The Who “Who By Numbers”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#214 in the Series) is The Who, Who By Numbers.

OK, I know. I actually did write this one up when this site was just the facebook page. In fact, it was one of the first ones I did. I also know that I recently did Pete Townshend’s White City: A Novel.

There is a reason why I’m coming back to The Who so quickly. There is a reason why I’m doing this album in particular.

That reason is today’s date, December 5th. Because on December 5th, 1975. (That’s 35 years ago, I did the math already for you.) I saw my first real concert.  Real, meaning that I’m not counting little things, like seeing Heartsfield and Styx playing at the local community center. )

35 years ago tonight I saw The Who on their Who By Numbers tour.  It was at the big barn, The Chicago Stadium.  I had seats directly across from the stage in nearly the back of the arena.  I didn’t have tickets. A friend’s father was a big wig in security there. He got us in.  I still remember Toots and the Maytals opened the show. They pretty much got booed off the stage and then returned for an encore!  Too much ganja perhaps?

I did a little looking on line and actually found the set list from that night. Here it is!! That picture is of their setup from that tour. See what I mean by ‘real?’

  1. I Can’t Explain
  2. Substitute
  3. Squeeze Box
  4. Baba O’Riley
  5. My Wife
  6. Behind Blue Eyes
  7. Dreaming From the Waist
  8. Magic Bus
  9. Amazing Journey
  10. Sparks
  11. The Acid Queen
  12. Fiddle About
  13. Pinball Wizard
  14. I’m Free
  15. Tommy’s Holiday Camp
  16. We’re Not Gonna Take It
  17. See Me, Feel Me
  18. Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran cover)
  19. My Generation
  20. Join Together
  21. My Generation Blues
  22. Road Runner (Bo Diddley cover)
  23. Won’t Get Fooled Again

I always loved Who By Numbers. It was considered a very personal album for Townshend.  You could hear that especially in numbers such as “However Much I Booze,” “Imagine a Man” and ‘”How many Friends?”

Other highlights included “Blue Red and Gray” and “Slip Kid.” I’ll always love this album though (and the concert too) for the absolute killer bass playing by John Entwistle on “Dreaming from the Waist.” Even thou it was my first concert, I knew who to watch during this song!!

The Who, Who By Numbers peaked at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. “Squeeze Box” peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hop 100 Singles chart.

Track Listing

All songs written by Pete Townshend, except where noted.

Side One

  1. “Slip Kid”- 4:31
  2. “However Much I Booze”-5:03
  3. “Squeeze Box” – 2:42
  4. “Dreaming from the Waist”-4:09
  5. “Imagine a Man” -4:04

Side Two

  1. “Success Story” (John Entwistle) 3:24
  2. “They Are All in Love” – 3:03
  3. “Blue Red and Grey” -2:50
  4. “How Many Friends”  -4:06
  5. “In a Hand or a Face” -3:25


  • Roger Daltrey – lead vocals, Harmonica on “Squeeze Box”
  • John Entwistle–bass guitar,8-string bass,brass,keyboards,vocals, lead vocals on “Success Story”
  • Keith Moon – drums, percussion
  • Pete Townshend – guitars, keyboards, ukulele, accordion, banjo, vocals, lead vocals on “However Much I Booze” and “Blue, Red, and Grey”

Additional musicians

  • Dave Arbus – violin
  • Nicky Hopkins – piano on “Imagine a Man,'” “Success Story,” “They Are All in Love,” and “In a Hand or a Face”

Here’s the full 1975 concert DVD on a playlist.

BONUS VIDEO: Solo Pete on ‘ Blue, Red and Grey’

A little Live “Tommy’ from two weeks earlier.

I Can’t Explain


Posted by Larry Carta


  1. Jeff Yonker (05 Dec 2010, 10:14)

    What a choice for a Cool Album. This was the 2nd album i ever purchased, and I proceeded to wear it out, buy another one and then replace with the cd. I remember reading stories about fistfights in the studio when they were recording this. Ah, what a time!

  2. Mary (02 Mar 2011, 19:17)

    Cool site – I was at this show too – 1975 1st year of concert going for me and still going strong! Thanks for the trip down memorry lane.. 12/5/75 and a very warm day if I recall – no winter coat – just my Quadrophenia shirt! 🙂

  3. Jeff Yonker (23 Aug 2013, 12:58)

    Great album, Larry. This was the first LP I bought, along with 461 Ocean Boulevard. When it came out I remember reading in magazines about Pete and Roger fighting in the studio.

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