So British Summer Time started on Sunday morning, and I’m all over the place – I’m writing this thinking it is much earlier than it actually is. All very confusing and I’m afraid just a smidgen tired.
Anyway, it’s days like these that I need a pick-me-up, and with this in mind I’ve dug out my (very non-expensive Brunswick Label) copy of the The Who’s My Generation. Putting this on the turntable never fails to A) Wake me up; and B) Pick-me-up. It’s very much a restorative listening experience. I think it’s the lilt between one of those crashing songs The Who are famous for and the quite mellow songs that seem to follow it (a tad like my cardio/weight gym routine, but that’s by-the-by).
If I could bottle the essence of the 60s Swinging London then it would be with this album – even looking at the cover it couldn’t be anything but Carnaby Street circa 1965. Heck, you can’t listen to the title track without wanting to be transported back to those manic, heady days where London was really at the forefront of the revolution (and dance like no-one is watching). This was The Who’s first album, and it really did blast them into the mainstream and to this day, they really are the by-word for the Mod movement.
As first albums go, this one feels incredibly raw: both in production and vocals, The Who themselves say that of all their records this was very much a rushed job; however I firmly believe they shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Without My Generation would they even be here? The simple truth is that without this album The Jam would still be playing Working Men’s Clubs and Noel Gallagher and his cohorts would still be standing around Manchester wondering what to do.
Explosive Debut is the kind of buzz phrase that gets bandied about a lot in the Music Industry – as does the tag ‘Bad Boys of Rock’. But one look at this group of terribly nice, well-groomed and exquisitely well-mannerly British youths (it always surprises me how incredibly posh Roger Daltrey sounds) – and you just know you should lock up your virginal daughters and padlock the drinks cabinet. Even now, from the safe distance of nearly 50 years -The Who’s debut sounds snotty and wild – like it’s going to use a Royal Corgi for bow and arrow target practice. And that’s before we even talk about Keith Moon.
Ok, so listening to the album I do feel that these songs were very much chosen to appeal to a certain crowd, and that the track listing really does follow the “slow, fast, slow” pace. But I think you need a breather! It’s one of the finest rock albums you will ever hear, it has that vibrancy of youth (where you could pull an all nighter, still get up for work and then do it all again the next day, ah how I miss being 21).
“Shoved” and “Brutish” are good words to describe the album, My Generation doesn’t shy away from hitting you squarely on the nose. The guitars and drums courtesy of Keith Moon, Peter Townshend and John Entwistle are raucous, Roger Daltrey’s voice whilst melodic is as hard as nails; they aren’t letting you forget these songs easily – you can just see Keith Moon laying into his drum kit. This album quite literally invades your space and leaves your senses reeling.
It’s fabulous stuff. Here are the Union Jack Blazers and the Swinging Fa-Fa-Fa-Fade Away Microphones…
Stand Out Songs:
- The Kids Are Alright
- My Generation (you didn’t think I was going to forget this one did you??)
- The Ox
- The Good’s Gone
The Knitty Gritty:
The album is available on Spotify, Deezer, iTunes and on CD/Vinyl – Try and listen to the Brunswick Label album rather than the Decca Version (sorry again to my American counterparts)
Other albums to listen to:
Kinda Kinks – The Kinks
Out of Our Heads – The Rolling Stones
Having a Rave Up – The Yardbirds