The Who was already a pretty big deal in 1971, having a slew of hits already to the band's credit. With Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, guitarist Pete Townshend looked to chronicle the group's recorded output up to that point.
The album would hit American record stores on October 30, 1971, just a couple of months after Who's Next had rocked the world with songs like "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again."
Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy was a cheeky reference to the members of The Who: Meaty (Roger Daltrey), Beaty (Keith Moon) Big (John Entwistle) and Bouncy (Pete Townshend).
"'The Kids Are Alright' wasn’t a single in England; it was in the States," Townshend told Rolling Stone in 1971. "Funnily enough, this broke really well in Detroit, an area where both Decca records and the local community were a little more hip to the Who than they were elsewhere. Detroit, or at least Ann Arbor, was the first place in the States we played after New York."
The album showcases just how seminal The Who would prove to be in the band's early years. Those early singles would lay the groundwork for everything from "power pop" to "Brit-Pop" in the decades that followed.
"On listening to this album, it’s very easy to imagine that the whole Who world has been made up of singles," Townshend cracked at the time. "Where Tommy and his lengthy and finally expatriated self come in, it’s hard to say. Probably nearer the time of the second album, A Quick One, or Happy Jack, as it was called in the States. Before we even approached the idea of making an album that was an expression of our own feelings, or in the case of the Happy Jack, an album expression of our own insanity, we believed only in singles. In the top ten records and pirate radio. We, I repeat, believed only in singles."