10 Perfect Rock Albums That No One Saw Coming

9. Tommy - The Who

Every piece of the Who's career in the early days was built around their role in the Mod scene. All of the songs that they were mining felt more in line with stuff by the likes of the Kinks, taking the traditional three minute pop song and putting bigger arrangements around them, like the garage rock or My Generation or the psychedelia of I Can See For Miles. Pete Townshend never wanted to be in that lane forever though, and Tommy was the first time where you needed to listen to the entire record to understand what they were doing.

Looking to move rock and roll into the theater, the main crux of this album was driven by a narrative, with Pete putting together a story about a deaf dumb and blind kid who has a fixation for pinball and becomes the leader for finding some salvation through music. Built around poppier tracks like Pinball Wizard, the band took the operatic side very seriously, having different musical motifs go in and out of the songs and even playing the story in its entirety when they played live.

For all the acclaim it's gotten, you tend to forget that the story doesn't even have that happy of an ending, with Tommy being rejected by his followers as soon as he rubs them the wrong way and then retreating back into his self imposed exile, becoming deaf dumb and blind yet again. The rise of Tommy may have been cut down on the record, but the future of rock and roll led to millions of other bands taking this album's blueprint, each one starting rock operas of their own.


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