Top 11 Who Albums*
1. Who’s Next
You can argue the rest of the list, but you can’t argue the topper. Not just the best Who album, but one of the best albums ever. Highlights: Baba O’Riley, Bargain, Love Ain’t for Keeping, My Wife, Getting in Tune, Going Mobile, Behind Blue Eyes, Won’t Get Fooled Again. Low point: The Song Is Over
2. Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
According to all-knowing Wikipedia, The Who released 11 studio albums, 10 live albums and a ridiculous 21 compilation/hits albums (that number should go up as The Who seem to release a greatest hits album every 6 months). M,B,B,B was the first ‘greatest hits’ collection and a great primer on early Who. It’s also an important album as it includes several Who classics that were not included in the band’s studio albums: I Can’t Explain, Substitute, Pictures of Lily, I’m a Boy and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.
Yes, side 2/disc 1 drags terribly but the highs of Quadrophenia are so high it more than makes up for the lows. Highlights: The Real Me, I’m One, 5:15, Sea and Sand, Drowned, Dr. Jimmy, Love Reign O’er Me. Low points: The Dirty Jobs, Helpless Dancer.
4. The Who Sell Out
Who Trivia: The band’s first concept album was not “Tommy,” but rather their third studio album. “Sell Out” is a looney collection of songs, commercial jingles and advertisements meant to simulate a pirate radio station. It’s a goofy album, and The Wife doesn’t care for it, but I do. Highlights: Armenia City in the Sky, Mary Anne with the Shaky Hands, Tattoo, Our Love Was, I Can See For Miles, I Can’t Reach You, Sunrise. Low point: Rael.
The rock opera gets all the press but honestly, there’s more fat here than on “Quadrophenia” and several other Who albums. Highlights: Overture, Amazing Journey, Sparks, The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, Tommy Can You Hear Me, Sensation, Sally Simpson, I’m Free, Welcome, We’re Not Gonna Take It. Low points: Cousin Kevin, Fiddle About, Underture.
6. The Who By Numbers
A personal favorite. The best known song from this one is, sadly, “Squeeze Box.” Highlights: Slip Kid, However Much I Booze, They Are All In Love, Blue Red and Gray, How Many Friends. Low point: Imagine a Man.
7. The Who Sings My Generation
Debut album. Highlights: Out In The Street, My Generation, The Kids Are Alright, Legal Matter, The Good’s Gone, Much Too Much, It’s Not True, La-La-La-Lies. Low points: I Don’t Mind, I’m a Man, Please, Please, Please.
8. Live at Leeds
The greatest live album by the greatest live band. I once knew some foolish young women who thought “Summertime Blues” was an Alan Jackson song, but I schooled them right away. (Granted, it’s not a Who song either, but I think their version is the definitive one.) Highlights: Young Man Blues, Summertime Blues, Shakin’ All Over, My Generation, Magic Bus.
9. Odds and Sods
This collection of rarities and out-takes is a mixed bag as you’d expect, but it still delivers more solid songs than late-era Who. Highlights: Long Live Rock, Naked Eye, I’m The Face, Now I’m a Farmer, Put the Money Down, Faith in Something Bigger, Too Much of Anything, Pure and Easy. Low points: Little Billy, Glow Girl.
10. Who Are You
The Who’s final album with Keith Moon and thus the final Who album. Highlights: Who Are You, New Song, 905, Sister Disco. Low points: Music Must Change, Love is Coming Down.
11. A Quick One
Second album. You know, in looking at the track list I’m not sure why this is on the bottom. I know I’ve gotten tired of “A Quick One (While He’s Away)” — it’s clever the first few times you hear it, less so over time. Oh well, even the eleventh best Who album is better than most all other albums. Highlights: Run, Run, Run; Boris the Spider, Whiskey Man, Don’t Look Away, See My Way, So Sad About Us. Low points: Heat Wave, Cobwebs and Strange.
*Who albums post-Keith Moon are not really Who albums. They are still pretty good. If I had to rank them I’d say 12. It’s Hard; 13. Endless Wire; and 14. Face Dances.