I like to think that I would have been a huge follower of THE WHO had I been alive during their height. That is not to say that I don't thoroughly enjoy their work and have found their grandiose nature highly intriguing. It's easy to say that I would have been a fan of THE BEATLES or THE ROLLING STONES at the time because they were the logical choices. No doubt I would have fancied both bands but there is something about THE WHO that separates them. Maybe it's that the sense of theater appeals to me. Their songs played more like small symphonies rather than pop songs. They wrote about life and philosophy and the passage of time rather than girls and love. I admit that for a long time I shied away from the band because I just didn't get as much exposure to them as some of the other "classic bands". I highly doubt there will ever be a WHO Rock Band game. Unlike the Beatles they have not completely sold their commercial souls (save for the licensing of their music to the CSI franchise, which is a little sad).
The Who is an interesting amalgam mostly due to the fact that while most of the songs are written by Pete Townsend, he rarely sings them opting for the more soulful Roger Daltry to be his voice. Townsend does chime and opportune times which gives the band an additional depth in that it really is the relationship between the two that makes it work so well. When it works, such as with "Baba O' Reilly", "My Generation" or "Join Together", it is remarkable.
Sure they can be pompous and heavy handed. "Tommy" is both a masterpiece and totally absurd. "Quadrophenia" makes little or no sense. But whether it's their early more raw efforts, such as the brilliant "My Generation", or later on in their career, the Who could never be accused of taking a half assed approach. It's that go for broke, let the music take us where it wants aesthetic that is what initially interested me in their work and it's what I think would have made me a huge fan of theirs. Lucky for me I got them now; even all these years later it still moves me...
(mp3) The Who -- Baba O'Reilly
Anyone who does not get chills from this might just be dead.
(mp3) The Who -- Tea and Theatre
From the album of about three years ago, all that's left is Daltry and Townsend but still the passion and emotion is there. A great song about the twilight of life and the joy in the little things.