Ranking albums from a band is never easy but when tackling The Who albums ranked, it is quite the tall task. With so many great records released over their career, it is hard to make a clear-cut decision on where one should stand in relation to the other.
But nevertheless, somebody has got to do it and that somebody is yours truly. Buckle up and get ready for a wild ride as we take a look at The Who albums ranked from best to worst.
About The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964. The band developed out of the prior band, the Detours.
The the original band lineup consisted of vocalist Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They are one of the most influential rock bands of all time, selling over 100 million records worldwide.
The Who have released several albums throughout their career, with their music featured in movies and tv shows such as The Simpsons and The Office.
Drummer Keith Moon passed away shortly after the release of Who Are You in 1978 from an overdose. Often referred to as ‘Moon the Loon’, he was known for his eclectic and often self destructive behavior. His drumming style was truly one of a kind and helped to define The Who sound.
After Moon’s death, the band continued on with drummers Doug Sandom and Kenney Jones. They released a few more albums with moderate success until breaking up in 1983. They have since reunited for tours and one-off performances, and have been back to preforming since the 2019 for the anniversary of Tommy.
The Who Albums Ranked
Below are our picks for all The Who albums ranked from worst to first. Note we are only including studio albums and have left off live releases such as Live At Leeds and The Kids Are Alright. If you do not have any live albums or seen concert footage of The Who, do yourself a favor and check some out and thank me later.
12. Who (2019)
Kicking off our list of The Who albums ranked is their 2019 album, simply titled, Who. This was the band’s first album of new material in thirteen years. The album consisted of all the right elements, ballads, rock, electronic experiments, and “classic Who-ish” tracks but seemed to miss the mark.
The album was promoted by lead single, “Ball and Chain” which was accompanied by a music video. The song was met with mixed reviews, some praising the new sound and others criticizing it for straying to far from their classic sound.
A number of the album’s tracks were panned by both music experts and casual listeners alike, who said they lacked the band’s signature intensity and were poorly constructed. Most of the album was generic acoustic pop tunes without much outstanding guitar playing, with the exception of a few tracks.
Overall, Who felt like a missed opportunity and did not live up to the hype that surrounded its release. It currently sits at the bottom of our list of The Who albums ranked.
11. It’s Hard (1982)
It’s Hard is the last album released by The Who before their initial breakup in 1983. This album was the last to feature drummer Kenney Jones, who replaced Keith Moon after his death in 1978. The album experiments with different genres such as new wave, reggae, and country. The album was not well-received by fans or critics and only reached No. 16 on the UK charts.
The album was marred by interpersonal issues within the band, as well as creative differences between Townshend and Daltrey. The album was produced by Glyn Johns, who also worked on their previous albums.
Some of the tracks included on the album are “Athena”, “Eminence Front”, and “Face the Face”.
It’s Hard is considered to be one of The Who’s weaker efforts by most critics and I agree with that sentiment. It’s not a terrible album by any means, but it pales in comparison to some of their other work.
10. Endless Wire (2006)
Endless Wire is The Who’s first album release in over 25 years, and was met with mixed reviews by critics and fans alike. The album charted at No. 7 in the UK and No. 23 in the US, which is a bit lower than some of their other work.
The album was produced by singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, and was recorded over the span of two years.
Some of the tracks included on Endless Wire are “Fragments”, “Mike Post Theme”, and “You Stand by Me”.
Endless Wire is a decent album, but it’s clear that The Who were not the same band they once were. The album feels disjointed and unfocused, and lacks the energy and excitement of their earlier work.
9. Face Dances (1981)
Released in 1981, Face Dances is the seventh studio album by The Who. The album was met with mixed reviews, but reached No. 2 on the UK charts and No. 11 on the US charts.
The album was produced by Jeff Lynne, who had previously worked with Electric Light Orchestra.
Some of the tracks included on Face Dances are “You Better You Bet”, “Another Tricky Day”, and “Daily Records”.
Face Dances is a decent album, but it feels like a step down from some of their previous work. The production values are not as high, and the songwriting is not as strong.
8. A Quick One (1966)
A Quick One is The Who’s second album and was released in 1966. The album reached No. 4 on the UK charts and No. 47 on the US charts. The song “Happy Jack” became a top 40 smash in the United States in April 1967, when Decca Records published a version of the album with an altered track order entitled Happy Jack. In addition to song changes, there was some variation of cover art. The original UK release featured the song titles across the top of the back, shown below, while other releases did not include tracks across the top.
The album was produced by Kit Lambert and was one of The Who’s more collaborative albums, as opposed to previous ones, on which guitarist Pete Townshend was the sole songwriter. Instead, singer Roger Daltrey wrote one song and bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon each wrote two.
Music on the album was drawn from a variety of sources, including the band’s soul roots as well as commercial jingle melodies. It was intended to be heard as a pop record and to participate sonically in the pop art movement.
Some of the tracks included on A Quick One are “My Generation”, “A Quick One, While He’s Away”, and “Boris the Spider”.
A Quick One is considered to be one of The Who’s better early albums, and I would agree with that sentiment. It has a more cohesive sound than their debut album, and features some of their most well-known songs.
7. The Who Sell Out (1967)
The Who Sell Out is the third studio album by The Who and was released in 1967. The album reached No. 13 on the UK charts and No. 48 on the US charts.
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The album is a concept album, with each song being introduced by a commercial jingle. The jingles were recorded in a studio with a small audience, and were meant to sound like they were recorded live.
Some of the tracks included on The Who Sell Out are “I Can See for Miles”, “Odorono”, and “Silas Stingy”.
The Who Sell Out is considered to be one of The Who’s best albums, and I would agree with that sentiment. It’s a bit more experimental than some of their other work, but it’s still a great album.
6. The Who by Numbers (1975)
The Who by Numbers is the sixth studio album by The Who and was released in 1975. The album reached No. 6 on the UK charts and No. 39 on the US charts.
The album was produced by Glyn Johns, who had also produced Quadrophenia.
Some of the tracks included on The Who by Numbers are “Slip Kid”, “Squeeze Box”, and “Dreaming from the Waist”.
The Who by Numbers is a good album, but it’s not one of The Who’s best. The songs are decent, but they lack the excitement and complexity of some of the songs on our top 5 albums by The Who.
5. My Generation (1965)
My Generation is The Who’s debut album, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest debut albums of all time. The album was produced by Shel Talmy and reached No. 2 on the UK charts.
The album features some of The Who’s most iconic tracks, including the title track “My Generation”, “The Kids Are Alright”, and “I Can’t Explain”.
My Generation is a classic album that any fan of rock music should own. It’s raw, energetic, and features some of the best songs The Who ever wrote. Many tracks featured a furious blend of grungy distortion, rumbling bass and percussion, along with brutish screams. My Generation paved the way for a lot of the garage rock and heavy metal that came after it and really pushed the envelope in terms of what could be considered popular.
4. Tommy (1969)
Tommy is The Who’s fourth studio album and is considered by many to be their best. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching No. 4 on the UK charts and No. 2 on the US charts.
Tommy is a concept album about a “deaf, dumb, and blind” boy who becomes a messianic figure. The album features some of The Who’s most well-known tracks, including “Pinball Wizard”, “I’m Free”, and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
Tommy is a classic album that is essential for any fan of rock music. It features some of The Who’s best songs, and is a landmark in the world of concept albums.
3. Who Are You (1978)
Who Are You is The Who’s eighth studio album and was released in 1978. The album was the last to feature drummer Keith Moon, who died shortly after its release.
The album was a commercial success, reaching No. 2 on the UK charts and No. 4 on the US charts. It features some of The Who’s most well-known tracks, including the title track “Who Are You”, “5:15”, and “Love Reign O’er Me”.
Who Are You is a great album that features some of The Who’s best songs. It’s a bit more mellow than some of their other albums, but it’s still a great listen.
2. Quadrophenia (1973)
Quadrophenia is The Who’s sixth studio album and was released in 1973. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching No. 2 on the UK charts and No. 6 on the US charts.
Quadrophenia is a concept album and the second Rock Opera released by The Who. The album is about a young mod named Jimmy. The album features some of The Who’s most well-known tracks, including “The Real Me”, “I’m One”, and “Love, Reign O’er Me”.
Quadrophenia is a great album that features some of The Who’s best songs. It’s a bit more complex than some of their other albums, and takes a few spins before you really start to appreciate this masterpiece. It’s a great listen for any fan of rock music.
1. Who’s Next (1971)
Who’s Next is The Who’s fifth studio album and was released in 1971. The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching No. 1 on the UK charts and No. 1 on the US charts.
The album features some of The Who’s most well-known tracks, including “Baba O’Riley”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, and “The Song Is Over”.
Who’s Next is The Who’s best album. It’s the perfect blend of hard rock and classic rock, and features some of The Who’s best songs. It’s a must-have record that needs to be in any music lover’s collection.
I have went through a ton of the different pressings of this record over the years and will do a shootout similar to our Nirvana Nevermind vinyl shootout on it one of these days. I will say if you can find an original Decca release of Who’s Next, grab it. It is an amazing recording and the later MCA releases just did not compare in sound quality.
If you are unable to pickup an original, the 2012 Music on Vinyl (MOV) remaster did an amazing job and is my second pick.
Conclusion of The Who Albums Ranked
So there you have it, The Who albums ranked from best to worst. With an amazing catalog of studio releases, it was tough to put them in order. However, at the end of the day we felt Who’s Next was the pinnacle of their career and is the perfect album for any rock fan. If you have not checked it out, be sure to do so today!
Do you agree with our list? Let us know your thoughts on The Who Albums Ranked in the comments below!