The Who Sings My Generation exploded onto the music scene in 1965 with a raw, aggressive, and powerful sound. It boasted adequate production, at best, but it mirrored the mood of its songs and helped to make it one of the best rock albums of its time. The frenetic pace and the anger it exuded would make it highly influential in the punk rock era to follow. Even 42 years later, the energy contained in these tracks is phenomenal.
Few debut albums are as influential as The Who Sings My Generation, as Pete Townshend's experiments with guitar feedback enabled him to affect thousands of guitarists in the future.
If there is one song that defines the early Who instrumental sound, it's “The Ox”, which features Townshend’s raw-yet-innovative guitar explorations coupled with Keith Moon’s almost out-of-control drumming. John Entwistle provides a solid foundation on bass and serves as a counterpoint for the other two, a role he would continue filling throughout his tenure in the group.
The title track, which represented a call to a generation of youth who believed they would never grow old, finds Roger Daltrey’s vocal at a developmental stage yet it works well here. Rolling Stone would eventually name “My Generation” as the 11th greatest song of all time.
“The Good’s Gone” and “Much Too Much” in particular encapsulate how Keith Moon was unlike any drummer who had preceded him. And though he enjoyed a legendary career before flaming out at a young age, even at this early point, his talent proves impressively frenetic and unique.
Other tracks of note were "Out In The Street", in which a rhythm & blues groove mixes with guitar feedback to form a weird yet effective sound, and “The Kids Are Alright”, an eternal anthem and a mainstay in the band's live shows. As well, “La-La-La Lies” carries a sound and structure that suggests those that would surface on Tommy.
The Who Sings My Generation may sound somewhat dated today, but historically and in its own way, it remains a masterpiece. The Who proceeded to create some of the best rock ‘n’ roll in history, but it all emanated from this starting point. Its excellence aside, the album is an important one as well and, as such, it's well worth a listen.