Both begin with “Zoot Suit”, when they were still the High Numbers, and move steadily through the singles. Once they hit the ‘70s, or disc two if you have the double, the selections have to balance between actual singles and key album tracks. Needless to say, the opportunity to simply replicate Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy has been ignored, with not even all of those tracks represented.
The double disc takes the idea of “hits” to the extreme, seeming to think that anything released on a 45 counts. That’s why their version of “The Last Time” appears, as do “Dogs”, “Call Me Lightning”, “Postcard”, “Trick Of The Light”, “It’s Not Enough” (the non-hit from Endless Wire) and the pointless, clumsy edit of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. (Kudos for including the long version of “Magic Bus” in glorious mono, and equal demerits for not including the longer, alternate “I’m A Boy”.)
The single disc isn’t too different from the other 37 single-disc CDs that have come out, except for how it finishes. Even though nobody liked it before, and it wasn’t even a hit, “Real Good Looking Boy” (the new song unleashed for their 40th anniversary) appears again, but the big selling point, so they say, is the first new Who track in eight years. “Be Lucky” is either an anthem of empowerment or a snide indictment of modern pop music, complete with an auto-tuned phrase; hardly a classic, but mostly harmless.
That one new track is the only reason why we’ve bothered giving this collection its own post. As good as the majority of the music is, The Who Hits 50! is docked half a point for redundancy. 2002’s The Ultimate Collection is still the best overview of their full career.
The Who The Who Hits 50! (2014)—3½