The Who: The Who Sings My Generation

April 25, 1966 – The Who: The Who Sings My Generation is released in the US.
# allmusic 5/5

My Generation is the debut album by The Who, released by Brunswick Records in the United Kingdom in December 1965, and in the United States by Decca Records (as The Who Sings My Generation) on this date in April 1966, with a different cover and a slightly altered track listing.

Critics often rate it as one of the best rock albums of all time: in 2003, the album was ranked number 236 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and named the second greatest guitar album of all time by Mojo magazine. In 2004, it was #18 in Q magazine’s list of the 50 Best British Albums Ever. In 2006, it was ranked #49 in NME’s list of the 100 Greatest British Albums. In 2004, the title track was #11 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.  In June 2009, the edited 1966 US version of the album “The Who Sings My Generation” was selected for the National Recording Registry of the US Library of Congress. The album, deemed “culturally significant”, will be preserved and archived.

The album was made immediately after the Who got their first singles on the charts and was later dismissed by the band as something of a rush job that did not accurately represent their stage performance of the time. It was recorded in short bursts in April, October and November 1965, and for many tracks The Who were joined by Nicky Hopkins on piano. Assisting Talmy for the most part was engineer Glyn Johns. 

“Ours is a group with built-in hate.” Pete Townshend said that in 1965, around the time that The Who Sings My Generation came out. That hate–or, more accurately, angst–jumps out of the grooves on the album. Although the line between righteous anger and self-centered bitchiness occasionally wears thin, there is no denying that the Who were truly revolutionary. The arresting teenage anthem “My Generation,” the shaky solidarity of “The Kids Are Alright,” the dizzy confusion of “Instant Party (Circles)”–never had pop music expressed such raw emotions in such an uncompromising manner.

At the same time, Townshend, despite his bluster, could not escape the fact that underneath his rage lay a melodist worthy of the Brill Building. On tracks such as the crystalline, harmony-laden “Much Too Much,” he proved that he didn’t need power to create a powerful pop song. In other words, you don’t have to be a Mod to enjoy this album. But it helps.

The UK release featured an iconic front sleeve, taken at Surrey Docks in south east London by Decca Records’ photographer David Wedgbury, featuring an aerial view of the four members of The Who gazing skywards, a pose that other bands, Blondie, The Jam and The Undertones amongst them, copied in almost perfect pastiches years later. In the US American Decca attempted to jump on the British Invasion bandwagon by using a different yet similarly iconic Wedgbury shot, featuring The Who with London’s most famous clock tower, Big Ben, in the background. 

by Richie Unterberger, allmusic
An explosive debut, and the hardest mod pop recorded by anyone. At the time of its release, it also had the most ferociously powerful guitars and drums yet captured on a rock record. Pete Townshend’s exhilarating chord crunches and guitar distortions threaten to leap off the grooves on “My Generation” and “Out in the Street”; Keith Moon attacks the drums with a lightning, ruthless finesse throughout. Some “Maximum R&B” influence lingered in the two James Brown covers, but much of Townshend’s original material fused Beatlesque hooks and power chords with anthemic mod lyrics, with “The Good’s Gone,” “Much Too Much,” “La La La Lies,” and especially “The Kids Are Alright” being highlights. “A Legal Matter” hinted at more ambitious lyrical concerns, and “The Ox” was instrumental mayhem that pushed the envelope of 1965 amplification with its guitar feedback and nonstop crashing drum rolls. While the execution was sometimes crude, and the songwriting not as sophisticated as it would shortly become, the Who never surpassed the pure energy level of this record.

All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

Side one
“Out in the Street” – 2:31
“I Don’t Mind” (James Brown) – 2:36
“The Good’s Gone” – 4:02
“La-La-La-Lies” – 2:17
“Much Too Much” – 2:47
“My Generation” – 3:18

Side two
“The Kids Are Alright” – 3:04
“Please, Please, Please” (Brown, Johnny Terry) – 2:45
“It’s Not True” – 2:31
“I’m a Man” (Bo Diddley) – 3:21
“A Legal Matter” – 2:48
“The Ox” (Townshend, Keith Moon, John Entwistle, Nicky Hopkins) – 3:50

Side one
“Out in the Street” – 2:31
“I Don’t Mind” – 2:36
“The Good’s Gone” – 4:02
“La-La-La-Lies” – 2:17
“Much Too Much” – 2:47
“My Generation” – 3:18

Side two
“The Kids Are Alright” – 2:46
“Please, Please, Please” – 2:45
“It’s Not True” – 2:31
“The Ox” – 3:50
“A Legal Matter” – 2:48
“Instant Party (Circles)” – 3:12

Disc one
“Out in the Street”
“I Don’t Mind”
“The Good’s Gone” [lacks double-tracked vocals]
“La-La-La Lies” [lacks double-tracked vocals]
“Much Too Much” [lacks double-tracked vocals]
“My Generation” [lacks lead guitar, but is available on disc two in its original mono format]
“The Kids Are Alright” [lacks double-tracked vocals]
“Please, Please, Please”
“It’s Not True”
“I’m a Man” [complete with ending]
“A Legal Matter” [lacks lead guitar, but is available on disc two in its original mono format]
“The Ox” [complete with ending]
“Circles (Instant Party)” [lacks Entwistle’s French horn and double tracked vocals]
“I Can’t Explain” (bonus track) [lacks tambourine]
“Bald Headed Woman” (bonus track)
“Daddy Rolling Stone” (Otis Blackwell) (bonus track) [alternate version to that found on Thirty Years of Maximum R&B]

Disc two
The second disc contains additional bonus tracks.
“Leaving Here” (Holland-Dozier-Holland) [alternate version to that found on Thirty Years of Maximum R&B]
“Lubie (Come Back Home)”
“Shout and Shimmy” (James Brown)
“(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave” (Holland-Dozier-Holland)
“Motoring” (Mickey_Stevenson)
“Anytime You Want Me” (Garnet Mimms)
“Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (alternate take)
“Instant Party Mixture”
“I Don’t Mind” (full length version)
“The Good’s Gone” (full length version)
“My Generation” (instrumental version)
“Anytime You Want Me” (a cappella version)
“A Legal Matter” (mono version with guitar overdub)
“My Generation” (mono version with guitar overdub)


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