The Who – digging deeper…

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Photo of The Who for feature about the best Who songs
Photo: Chris Morphet/Redferns

58 singles, 11 studio albums, a dozen live albums, four soundtracks, four EPs and no fewer than 26 compilations, with last year’s The Who Hits 50! making it 27. The Who’s catalogue is one of the mightiest in all of rock music, and as the retrospective The Who Hits 50! celebrates, they have been one of the most creative rock bands to emerge in Britain – or for that matter anywhere in the world.

Their incredible half-century of unmatched innovation and raw power has made them both a much-loved band and respected musicians. What many of us think of, when we think of the Who, are the hits, the classic tracks, but their catalogue is filled with lesser-known gems and so we’ve dug deep and come up with a playlist of hand-picked songs, some that may be less familiar.

You won’t find ‘Substitute,’ ‘My Generation’ or ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ in this selection: we’ve reviewed the band’s entire output for songs you hear much less often. It includes a couple of less-appreciated singles, such as 1968’s ‘Dogs’ and 1982’s ‘Athena,’ from ‘It’s Hard,’ the last album of The Who’s original line-up before Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey’s remarkable return after 24 years with the 2006 album ‘Endless Wire.’ That reunion is represented by the title track and ‘God Speaks, Of Marty Robbins.’

Every phase of their career is represented, not least their incomparable live work, with ‘Tattoo,’ from the famed ‘Live At Leeds’; ‘Heaven and Hell,’ from the same tour’s ‘Live At Hull’ album, released only in 2012; and ‘Christmas,’ from their celebrated performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970. We’ll hear The Who in session for the BBC, with ‘Good Lovin,’ ‘La La La Live’ and ‘Disguises,’ and two tracks from the remastered ‘Quadrophenia’ album, ‘Drowned’ and ‘Joker James.’

All that, plus tracks from ‘Who’s Next,’ ‘Face Dances’ and more. Let us know your own undiscovered Who favourites in the comments box below the playlist.

Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. Garrett Jennings

    September 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Best underplayed song by The Who could be “Faith in Something Bigger” from the album “Odds and Sods” which was an album of b-sides and rarities.

  2. Garrett Jennings

    September 14, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    One of the best underplayed songs by The Who is “Faith in Something Bigger” from their album “Odds and Sods”

  3. Garrett Jennings

    September 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    “Faith in Something Bigger”

  4. Ronald

    September 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Real Good Looking Boy (2004)

  5. Jon

    September 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    This list leaves off a ton of great tracks that never get played in concert or on radio;

    – So sad about us
    – Whiskey man
    – How many friends
    – Slip kid
    – Success story
    – Mary Anne with the Shaky Hands

    Many others I would put before many on that list, esp. The Endless Wire tracks. That sounded more like a Pete solo album than a Who record.

  6. Chris

    September 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Joker James isn’t from the remastered Quadrophenia (a demo of it was included on the remastered album though). Joker James was written for the original album but was only recorded for inclusion on the film’s soundtrack a few years later

  7. Paul

    September 14, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Long Live Rock from Odds & Sods

  8. John Bean

    September 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Guitar and Pen is comprehensive of their recorded work but could they bring that energy live.

  9. Zoso

    September 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I was expecting stuff like Slip Kid, Relay, Pure And Easy, How Many Friends, a lot from The Who Sell Out, Melancholia, The Song Is Over, Water, Naked Eye. I think a lot on this list just doesn’t measure to those mentioned above.

  10. John Bean

    September 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Guitar and Pen is comprehensive of their recorded work but could they bring that energy live.
    <3 Athena.

  11. Danny Bertou

    September 14, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Not technically gems I know, but most of “The Who By Numbers”-album (in particular They Are All in Love through to In A Hand Or A Face), The Dirty Jobs, I’ve Known No War, Cry If You Want and the title track from It’s Hard, Music Must Change (the high point of the Who Are You-album) and Another Tricky Day.

  12. Dave Rudin

    September 14, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    “Put The Money Down” (Odds and Sods)

    “Success Story” (The Who By Numbers)

    “I Need You” (A Quick One)

  13. F.M. Scott

    September 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Very nice list. I’ve also got to throw in a few of my unsung Who favorites:
    “Glow Girl” from Odds & Sods and the deluxe edition of The Who Sell Out
    “Silas Stingy” (also from TWSO)
    “The Last Time” (Stones cover, also from O&S)

  14. Mike

    September 14, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    Dreaming from the waist.

  15. Dan

    September 15, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Cobwebs and Strange & I’m A Boy

  16. ted

    September 15, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Nice list, but does I Like Nightmares qualify as The Who?

  17. Jelle

    September 15, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Waspman, I Need You, Whisky Man,

  18. Ed Mosco

    September 15, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    How about the Flip Side of ‘Substitute’ which was recorded on ATCO records.
    The song is called “Waltz For a Pig’

  19. Phil Bennett

    September 15, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I really love the live version of ‘baby don’t you do it’. It was a b side and appeared on one of the rarities albums. Probably the best of The Who live. Such energy and excitement!

  20. Alan

    September 16, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I can’t believe “Too Much of Anything” and “Pure and Easy” from Odds and Sods” are not there. To correct a comment above “Odds and Sods” also included tracks that were meant for the “Life House” project. Simply the best band in the world.

  21. brian corwin

    September 19, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Just another tricky day for you.

  22. Leo Strauss

    October 3, 2014 at 2:41 am

    All of By Numbers except Dreaming from the Waist, not because PT allegedly dislikes it, but without KM and JE it’s pointless. Little Billy is nicely subversive. The Batman theme also worth revisiting. Rael would be terrific with today’s multimedia. They could also do Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting with Zack and cover Elton’s re-worked Pinball Wizard, as the outro is vastly superior to anything the band did, including the Who On Ice version.

    It’s Hard is a sonic abomination. For irony, maybe they should open their sets with WAY “New Song”. On the ’79 tour Music Must Change with the horn section was not bad.

    Very much enjoyed the 2006 tour’s integration of MG with Cry If You Want (still bad) and then the close out to Old Red Wine. It was the first time since 1979 the Who ever surprised as a live band and it was briefly electrifying in the way they used to be every night even an off one, back in the day.

  23. Hacky

    October 3, 2014 at 2:47 am

  24. Garrett Jennings

    May 8, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Here are my Top 100 Songs by The Who

  25. Joe Cogan

    August 7, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    “In a Hand or a Face”
    “Naked Eye”
    “Pure and Easy”
    “The Relay”
    “Go To The Mirror, Boy”
    “Song is Over”
    “Armenia City in the Sky”
    “Our Love Was, Is”
    “Silas Stingy”

  26. Joe

    August 7, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    The John Entwhistle penned “When I Was A Boy” is a little known classic.

  27. Rob

    August 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    These tracks are more than “deep cuts”, they’re much more obscure, on the level of rarities. Interesting, and probably necessary for the completist collector of a fan, but these aren’t the songs I would seek out for a Who fix or use to give someone a better picture of the band.

  28. Mike D

    August 7, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    “It’s Hard” the last album of the Who’s original line up? Really? That would’ve been “Who Are You”.

  29. Jason

    August 8, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Whiskey Man from A Quick One

  30. reggie side

    August 9, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Doctor Doctor – B Side of pictures of Lilly. A great entwistle track – with super heavy bass riff and moon going mental.

    also votes for Disguises, Circles, So Sad ’bout us, Slip Kid, Glow Girl, Tattoo.

  31. Jared Mashburn

    August 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Blue red and grey
    Another Trickey Day
    We Got a Hit

  32. Eddie

    August 20, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    almost everything on The Who Sell Out and quite a few from Pete’s Who Came First.

  33. Garrett Jennings

    December 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I’ve extended my list to the Top 200 Songs of The Who

    • Kathleen Cannon

      March 20, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Thanx! Seems you got it covered!

  34. Kathleen Cannon

    March 20, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    A lot from Odds and Sods. Naked Eye, Faith in Something bigger. Little Billy – surprised the American Cancer Society never got ahold of that. Pure and Easy, The Quiet One, Drowned, Sea and Sand from Quad, The Who by Numbers: Imagine a Man, However Much I Booze – great for AA folks, How Many Friends. From Who are You, 905, Had Enough.

  35. Laura Z

    March 20, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    They are doing Join Together and The Seeker on this tour ~ two of my favorites ~ but they dropped Slip Kid from the set list, which is disappointing. I’d love to hear them perform Let’s See Action, The Relay, Faith in Something Bigger, Put the Money Down, Blue Red and Grey… ack, I need more time to think! When they toured Quadrophenia a couple of years back, all of it sounded fantastic, so any of the lesser-played songs from there would be great, too…

  36. Susan Foreman

    March 20, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    ‘La La La La Live’?

    Although I have every album the band released, that is so obscure I have never heard of it. However, I DO have a song called ‘La La La La Lies’ on the ‘My Generation’ album!

  37. Happy Wonderer

    March 20, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Good to see Bargain on the list, and Dogs.
    I always loved the sound that Shel Talmy got on Instant Party, B-side of A Legal Matter.
    I Don’t Know Myself became my personal anthem when I was 16 or 17.
    Possibly a little too well known but Amazing Journey/Sparks – along with Roger’s tour De force, Love Reign O’er Me, high points of the recent Hyde Park show.
    The Real Me which I played religiously before going out on a Friday night. If you can put up with the less than exemplary sound quality, a bootleg version recorded at the Sundown Christmas Party in 1973 is just about the most exciting thing I’ve ever heard.
    Slip Kid, a really great album opener.
    Now, it would be remiss not to have an Ox song. There is the philosophical Silas Stingy but I think it would have to be The Quiet One. Just check out the awesome performance on Youtube from Toronto in 1982.
    Could go on all night but let’s finish with Relay.

  38. Yaro S.

    March 21, 2016 at 3:29 am

    Dreaming From The Waist
    Pure and Easy

  39. Nick in NZ

    March 21, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Too much of anything is a great track and I like Nightmares – from the face dances sessions
    but my favourite is Young Man Blues from Live at Leeds – the Who at their best in my opinion

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