By 1965 The Who were all set after recruiting drummer Keith Moon and saw their former band name change from The Detours to the name we all know as The Who, after briefly being called The High Numbers. In the spring of 1965, they recorded this debut album entitled My Generation
and was only released in the UK. The album saw a number of singles reach the chart including A Legal Matter
and the popular title track My Generation
. The album saw The Who gain attention in England, but never really cracked the North American market. By December of the same year, they re-released the album and called it The Who Sings My Generation
. The album was, for the most part, very similar with only minor changes. The differences were an alternate album cover, and replaced the song I'm A Man
due to explicit lyrical content with the album closer Circles
. This album also does have a slightly varied track list as oppose to the UK version, but only the last three songs. The recording was not done the smoothest but makes it sound rawer, which I think is good.
This album features the classic Who lineup of Roger Daltrey on vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, John Entwistle on bass, and Keith Moon behind the drums, who would remain together until Moon's untimely death in 1978. Besides the two cover songs, Townshend does the majority of the song writing and does good as he writes lyrics targeted towards the up and coming generation (hence the title, perhaps) as well as some nice love songs. Though I think his song writing did improve with time. The Who Sings My Generation
is the album that displays their pop experiment more than later records (more so on the follow up A Quick One
, however), among other styles including rhythm blues, and even a very early form of punk rock or 'proto punk', which is demonstrated on the title track. Many later British punk bands would often site The Who as a major influence among other bands like The MC5. A factor that made The Who show signs of one of the first 'punk rock' bands is not just in their music, but mainly their attitude and rebelliousness (which was mostly not in the mainstream at the time) shown in their lyrics and also in their famous live shows. They were one of the first bands that were known to smash and trash their instruments at the end of a concert that would be mimicked by countless bands after them.
The record features two James Brown covers that clearly showcase their R&B influences; the covers being I Don't Mind
and Please, Please, Please
. Both are done well, but I would''t say they are the best on the album. The vocals sound hardly sound like Roger's, which is most noticeable on Please, Please, Please
. The song is very bluesy, and Roger tries to imitate Brown himself. I can't say he beats Mr. Brown, but he gives it all and makes the song very fun to listen too. Townshend provides an excellent solo here as well, adding to the R&B feel or style. La La La Lies
shows more of their pop side. The song is a very catchy, mellow pop rock tune featuring the effective use of piano and backing vocals. Roger's vocals highlight this song especially in the chorus. It makes for an effective short love song at a little over two minutes long. The Good's Gone
follows along the same line as La La La Lies
. The guitar work is better here, but the vocals here seem more monotonous, making the song seem like its dragging on a bit too long or too repetitive. And the song may be, at four minutes long. The song is not bad though, the instruments redeem it, mainly guitar, and again the backing vocals work well here. Much Too Much
is a mid-tempo pop rock song thats put together nicely. The lyrics deal with love, similar to La La La Lies
, and are sung well too. The song is a memorable one despite being just over two and a half minutes. The album opener Out In The Street
starts the album on a rocking note but still hints R&B. It features a solid performance from the whole band, mainly the drumming of Moon, who was eighteen years old at the time of the recording.
While you do get a taste of the talent in Moon's drumming throughout the record, track number ten really
shows how good he actually is. The instrumental The Ox
(which was the last song on the UK version) is built around a series of Keith's fast drum solos over some light keyboards which are played by Nicky Hopkins and some stellar heavy 'surf rock' (you'll know when you hear it) guitar riffs from Pete. But the main focus here is the drumming, as Moon delivers an excellent performance here, making it a definite highlight of the album. There are two songs alone though, that make this album the album worth getting; such gems as the anthem My Generation
and The Kids Are Alright
. The title track, placed right in the middle of the album, is one of the band's most well known songs, and rightfully so. The song is put together perfectly, instrumentally and lyrically. The lyrics are what got them known as a 'mod rock' band, which lyrics touch subjects such as rebellion. Lines such as the infamous "I hope I die before I get old:
and :This is my generation"
sum it up. Roger's stuttering in this song work greatly too. I should point out John's bas work here which is some of the best on the whole album.
The other major standout here is The Kids Are Alright
. It is not as heavy as My Generation
, posessing a much more pop feel. Roger's calm vocals over Pete's quick guitar riffs and Moon's exceptional drumming complement each other very well. It's just a great song that makes the album a whole lot better. A Legal Matter
is another fan favorite. Roger's voice is the best part here as he changes tempos during the verses, but lyrically, it isn't the best in my opinion. Roger sings about him getting a divorce, which may seem silly since he was only nineteen or twenty when it was released. He sings during the chorus "Now it's a legal matter, baby Marryin's no fun; It's a legal matter, baby; A legal matter from now on"
. Instant Party (Circles)
is the album closer and track added for the US version. It is a fitting ender to the album. It is a great song, but the thing that makes it stand apart from the others is the use of the horn, played by Entwistle.
In all, The Who's debut album is one worth getting, even if its not the band's best. The band was still very young here, and matured with time. Recently, a compilation has been made containing a majority of the band's early material including this album which is very good, but can be pricey, so this album would be good because if you can find it, it will be cheaper than the set. A downside to the album that I can think of, is that it may be too short for some, containing only twelve songs, mind you there is no obvious filler, at least to me. This album was a start for good things to come like albums such as Tommy
, Who's Next
. To any fan of The Who I recommend this or maybe even for any fan of classic rock for that matter.
The Kids Are Alright
La La La Lies