This greatest-hits collection brilliantly sums up The Who's first phase. Released before Who's Next and its substantial shift in the band's sound, Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy tells the tale of The Who as a singles band. Some songs here also appear on proper studio albums, but they never sound in a better context than when matched up with other singles. Though Pete Townshend longed to write grand epics and successfully brought rock operas to the world, he was also one of the all-time best writers of three-minute pop singles. There are countless Who hits packages that offer a variety of rarities and choices, but no hits collection creates a better snapshot of the '60s era than this one. All serious rock libraries should have "The Kids Are Alright," "I Can See for Miles," "Pictures of Lily," "My Generation," "Pinball Wizard," and "Substitute" among their listings, so definitive are these recordings. Original pressings of the vinyl LP and subsequent digital downloads feature the longer alternate studio takes of "Magic Bus" and "I'm a Boy."