Monday, January 5, 2009

Who 13: The Kids Are Alright

Released to accompany the chaotic film, which was mostly completed before Keith died, The Kids Are Alright works as a hits album of sorts. Many of the songs have subtle differences from the album versions, and the album does bear repeat listening, making it a fan favorite since its release, as well as a great place to start.

The first thing we hear on the album is also the first thing we see in the movie—the infamous Smothers Brothers introduction to “My Generation”, complete with the explosion at the end. The screams kick in for “I Can’t Explain” from Shindig. Then we go, surprisingly, to Leeds for “Happy Jack” (which would not be revealed for many years, as the original album notes called it a Swedish TV performance, and the film used the promotional clip for the studio version). “I Can See For Miles” purports to be from the Smothers Brothers, but is really the standard mix. “Magic Bus” is listed as from the German Beat Club show; the video clip is that, but the track is the standard short version. “Long Live Rock” is a different mix to the Odds & Sods version and became the single.

“Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” is a pretty tinny but powerful showcase from Ready Steady Go. “Young Man Blues” is from the London Coliseum, and as good as the one from Leeds, with different solos. “My Wife” is John’s only contribution to the album, and an okay live version. (They never finished it as well as they started, which bugged him no end. It’s not featured in the film, and wouldn’t be seen by the public until 2008.) “Baba O’Riley” is from Keith’s last gig, and the movie reveals all the parts Pete screwed up, drunk as he was.

“A Quick One” is the best version of the song, and for years the only thing available from the Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus. The rest of side three is dedicated to Tommy—“Tommy Can You Hear Me”, with an extra surprise at the end, and three selections from Woodstock. “Sparks” absolutely burns, as does “Pinball Wizard”, and this “See Me Feel Me” is the only time Roger nailed it on stage. Having heard the rest of that set, these are still the best moments.

Half of side four is taken up by a meandering medley from the end of 1975. “Join Together” is unrecognizable, “Roadrunner” barely touches it and “My Generation Blues” is plodding. (The first CD version omitted this for space reasons; it was restored for the 2001 reissue.) “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is the last moment of greatness, and Keith’s last moments on stage. It takes a long time to get there.

Oddly, nothing was included either in the film or on the album from Quadrophenia; perhaps because that film was up next? Whatever the case, both film and album succeeded on giving fans lavish packages reminding them why they cared in the first place.

The Who The Kids Are Alright (1979)—4


  1. what are the parts he screwed up? i've seen that clip a few times and i don't see what he did wrong.

    and i couldn't agree more with you about roger never really nailing see me, feel me. not an easy song for him to sing at all.

    i think i should get this album. i don't own any who albums any more. this is not good.


  2. Actually some of the bum notes are also in "Won't Get Fooled Again", but there would be less of them in either song if he hadn't danced around like that, his guitar flopping away at the end of the strap.