June 5, 1965. In the Melody Maker, a radically stroppy band are being unveiled to a world beyond Shepherd’s Bush. “A new name is being hurled around in hip circles – The Who,” the piece begins. “Today, with one hit gone and another on the way, they are reckoned by the ‘In Crowd’ to be on the crest of a success wave that could make them the new rave – on a nationwide scale.”
Over half a century later, the indefatigable Who endure, still successful on far more than a mere nationwide scale. To celebrate that remarkable career, Uncut are proud to unveil a deluxe remastered edition of our Ultimate Music Guide to The Who. As usual, there are deep reviews of every single Who album, plus a treasure trove of interviews that span 50 years and which showcase Pete Townshend, in particular, as one of the most complex, self-flagellating and quoteworthy figures the rock era has produced.
There are agonising meditations on age (“I often feel that I’m too old for rock’n’roll,” he gripes – in 1973!); frank recollections of his addictions (“My theory about smack is ‘Keep taking the tablets ’til the pain goes away’”: 1993); repeated tussles with the weight, significance and meaning of Tommy, Quadrophenia and Lifehouse; and one last combative encounter from 2015, in which Townshend prepares for his 70th birthday by announcing, “There’s a desire I have to do a show which is crap …’” Townshend’s meaning, of course, is never quite straightforward. His appetite for stirring up trouble remains, however, unquenchable, and hopefully this Ultimate Music Guide is testament to that, and to the quixotic genius that The Who have manifested for so long. They have, it’s fair to say, “become individualists…”