When people talk about The Who's Tommy, they generally seem to focus on the form rather than the content of the album. Listeners will comment on the originality of Townshend's application of opera sensibilities to a rock and roll album, and so on and so forth. Yes, it's true, what made The Who's Tommy a major hit rather than a pop-culture after-thought was its structure and distinction as the first "Rock Opera," but I believe that the most artistically redeeming quality of the album is its message.
During a time when psychedelic experimentation was the order of the day, The Who had the intestinal fortitude to release an album preaching transcendence through spiritual exploration. Tommy is a wholesale rejection of the entire psychedelic culture dominating the late 60's and a plea for spiritual enlightenment. More than just great music, Tommy is an album with purpose and a positive message.