealive says:

                      Wow thanks Rich! I’m so lucky to have contact with people so connected to this sort of thing on a level I haven’t yet been! I’ll have a look for that box in Toronto when Mike and I go. If it’s cheap (it likely will be, in one place we go, not so much the other), I might still go for it. They only made 11 studio albums, so it wouldn’t be that hard to collect those up to cover for the live versions on the box.

                      It’s a shame the compilations are so confusing. I should make a spreadsheet and see where the rarer tracks are. I’d still end up with a lot of duplication, but with the other records you mentioned (all of which I’ve seen in shops, easily), I am feeling a Who binge coming on! 🙂

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                    2. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

                      Also keep in mind that many of the ’90s remasters included tinkering by Pete Townshend, most glaringly on Who Are You where he replaced the original version of one song (“Guitar And Pen,” I believe) with another one that’s noticeably different. Instead of including it as a bonus track, he just swapped it out so you need the LP or original CD pressing to hear the original album version.

                      Also, Who’s Next is a stone-cold classic that’s been expanded twice, first on a single CD, then on a 2-CD “Deluxe Edition.” Naturally, instead of including everything from the first expansion on the 2-disc set, they left certain bonuses off so a true collector would need to keep both versions. It’s often the case that the artists have no control over this stuff, but with The Who, Townshend oversaw everything.

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                    3. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

                      That’s a classic, the version I grew up with. The first expanded edition is a rare case where a classic album is actually improved, or at least presents a valid alternative. Every performance on that edition is astounding. I never got the 2-CD Deluxe Edition since it seemed like overkill at that point. The fact that it included a complete performance of Tommy wasn’t enough to draw me in. I already have Tommy in about 10-12 different formats (original, movie soundtrack, Orchestra version, various live performances, etc) and I hit my limit a while ago.

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                    4. keepsmealive says:

                      Wow Dude, that’s a lot of Tommy! Maybe I’d benefit from just getting the 2CD Live At Leeds, just do it all in one fell swoop. But I do love that old copy I have here. You’re right, it’s incredible!

                      You saw what few I already have here, and we both love the Who, so I’m coming at this from the other end you are – you have tons, and I have a little. I appreciate all the input, it’s very helpful. Cheers Rich!

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                    5. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

                      My pleasure. It’s all about sharing our love of music. There are plenty of artists that I like on the same level as you with The Who, and it’s always helpful to hear from more passionate fans about what I’m missing. That was the reason I started my “Compilation Or Catalog?” series, and it’s been enlightening for those artists. Enlightening and expensive. Haha.

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                    6. keepsmealive says:

                      The brilliant thing about this blogging community that has sprung up is the pooling of knowledge and resources, and the enlightenment that a guy like me gets from just reading along and absorbing. A lot of the stuff you guys discuss is outside my ken and I love learning so much.

                      I need to spend more time on your site – maybe I could even help on your Comp/Catalgue posts! I have a few bands I collect everything, so who knows!

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                    7. keepsmealive says:

                      That’s so frustrating. I get why they do it, but I also don’t. I mean, if it were me doing it, I’d make releases make sense. Especially when he had control. Go here for these tracks, here for those. Make it simple and cut out a lot of the duplication. Sigh. Nobody ever asks me. 🙂

                      When I’m in the Big Smoke, I’ll have a look-see. Chances are, we’ll see multiple versions of a lot fo what’s there. I generally go for the original release (I’m not huge on remastering) but if the extra tracks make it worth it, I would still go that way. Have to wait and see how I feel when I’m standing there in the aisle!

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                    8. keepsmealive says:

                      I just saw a Deluxe Edition of Quadrophenia (Amazon says 2011) that has a bunch of demos on it on top of the whole album, some songs that didn’t even make the album!

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                    9. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

                      There’s a mega box set of Quadrophenia that came out a few years ago with demos, vinyl, a DVD with surround sound mixes, a hardbound book and a large price tag. I didn’t buy it but a friend copied all the discs for me. It’s very good, and it’s possible that the Deluxe Edition you see is a distilled version of that set. I’m guessing the ’90s remaster would be cheaper, but any version you can get your hands on other than the original CD pressing would be a solid purchase.

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                    10. keepsmealive says:

                      Just as an example, I did a bit of research on the Quadrophenia, from the CDN Amazon and the cheapest New secondary (2nd) seller.

                      1996 Remaster:
                      Amz – $18.90
                      2nd – same!

                      2011 Deluxe
                      Amz – $25.50
                      2nd – $14.69

                      2011 Super Deluxe Director’s Edition
                      Amz – $129.93
                      2nd – $119.03

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                    11. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

                      You can’t go wrong with the ’96 remaster. It comes in one of those double-CD cases, which I never liked too much but in this case it was necessary because the booklet is so thick. I don’t know about the ’11 deluxe edition other than the fact that it sounds good, so if it’s got bonus material and it’s cheaper, go for that one. I would just want to make sure that it has all the packaging from the original album (which was replicated in the ’96 edition), since that’s part of the charm of that record.

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                    12. keepsmealive says:

                      Sounds like that would be the way to go, for me. All I can see that’s different with the 2011 edition is that it has that Deluxe Edition stripe on it. No idea if that’s on a clear plastic slip case, like they used to be, or printed right on the packaging, like they started doing (my Sabbath Born Again deluxe is like that). Says that on top of the expanded tracks (demos), there are two books and new essays by Pete.

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                    13. keepsmealive says:

                      Haha I just went and commented on your blog, on a couple of posts. I meant to add earlier, I read all your posts but i don’t usually comment, because somebody says the same thing I was thinking and gets to it before I do. I’m a lurker, I suppose, but I’m not creepy (much)! 🙂

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                    1. keepsmealive says:

                      From the sounds of it, it doesn’t actually need to be complete, and may even be not required – even Rich stopped buying re-releases eventually! 🙂

                      Bring on the list! I’d appreciate any and all input. We go to Taranna in a month, and I wanna be as prepared as possible!

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        1. keepsmealive says:

          I checked out the 30 Years of Maximum Rock And Roll set, it looks fairly comprehensive (and it’s a lot of Who!). Was that the one you meant? I still see that several of the tracks are live instead of studio versions. As you know, I hate when they do that.

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          1. Heavy Metal Overload says:

            I think you’re looking at the same one but it’s definitely R&B.

            It was aimed at fans rather than beginners so the live tracks are a given. And stuff like Summertime Blues, Young Man Blues it’s most likely going to be the Live at Leeds versions.

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            1. keepsmealive says:

              I was looking at this one:

              But… but… I’m a fan! A big one, I’d say! So I guess they assume I already have the records, and would want the box in order to get the other stuff. I get that.

              What I need is a road map. To get all one would really need of the Who, get the albums, this comp and these other few live and sudry discs and then you’ve got the essentials, you know? And even then there’d still be a lot of duplication.

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  4. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

    This one’s not for me as I’ve been a complete-albums Who fan since I was a teenager (Meaty Beaty…was an early purchase, possibly my first, but Who’s Next and Quadrophenia were early essentials). Nice post, though, as it should expose some people to great music that they either forgot about or never heard. I have to applaud that.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Hey, thanks Rich! Hard to believe in 2014 that ANYBODY would need an intro to these guys, but we here at the KMA like to provide public services for the greater good as often as we can. 🙂

      You’re right, you’re better to just get the albums. You even saw me doing it, in this post, as I look back at it… “oh, but they forgot this song, and this one, and…” Totally professional of me. Jeez. It reads like a stream of consciousness thing. Haha SOMEBODY GET THIS GUY AN EDITOR!

      What I didn’t mention in my post, and I’m glad you commented straight away (and anytime, always happy to have you stop by, Rich!) so I can go back and add it in before too many people see this, is that I got this disc, in pristine shape, for $2. So it went into the To Hear pile with the rest and that was that. It was at the top of the pile, today! Yay!

      Thanks for liking the post, though. It’s certainly redundant for a lot of us, but hey. Isn’t it time everyone got out a Who record and let ‘er rip today? Yes. Yes it is. C’mon folks, let’s give ‘er!

      Cheers, Rich!

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