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Top 10 the Who Songs of the ’60s

The Who
Keystone Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Choosing just the 10 best the Who songs is impossible task, so we decided to go decade by decade, starting with the '60s. After all, that's the decade when the band exploded onto the scene with their trademark blend of “maximum R&B,” becoming global superstars and setting the stage for their even more ambitious and innovative '70s work. Please be aware that we couldn't include every song we wanted, such as 'A Quick One,' 'I Can't Reach You,' 'The Goods Gone,' 'I'm Free' and many more. Regardless, ladies and gentlemen, to celebrate their impact on rock, here's the 10 Best the Who Songs of the '60s!


Tommy
10

'Pinball Wizard'

From: 'Tommy' (1969)
 
 

'Pinball Wizard' makes our 10 best the Who songs of the '60s list due to its monumental place in the band's history. The song offers the perfect balance of the rock and the pop sides of the band, and would be the last time they would fully tip a hat to that "pop" side. With the success of 'Tommy' and their performance at Woodstock, the band would move into more 'serious' territory. 'Tommy' was both the beginning and the end. The first golden era of the Who was over ... the second golden era was soon to begin.

 
Magic Bus: The Who on Tour
9

'Magic Bus'

From: 'Magic Bus: The Who on Tour' (1968)
 
 

Maracas? Claves? The Who? Yes indeed. 'Magic Bus' finds our heroes on a whole new path. This time out Roger Daltrey is front and center throughout while Pete Townshend's instrument of choice driving the song is an acoustic guitar. Full on drums and electric guitar don't even make an appearance until the song is almost over. Released in the summer of 1968, the track was a top 30 hit in the U.S., and became a staple of the band's live shows.

 
Happy Jack A Quick One
8

'So Sad About Us'

From: 'Happy Jack/A Quick One' (1968)
 
 

If this isn't one of the best songs in the Who's arsenal, what is? Here's another definitive "power pop" song from the boys, this time from their 1966 sophomore album, 'Happy Jack.' The intro guitar riff jumps out of the speakers full force with asweet melody right behind. A classic pop bridge is almost obliterated by the chaos of Moon's nonstop drum attack, while John Entwistle does his best to anchor things down. It's emphatic rock with a pure pop center.

 
Anyway Anyhow Anywhere
7

'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere'

Single, 1965
 
 

'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' is one of the best Who songs because it jumps right out of the speakers onto the dance floor. The ragged and jangly chords open things up before the band kick into high gear. The brooding bridge gives way to a feedback drum battle before popping back into the ever so poppy verse and chorus. Its slash-and-burn manic pop and roll is definitive 1965 Who.

 
The Who Sings My Generation
6

'The Kids Are Alright'

From: 'The Who Sings My Generation' (1965)
 
 

Another gem from the band's 1965 debut, 'The Kids Are Alright' is a blueprint for what would become known as "power pop" a decade or so later. The guitars both jangle and slash away while the powerhouse drumming of Moon is in full force. There's supreme melody front and center on the song throughout. While a very popular song amongst fans, the question remains... why this song isn't heard on radio as much as some of the band's lesser works?

 
Pictures of Lily
5

'Pictures of Lily'

Single, 1967
 
 

This is Townshend's ode to pin up girls, and also quite a bit more. The song cooks along with the help of some of the most dynamic guitar work from the band's early days. A unique bridge delivers a variation on the chorus, emphasizing a simple riff that is just too cool for words. The surprise appearance of a french horn, played by Entwislte, adds nice color to the song.

 
Single, 'I Can't Explain'
4

'I Can't Explain'

Single, 1965
 
 

This has to be one of the 10 Best Who Songs, as this is where it all begins. Though technically not their debut single, this was the first song released under the name the Who (and not the High Numbers). Townshend takes his inspiration from Dave Davies' riff-heavy guitar on the Kinks records, and put their own stamp on it. In just over two minutes, the legend is off and running. 'I Can't Explain' is pure Mod pop, the sound of 1965 London in full bloom.

 
The Who Sell Out
3

'I Can See for Miles'

From: 'The Who Sell Out' (1967)
 
 

'I Can See for Miles' was a real breakthrough hit in the US for the Who, and one of many shining moments on the band's amazing third album, 'The Who Sell Out.' The surging verses and those gloriously triumphant choruses are pure 1967 pop heaven that propelled this classic into the U.S. Top 10. The subtlety of Daltrey's melodic vocal works perfectly with Townshend's power chords and Moon's perfectly chaotic drumming. It was, and remains, the band's biggest hit in America.

 
Single, 'Substitute'
2

'Substitute'

Single, 1966
 
 

Many of the British invaders of the mid-'60s created a string of incredible singles, but the Who are right up there with 'em all! 'Substitute' is on par with peers like the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Hollies. A classic guitar riff kicks things off and never lets the listener go. Moon is doing his best Moon, while the thundering bass of Entwistle drives it all home. The track also finds Daltrey singing some of Townshend's best lyrics ever.

 
The Who My Generation
1

'My Generation'

From: 'My Generation' (1965)
 
 

'My Generation' has to be included on the 10 Best Who Songs of the '60s. The definitive youth anthem of all time still packs a venom-filled punch some 47 years after it's release. The title cut from the Who's debut album summed up everything about the generation gap and the frustrations of youth in just over three minutes. Proto-punk riffing, incredible bass runs, crashing drums, slashing guitars and profoundly snotty vocals add up to what is possibly the Who's most identifiable song.

 

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