Back in the day singles weren’t always included on albums. That’s how Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy came to be. It was the first Who compilation and, in many ways, remains the best. I even stumbled into a 1971 Rolling Stone article written by Pete Townshend about Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy:
On listening to this album, it’s very easy to imagine that the whole Who world has been made up of singles. Where Tommy and his lengthy and finally expatriated self come in, it’s hard to say. Probably nearer the time of the second album, A Quick One, or Happy Jack, as it was called in the States. Before we even approached the idea of making an album that was an expression of our own feelings, or in the case of the Happy Jack, an album expression of our own insanity, we believed only in singles. In the top ten records and pirate radio. We, I repeat, believed only in singles.
In England albums were what you got for Christmas, singles were what you bought for prestige. It was the whole recreation of the local dance hall cum discotheque in your own sweet front room. You had to have the regulation tin speaker record player, tin, not twin, housed artistically in a vinyl covered box under a lid with a two-watt amplifier worthy only of use as a baby alarm, and a record deck on which the current top 20 singles could be stacked 12 or 15 high for continuous dancing of the latest dance – which differed only from last week’s in the tiniest possible hip-waggling details. A long sentence, but a single sentence. One sentence and you have the truth about singles. We made them tinny to sound tinny. If you made them hi-fi to sound tinny you were wasting your time, after all.
Pete goes on at some length about the tunes on Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, which makes it a must-read even if at 45 years old, it’s a bit musty.
Album art time. We begin with the front and back covers of the LP in one fell swoop. The front is stage right and the back is, well, where it is. I’ve always loved this image:
Here’s the gatefold in glorious black and white:
Finally, the whole damn LP via the YouTube. Rock on, Pete: