by Kent Sterling
That’s a strong statement, saying that The Who is the best band of all-time. That puts them ahead of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.
The Who with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey is their 60s, for God’s sake, are still the best rock band in the world. When they were in their 20s and 30s, no one came close. Keith Moon was the best drummer in the history of rock, and John Entwistle redefined the role of the bass player in rock. Both of those guys fell victim to their excesses, but the band still brings undeniable heat and energy to the angriest set list in the history of music.
Rock is defined by angst and a youthful impatience with the status quo. The Who brought that, and still brings it. As in “The Seeker”, one of Townshend’s best songs, The Who seeks. Not sure why that song wasn’t chosen as a CSI theme.
There are those who tout The Beatles as history’s best rock band. No band that threw songs like “Fool on the Hill”, “Yesterday”, and “Eleanor Rigby” on vinyl can be considered. Take all of the McCartney dreck out of The Beatles catalogue, and we can talk. “Taxman” is one of the best rock songs of any era.
The Rolling Stones are a joke. They are to rock what cotton candy is to fine cuisine. Post 1970, name a decent Stones song. Charlie Watts is adequate at best, and Mick Jagger is a poseur.
Led Zeppelin? Oh boy. That’s close. Even their slower songs are great. “Going to California” is just a beautiful song. The more bluesy songs are all so sexual that they made John Lee Hooker blush. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham are just as dynamic a lineup as The Who at their peak. I give the edge to The Who because their songs are about frustration and reflect a very pissed off mentality. Zeppelin was not angry as much as they craved vaginal ports. Both are valid reasons to write a great rock song.
It’s close, but we get the see the best of the best play their best today. Later this year, The Who will release another CD of new material. It will be an angry (of course) examination of aging. Who’s better to take us on that trip?
Today, it will be about celebrating their totally unique and magnificent artistic past – and it will rock.
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