By John Curley
Universal Music (5-CD, 3-LP or 2-LP)
This reissue of The Who’s explosive 1965 debut album, “My Generation,” is quite spectacular. It captures the Shepherd’s Bush-based quartet as they were morphing from an R&B cover band to the Mod band performing songs written by their guitarist, Pete Townshend, and sung in swaggering, tough-guy fashion by lead vocalist Roger Daltrey. As a result, the album is a mixture of blues covers (James Brown’s “I Don’t Mind” and “Please, Please, Please” and Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man”) and Townshend originals (“My Generation,” “The Kids are Alright,” and “A Legal Matter” among others). Townshend’s snarky lead vocal in “A Legal Matter” stands in stark contrast to Daltrey’s vocal style. The album closes with the rollicking instrumental “The Ox,” which seems to be a four-way battle between Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, drummer Keith Moon, and pianist Nicky Hopkins. Taken as a whole, “My Generation” is a stellar starting point for The Who. Still, The Who as they were on this album seem an altogether different band than the one that produced “Tommy” only four years later.
The 79-track, 5-CD box set features the “My Generation” album in both the original mono and a 2014 stereo mix that was done by Townshend using the same guitars and amps that he used in the original recording and Daltrey using the same type of microphone. The other CDs in the set feature mono and stereo mixes of bonus tracks (including Townshend’s “I Can’t Explain” and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” and a cover of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “(Love Is Like A) Heatwave” and Townshend’s demos. Some of the bonus tracks and demos have been released previously on other compilations, but there are several that have never seen the light of day before.
The box set also includes an 80-page color book featuring photos from around the time that “My Generation” was recorded, notes about the album by Townshend, and replicas of flyers and posters for gigs of the period.
The re-release of “My Generation” will also be available in LP format in two different compilations. The three-LP set will feature the “My Generation” album in a mono mix, mono mixes of bonus tracks, and demos. The two-LP collection includes the stereo mix of the “My Generation” album and stereo mixes of the bonus tracks.
While The Who have sometimes been criticized for the numerous compilations of their work that have been released over the years, this re-release of “My Generation” will surely be of interest to anyone that is a fan of the band’s early work.
Correction: The title of this release inaccurately included dates in the February 2017 print edition. It is corrected here.