The Who: Their 11 Albums Ranked

The Who Albums

Photo: By Jean-Luc (originally posted to Flickr as Keith Moon) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If there was one band in rock and roll that we wished released more albums than they did, it was The Who. However, the ones that they did release stand for the most part as some of the most enjoyable rock records of the classic rock era. Things may have been different for the Who had Keith Moon not died suddenly in 1978. The band had just released the great album Who Are You and seemed unstoppable. Since the release of Who Are You in 1978, The Who have only released three studio albums in forty years. It was twenty four years between 1982’s It’s Hard and 2006’s Endless Wire. It’s been twelve years since Endless Wire. 

Over the course of his musical career Pete Townshend has released ten solo studio albums. However, it’s been a long time since Pete Townshend released any new solo studio albums. The last Pete Townshend solo album was released twenty five years ago in 1993 entitled Psychoderelict. 1993 was the same year Billy Joel released his last solo album entitled River Of Dreams. Yet, Billy Joel without having put out any new music in 25 years consistently sells out Madison Square Garden in NYC every month to this day. If the Who decided to tour again, they will have no problem selling out stadiums around the world. The band pretty much proved that on their recent “The Who Hits 50,” 2014–16 tour.

The title of the band’s recent tour The Who hits 50 defined a band that had been around for fifty years. However, for thirty eight of those 50 years, the band only released three albums. Bet you never thought of if it that way. In the end , there is not many Who albums to choose from. Nonetheless, the ones that they did release up until and including 1978’s Who Are You were spectacular. So let’s have some fun and pick our favorites

# 11 – Face Dances

Face Dances was an album that was not easily accepted by Who fans because of the absence of Keith Moon due to his passing. Kenny Jones was a completely different drummer from Keith Moon and fans were upset with the choice of Jones.

The two Who albums that were released in the 1980’s have been pretty much ignored by Who fans. They never got much play on this winter’s turntable. The album’s stand out track was the opening song “You Better You Bet.”

# 10 – It’s Hard

The album It’s Hard was virtually the final studio album by the Who with the exception of Endless Wire that was released twenty four years later. It was the final Who studio album to feature John Entwistle who passed away in 2002.

Although the song “Athena,” was released as the first single from the album, the records standout track was the song “Eminence Front.” The album It’s Hard was released in 1982.

 

# 9 – Endless Wire

The Who album Endless Wire is the only Who Studio album to not feature John Entwistle on bass. The album was released in many different variations and box sets However the material on the album came mostly from Pete Townshend’s rockopus The Boy Who Heard Music. The rock opus had originally been released on the internet by Townshend and then eventually adapted for the stage at Vassar College’s Powerhouse Summer Theater. Endless Wire was released in 2006 and stands as the last album of new material ever released by The Who. While the album usually ranks last on most Who fans lists, we thought the music ofn the record was deeper and more well written than the band’s final two albums of the 1980’s

# 8 – The Who By Numbers

The album The Who By Numbers was released in 1975. It was the follow up album to Quadrophenia. Imagine having to follow up an album like Quadrophenia only two years later? The album’s first single “Squeeze Box,” was banned on many radio stations in the United States. However, since the song was released it has become one of the band’s most covered songs. The Who By Numbers received mixed reviews when it first came out. However looking back at the album forty years later we all wish rock bands could release records as great as that one.

# 7 – The Who Sell Out

The Who album, The Who Sell Out was the band’s third album. The record was released in 1967. The album cover stands as one of our favorite Who album covers of all time. The band was taking a stand against artists selling out. (If only they could have fast forwarded forty years in the future to the opening of the television show C.S.I.)

The music on the record was mixed in between commercials and announcements. More importantly the album gave us the songs “Tatto,” “Armenia City in the Sky,” and the legendary track I Can See For Miles.

# 6 – A Quick One

The Who album A Quick One also known as Happy Jack if you brought the album in the United States. The album was released in 1966 in the U.K. and 1967 in the U.S.

The album featured the great Pete Townshend penned suite “A Quick One, While He’s Away.” The album also delivered for the band a huge hit with the song “Happy Jack.”

 

# 5 – My Generation

Choosing the order of the next five Who albums was pretty tough because they are all some of the best rock albums ever recorded. The Who’s My Generation was the band;s debut album in 1965. Like so many rock records that were released in the 1960’s there are the U.S. versions and the U.K. versions. The Beatles were the ultimate band that released different versions of records.

The Who’s My Generation was released in the U.S in 1966 as The Who Sings My Generation. Both issues of the album contained the band’s break out song “My Generation,” as well as the soon to be classic song “The Kid’s Are All Right. ” The songs “A Legal Matter” and “La-La-La-Lies” were also hits released on My Generation.

# 4 – Who Are You

In 1979, The Who released in album Who Are You. On the cover Keith Moon sat in a chair with the words labeled Not To Be Taken Away printed clearly forall to see. Only a few months later Keith Moon was gone. The Who have never sounded the same since. To be fair I have seen them many times over the past thirty years and they were always fantastic. But it was bigger band. It was not the same sound that the four original members Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey , John Eitwisten and Keith Moon made in the stage and in the studio for 14 years.

The album Who Are You was a killer record. It was a much stronger album than their previous record The Who By Numbers. The album showed a great deal of maturity in Pete Townshend’s writing with songs like “Guitar and Pen,” and “Sister Disco.” The song “Who Are You,” was the band’s answer to “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It is probably the band’s most underrated album.

# 3 – Tommy

Most rock bands will never attempt a rock opera or even a concept album. Pete Townshend  was the king of Rock Operas. When you think about the amount of music that the band released on the Tommy and Quadrophenia albums, your left with the realization that there was at least four or five albums worth of material there. How did one man compose so much great material in such a short time? And lets not forget that in between Tommy and Quadrophenia, the Who released the album Who’s Next. From 1969 to 1973, a span of only five years, The Who released Tommy in 1969, Who’s Next in 1971, and Quadrophiana in 1973. So when we mention that the Who only released eleven albums in fifty years, we must go back and take a look at this period and say “thank you Pete, we are not worthy.” And he knows it.

# 2 – Quadrophenia

When I hold the vinyl album and huge booklet of Quadrophenia, in my hands and listen to that sound of vinyl playing Quadrophenia, I curse the company called Apple. They ruined everything. If kids could experience Quadrophenia like we did in the 1970’s and how it felt and looked in our hands, Apple would have never stood a chance. Damn those ipods, mp3s and computers. They ruined everything!

As great as the album Tommy was, Quadrophenia was better. The album had better songs m the story line was more relatable and the performances by the band on the album were among their greatest moments on record. It was easlut the best produced album of their career.

# 1 – Who’s Next

Overall, Quadrophenia  may be a better album than Who’s Next. However what fueled the album Who’s Next to trump Quadrophenia on our stupid list are two songs on Who’s Next that belong in the Top 10 of the greatest rock songs of all time list. In fact one of them stands as our choice as the greatest rock and roll record ever released. That my friends is the album’s opening track “Baba O’Riley”, The other great song is of course “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” However, every other song on the album is also brilliant and defines a great deal of variety in Townshend’s writing and the band’s performances.

One of the biggest fan favorites on the album was John Entwistle’s “My Wife.” Other songs on the album that fans went crazy for were “Bargain,” “Going Mobile,” and one of the most loved Who songs of all time “Behind Blue Eyes.”

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