The Story Of The Only Number 1 Album Of The Who
via The Who Vault/ Youtube
Nearly every rock band that has emerged in the last half-century owes an immeasurable debt to The Who, a debt that can never truly be repaid.
Except for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, The Who exerted the most significant influence among the British Invasion groups that dominated the music scene throughout the 1960s and early ’70s.
Many of their pioneering concepts have become so ingrained in rock culture that it’s challenging to recall a time before their innovation. Power chords? Stacked amplifiers? The fundamental concept of volume that underpins heavy music to this day? All of these were popularized by a group of spirited London musicians over five decades ago.
Nevertheless, there is one aspect where The Who falls short, and that’s their performance on the music charts. Despite their consistent success and impressive sales figures throughout their career, they have never managed to secure the top spot with a single track in either the United Kingdom or the United States. Their albums have entered the top ten, but they have only one chart-topping record to their name.
Who’s Next topped the UK charts
The band has consistently impressive sales and reached the top five with their singles and albums, but it was their 1971 album Who’s Next that broke the curse.
Prior to this milestone, they had already achieved three albums in the top five, with Tommy landing a strong second place. They would replicate this second-place achievement twice more with Quadrophenia” and Face Dances.
As for their singles collection, they came tantalizingly close to the top spot but had to settle for the runner-up position with “My Generation” in 1965 and “I’m A Boy” the following year. Despite producing numerous classic tracks after this period, it has been over four decades since any of their singles entered the top ten in the UK.
Breaking the pattern
Who’s Next remains their sole album to break this pattern, yet it’s worth noting that Pete Townshend originally conceived the LP as a concept record called Lifehouse. However, his growing disillusionment with this concept led him to abandon it. Although many songs from that project survived, the guitarist instead chose to create a more conventional rock album.
The Who’s achievements as one of music’s giants prove that chart positions may not carry as much significance as they appear to and do not necessarily indicate a work’s enduring quality.
If The Who were offered the opportunity to secure more chart-topping records in exchange for a less impressive musical catalog, they would likely dismiss such an offer without hesitation.
— The Who (@TheWho) August 23, 2023
Notched two No. 2 hits in the US later in the ’70s
Featuring two songs perfectly suited for The Who’s electrifying live performances, Who’s Next expanded the band’s audience significantly during their eighth year together. However, their most remarkable achievements on the U.S. charts were still yet to come.
In 1973, Quadrophenia was released, featuring tracks like “The Real Me”, “Doctor Jimmy”, and “Love, Reign O’er Me”, This album marked The Who’s pinnacle of chart success in America, reaching an impressive No. 2 position. Notably, it also secured the No. 2 spot in the UK charts.
Despite Keith Moon’s declining health and deteriorating playing abilities by the late 1970s, the band managed to create one more highly successful album with their exceptional drummer. This album was Who Are You, released in 1978, and it reached No. 2 on the U.S. charts.