I bow to no one in my appreciation of The Who. The way they took the same base materials of R&B as the Stones, Them et al, but used them to create something mythical and existential is nothing short of heroic. They were a uniquely powerful live band and I admire the way they’ve persevered and tried to find something new to say.
However, since A Quick One While He’s Away, Pete Townshend just hasn’t been able to resist the urge to compose something more “important” than rock’n’roll. So far, there’s been the rock operas, Tommy and Quadrophenia, the abandoned multimedia epic Lifehouse, The Iron Man (a musical), White City (a novel), Psychoderelict (a radio play) and Endless Wire (also a musical). Have any of these endeavours been truly satisfactory? I like bits from all of them, but none as much as, say, Who’s Next.
I guess what I’m saying is: can you point me in the direction of a Who (old or new) that’s cerebral but not attempting to be part of some operatic arc? My current Spotify best-of has got a respectable 76 songs on, but I’m sure there is stuff I’ve overlooked (I only recently heard the excellent Eminence Front). Next I’m going in on Pete’s demos, but please do let me know if there’s anything I’m missing.