The Who Maximum As & Bs Boxset Review

I was asked at the weekend if I’d do a review of The Who A & Bs box set and here it is. I managed to pick this up for £24.99. It’s normally about £50. I don’t think it’s worth quite that much, but if you see it for about £30, £35, then I would definitely say you should go for it. It’s very well put together. I’ve played all of it and really enjoyed it, even some of the earlier stuff. I’m not a massive fan of some of the really early stuff by The Who, but I really love the way that this was sequenced and put together. It contains literally every one of their singles, A sides and B sides.

Let’s have a look and see what is in the box. It’s very sturdy. It’s not a cheap looking box at all, probably hence the price. Comes with a little ribbon effect, so you can actually lift things out quite easily. The first thing you see is this book. It’s a very well put together book. I was expecting this to be just listing details of which single was released what year, position in the charts etc. It does go into a lot of detail about the tracks themselves, about the writing credits, what was going on behind the scenes. There’s a lot of analysis and The Who, Daltrey and Townshend, have been involved with this as well.

It’s the kind of booklet that you’ll refer to again and again as you want to kind of take onboard the little bit of history behind all the tracks. There’s some good pictures and adverts from the time in there as well. One of my favorite Who tracks is Relay. In fact, one of the hardest tracks to find on CD is actually Waspman. There’s a good write up about how that came about. Keith Moon actually wrote Waspman, it’s a bit like Monty Python meets The Who.

Then, you get the CDs themselves. Again, some thought has gone into this. This is number one which goes through Zoot Suit right through to The Good’s Gone, which has My Generation on. There’s a little slip sleeve as well with a bit of blurb on from the time. They’ve also replicated Brunswick Label, which was the label that all of these tracks would have been released on.

CD2 is the next one and goes from Substitute to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This is the one with I Can See For Miles on. Again, some ads from the time on the inner sleeve. This is on the Reaction label, it would have been for those tracks, many of those tracks if not all of them.

Then with CD3, we move into the golden age of The Who in many respects, which is Pinball Wizard, The Seeker, See Me, Feel Me, Christmas, I’m Free, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Let’s See Action, Join Together, Relay and, of course, the aforementioned Waspman by Keith Moon. Obviously this one, it gives the impression that it’s on Track Records which is really cool.

Next up is CD 4 which takes you from 5:15 right through to Quiet One and You and Who Are You.

Again, there’s some topical ads from the time on the inner sleeve. This one is on Polydor. The remastering is excellent on all of these.

Then, the last one, CD 5 has  Eminence Front and ending up with the last single, Be Lucky. Again, some topical advertising from the time. This one’s on Polydor, but the grey label.

I would recommend it. If you can get a good deal on it, then it’s well worth getting.

Phil Aston

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