Roger Daltrey Vocals
John Entwistle Bass Guitar, Brass & Vocals
Keith Moon Drums
Pete Townshend Guitar, Piano(except where noted), Synthesizers & Vocals
Sleeve design by Mike Shaw and Bill Curbishley.
Front and back cover photography by Graham Hughes.
The inside cover shows the exterior of the Railway Hotel. This music venue was run by Pete’s friend Richard Barnes and was a major Mod hangout. Starting on Tuesday Nights in June 1964, soon after Keith Moon joined the band, The Who became regulars there. Pete accidentally cracked his guitar neck on the low ceiling and in reaction to laughs from the crowd, smashed his guitar for the first time. The date advertised for The Who, May 18th, was in 1965. However, the picture was taken in 1971. The Railway Hotel burned down March 2000.
The album’s original title was The Who Looks Back and the front cover was meant to illustrate that. The children are not The Who, but rather four kids rounded up in 1971 and dressed to look like the young Who. One of them is Who manager Bill Curbishley’s brother Paul.
Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy was first released in the U.S. as Decca DL 79184 and entered the charts there on November 20th, 1971. The first editions included a sheet of liner notes. It reached #11 on the Billboard charts. When The Who broke their contract with record producer Shel Talmy in 1966, they were sued and ultimately had to accept an agreement by which Talmy got a percentage of every Who album for five years. This album was released just after the lapsing of that agreement.
The U.K. release was held up because The Who and Bill Curbishley had failed to clear it with manager Kit Lambert. He tried to have the order of tracks changed but failed because too many copies had been pressed. The LP was released as Track 2406 006 and first entered the U.K. charts December 3rd going to #9.
Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy was not the first collection of The Who’s greatest hits nor was it the last. In fact, The Who have a plethora of hit collections. Britain has seen 1968’s Direct Hits, 1976’s The Story of The Who, 1984’s The Singles, 1985’s The Who Collection, 1988’s Who’s Better Who’s Best, the 1994 boxset 30 Years Of Maximum R&B and 1996’s My Generation – The Very Best Of The Who. The last three were also released in the U.S. along with 1968’s Magic Bus – The Who On Tour, 1981’s Hooligans, 1983’s The Who’s Greatest Hits, 1999’s The Who: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection 2002’s The Who: The Ultimate Collection and 2004’s The Who All-Time Greatest Hits. I’m not even going to touch on the many collections from other countries, which were also sold as imports in the U.S. and U.K.
In any case, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is the one collection that has been judged definitive by rock critics and fans around the globe. Unfortunately, it has not yet been chosen for remastering. The 1996 collection My Generation – The Very Best Of The Who is the closest to it in the present catalog.