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The Who

Then and Now: Maximum Who (Geffen)


First the bewilderment: another Who best-of? That's nine by my unscientific count, including 2002's MCA-released double disc Ultimate Collection, which, apparently, wasn't. Then and Now contains a scant twenty tracks, exactly half from the 1960s and only one from the 1980s ("You Better You Bet," which wasn't even the best song on Face Dances). Worse, no "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," the anthem purists prefer over "My Generation," which turned out to be a lie anyway, anyhow, anywhere. Then the derision: The disc's out on Geffen, for whom the band never recorded. God bless the corporate merger, in which everyone gets a piece of the myth sooner or later. Then the delight: two new songs, proof that Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey's promise to work together wasn't hollow. Then the horrible reality: These two new songs, one written for Elvis Presley and one written for John Entwhistle, are the worst Who songs ever -- tepid and squishy, pretentious and maudlin. One nicks from "Only Fools Rush In" -- truer words were never stolen. The other compares their dead bassist to old red wine. The question is, "Who is this for?" Who fans don't need it, and no one else would want it. Not who, then, but why?