This is pure gold. I’m speaking both as a fan and as a music critic (!); this is a small, but perfect reminder of how a record company can do something right AND satisfy a need for a classic band’s earliest (and possibly best) material to be heard after being unavailable for decades.
Continuing with their “The Who Hits 50” celebratory re-issues series, Universal in the U.K. has reissued the original 45’s from Brunswick Records (The Who’s first major British label) in their original label sleeves, “pop out” centers and in mono, as they were originally cut. This includes “I Can’t Explain”, “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere”, “My Generation”, “A Legal Matter”, “The Kids Are Alright” and “La La Lies” – plus two bonuses: the first single the band ever released (on Fontana, now also owned by Universal), “I’m The Face” (under the name The High Numbers) and the “withdrawn” single, “Circles”/”Instant Party Mixture” (to get the full story, read the booklet notes from this or the 2002 CD deluxe-edition reissue of My Generation).
Being a fan and one that tends to lean toward authenticity, this looks and sounds just right; loud, powerful, crisp – the way mono singles were issued. But more importantly, it’s the songs, that fifty years later, still sound as vital and fresh as when any of us may have first heard them (for me, it was 39 or so years ago).
The music of a band like The Who is crucial for the future generations to learn about, embrace and take inspiration from. And there is no better a place to start than with these first 45’s. It should be noted, as well, that Universal intends to continue – the next singles box will be the Reaction singles, followed by the Track singles and finally, the Polydor singles. Something to look forward to.
The Who: The Brunswick Singles 1965 – 1966 box is available now