I am sure in the annals of rock and roll history, there will be countless individuals who will weigh in on the following thoughts. And yet, I doubt any argument can be sincerely made contrary to the thoughts that I'll express here.
Having begun exploring the concept of classic albums over the past few articles, I have to sincerely say that there are albums that are classic and I believe cannot be disputed. "Who's Next" by the Who is one such album. No one in any semblance of sobriety can dispute the fact that it is a classic album if not one of the best pure rock albums ever produced in any era or matrix of the genre.
As noted in prior albums, the idea of classic doesn't always mean inclusion of a series of top 40 hits or even popular songs but a steady flow of consistency that make the albums seem like one long song rather than a series of separate pieces plastered on to the same piece of vinyl. "Who's Next" is clearly a landmark album. Not only did it establish a completely new direction for the long time British Invaders but also set the bar quite high for all music that would follow. With iconic songs like "Ba Ba O'Reilly" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" as well as incredible songs like "Behind Blue Eyes", "Goin' Mobile"and "Bargain", I really don't believe any single song is better than any of the rest. There is a steadiness in production that really sets a hypnotic tone through the usage of the emerging electronic age.
But there is more to it of course. The Who was never a band to rest on its laurels. They are one of the few bands in the history of rock and roll to really shift directions in their music and sound not once or twice but with just about every album and yet never let the fans down. The Beatles evolved from their early songs like "She Loves You" and "Hard Days Night" to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamond" and "Revolution". But they were the Beatles. The Kinks went through a similar transition from "You Really Got Me" through "Lola". But the Who seemed to always be searching for something different. They had their sound. They had become a solid "skiffle" band during the last half of the 1960's. But with the dawning of the new decade, it seemed as if they wanted to do something completely different. "Who's Next" definitely is that. And that was followed by an album called "Odds and Sods" which basically consisted of songs that they left off of the prior album. And then a series of solid rock albums that culminated with "Who Are You" which ended the run of the Who in my opinion. When Keith Moon passed, the band lost a part of its soul and the feel that was there was then quite noticeably different with songs like "Athena" being their best offerings... It was quite a drop off for fans who wanted more of what they'd grown accustomed to.
And yet for my money, there is no album that screams classic more than 1971's "Who's Next". I'm sure most who read this will agree and probably already have it in their collection. And so I'm really not telling you anything you don't already know. It is music that will forever be a part of the rock and roll landscape.