As I’ve stated many times before, The Who is my all-time favorite band. One of my favorite things about them is how much their sound evolved throughout the duration of their career with their original lineup. This sound evolution makes them seem like many different bands in one, and it is also what inspired me to start this series of posts. Tonight we start with their debut album, My Generation (1965). My Generation is also known as The Who Sings My Generation, as that is what it was released as in the USA. I don’t know why Decca Records felt that was a better title, but I digress.
Sometimes, I feel I gotta get away / Bells chime, I know I gotta get away
And I know if I don’t, I’ll go out of my mind
Better leave her behind with the kids, they’re alright
The kids are alright“The Kids Are Alright,” Side two, track one
When this album came out, the band members’ ages ranged from 19 to 21. Its sound is raw, loud, bluesy, garage, and very much a precursor to the punk rock sound that would emerge 12 years later. For some perspective regarding how out of place this sound was in 1965, at the time fellow Brits The Beatles were releasing EPs with cheesy singles like “Eight Days a Week” and the album Help!, known for its title track and “Ticket to Ride.”
The album starts off with “Out in the Street,” which opens with some heavy reverb, before jumping right into the vocals. It sets the tone of the album as if it’s saying, “We don’t waste any time, here’s the music whether you’re ready or not.”
The Who’s early albums and set lists featured a lot of cover songs from their inspirations. My Generation features three in total: “I Don’t Mind” and “Please, Please, Please” by James Brown, and “I’m a Man” by Bo Diddley (this was omitted on the US release due to a “lewd” lyric). Roger Daltrey’s voice does do justice to these songs. Though it wasn’t quite as developed in their early career, his voice had a lot of range and gave their cover songs some real soul.
We get a slight change up in “A Legal Matter,” as it features Pete Townshend singing lead vocals rather than Roger. It’s a quick and upbeat song that also incorporates the piano. After “A Legal Matter,” the album closes out with the improvised instrumental “The Ox.” It showcases John Entwistle’s bass, Keith Moon’s drums, Pete’s guitar, and studio musician Nicky Hopkins’ piano. It’s a great way end the album as it comes full circle; it ends just as fast and loud as it began.
My Generation is one of my favorites. It’s a fun and easy listen, and shows so much of the potential that each of the band members came to show as time went on. Stay tuned for the next album in the series, A Quick One (1966).