The Who, Odds & Sods (1974)

It was The Who, more than pretty much any other band, that was responsible for my lifelong music obsession.  As a kid, I was perpetually tied to my little AM transistor radio, fixated on the Top 40, deeply concerned with every new song's movement up and down the charts.  That all changed in junior high, the first time I heard Who's Next.  That record showed me the majesty of the long-player, the ritual of vinyl, and set me loose trying to discover the deep history of rock and roll not captured by those silly little 3-minute pop songs on the AM band.

Our local library had a decent record collection, and I went pretty crazy diving deep into the Who's back catalog (not to mention every other classic rock mainstay I could get my hands on).  And while Who's Next is undeniably a fantastic album and will always hold a special place in my heart, I'm far more partial to Quadrophenia and Sell Out.

But the Who album I found most interesting was this one, 1974's Odds & Sods, a somewhat disjointed, haphazard collection of outtakes and leftovers the band issued as a stop-gap in between recording Quadrophenia and 1975's Who by Numbers.

Because for an album of songs the band had deemed unworthy of inclusion on its albums, Odds & Sods is insanely great, with a huge number of tracks that rank up with the band's best work.  And if the band's leftovers were better than most artists' singles, well, that certainly vindicated my love of Pete Townshend and crew.

The album is sequenced kinda randomly, no particular order, with tracks ranging from their first (failed) single recorded as The High Numbers to some early 70s EP tracks.  Along the way you get a few outtakes from the abandoned Lifehouse concept album, most of which was salvaged for Who's Next, including "Pure and Easy" and "Too Much of Anything," both of which were as good as anything on that record; wonderful, poppy 60s tunes like "Faith in Something Bigger" and "Glow Girl" (the later foreshadowing Tommy with the "It's a girl, Mrs. Walker" coda); the twisted anti-smoking commercial "Little Billy" (rejected by the American Cancer Society); and "Naked Eye," easily one of the Who's ten best songs ever.

The cd version is twice as long, digging up even more outtakes (none of which are quite as essential, but plenty of which are still great).

An epic live version of "Naked Eye":



Buy it on Amazon.

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