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The Who: Hits 50!

Album Review

Fifty years of hits and misses

After 50 years in show business, The Who look back at their career via the medium of multi-disc box set, probably relieved that at least some of them managed to outlive the "hope I die before I get old" millstone. But what does it all mean?

It’s Grrr! for mods

Following the lead of The Rolling Stones, The ‘Oo mark their half century with an extensive chronological compilation of 40-plus singles. Like the Stones’ comp, it’s heavily weighted towards their golden age (The Who have, after all, released only three post-70s albums), outlasts the average Peter Jackson movie and is a ceaseless delight from start to finish. Once you’ve got past Zoot Suit, the comic prologue from back when The Who were beat-era fashion victims The High Numbers, the jolt into the visceral end of 60s pop hits like a Pacific Rim Jaeger. Townshend’s riffs, taut as tripwire, slash through I Can’t Explain, Substitute and I’m A Boy, Moon’s drums hammer out brave new rock’n’roll tattoos and Roger Daltrey grows from stuttering man-child to roaring he-lion between My Generation and I Can See For Miles.

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