Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy was an early compilation album by The Who. It consisted of mostly single releases from 1965-1970. It remains one of the best, if not the best of the many Who greatest hit and compilation albums that they have issued over the years.
This is The Who of the sixties in all their glory. The album contains mono tracks of many of their best songs which add to the power of their legacy.
“I Can’t Explain” was the first single they issued. This 1965 track is primitive and powerful at the same time. Underneath the surface, it has a structure and catchiness that looks ahead to the future. It would be a concert staple for most of their career.
“My Generation” is presented in the mono form as it was originally issued. This call to the youth of 1965 is now three generations old. In my book, it remains one of the signature songs in music as it communicates an elemental message of rebellion and protest. Keith Moon’s drumming underpins Townshend’s frenetic guitar playing and Roger Daltrey’s vocal. It is essential listening for any fan of rock ‘n’ roll.
Two other early mono tracks are “Happy Jack” which was the group’s first top forty hit in The United States and “Pictures Of Lily” which is a story about a teenager, a pinup girl, and any interpretation you would like to make between the two. The song actually showed an evolution of their sound as the lyrics and the vocals are more sophisticated than many of their earlier efforts.
On the other hand “I Can See For Miles” is an early stereo release for the band and features some of the first overdubbing of their sound. “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” also found Townshend experimenting with some early use of guitar feedback.
Later tracks such as “Pinball Wizard” find the group’s sound to have developed in a smoother direction but it remains as energetic as their earlier material. Their 1970 single release, “The Seeker,” is a lost gem and features some classic guitar playing.
No Who compilation album would be complete without John Entwistle’s “Boris The Spider.” It is ominous, quirky, brilliant, and ultimately entertaining.
The songs contained on Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy have all been released a number of times since 1971. Still this is an album I play now and then as it provides 14 short glimpses into the heart and soul of one of rock’s best groups. It catches The Who early in their career as it gathers most of their superior material in one place. It doesn’t get much better than that.