So now we’re on boxset number three – the period that truly defined The Who, as they transitioned from “pop” band to “rock legends”. After their one year stint with Robert Stigwood’s Reaction Records, managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp went to Polydor Records and were granted their own label – not just as a showcase for The Who, but to sign and nurture new talent. In the big picture, they were a remarkable success, gracing the world with The Jimi Hendrix Experience (who actually did have the first Track single release), Thunderclap Newman and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Still, the label’s focus was on The Who and their run got off to a rousing start with the forever gorgeous and chill-inducing “Pictures Of Lily” backed with John Entwistle’s dive-bomber bass-driven “Doctor, Doctor”.
In this box, you get 15 (yes, that’s right – fifteen) 45’s, all re-cut/remastered and sounding as explosive and as powerful as they did upon first release. And you have a veritable “Who’s Greatest Hits” package: “I Can See For Miles”, “Magic Bus”, “Pinball Wizard”, “I’m Free”, “5;15” and so on. For many, this is a treasure trove since many of the B-sides have long been unavailable and as well, several of these singles never were released to the U.S. market, such as “The Relay”, “Let’s See Action” or “Dogs”. And, as with the previous two boxsets, it comes with a curiosity – another withdrawn single. In this instance, it was “See Me, Feel Me”/”Overture” from Tommy; it was replaced by a Tommy E.P. with the same two songs, but adding “I’m Free” and “Christmas” – it ultimately failed on the charts. Also, in an even rarer instance, two of the singles have picture sleeves, which The Who did not usually have (editor’s note: the only single I’m aware of having a sleeve was the U.S. Decca pressing of “Happy Jack”/”Whiskey Man”) – the Tommy E.P. and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”/”Don’t Know Myself”. And as before, an informative booklet with some timeless photographs.
I don’t think I need to opine further as again, this is The Who; these are songs that live with so many of us and while you can have various permutations, compilations and releases, it’s nice to have them in the form they were originally intended. Which is how it should be.
The Who, “The Track Singles, 1967 – 1973 is available now