Twenty years ago today, 30 November 2000, I got my fourth Who album, Odds and Sods. Based on all the glowing reviews at thewho.net (whose review section is now only viewable through archive.org), I was prepared to instantly love it.
But instead I hit an unexpected snag which left me wondering if I’d made a mistake. For a brief while, I had second thoughts about continuing my amazing journey with more albums.
That day, I had to go into town for an observation project for my child psychology class. Since I hadn’t a car, and didn’t know my way around Amherst well enough to trust getting on a bus out of the immediate vicinity, it had to be a place I could reach on foot. And none of the daycares and preschools I found in the phonebook were within walking distance.
Luckily, I found a church with a preschool whose teachers were more than happy to let me come over and observe. It was either First Church Amherst on Main St. or Grace Episcopal Church just off of Main.
Even that fairly short distance from campus seemed a long way to me! When you’re not familiar with a place, and are by yourself, you have little choice but to stay in a straight line if you don’t want to get lost, and not to go too far down any side streets.
After the conclusion of preschool, I decided to go into Newbury Comics on Main St. I’d wanted to go for awhile, but was held back by not being sure how to get there. Did I feel stupid when I realized how easy it is to get there! Approaching it from the other side provided a lot of obvious perspective.
Was I thrilled to find Odds and Sods in the CD section! I bought it with the cash I got from a recent study I’d taken part in for social psychology class credit. The checkout guy seemed kind of surprised by my purchase, though I never figured out if it were positive or negative.
This seems so hypocritical coming from someone who’s never cared what others think of me and who takes great pride in being different from the others, but for years I was held back from buying classic albums in stores because I was afraid the cashiers and customers would make fun of me for liking older music.
And now we have all these Gen Z kids on YouTube patting themselves on the back with comments like “Teeheehee, I’m only twelve and I love [band/singer from an earlier generation].” What do you want, a cookie and adults praising you as so much cooler than your peers?
That night in my single room in Chadbourne, I sat down to play O&S. Right away I was greeted by the shocking harmonica jolt of “I’m the Face.” I wouldn’t describe it as bad shocking, just not the type of sound I was expecting.
Because O&S is a compilation of, well, odds and sods, instead of a studio or even live album, the songs seemed kind of random and inconsistent. I didn’t think they were bad songs, just presented a bit confusingly.
Having both CD and vinyl now, I prefer the track order of the vinyl. It feels like more of a deliberately arranged album, odds and sods though the songs may be.
The CD remaster presents the songs chronologically, which gives an entirely different listening experience. After twenty years, I’m obviously more than used to it, but I can’t help but wonder how it’d sound if it were arranged as the original album plus bonus tracks.
Because of my experience with O&S, I always write album reviews as though a newbie is reading them. Some fool on Amazon once mocked me because I always mention if an album is ideal for a new fan or more for established fans. Why do so many people write reviews as though only longtime hardcore fans are reading them? I had serious second thoughts about getting another Who album because none of the reviews I read mentioned how O&S, while great, isn’t the most ideal album to get so early in one’s amazing journey.
I got my fifth Who album, The Who Sell Out, on 6 December, so I obviously wasn’t derailed for that long. Had O&S been my first Who album, however, it might’ve gone a lot differently. Tommy was challenging enough as my first.
But as Fate turned out, O&S was my fourth, and it just feels right. I couldn’t imagine any other album as my fourth.