Who's Serious: The Symphonic Music of the Who It’s been a concept as old as the music industry itself. Whenever you need to need to squeeze out a few more dollars from a songwriter’s catalog of hits, simply hire an in-house orchestra to record those same songs in a more “classical” setting. It started with 101 Strings in 1957, and continues to this day with the “String Tribute To…” albums that seem to get churned out more and more each week. But what if the orchestra that offers the tribute is worthy of tribute themselves?

Who’s Serious is one item from a line of rock-meets-symphony albums by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, etc.), with The Who being the band toasted. But just one listen and you can tell that this is a cut above your average “tribute” album. The album kicks off with “Overture”, a medley of Who hits performed by Roger Daltrey’s touring band. The next track starts the album off proper, with “I Can See For Miles” being performed by the Orchestra. They continue with a string (sorry, bad pun) of The Who’s songs until the last track, “Listening To You,” is again recorded by Roger Daltrey’s band.

One thing I noticed while listening to the album: the arrangements are top-notch. The melody, in particular, captures Roger Daltrey’s inflections perfectly (for example, the “hiccup” on “Who Are You”). But there are still some qualms present. First, only a handful of The Who’s most well-known songs were chosen, meaning that this probably won’t appeal to casual Who fans. Who purists, on the other hand, may also find fault with the fact that the Orchestra may have taken liberties with the arrangements (“Baba O’Riley”, for instance, repeats the first verse and chorus before going into the second verse). Thirdly, even though Roger Daltrey’s touring band performs on the bookends of the album, there is little mention of them in the liner notes besides listing each member of “The Band”. Maybe it’s just because I obessively catalog my music collection, but I would have prefered a little more than that to go on. And lastly, despite all the good intentions and professionalism Rating - 3 out of 4brought to this project, one gets the feeling that the only reason this came about was to, yes, line someone’s coffers.

It probably goes without saying that if you’re new to The Who, then you should pick up the original recordings first. But for Who fans looking for a new twist on some old favorites, this may well be the album for you.

Order this CD

  1. Overture(6:18)
  2. I Can See For Miles(3:21)
  3. Pinball Wizard / See Me, Feel Me(5:13)
  4. My Generation(5:51)
  5. Dr. Jimmy(12:30)
  6. Baba O’Riley(5:34)
  7. 5:15(7:44)
  8. Love Reign O’er Me(6:41)
  9. Who Are You(4:37)
  10. Listening To You (from We’re Not Going To Take It)(4:48)

Released by: BMG
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 63:03