The Who - My Generation (1965) - Album Review
By Sergio Ariza
The debut album of one of the most incredible bands in history is as impetuous and intense as one would expect. It could be argued that of all the top four greatest bands that comprised the 'British Invasion' -the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, and the Who themselves- the debut of Pete Townshend's band was the most successful of the four. And the fact is that in this release the quartet had already shown everything that would make them great with the vertiginous drumming of Keith Moon, the powerful voice of Roger Daltrey, the virtuosity of John Entwistle and the magnificent compositions of Pete Townshend, with two absolute gems as examples - My Generation and The Kids Are Alright.
The Who were the last group to appear of that first British Invasion wave but their arrival was like an explosion. If the Beatles, the Stones and the Kinks came from Chuck Berry and Little Richard, the Who, as good Mods, opted for James Brown and the more soul oriented R&B. Not for nothing was one of their favorite slogans ‘Maximum R&B’; a description of which this album is perfect proof, not only for the two splendid Brown covers, but also for the compositions themselves, by a Townshend in a state of grace.
If the album only had the title track and 11 other songs, it would still be momentous because My Generation is one of the great anthems of rock music - and it has not lost any of its virtues more than 50 years after being recorded. The song is a real barbarity, with Townshend demonstrating what rock can do with just two chords. For the occasion he used one of his Rickenbakers, specifically a 1998 Rose Morris with 3 pickups. Townshend chose this brand for many reasons: they were great for playing chords, they were used by the Beatles, they looked fantastic and they were the perfect visual complement for a mod band (something that Paul Weller would surely agree with).
Despite the fact that Daltrey still belts out "I hope I die before get old" at over 70 years of age, the song still works as well as it did when it was first released, but the remaining tracks are also up at that level. From the irresistible melody of The Kids Are Alright, which can be considered one of the foundation stones of power pop (a concept that was first used by Townshend himself), to the riff of the remarkable A Legal Matter, sung by the guitarist, through the James Brown covers, I Don't Mind and Please, Please, Please, Please, or the strength of The Good's Gone, Much Too Much or the brilliant opening with Out In The Streets, this album can be considered perfect proof of what the Who are all about.
One of the most brilliant composers of their generation and, almost more importantly, a band with a brutal chemistry, in which the drummer is almost a solo instrument, the bassist is capable of doing solos like those of My Generation, the singer is full of attitude and the guitarist is capable of innovating with the feedback of his Rickenbackers (in addition to the 1998, he used a 1997 with two pickups and a 1993 12-string) - making that sound a fundamental part of a band that knew how to transfer the strength of their live performances to the studio.