The Who, Tommy
Decca, 1969: Roger Daltrey (vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar), John Entwistle (bass, died 2002), Keith Moon (drums, died 1978)

Notable songs (It is difficult to list individual songs since they all flow together as part of the "opera.")


Look, most of what The Who has recorded since the band's formation in 1964 has been pretty much typical rock music. There is a formula, a sound, and the band has pretty much stuck to that formula and been very successful, but there is one big exception to the band's work, and that is this recording of the "rock opera" Tommy.

Well, if you try and think of rock operas, there are not that many that come to mind: Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. That's a great handful of music!

A rock opera is a two-album effort that unwinds a story; it is more than just a concept album; it is a musical epic. Tommy, composed mostly by Pete Townshend and later turned into a movie, tells the very weird story of a guy who becomes a pinball wizard--yes, I'm oversimplifying--after experiencing "childhood trauma, sexual abuse, repression and spiritual release" ( a very large amount of bizarre trauma). It is a one of a kind album, a tour-de-force, and very, very, very weird. By the way, it's sold more than twenty million copies worldwide.

This is actually an interesting choice for my top 25 list because I am generally not a big fan of The Who, but this album is different, must-listen, a path-breaking record.