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The Who - Then And Now Cover
- 'Then And Now' Cover

THE WHO - Then And Now Review

The Who - Then and Now (U.K.) CD
Then and Now (U.K.) Then and Now (U.S.) 

'Then And Now' is a superb collection of most of The Who's finest work, and hearing it from start to finish tends to make this listener think that The Who were Britain's best rock band after The Beatles. What grabs you is the musicianship, Roger Daltrey's flexible vocals, the diversity of the songs, and the witty and intelligent lyrics of Pete Townshend, notably on 'Substitute' and 'I'm A Boy'.

We are taken through The Who's Mod beginnings, via 'I Can't Explain' and 'My Generation (though that could be said to be a punk record ten years before its time)', and the sweet pop sound of 'The Kids Are Alright'. Then it's psychedelia with 'I Can See For Miles', followed by the eccentric 'Magic Bus', then a dip into the concept album 'Tommy', with 'Pinball Wizard' and the emotional, uplifting, but very simple 'See Me, Feel Me' - a contender for their best creation (also a confusing song history! This page explains more: See Me, Feel Me by The Who Songfacts). A raw version of Eddie Cochran's 'Summertime Blues' captures the energy and power of their vaunted live sound, and, from the acclaimed 'Who's Next' album, 'Behind Blue Eyes' sees Daltrey stretch his vocal range, as he shows his prowess for switching from balladeer to rocker, and back again, effortlessly. 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is a song for our times. Beginning in a prog rock style it then really rocks, and is arguably the defining song for The Who, and the musical talents of Daltrey, Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Townshend's guitar work coruscates, perfectly complemented by Entwistle's looping, pleasant, melodic bass, and it's a song made for Keith Moon to go on the rampage, attacking the drums as if they're his worst enemy. Daltrey delivers one of the great vocal performances in rock history, and, as a teenage brat, I remember scaring my Grandmother by playing her Roger's horror film scream...several times. Also obviously notable, Townshend experiments with a synth on this track (and others on 'Who's Next'). '5: 15' is underrated, but there's some interesting heavy brass and clever mood/tempo changes, and 'Love, Reign O'er Me', the closing track on the 'Quadrophenia' album, has some amazing Daltrey vocal gymnastics. The quality then begins to dip with 'Squeeze Box' and 'Who Are You', but picks up again with the sentimental, but endearing 'You Better You Bet'. The same can be said of the two stunning 2004 tracks, 'Real Good Looking Boy' and 'Old Red Wine'. The former incorporates 'Can't Help Falling In Love', and the latter is a very poignant tribute to lost bandmate Entwistle.

'Then And Now' would have been even better as a 24 track album, which would have allowed for the inclusion of the likes of 'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere', 'Pictures Of Lily', 'I'm Free', 'Baba O'Riley', 'Let's See Action', 'Join Together', 'Relay', and even some High Numbers songs such as 'Zoot Suit' or 'I'm The Face'. But, it's a well balanced and well put together compilation, carefully going through the years from 1964 to 2004, when, it could be argued, anything post Quadrophenia doesn't quite match the earlier work and could have been excluded. The liner notes in the attractive accompanying booklet by Matt Kent are also excellent and enlightening.

The Who - Then And Now Track listing
I Can't Explain
My Generation
The Kids Are Alright
I'm A Boy
Happy Jack
I Can See For Miles
Magic Bus
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Summertime Blues (Live)
Behind Blue Eyes
Won't Get Fooled Again
5: 15
Love, Reign O'er Me
Squeeze Box
Who Are You
You Better You Bet
Real Good Looking Boy
Old Red Wine

Copyright © Paul Rance/


The Who once made the legendary actress Bette Davis faint on a CBS TV show. It was 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour', and, Keith being Keith, he added a little (literally) explosive content to the band's usual instrumental destruction, at the end of their performance. Townshend lost his hearing for a time, and a piece of cymbal fragment made its way into Moon's leg. Mickey Rooney was left to comfort the fainting Ms. Davis.

Jimi Hendrix saw The Who smash their instruments at the Monterey International Pop Festival, and felt he had to go a little further, so smashed his guitar, and then burnt the unfortunate axe, too.

Herman's Hermits once toured with The Who, and, after a cake fight with the Herman's, Keith Moon lost his two front teeth - it was Keith's 21st birthday.

On 'My Generation' Pete Townshend commented it was a cry from a lost soul, "I was very, very lost."

Keith said he was never asked to join The Who, only being asked, "What are you doing on Monday?"

For The Who's first hit single, 'I Can't Explain (for which the band earned £1,000 between them)', producer Shel Talmy's idea was to use then session musician, and future Led Zeppelin legend, Jimmy Page on lead guitar. Townshend was having none of it, and played lead, with Page on rhythm guitar.

Anyone who watched the 'UK Music Hall Of Fame 2005' should have recorded it for Pete Townshend's anecdotes alone. He was the outstanding act, and didn't even play anything! - Ed.

The Who Live 8 Review 1960s Music Index 1970s Music Index 1980s Music Index 1990s to Contemporary Music Index

The Who are one of rock music's greatest groups, and are famous for producing the rock opera, 'Tommy', and also for their dynamic live performances. Few British artists have matched The Who's ability, success and influence.

One of the most impressive facets of The Who is that, individually, all four members would be contenders for a place in a composite rock band made up of rock's most gifted lead singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer.

Another Fab Four

Roger Daltrey is a charismatic frontman, who can sing a rock song or ballad equally well. Guitarist Pete Townshend is one of rock's most celebrated showmen, with his unique windmilling action. John Entwistle, who died in 2002, had few equals as a bass player, and played his bass often in the style of a lead guitarist. Drummer Keith Moon was almost impossible to copy, and few drummers could come close to him in terms of ability, or in matching his undiluted enthusiasm and frenzied approach. Entwistle formed, with Moon, one of the greatest rhythm sections in rock history.

Pete Townshend, like Ray Davies of The Kinks, had the burden of having to write most of the songs for his group. Townshend's subject matter was often intriguing, such as 'I'm a Boy' and 'Pictures of Lily', but nearly always witty - none more so than 'Substitute'. While Townshend was also the king of the power chord.

The Who exploded onto the British music scene in the mid-1960s, and they built up a strong Mod following. They also had a reputation for smashing their instruments up on stage. 'My Generation' summed up their feelings about the power that British youth was feeling at the time.

'My Generation' remains The Who's most famous song, and one of rock's most acclaimed compositions. Like Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin', it was a song that epitomised the spirit of young people challenging the old order. Townshend's most witty line - and certainly one of rock's best opening lines - "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth", from 'Substitute', struck a chord, especially in Britain, in a society even now still constricted by the class system.

Memorable Live Performances

The Who wowed audiences at two major music festivals in the 1960s - the Monterey Pop Festival (1967) and Woodstock (1969). Their live appearances were also impressing critics enough to call them the best live rock band on Earth, and their sparkling stage performances were captured on the 1970 album 'Live at Leeds'.

The Who proved they could produce psychedelia with the best of them with 'I Can See For Miles', and it was around 1967 that the group began to become more expansive, and the rock opera 'Tommy' was the zenith they would reach in 1969.

The story of the deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard, Tommy, was made into a rock opera, and later a 1975 film that was directed by Ken Russell. The 1971 album 'Who's Next' was considered even better than 'Tommy' by some critics. The album featured arguably The Who's greatest song, 'Won't Get Fooled Again', which was a cynical look at how the general public are often seduced by political promises that don't materialize. Another rock opera, 'Quadrophenia', appeared in 1973, and was based around an alienated Mod, Jimmy. A 1979 movie was based on this album, with young British actor Phil Daniels playing the Jimmy character. Sting also had a prominent role in the film.

The Who hit a fallow period in the mid-1970s, though they were still a must see live act. A performance at Charlton Athletic's football ground was one of their most memorable live shows of this period.

The Deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwistle

Keith Moon's death in 1978 came cruelly, as the madcap drummer seemed to be resolving his alcohol problems. Though former Small Faces and Faces drummer Kenney Jones was a fine replacement, anyone replacing Keith Moon was going to find his shoes just too big to fill. The Who played Live Aid in 1985, with Jones on drums, though transmission problems meant that only the crowd inside Wembley Stadium saw all of the band's performance.

Bassist John Entwistle died in 2002, during an American tour by The Who. Despite the double tragedies of Moon and Entwistle, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey still perform as The Who, and put in a powerful performance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2007.

One of British Rock's Big Three

The Who have inspired a great deal of British groups, including The Jam in the 1970s, and they had a huge influence on the Britpop bands of the 1990s. A former young Mod, David Bowie, paid tribute to them by covering some of their early material on his covers album, 'Pin Ups'. Incredibly, they never had a number one single in either the UK or the US, but, along with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, they are part of the holy trinity of British rock that paved the way for many other acts to follow.

The Who are the quintessential Brit rock band. They've never embraced American culture to be a success there, like some of their peers. They've made it on their own terms.

Copyright © Paul Rance/

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Pete Townshend talking about the death of Brian Jones: "Oh, it's a normal day for Brian, like he died every day, you know."

Pete on 'Tommy': "We wanted it to work on lots of levels."

A very young Jeremy Paxman asking Pete Townshend: "Why was there all that violence surrounding you?" Townshend: "Perhaps we were all doing it, 'cos we were afraid that the others might think that we were cissies if we didn't do it. I don't know."

The Who UK Singles Discography
(and B-sides)

Zoot Suit/I'm the Face - 1964 (as The High Numbers)
I Can't Explain/Bald Headed Woman - 1965
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere/Daddy Rolling Stone - 1965
My Generation/Shout and Shimmy - 1965
Substitute/Circles - 1966
A Legal Matter/Instant Party - 1966
The Kids Are Alright/The Ox - 1966
La La La Lies/The Good's Gone - 1966
Happy Jack/I've Been Away - 1966
Pictures of Lily/Doctor, Doctor - 1967
The Last Time/Under My Thumb - 1967
I Can See For Miles/Someone's Coming - 1967
Dogs/Call Me Lightning - 1968
Magic Bus/Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde - 1968
Pinball Wizard/Dogs Part II - 1969
Go To The Mirror/Sally Simpson - 1969
The Seeker/Here For More - 1970
Summertime Blues/Heaven And Hell - 1970
See Me, Feel Me/Overture - 1970
Won't Get Fooled Again/I Don't Even Know Myself - 1971
Let's See Action/When I Was A Boy - 1971
Join Together/Baby Don't You Do It - 1972
Relay/Waspman - 1972
5:15/Water - 1973
Squeeze Box/Success Story - 1975
Who Are You/Had Enough - 1978
You Better You Bet/The Quiet One - 1981
Don't Let Go The Coat/You - 1981
Athena/A Man Is A Man - 1982
Twist & Shout (Live)/I Can't Explain (Live) - 1984
Real Good Looking Boy/Old Red Wine - 2004

The Who CDs available from - in association with Amazon
( text links in blue; text links in green)

Product image for ASIN: B00000844Q The Who Sell Out
The Who Sell Out
Product image for ASIN: B00005NB0H Live At Leeds [Deluxe Edition]
Live at Leeds
Live At Leeds [Deluxe Edition]
Product image for ASIN: B00008PRR9 Quick One
Quick One
Product image for ASIN: B000024NOC Who's Next: Remastered
Who's Next
Product image for ASIN: B000007621 Tommy
Product image for ASIN: B000007620 Quadrophenia: Remastered

The Who DVDs from

Tommy (Special Edition)

The Who - Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
Who, The - EP

The Who DVD from

Product image for ASIN: B000FA57SA
Tommy Live

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