My Generation 8
( 1965 )
Out In The Street / I Don't Mind / The Good's Gone / La La La Lies / Much Too Much / My Generation / The Kids Are Alright / Please Please Please / It's Not True / I'm A Man / A Legal Matter / The Ox / Circles
You could do far worse in 1965 than to style your debut album around the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks, really you could. Thing is, The Who had something right from the word go, a 'power' to their playing that wasn't apparent in the likes of 'Get Off Of My Cloud' by The Rolling Stones, released in the same year. Indeed, 'Get Off Of My Cloud' or 'My Generation'? 'We Can Work It Out' or 'My Generation'? I'm not saying that the classic 'My Generation' single was
necessarily better than either of those songs, by the way - just highlighting how different The Who were in terms of raw power in 1965. Of course, Keith Moon with his whirlwind arms, seemingly eight arms instead of the usual two - had a lot to do with this. John Entwistle also deserves
acclaim for his bass work, particularly the solo parts during the 'My Generation' song, which are a thing to behold. Add on top of this Pete Townshend with his energy and ( fairly ) unique approach to guitar playing, and you have something. And, let's not forget poor old Roger Daltery. Whilst he had to struggle sometimes through these early Who years to make himself heard over the mighty Who racket, his vocal performance on the title song is a classic and the song certainly wouldn't be the same without his stuttering, the "f-f-f-fade away" part especially, of course. I have a slight problem with this debut Who album by the way, in the fact that the cover versions were so inferior to Pete's own original material. I mean, he had enough good songs to fill an album, but then, that just wasn't 'done' in those days. The Rolling Stones were only just moving out of the area of cover versions, The Beatles are another matter, of course - but it holds true. Anyway, The Who covering James Brown songs? Well, yeah. We've got a couple here, 'I Don't Mind' and 'Please Please Please', the latter in particular failing completely to sound like The Who as the vocals seem like an attempted James Brown
impersonation. The other cover is the blues styled, utterly forgettable and generic 'I'm A Man', although it's been done well.
So, what about the Pete songs? Well, we've got classics with 'My Generation' and 'The Kids Are Alright', both plugging into a particular section of a nations youth and their frustrations. It was a similar thing with the debut Who single proper 'I Can't Explain'. Kids would come upto Pete
and thank him for expressing their frustrations and emotions so well, ask him to write more songs in a similar vein. 'La La La Lies' is a shining pop gem with lovely harmonies during the chorus and the opening 'Out In The Street' contains such energy and aggression, right from the opening "SHOUT!" that introduces the song, that it really is quite impressive. Elsewhere we have 'The Goods Gone' which includes neat drums and guitar and a neat, snarling vocal. 'A Legal Matter' is another high quality Townshend composition, although it wouldn't be until 1967 when we'd get an album full of Townshend compositions from beginning to end. Still, for the time being, the 'My Generation' album was a more than impressive debut signalling the arrival of a
major new talent.
Michael Harrison email@example.com Adrian's right on the money with this review. I'm at a loss to think of another
1965/66 debut album that matches the sheer sonic power of this one.....heavy metal
long before Steppenwolf coined that term. If you have the stereo reissue, and you
program "Can't Explain" and "Anyhow, Anywhere" in place of the James Brown covers,
you have one hell of a debut album.
GAZZA Edinburgh Obviously the title track and "the kids are alright" are rock n roll classics but some of the other tracks are well worth checking out .
I love "goods gone" with its sour lyric and droning sounds underpinned by keiths pounding drums ;And The closing three tracks are just gold "a legal matter" is a country influenced gem , "the ox" gives the velvet underground a run for their money in the noise stakes over a year before they even got on record and the closing "circles" sounds like 4 pilled up young mods going for it .. which is exactly what this whole album is about . Highly enjoyable debut .
A Quick One 7
( 1966 )
Run Run Run / Boris The Spider / I need You / Whiskey Man / Heatwave / Cobwebs And Strange / Don't Look Away / See My Way / So Sad About Us / A Quick One While He's Away
Weren't quite a few albums released in the early to mid-sixties 'quick ones'? Let's bash out an album of covers and filler surrounding our new hit song! It was true of the 'My Generation' album and it's true of 'A Quick One', apart from 'A Quick One' doesn't contain a hit song. Don't really. Of course, 'Boris The Spider' has
achieved fame over the years.... In the US, 'A Quick One' was released originally under the title 'Happy Jack', and included said hit song. I wish this version included 'Happy Jack' too, it's one of my favourite 'Oo songs! Anyway, 'A Quick One' includes a cover and also includes songs by Daltery, Entwistle and even Keith Moon. The reason for this was simple and relating back to pure, hard cash in the pocket. Publishing deals were signed for those members of the band - so they needed to write a song or two each to get the money promised from those deals. And, those songs needed of course to also be released. The Who were hardly well off financially, all that destroying of equipment by Townshend on stage had seen to that. They'd enjoyed an unbroken run of top ten singles in the UK - yet still had to play the game - the
Sixties were like that, unless you happened to be The Beatles and could enjoy a relatively ( for the time ) high level of freedom.
Anyway, ignoring the original material, Townshend penned or otherwise, let's 'pick on' the cover version first of all. 'Heatwave' arrived to The Who via the famed 'Holland/Dozier/Holland' writing team, via Motown. The Who were into that scene and 'Heatwave' as performed by The Who here fares very well, beat group rock music of the era, competently performed and with nice harmonies. In actual fact, we've got two Keith Moon songs, two Entwistle songs and only one Roger Daltery song? Is 'Heatwave' here in place of a second Daltery penned tune he was unable to write, or something? Still, Mr Roger Daltery's 'See My Way' is light pop material, catchy enough and a promising enough writing effort to surely encourage Roger to at least pen some b-side material in the future, but for whatever reason it didn't happen. The most 'enjoyable' factor of 'See My Way' is the eccentric performance of Keith Moon, apparently instructed to play in the style of Buddy Holly and the Crickets and ending up playing some of his parts on cardboard boxes as a result. Strange stuff! Keith writes 'Cobwebs And Strange', a novelty marching band item that later became 'Heinz Baked Beans' on the art pop masterpiece that is the 'Who Sell Out' album. His other song 'I Need You' is surprisingly fine, Sixites pop - a strong effort with good harmonies and pleasant melodies. John Entwistle contributes the finest of the non Townshend material and would continue and contribute material to The Who through the years. 'Whiskey Man' is a great little song full of the character of Mr Entwistle, shall we say.... and 'Boris The Spider' is, in actual fact, the best song here. It may not have been perceived by Pete and others as particularly a 'suitable' song for The Who to record, being a faintly
novelty styled item, yet the bass playing is indeed scary and silly at the same time. The lyrics are clever, dumb and very silly. The vocal delivery is truly silly - and this really should have been a huge hit! In the UK at least, it was never released as a single a-side, which is a shame as far as i'm concerned.
So, what else is new? Well, the Pete Townshend songs don't match the quality of his efforts for the debut album, 'Run Run Run' showcases the sound of The Who very well, though - an aggressive attack of guitars in particular. 'Don't Look Away' is moving into the pop area that 'Happy Jack' did so well and the following years 'Who Sell Out' would expand upon. 'So Sad About Us' has a distinctive guitar introduction and a classic pop feel all the way through it. 'So Sad About Us' could have been a hit song had it infact been released as a single in the first place. Which leaves us just with the nine minute long 'suite' or 'mini-opera', 'A Quick One Whilst He's Away'. Made up of six
separate shorter songs Pete had been working on, 'A Quick One' is laudably ambitious, predating the suite of songs on the second side of The Beatles 'Abbey Road' by a good couple of years, for example - but certainly isn't smooth. The
transitions between the tracks various segments comes across as rather cut and paste to me. Whether this was just a result of poor editing, i'm not sure. Whatever, 'A Quick One Whilst He's Away' loses some of the power it otherwise would have had as a result. Each one of the individual segments are enjoyable, by the way - and show The Who, Pete in particular, moving forwards.
bassplayeredd firstname.lastname@example.org I think this album deserves about 8 or 9. "A quick one while he's been away" is one (or some) of my favourite who songs.
The Who Sell Out 9
( 1967 )
Armenia City In The Sky / Heinz Baked Beans / Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand / Odorono / Tattoo / Our Love Was / I Can See For Miles / I Can't Reach You / Medac / Relax / Silas Stingy / Sunrise / Rael
Keith Moon was the most charismatic member of The Who. Which really, has nothing to do with this record at all, I just felt like saying it as a means of introduction. There was a concept for this record. Well. What can you say? The little snippets of Radio Commercials ( some real, some faked in the studio ) aren't just pieces of fluff and certainly aren't meant to be
psychedelic. The idea to link the songs on this record together, was to sequence the songs with the jingles to give the impression you were listening to a genuine Sixties radio show. Radio stations didn't have huge play-lists in the Sixties, tending to program an hours worth of songs which would then start to be repeated at various points throughout the day. Now, to hold this concept together, The Who introduce a number of elements to various songs here to vary the sound, to pass themselves off as different groups, if not exactly pretending to be different groups. An example of this is the use of Beach Boys styled harmonies during parts of 'Our Love Was'. 'Sunrise' was taken solo by Pete Townshend and reveals folk influences. 'Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand' and 'Odorono' have seemingly 'nonsense' lyrics ( although the former is possibly about something, ah....lets see! ) both to portray certain psychedelic elements but mainly just the cheesy side of Sixties pop music. With all of these elements you also get a fair does of genuine Who music mixed in. 'I Can See For Miles' is just 100% The Who and is cleverly placed slap bang in the centre of the record for maximum impact. Its position IS central, to the record as a whole. The first section of songs, once 'I Can See For Miles' begins, seems to have been DESIGNED to give 'I Can See For Miles' even greater impact.
'Armenia City In The Sky' kicks things off following a brief radio jingle snippet. We get a thumping rhythm section, A straight ( ish ) Roger Daltery vocal and plenty of Townshend guitar to hold the thing together. The guitar goes forwards, backwards. Twists around and adds a psychedelic element to the track. Some Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd styled lyrics and noises are in there somewhere, too. 'Armenia' is followed by a genuine promo for Radio London and followed by 'Heinz Baked Beans' concocted by The Who in the studio, possibly after a few beers. The album begins to pick up pace and purpose. 'Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand' sounds so wonderful. It sounds romantic in an odd kind of way, sounds very Sixties pop and the lyrics are clever in their word play. The informal acoustic guitars that do a sort of
calypso towards the end are also a nice touch and attention to detail. Many of the songs here are full of such detail. 'Odorono' makes use of Roger Daltery's acting passion and
instincts. A 'role-play' vocal, a high vocal that sounds beautiful and airy. The album is still picking up pace, building towards something. 'Tattoo' repeats the vocal 'acting' of the previous song and is sung almost entirely in a high falsetto. The harmonies recall The Beach Boys in places and go off during the middle to sound like The Beatles harmonies of 'Rubber Soul' or 'Revolver'. The harmonies here backing up Daltery's beautiful lead add to the
ethereal beauty of the song. The percussion is minimal but focuses the song and keeps it grounded. 'Our Love Was' is just.....perfection itself! Stupendously powerful and exciting Keith Moon drum parts during the extended vocal refrain to close. The music suddenly goes all 'Who' and explodes. The drumming is a thing to behold, the 'love, love, love, long' harmonies another nod to The Beach Boys and other Sixties vocal groups. A guitar solo twists the whole thing towards prime Who Rock n Roll music, we swing back to the opening Sixties pop/rock, repeat to close. Three and a half minutes. A perfect pop song and more than that. So many elements together, so well employed.
Two brief radio jingles break the up the record sonically to give the introduction to 'I Can See For Miles' even greater impact. Quite simply, it's absolutely stunningly loud, a real tour-de-force performance from everyone, especially Keith. Roger and Pete sing together, a true classic sixties single, a classic rock song that rewards attentive listening to pick up the many exhilarating musical parts! Something strong had to follow such a performance, and it does. 'I Can't Reach You' is a seemingly throwaway love song in terms of subject matter. It is structured perfectly though, absolutely perfectly....more beautiful vocal sections. The Who rhythm section do a fine job here as well. Another jingle, 'Medac' is just so very silly, full of humour, more Syd Barrett influenced
nonsense that raises a smile and really does add to the album. 'Relax' nods to The Byrds of 'Fifth Dimension' and 'Younger Than Yesterday'. The use of different elements of a variety of Sixties forms and styles of course reinforces the concept of the record as a whole, the illusion you are listening to a radio show from The Sixties. The originality comes through by the Who elements in every single song, often provided by The rhythm section, occasionally by Pete Townshend. 'Silas Stingy' is a character song, slightly silly in subject matter but perfectly suiting the record and again, providing a different sonic feel and mood musically. And, you've just got to love the 'money money money...' vocal section! 'Sunrise' as I mentioned earlier is a solo Townshend number, slightly folky, slightly confessional and very singer/songwriter in how it comes across. 'Rael' is a mini Rock opera and nods towards 'Tommy'. A multi-section song, more astonishing rhythm section performances during the rockier sections of the track especially. It's the type of thing they'd arguably do better through subsequent work but even here is pretty well done, if not exactly smooth in it's transitions between sections. It's a slightly unsatisfying end to the album, actually. It just ends, there's no conclusion, no goodbye. Still, what's gone before is all hugely entertaining, sometimes beautiful and often breathtaking. The middle sequence of songs in particular is as good as anything from anybody.
Alan Brooks email@example.com All the Who's recordings are worthwhile, this being no exception.
Jeff Whitcher JeffWhitcher@cs.com This is probably their most underrated album and undeservedly so. "I Can See
For Miles" was the big single but the album as a whole was a psychedelic masterpiece, on par with the Rolling Stones' "Aftermath" and The Beatles' "Revolver". The CD reissue includes detailed liner notes and a number of interesting bonus tracks from 1967.
Michael Harrison firstname.lastname@example.org The most "fun" of any Who album, and better than most concept albums for the mere
fact that there's a real intelligible concept! A pirate radio show! The commercial
are hilarious. "I Can See For Miles" is one of my top ten favorite 45s. But this
album needed a few stronger songs in order to truly reflect 60s radio. I'm thinking
"Doctor Doctor" or "Picture of Lily" or even "I Can't Explain"......hell, ANY Who
45-only release up though 1967 should've been here in place of
decent-but-middle-of-the-road stuff like "I Can't Reach You" or "Relax". Also, the
radio show concept fell away halfway through side 2. Where'd the commercials go?
The remixed 1995 CD reissue sounds tinny and has a lot of inessential bonus
material. Get the original LP mix instead.
Ewan McRobert email@example.com My least favourite Who album. Perhaps, I don't get this album as I wasn't alive during the era of radio its mimicing, perhaps its because I have the CD rather than the LP version which was supposedly mixed better, but I don't really get this album. Its most definitely the weakest of all the Who albums I own. Saying that, 'Tatoo' and 'I Can See For Miles' are brilliant songs which do redeem the album to a certain extent
Jerry Hamric firstname.lastname@example.org I caught a minor misnomer in this review; The vocal on "Odorono" was sung by Townshend, not Daltrey. And the vinyl record's runoff said "track records-track records indefinitely, until you lifted the needle off the record-God, I'm old...
john, county kildare email@example.com
their first major step away from being a singles band into the band we love today. the only minor quibble i have is that the production tended to slighty play down pete's guitar. he was a gibson man or a rickenbacker man, take your pick, but fender just never really suited him. "i cant reach you" is a world away from meaningless chart ballads of the day. [and every other day...] the interplay between entwistle, townshend, and moon on "rael" makes me piss in my pants with jealously knowing at 30 years of age, i can never be as brilliant as these guys were in their early 20s. the mid 1990s cd reissue is a must buy for "melancholia" and "early morning, cold taxi" roger's best written contribution to the group. 9 1/2 /10.
Harve Kaye Ukabon44@netzero.net As of this morning, Febuary 26, (7:30 am) I had this urge to listen to this great album for the first time in over a year. The melodies and intrumentation is the finest of Townsends career. Even better then his Tommy album. Close listening does have its rewards, and when I heard this album for the first time when it was released, I knew it was something special.
Robert Marsh Australia
Strangely, I did not rate this album when it was released. But I later took the time to re-evaluate and now it is one of my favourite albums, period. A lot of Townshend's great distinctive voice, gem songs, Tattoo, I Can't Reach You, Our Love Was, etc. Great production.
One point,Daltrey does not sing many songs, and I was told Keith Moon sang "Armenia City in The Sky (?)Any feedback re this?
Mark Williamson Durham Jerry Hamric mentions the "Track Records" run-out groove on the original vinyl release. I thought that was only on the CD re-issue, since the original USA Decca LP's runout groove was a generic Victrola-sounding vocal-less music loop, but I am thinking that the UK and US versions may have been different. Yes?
Matt Newham firstname.lastname@example.org The vocal on "Armenia" was done by Roger with Speedy Keene, the guy that actually wrote the song. It sounds too high for Daltrey (Entwistle deliberately wrote "Cousin Kevin" in a key too high for him to sing), but he's the one who states that it was him and Keene. A great album, that is really more than the sum of it's parts - most of these songs really wouldn't be that terrific in isolation ("Odorono"? "Medac"?) but they make for a terrific concept album. Top stuff.
Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy 9½
( 1971 )
I Can't Explain / The Kids Are Alright / Happy Jack / I Can See For Miles / Pictures Of Lily / My Generation / The Seeker / Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere / Pinball Wizard / A Legal Matter / Boris The Spider / The Magic Bus / Substitute / I'm A Boy
It's important to consider that the country that bore and nurtured The Who is not the same country in which The Who are really fully appreciated. Yes, here in the UK, with our lack of classic rock radio, you'd be alarmed ( maybe ) at how many songs on this compilation simply aren't familiar to generations after generations of music fans. Apart from the
obligatory 'My Generation' and 'Pinball Wizard' very few of these songs are well known to anyone under the age of thirty in the UK. That may seem astonishing to my American readers, but that's the way it is. I never grew up listening to The Who. I never heard any of their songs played on the radio. I was aware of The Who of course, a band of this standing doesn't come around very often in Rock n Roll history. So, the point of all of this? 'Happy Jack' is a great song! And, there's a bunch of other great songs on this pleasing, intelligently put together compilation that wins over 'more complete' compilations simply because this isn't 80 minutes long. Less is more, 40 minutes is an ideal album listening length. This is a sampler album, plain and simple. It's also one of the few places you can hear the likes of the marvellous 'Happy Jack', for one. This release even includes 'weaker' material! That's an album! Compilations were much better back in the Sixties and early Seventies. They weren't just compilations, they were albums in themselves, a new way of listening to familiar material for fans, a whole new world and excitement for the newly converted and to be converted. They served much more of a purpose than merely milking an act the record company feared had run its course. Well, The Who still had a good few years ahead of them, this particular compilation just made for nice 'interlude' between the Sixties and Seventies material, it tidied up loose ends, perhaps? It's a marvellous 'sampler' and demonstration of certain aspects of the group they called ( well, still do! ) 'The Who'.
'Happy Jack' is one of the most insanely brilliant 'pop' songs
I've heard in my entire life. It's silly, it's ridiculous, contains fantastic 'la la la' vocal parts. Contains very loud drumming from Keith Moon, who didn't seem to care what kind of song he was playing on, he gave it his all whatever. Light and airy and faintly
psychedelic vocals. Someone playing the spoons, a Spanish hurrah! Guitar!! What more could anybody possibly want in a song? All of this within two minutes twelve seconds! And, what's more, it segues into 'I Can See For Miles' which remains a thing of wonder whatever the context, remains eight times as loud as anything else on earth whatever the context. Surrounding these songs are a few classic slices of Sixties pop/rock. 'The Kids Are Alright' is sublime and gorgeous, 'I Can't Explain' an addictive and rockin slice of guitar work and 'Pictures Of Lily' not half as good as 'Happy Jack' but that still makes it pretty fine in our house. 'My Generation' and 'Pinball Wizard' I rather have to be in the mood for, but when I am, they still sound astonishing. 'The Seeker' is funky and groovy, 'Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere' keeps threatening to burst into a Kinks 'All Day And All Of The Night' guitar workout, but frustratingly never does. What it does do is turn The Who into a bluesy rock act most convincingly. 'A Legal Matter' is a lot more forgettable for me than anything arriving before it on this compilation, 'Boris The Spider' is just plain silly! But, the closing three songs are all superlative, and that's your lot. A forty two minute Who 'album'. Did you like it? Did you find something here?
Mike Harrison email@example.com This is the best place to start with the Who. To my way of thinking, they were really at their best as singles artists with this stuff, rather than the overlong concepts on TOMMY and QUADROPHRENIA. Talk
about sonic and lyrical impact.....all of the tunes are sharp and hard-hitting. I'd also say that this collection emphasizes the difference in musical direction between the pre-TOMMY Who and the post-TOMMY Who. Over time, the Who were almost two different bands.
Alan Brooks firstname.lastname@example.org Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy is good introduction to the Who. My
favourite numbers are Anyway Anywhere Anyhow (if that is the right order) and Pictures Of Lily. Boris The Spider is a novelty song about (yes) a spider that gets squished at the end of the song. If memory serves (and with all the acidtrips the memory aint so good), My Generation was the song that made the Who big, and they are big; I recently saw an atlas-sized book about them, the cover being the well-known photo of the group in front of Big Ben-- or whatever the old relic is
Matt Byrd email@example.com Wow! I agree totally with this review.... less is more on this non-exhaustive-but-satisfying best-of album. In the tone of ChangesOneBowie.... Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy is an artifact of rock 'n' roll in it's heyday.
Greg Bauder firstname.lastname@example.org This is the greatest rock album ever because it epitomizes teen angst, rebellion and desire for identity. It shows the awkwardness, cruelty and anger of boys who are really just struggling with making sense of their lives. "I Can't Explain" is a wonderful clash of guitar feedback and frustrated lyrics that Daltrey interprets like a real boy would about love."The Kids Are Alright" rocks and is about boys hanging out, going to dances and conniving on how to make love: "I had things planned/ but her folks wouldn't let her." From these two songs alone we see a great artist at work. Teens struggle with relationships and instead of them falling in love and getting the girls as The Beatles and Beach boys usually portrayed their teens, Pete's
kid would masturbate in the classic "Pictures Of Lily". This song is tailor made for rock and it mimics the boys act as well as his idolatry for an unobtainable woman. This song fits nicely in a progress! ion where the boy rides the funky, "Magic Bus" to his girlfriend's and he's high on expectations. The missing piece is "A legal Matter" where he grows older but remains an immature punk and refuses to marry his pregnant girlfriend. Pete's sad guitar and Moon's frenetic drumming drive home the most realistic expressions of teenage lust. There is of course the cruelty and rowdiness of Pete's greatest songs like "Happy Jack" where kids make fun of a kind hermit, or "I'm A Boy" where a boy is victimized and does not want to be labelled a sissy. Entwistle's bumping bass is wonderful and we see in his great "Boris The Spider" the frightened boy taking his frustrations out on a spider. But, The best songs are about punk attitudes towards rock music and adults. "My Generation" explodes leaving "I hope I die before I get old" in every listener's mind permanently. It fingers the old musical school and is nailed home by the subtext of "I Can See Fo! r Miles" where the teen realizes that artistic vision is n! ot alway s acquired with a PHD.
The anarchic "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" sounds like the voice of rock challenging the intellectual snobs that this new music can be as great as any art. The bashing and smashing
guitar riffs are pulled off brilliantly and Moon's wild drumming makes an astonishing
sound. In "Pinball Wizard" we get another story about a teen who hangs out in an amusement hall. This music sounds like a pinball machine with Pete's bouncy chords imitating "buzzers
and bells". The final two songs are about growing up. "Substitute" is about the illusions of childhood at taking things at face value when really people hide their inadequacies. The lyrics are original and poignant and Moon's galavating drums bash home the universal truth which we also find in "The Seeker", a song about trying to find one's identity now that boy hood is over. Pete called this the greatest of Who albums and many years from now this album w! ill not only be vitally relevant it will serve as a realistic slice of what a teenaged boy in the 60's experienced. The Who made many great albums as well and to me is the greatest rock band ever.
( 1969 )
Overture / It's a boy / 1921 / Amazing journey / Sparks / Eyesight to the blind (the hawker) / Christmas / Cousin Kevin / Acid Queen / Underture / Do you think it's alright / Fiddle about / Pinball wizard / There's a doctor / Go to the mirror / Tommy / Can you hear me / Smash the mirror / Sensation / Miracle cure / Sally Simpson / I'm free / Welcome / Tommy's holiday camp / We're not gonna take it
Pete Townshend had been trying out ideas through the title song from 'A Quick One' as well as 'Rael' from 'The Who Sell Out'. All this was to lead to the creation of an album long narrative or song cycle, later dubbed a Rock Opera. 'Tommy' isn't really any sort of Opera at all, but then 'Rock Opera' has come to mean something different, in any case. A few years later, Frank Zappa for example, would actually
incorporate elements of classical music and operatic vocal parts for his '200 Motels' film and album. Frank had been trying to get a film together for years, a group called 'The Pretty Things' released an album called 'SF Sorrow' which retrospectively has been dubbed the first Rock Opera. Still, in the minds of many, 'Tommy' by The Who is THE Rock Opera, and is likely to remain that way. The lack of orchestral elements ( bar a few Horn parts courtesy of Entwistle ) was down to the insistence of Townshend who wanted to make sure 'Tommy' could faithfully be re-produced in a live setting. Regarding the actual story of Tommy, it was conceived as a spiritual piece - the later writing and inclusion of 'Pinball Wizard' switched everything to more down to earth matters. 'Pinball Wizard' had only been written because The Who feared a bad review from a particular journalist, knew he loved Pinball and wrote a song for him. Upon hearing said song and regarding 'Tommy' as a whole, said journalist assured Pete, "it'll be a masterpiece". Pinball references were worked into various songs. The basic idea of a young kid rendered deaf, dumb and blind - playing 'a mean pinball' through feeling the vibrations of the machine, is of course ridiculous. The idea that Tommy
achieved a following through his feats of Pinball, is also of course, ridiculous. Tommy is later cured, hooray! Tommy is hailed as a messiah, has a simple message, 'you can follow me by playing pinball and doing things my way' but as his followers get more demanding things start to fall apart for both Tommy and his followers. All of this, is of course, ridiculous.
You know, it took me a while to even piece together the story. I've never seen the film, a stage play. 'Tommy' eventually took on a life of its own. Kit Lambert ( manager of The Who, producer of 'Tommy', the album ) wrote a film script which clarified matters for all of the members of The Who that weren't Pete, none of whom had much of an idea how the story worked or what it was about. Trying to get 'the story' just from listening to the album, or even reading the lyrics, is virtually impossible. There are holes everywhere, so much left unsaid. Those of you who came into 'Tommy' through a staged version, and then listened to the album, will likely find it making much more sense than someone coming to it, er.... 'blind'. Then there is the live situation. The Who were at an absolute peak as live performers in 1970 and 1971 as they toured the 'Tommy' album. The sheer power of these live performances
succeeded in further spreading the word about 'Tommy' and made The Who firm lifelong favourites of many. The Who evolved, after the event. It's been said, 'Tommy' is an album you either love or hate. I've come across critics known for their love of The Who, ridiculously claiming to be viewing 'Tommy' objectively. Others will slam 'Tommy' and The Who out of habit, more than anything else. You don't have to like The Who of course, but giving 'Tommy' one out of five stars on Amazon for example, is clearly very silly. It is indeed very difficult to take any sort of 'middle' ground, it seems you almost 'must' fall one side of the fence or the other. Having said that, not at least acknowledging 'Tommy' as an influential, immensely popular work, is of course, ridiculous. There's some confusion as to why the sound of this record is relatively sparse. Certainly there is little evidence of The Who as a powerhouse force here, although it is there in places. In the liner-notes of the CD issue I have, Townshend recalls "Kit Lambert wanted to bring in a full orchestra and I fought it all the way". The recording took many months and proved to be expensive, so perhaps it was just as well. The Who had gotten themselves
perilously into debt, had 'Tommy' not been the success it was, who knows what might have happened? But, enough with the history!
There are some truly beautiful musical moments on this album, many of them arrive tracks one through to eight. The opening 'Overture' is all horns and bashing riffs. It works extremely well to introduce the entire album. It does this without once including any lyrics or words, by the way. 'It's A Boy' is a beautiful melody that's only 38 seconds long and moves almost invisibly into the fabulous '1921'. '1921' has lyrics I can really dig, great melodies. 'Amazing Journey' is a little 'annoying' vocally and lyrically but the music and performance is again stupendous. Wonderful acoustic guitar playing, great work from Keith Moon as well. 'Sparks' may well be an instrumental that doesn't really go anyplace, but again, it sounds great from a performance point of view. 'Eyesight To The Blind' is a blues cover worked into the 'Tommy' concept fantastically well, 'Christmas' is happy with 'ha ha ha' vocal parts, even if of course the lyrics aren't entirely happy, because poor hapless Tommy is at the root of it all. 'Cousin Kevin' is the first John
Entwistle song here. Nice vocals, nice relaxed laid back musical feels quite in contrast to the cruel lyrical matter! It's at this point 'Tommy' starts to lose its way, somewhat. 'The Acid Queen' is strained vocally and the music fails to surprise, 'Overture' is a ten minute long instrumental reprising themes and ideas, sounds
stitched together makeshift fashion, and it probably was. It sounds ok, but really should have been half as long as it is. The second half of the album contains an awful lot of 30 second, 60 second, 'songs' - included to develop the plot of the story. Some of them are quite nice, witness 'Tommy Can You Hear Me', almost emotional in fact. Others such as the truly horrific 'Fiddle About' are just plain ugly. You could defend this depiction of sexual abuse by saying it's 'light-hearted' in terms of structure, and indeed the repeated 'fiddle, fiddle, fiddle....' ending half raises a smile - but not enough of one.
'Pinball Wizard' is here of course, but for me worked better as a stand alone single. In this context, it comes across as something of an anti-climax. 'Go To The Mirror' and 'I'm Free' are both great songs, both full of riffing guitars, 'I'm Free' especially. 'Sensation' is semi-nice, but surely doesn't bear comparison to the finest moments from 'The Who Sell Out', for example? It sounds half-developed, to me. Pete stretched himself too far, perhaps? It's asking a lot of anyone to fill out a double vinyl concept album, after all. 'Sally Simpson' has good lyrics, 'Welcome' is up and down, down ultimately. This song in particular sounds bare sonically, which hasn't been particularly a problem til now on the album, because the linking tracks apart, the good songs here are just that, good songs. 'Welcome' sounds like it needed a little more thought and fleshing out, both musically and lyrically. The closing 'We're Not Gonna Take It' incorporates all sorts of ideas, includes the 'see me, feel me' vocal section which pops up elsewhere on this album, too. It's a suitably 'epic' grand closing statement, the 'see me, feel me, touch me' section particularly beautiful even if the rest of the song really isn't all that special to me. It may well be special to you, I hope that it is.
I do know that 'Tommy' is special to huge numbers of people. To me, it's just a good album, although by no means a great album. At least arriving at some sort of idea of what the story is and what's behind the story is important I feel, you really can't just ignore it - because it does bring a different dimension to songs such as 'Sally Simpson', for example. Ultimately, I have respect for what Pete Townshend tried to achieve here, but by his own admission he had little concept of screen-play or staging at the time. Pete would continue to try to improve upon what he perceived to be failures in 'Tommy', first with the abandoned 'Lifehouse' project then later with the 'Quadrophenia' album and film.
Alan Brooks email@example.com 'Tommy' has a great deal of atmosphere. The vocals are very good. I like the mostest: 'I'm Free', 'Amazing Journey', and 'We're Not Going To Take It'.
Mike Harrison firstname.lastname@example.org You know, for all the criticism hurled toward Pete Townshend and TOMMY, I have to say one thing: it's not really his fault. Sure, he was overambitious, because the concept just doesn't work well (whatever that
concept actually is). But TOMMY received a LOT of cred from the rock press in its day because the "rock opera" concept was new (actually, it wasn't....the
Pretty Things did it first with SF SORROW). The rock audience ate it up based in part on the publicity. That was and is a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the
good songs are really GOOD, and those songs live up to the demanding legacy of this album even if the concept doesn't.
Simon Brigham email@example.com This is basically the Who gone acoustic pop. There are way more acoustic-type songs on this album than electric ones. The music is a bit drab in places, the lyrics are quite good and the story is VERY INTERESTING. Good old Pete Townhsend! Him and his wacky stories. VERY AMBITIOUS for it's time. Hell, ANY TIME.
Best songs: "Amazing Journey", "Eyesight to the Blind", "Pinball Wizard", "I'm Free", "Listening To You".
Jaap Krol firstname.lastname@example.org Tomme a 7?
I think Tommy is one of the worst albums ever made! It's too long (much too long) and it does not have that specific Who-sound. Loud and sensitive, raw and complicated, that's what makes The Who one of my favorite bands. Tommy is flat, boring, dull, it's... horrible. I give a 5!
piggyinthemiddle email@example.com Tommy really seemed to come to life on the stage. Recommend picking up the expanded
Live at Leeds or the Isle of Wight collections to hear Tommy the way it should have
been done. Loud, crass and unrelenting. It does work as music, not as concept, when
given the right environment, and the right environment is live with amps turned to
11. P.s. Woodstock footage in The kids are allright film helps to further support my
Jerry Hamric firstname.lastname@example.org Tommy is a departure for The Who, quiet playing, bizarre story, etc. You either get, or you don't.
Correction: The long instrumental halfway through is called "Underture", a play on words in reference to the opening instrumental, "Overture." This may have been a typo, but these things make me crazy.
Charly Saenz email@example.com Indeed, Tommy is not perfect, specially lyrically. But what I love about it, and about Pete's writing in general is the ambition. This ultimately takes music to higher levels, and I don´t see it in my artists unfortunately.
John Co Kildare, Ireland The guys' comments are spot on here. Overambitious flat easy listening pop production, the weight of stifling hype overwhelming all preconceptions. "Tommy" is a confusion album cursed by done for the sake of it 40 second interludes, not to mention pompous "extended" tracks swimming in bombastic "attitude". Yet at the same time, I would clued with Adrian on the 7 rating because live performances over the next 18 months showed that the initial bare bones aspects of "Tommy" unvelied a pretty decent collection of songs that just didn't correlate with any sense of lucidity, mainly because of the burning lightbulb mentality of the studio project. Definitely a superior experience in concert, in fact, live and studio versions of this are universes apart.
Live At Leeds 9
( 1970 )
Heaven And Hell / I Can't Explain / Fortune Teller / Tattoo / Young Man Blues / Substitute / Happy Jack / I'm A Boy / A Quick One While He's Away / Summertime Blues / Shakin' All Over / My Generation / Magic Bus / Overture / It's A Boy / 1921 / Amazing Journey / Sparks / Eyesight To The Blind / Christmas / The Acid Queen / Pinball Wizard / Do You Think It's Alright / Fiddle About / Tommy Can You Hear Me / There's A Doctor / Go To The Mirror / Smash The Mirror / Miracle Cure / Sally Simpson / I'm Free / Tommy's Holiday Camp / We're Not Gonna Take It
Now, there are three different versions of 'Live At Leeds' out there in fans collections. One has six songs, one has all the songs 'Heaven And Hell' through to 'Magic Bus' with 'Amazing Journey' and 'Sparks' inserted after 'A Quick One While He's Away', and the third and current version is the one i've listed above. So, this isn't the same 'Live At Leeds' that was released in 1970, and contained six songs, three of them cover versions. This isn't the same 'Live At Leeds' that has often be heralded as the greatest live album of all time or the same 'Live At Leeds' found in most fans Who collections. This is the third, and merely latest 'Live At Leeds', and still not 'correct', because of the limitations of the CD format. The Who's rendition of 'Thomas' as contained here, should really come after 'A Quick One While He's Away' leaving 'Summertime Blue', 'Shakin All Over', 'My Generation' and 'Magic Bus' as a clear encore. That's exactly how it happened on the evening, but no doubt is being 'saved' for a fourth version of 'Live At Leeds' which will no doubt ALSO be acclaimed as the greatest live album of all time. All four versions can't be the greatest! So, which one is? Are any of them? Well, I haven't heard every live album ever released of course, so i'm not even going to begin to make such a claim. I gave 'The Who' by 'Tommy', sorry 'Thomas' by The Who, sorry the 'pot opera' 'Tommy' by The Who, a grade of '7'. Does this suddenly get a '9' or '10' as performed here? The guitars are certainly louder, and Keith Moon goes supernova all through 'Amazing Journey'. I was fascinated listening to 'Amazing Journey' in particular. How often Pete was spurred on to ever greater heights by the playing of Keith, how Keith in fact drove a whole Who performance in a live setting. One other situation where this happens is 'Young Man Blues', more of which later.
Back to 'Tommy'. It originally got '7' from me. So, what does THIS version get? It misses four of the songs, and re-orders some of the other songs, the unfortunate result of which is that a clutch of short 30 second, 60 second pieces all appear together immediately after 'Pinball Wizard' when they didn't exactly do that on the original album. This 'electrifying' of 'Tommy' is welcome, the guitars are better, 'Amazing Journey' and 'Sparks' are both definitely better, but those both appeared on the mid-nineties 'Live At Leeds'. This version also includes ( most of ) the rest of 'Tommy'. Which, due to its very nature and structure, didn't allow much room for improvisation from the band in a live setting, but is appreciable all the same. The Who did a good job, although still don't transform a 7 into say, a 9. I give this 'Tommy' an 8. The highpoints are higher, but the re-ordering and dropping of certain songs means this isn't quite as cohesive as the studio 'Tommy'. Sure, 'Cousin Kevin' and 'Underture' were hardly highlights of 'Tommy', but they were part of 'Tommy'. Pete can change it if he likes, of course. Some changes for the better, some for the worse - both in performance and structure. Overall, this 'Tommy' is slightly better. Happy now? No? Ah, let's carry on anyway!
The first CD of this latest 'deluxe edition' is a wonderful thing, for the most part. One of the most enjoyable live albums i've ever heard, at least. 'Heaven And Hell' is an astonishing John Entwistle composition, and The Who are amazingly powerful in their performance of it. Doesn't sound a whole lot like 'studio' Who, by the way. Sounds better. 'I Can't Explain' is as fun as it ever was, and Pete's guitar chords and thrashes are certainly impressive and, um, loud! 'Fortune Teller' is a cover of a Benny Spellman song, and was also covered by The Rolling Stones and The Merseybeats. Another strong, powerful performance, especially guitar wise, but I don't much care for the tune, to use old persons 'speak'. 'Tattoo' is the sole song taken from 'Sell Out' and sounds a little ropey, to be honest with you. A little shaky, perhaps 'The Who Sell Out' wasn't easy to play live? When introducing the three song sequence beginning with 'Substitute' and ending with 'I'm A Boy' Pete jokingly says they are playing the three 'easiest' hits. That may well be the case, actually. I'd have loved to hear 'I Can See For Miles' performed instead of 'Tattoo', but then, I'm not The Who! They retained a fondness of 'Tattoo' well into the mid-seventies. Some of the harmonies and guitar are nice, Keith plays well, and I can't actually explain WHY I've just described this as a slightly 'ropey' performance. It almost certainly isn't, but it IS followed by 'Young Man Blues'. Maybe that's the reason. This is the single most astonishing piece of Who performance i've heard. I find it hard to believe anybody was performing live better than this at the time. This is faultless, and so damn exciting! There is a particular part I absolutely love. Keith and John have 'navigated' the opening stop start nature of the song, and then this fantastic sequence comes in, where they just sound SO astonishing, it beggars belief. And then? THEN! Pete comes in. And it seems, halfway through his soloing, he suddenly realises, a sudden thought pops into his brain, and the thought may well have been this, "FUCK! John and Keith are on form tonight. What the fucks going on? Better pull something a little EXTRA special out of my little bag of tricks." And so, he does! An absolutely wonderful guitar part comes soaring through, the rhythm section continue sounding absolutely super-human, and this all continues until the end of the song. I've not even mentioned poor old Roger, who by the way, turns in one of his best, if not HIS BEST ever Who vocal performance. Wow. Again, just 'wow'.
Onto 'Substitute', another mighty live performance. All three of these hits arriving in the middle of this disc are wonderful, loud, exciting and practically definitive renditions of said songs. When I first listened to this album, I was particularly interested to see how they'd handle 'Happy Jack'. They handle it damn well, Keith is Keith, you know? I shouldn't have expected anything less. 'A Quick One' isn't a Who song i'm as familiar with as others here, but it sounds good! 'Summertime Blues' bears only a loose remsemblance to the 'Summertime Blues' we all know and love, but at the end of the day, it really IS just 'Summertime Blues'. Same comments apply to 'Shakin All Over'. The Who perform these old Rock n Roll standards damn well, and their performances transcend the songs to an extent, but this is still 'Summertime Blues', and this is still 'Shakin All Over'. It isn't musical nirvana, for me personally. By the time of 'My Generation' I get a little tired. To the credit of The Who, they transform 'My Generation' into a fifteen minute ROCK monster, and then do 'Magic Bus' to close, which is always fun to hear, especially in this 'Who+1' styled performance. So, 'Live At Leeds'? I suspect i'd have preferred the 'non' deluxe CD edition. But, even with the second disc, i'll still give this a 9. OK? Happy now? No? Ah, whatever!
Michael Harrison firstname.lastname@example.org Easy 9 & 1/2. LIVE AT LEEDS is a great heavy metal album, too. This is a good mix
between the early, smash-em-out Who of 1966, and the more progressive band of 1969,
so it's probably my favorite Who album of all. "Young Man Blues" blows away just
about everything else on the record. "Summertime Blues" always makes for a great
live tune. Daltrey's belt-it-out vocal on "Shakin All Over" is hilarious.
Jude Bolton Bolton_154@hotmail.com It's a tough position to be in, as a young kid who has just reached 'adult' age, and loves music and these review sites, and continually reads that the Rolling Stones and the Who are the best bands of all time, where previously he thought U2 and the Smashing Pumpkins. And so constantly he forks out for these Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin CDs, not sure whether he likes them or not (in the past year or so the percentage of music by 60s artists has grown from 1% (ie Beach Boys Greatest Hits) to about 33%), but keeps buying them because these music gurus must be right. To date I've bought five Who albums, and I do like the band a lot more, but nowhere near as much as I should. Heaven and Hell from Live at Leeds is probably my favourite song.
Mark Evans email@example.com Completely overrated. With the exception of 'Fortune Teller' the covers are very good and 'Heaven and Hell' is also excellent. However for much of the time the band sound like they are just going through the motions. This is particularly for the classic singles I Can't Explain, Substitute, I'm a Boy and Happy Jack. There is no passion whatsoever and it sounds like Pete & Co. are sick to death of playing these songs and want to finish them as soon as possible. Don't buy the hype there's nothing classic about this. 6/10
bassplayeredd firstname.lastname@example.org This a very enjoyable to listen to. Easiy one of the best live albums ever.
Ray Burns email@example.com I've bought this record five times. When it first was released on vinyl (and I've still got all the insets), on cassette to play in the car, on CD, on CD again for the 25th Anniversry edition and this full concert 30th Anniversary de-luxe version.
This is one of the greatest of all rock bands playing at the very top of their form.
Given that if there are any perfect rock records I've yet to hear them in forty years of listening I would give this 9.9 out of 10.
Red Chef firstname.lastname@example.org I am one of the original fanatics for this recording. The late 60,s/early 70's were my music loving heyday.I am now renewing my music consciousness in my dotage, inspired by the Ipod and availability of mp3 music. God! what we would have given for Ipods and MP3's back then! It must be difficult for later generations to appreciate the impact that this album had back in 1970. Starved of truly great live performances, because the Progressive Rock genre was still in it's infancy, this album was worn thin on my turntable, especially the side containing My Generation and Magic Bus which I would play over and over again. The concept of listening to a single side of an album has now disappeared with the advent of CDs and the ability to download single tracks. When these albums were originally put together they were intended to be listened to in two distinct parts and each side of the LP would be compiled with a specific concept in mind. Side 1 of the original Live at Leeds was much ! more of a 60's greatest hits played live, whereas side 2 was regarded as almost experimental in the field of progressive rock despite being based on two Who standards.
Rather than buy the original album on CD I must admit I am tempted to go for the most complete version of the whole concert (presumably the 25th anniv ed) but I am mindful that I may be dissapointed because of the sentiment that the original compilation hoilds for me.
Tagbo Munonyedi Live at Leeds is quite a good album, especially the extended CD version, but to be honest, it's never really done it for me. In fact, I find it really patchy. "Heaven and hell" is the only song that I can say I love from start to finish and all the way through. Which is not to damn the rest as worthless - far from it. But they kind of remind me of some of the 'departures' that Deep Purple came out with a couple of years after this on Made in Japan, where the songs that were four or five minutes extended to eleven to fifteen minutes and just don't sustain the interest for me. Having been immersed in Tommy and the bands' earlier stuff, I know the quality that these men had. But I find each of the other songs follow a similar pattern; some great, mesmeric parts mixed with almost tuneless ramblings. Or am I just being too fussy ?
The Who were always renowned for their loud and thumping stage sound so in one sense, it could be argued that this is the real Who but since the d! ays when careful studiocraft kicked in there has been a dichotomy between what certain bands did live and in the studio. Tommy and Who's Next lost the band alot of their old support.
Interestingly, I find Cream live a more interesting listen and, believe it or not, Grand Funk Railroad. I can't figure it out with the latter, they just knew how to keep a simple pattern going with excitement, if little musical brilliance. But for them, it worked and is still listenable all these years on. And Cream's jazzy inclinations meant that improvising was de rigeur for them, and it wasn't just bland improvising like a surprizing number of jazzers, their's was recreating new and attractive parts that hadn't previously existed, but loud and thumping too. There's little of that here. It's the kind of stuff that would have been great to witness live but which, in my opinion, doesn't seem to translate well as a recorded statement. Maybe it's coz I already knew many of these songs in the! ir studio incarnations so stretching them out made little diff! erence. But knowing the way I approach music, it should be the other way around. That all said, parts of A quick one, Amazing Journey, Shakin' all over and My Generation are brilliant. It's just frustrating that it's too often only in part
DAngelus Pure awesomeness. My favorite moment is when Pete positively *rapes* the guitar during "Shakin' All Over" (the "early morning…" section) but it's all quite wonderful.
"I Can See For Miles" requires two guitars, so that's why it's not on here.
Who's Next 10
( 1971 )
Baba O'Riley / Bargain / Love Aint For Keeping / My Wife / The Song Is Over / Getting In Tune / Going Mobile / Behind Blue Eyes / Won't Get Fooled Again
Right, well, where to start. Pete set to work on a follow-up to 'Tommy' to be titled 'Lifehouse'. I'm not even going to begin to get into 'Lifehouse' here, suffice to say the concept fell apart when Pete actually tried explaining it to people. Nobody knew what the hell was going on, but The Who survived. 'Who's Next' isn't any kind of 'cop-out' release - something you would usually expect in the wake of the failure of a major project by a high profile group. For reasons of comparison, witness The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson failing to complete 'Smile'. The Beach Boys took a good few years to recover from that failure artistically, and never did recover commercially. The Who went about putting together nine songs, and released a 'normal' album. It's not an ambitious album, and it bears little resemblance to The Who of the sixties, but then..... there's some damn fine stuff here! Roger Daltery had developed a wildly different singing voice which upon first listenings may make you wonder if The Who hadn't replaced him altogether! Roger had spent the previous two years singing 'Tommy' to appreciative audiences the world over. Roger found himself
creatively, so to speak. 'Tommy' gave him a huge boost in confidence, he learned to shout and roar and generally make himself heard a little better over the top of The Who's usual immense sonic assault.
'Baba O'Riley opens things with some of Pete Townshends synthesizer experimentation. He could as well have played some guitar instead as an intro, but this is more distinctive. The buzzing and weirdness is unnerving but brilliantly links into the opening of the bass and drums and Roger who sounds 10 years older than did on 'Tommy'. This is a vocal of some power. Pete comes in with some crashing guitar chords, the synth continues underneath all of this. "Don't cry, don't raise your eye, it's only teenage wasteland....." - a smattering of drums, more and more listening pleasure creeps in. Well, not even creeps in! This is fucking brilliant, joyous musical perfection of the highest order. Real shiver down the spine stuff. "They're ALL WASTED!" sings Roger, and you know. What can you say? 'Bargain' is fantastic. 'Bargain' has quickly become one of my favourite songs. Roger continues with his new found voice, Pete does a guitar special, the sound is fantastic, the song is real ROCK type stuff and just exhilarating. "THE BEST I EVER HAAAAAAAAD!!!!" - and there you have it, sports fans. 'Love Aint For Keeping' makes it three winners in a row, a more subdued song than either of the first two, but thank god for that. I was about to faint. This is slightly folky, vaguely. Features lovely harmonies in the background, and it's a lovely song. 'My Wife' is a Entwistle tune, sung by him too. I would have preferred it to be sung by Roger, but Mr Entwistle does well enough. The song is a basic rock number but with much groove and ultimately it's a song that works and works well. The trumpet is entertaining, by the way. 'This Song Is Over' slows things right down, but, but, but..... the realisation dawns. This is AN ALBUM! Nine songs, that's your lot. Some faster numbers, some experimentation, no little level of
achievement. 'This Song Is Over' is beautiful, the vocals are genuinely affecting. 'Getting In Tune' is another ballad, two ballads running? Well, yeah - but as 'Getting In Tune' develops, and the harmonies come in, Keith plays a few modest rolls - piano is added - it becomes another gorgeous piece of writing and performance. Following two ballads, you want something a little different, if not a sudden switch to a monstrous noise. The Who gives us 'Going Mobile', a nice little nifty driving song. 'Behind Blue Eyes' has depth, lovely vocals, harmonies - turns into a more 'regular' Who song halfway through. It slightly loses its beauty at this point, but not enough to lose it's enjoyability. Besides, Pete turns in some fine guitar, Keith does 'his thing' and then it switches back to delicate guitar picking to close.
You know, I SWORE to myself I'd NEVER give a Who album a perfect ten. I didn't even like The Who when I first started this review site! But, all of what's gone before - the beauty, the craft and the exhilarating opening numbers is topped off brilliantly by 'Won't Get Fooled Again'. "YEARRRRGHHHH!" indeed. Makes me want to leap five feet in the air with my arm raised, ready to slam down on some imaginary guitar upon my landing on the ground once again. I love this song so much, it's just, well, emotional. The 'me' of 12 months ago wouldn't have expected to get so excitable about a Who album bar possibly 'Who Sell Out', but there you go. I won't get fooled again. Ha! Ah, what the fuck.
Alan Brooks email@example.com
Listen to how the Who can take a very simple song, like 'Song Is Over' and make it sound groovadelic, even if the words are overblown. But that's Art Rock for you.
Simon Brigham firstname.lastname@example.org GOD THIS ALBUM IS OVER-RATED!! Almost every review I see of this album it's given 4-5 stars!!! There are really only three great songs on here : "Baba O'Reily" (which was the first album to feature a VCS 3 synthesizer on it, or so people say), the emotional "Behind Blue Eyes", and the wonderful drum work of Keith Moon and that ear-splitting scream of Roger on "Won't Get Fooled Again" make it maybe the best song here. The rest are almost-bad ("My Wife"), fair-but-annoying ("Going Mobile") or have dumb, imaginative lyrics ("Getting In Tune"). There. That was my rant for the day.
Mark Evans email@example.com Yes this is definitely the Who's best album however I think 10/10 is a little too
high. 'Going Mobile', 'Getting in Tune' and 'Song is Over' just plain suck while
'Love ain't for keeping' could certainly be labeled filler. nevertheless the rest is
just so good that I would have to give this an eight.
Ewan McRobert firstname.lastname@example.org This was the first Who album I ever owned and was a brilliant introduction to the band. However, recently, on listening to the album for the first time in a while,I realised it really isn't as strong an album as I remember. I own a remastered cd version and the extra songs they include add very little, diluting the album in my opinion. Having said that Baba O'Riley is one of my favourite Who songs. I'd prob give this album an 8 or 9
Martyn email@example.com i am 14 and i absouloutly love this album, except a few of the slower songs. Apart from this "wont get fooled again reigns supreme, in my opinion the best Who song Ever. Keith Moon is ace, and Pete's guitar playing Kicks ass!
Matt Byrd firstname.lastname@example.orgWell, this album gets some flak for being a bit bombastic... which, well, I agree it is in places. BUT, this is The Who, they INVENTED big, arena rock that is listenable (from what I hear... I'm only 18)... so, I give these guys some credit. We Won't Get Fooled Again is possibly on of the greatest rock songs ever thought up... although I can't back that up. An easy 9 or more from me!
john, county kildare email@example.com
start with 10/10 and work your way upwards. there is no reason on god's green earth to find fault with this album. unless you happen to be the new incarnation of mary whitehouse and find the idea of young ruffians relieving themselves on the cover, just too hot to handle, or maybe if you're a vinyl specialist who is upset at the fact that it wasnt released as a gatefold sleeve.... other than that just shaddup and cherish the l'il treasure. maaan, THIS KICKS ASS.
DAngelus As great as the original version is, it pales next to the CD with the bonus tracks. "Naked Eye" and "Water" are just classic Who, "Too Much of Anything" and "Put the Money Down" are delightful and I know people say that "Pure and Easy" is over-blown Messiah-rock, but for me it works perfectly as the centerpiece of the "lifehouse" project: "I listened and I heard/Music in a word/The word when you played your guitar…"
9.5/10 as is, 10/10 with the bonus tracks. (11/10 if "Join Together", which is obviously thematically a part of the project, had been in the bonus tracks.)
( 1973 )
I Am The Sea / The Real Me / Quadrophenia / Cut My Hair / The Punk And The Godfather / I'm One / The Dirty Jobs / Helpless Dancer / Is It In My Head? / I've Had Enough / 5:15 / Sea And Sand / Drowned / Bell Boy / Doctor Jimmy / The Rock / Love Reign O'er Me
Taken from a random web-site whilst searching for additional information on The Who's 'Quadrophenia' album I found this little line, "More than 20 years after it's release, 'Quadrophenia' is still inspiring young scooterists". Well, that's alright, then! 'Quadrophenia' made for a great cult film, it's look at mod culture indeed inspiring and influential for many. The title refers to four states of mind, schizophrenia, each part representing a member of The Who, or some other such rubbish. The spiritual or 'higher' meaning Pete liked to attach to his concept albums made little sense around the time of 'Tommy' and it makes little sense here, either. Forget any higher meaning, 'Quadrophenia' tells a story, and tells it better than 'Tommy' told a story. Musically, the mixing could probably have been done better. I'm told original vinyl issues sound better than recent CD issues, and who am I to disagree? I don't have an original vinyl issue to compare it to, and in any case, the mixing isn't a major problem. A Pete Townshend pet project? Well, yes. Not content with releasing 'Tommy', then concocting 'Lifehouse', watching it fall apart and become the marvellous 'Who's Next' instead - he wanted to do another concept and to do it better. The concept is good enough, ignoring any clumsy higher explanations of meaning - just watch the film at some stage, whilst you're at it. As far as the performance side of things is concerned, if The Who were arguably at their peak as performers circa 1970/1971, then how do they fare a couple or three years later? Well, Entwistle, when he can be heard through the mix, can be heard doing fine inspiring things. Pete does a few impressive guitar things, and Keith is Keith. I heard a story that following a break from The Who, Keith Moon would have to re-learn how to play drums like Keith Moon. He'd need to practise - get back into the swing of things.
Bearing in mind the initial early conceptions of 'Quadrophenia' as simply relating back the entire history of The Who, the apparent lack of progression from the pioneering nature of the likes of 'Baba O'Riley' is perhaps then to be expected, then? The 'Quadrophenia' album ( ignoring the film, that's for another discussion ) doesn't so much move The Who forwards as to provide a series of snapshots - it's a like musical Who photo album, via the medium of new songs. This 'Quadrophenia' album relates back to 'Who's Next' and it relates back to 'Tommy'. The 'Rock Opera' side of things clear places 'Tommy' in the listeners mind and semi-ballads such as the lovely 'Cut My Hair' places in mind certain 'Who's Next' material. There truly is nothing here as astonishing as either the opening or closing songs from 'Who's Next' - and the days of The Who being a killer singles band had seemingly ended as well. '5:15' was released and became a relatively succesful single, but that area appeared to no longer be a priority for the group. So, the highs are lower than before? Well, yeah, actually. But the key to appreciating 'Quadrophenia' perhaps lies in the cumulative effect of the seventeen songs here, nary a one of them a dud. True, the opening 'I Am The Sea' is merely a wash of... well, waves and suchforth, but this is a concept album, right? You've gotta have one of those little introduction things on here, haven't you? Besides, it's short and leads effectively into 'The Real Me', a genuinely great Who rocker. Which in itself leads into the instrumental title track. This track scores over similar efforts on 'Tommy' merely in that it sounds so great. Pete does his guitar thing, does his synth sounds thing - Keith and John do their thing and it flows so well, very beautiful music.
A 'rash' of guitars and drums open 'The Punk And The Godfather', some title to have on an album in 1973. A minor Who gem and perhaps my favourite song here arrives with the folky guitar, nice vocals and great tune of 'I'm One'. 'Quadrophenia' benefits from material such as the title song and 'I'm One', as occasionally it seems a few songs too many share the same kind of sound and style. 'I'm One' not only includes these folky elements but also includes clattering drums for the more typical Who moments. Great moments though, truly great. Pete's Synths arrive all over 'The Dirty Jobs', perhaps overly so, but Keith and Roger keep this grounded in Who land. 'Is It In My Head' is affecting, and pretty much all of the entire first half of 'Quadrophenia' is affecting, exciting, quality Who music of the highest order. We don't quite see this level maintained through the second half, not that anything is particularly 'wrong' with the second half of 'Quadrophenia', though. '5:15' is a great track, brass and various instrumentation creating a huge sound, and the bellowed "Girls of fifteen, SEXUALLY KNOWIN'" lyric very entertaining indeed. Roger Daltery, apart from this intoxicating wall of sound of course, makes '5:15' for me. 'Quadrophenia' then proceeds to carry on its merry way, Keith does a few drums things, Pete does a few guitar and synth things, etc, etc. 'Doctor Jimmy' is a fine example of playing and sounds, but for eight minutes rather overstays its welcome. The closing emotional epic of 'Love Reign Oer Me' is a highlight though and the nearest 'Quadrophenia' gets to matching the glory of a 'Baby O'Reily' or 'Won't Get Fooled Again'. 'Quadrophenia' needed such a striking highlight during it's second half to keep the album overall on an even keel. Anyway, 'Quadrophenia' is a fine album that covers a whole range of Who lyrical themes and interests, and as such, would prove a hard act for them to follow.
Simon Brigham firstname.lastname@example.org I think that Quadrophenia The Who's best album. I taped this almost three years ago from my Unlce's LP version. I wore out the tape, so I recently bought the double CD. It's too bad the whole thing doesn't fit on one CD, although if you leave out "I am the Sea", it just fits at 79 minutes. Anyway, the music is (almost) consistantly good (it really rocks, something that the acoustic-pop-rock of Tommy could never do), both Roger and Pete both shine on vocals, John Entwistle is fast and furious on bass, and Keith Moon is fantastic on drums (as always). The reason why I said the music is "(almost) consistantly good" is that the two instrumentals (the title track and "The Rock") though good, are so alike that they are almost interchangable. Plus the music area kind of drags on side three ("5:15", "Sea and Sand" and "Drowned" are the prime examples - - those are also the songs I listen to the least on the album). Pete is a great guitarist and gets some great licks here and there. He's also a good keyboard and synth player. He plays some distinguished and almost regal-sounding melodies. The story is a lot better than Tommy, more plausible (well, except for that shizophrenia X 2 bit. I think Pete got mulitiple personality disorder mixed up with shizophrenia. Because they are completely different mental diseases. Oh well.)
The last three songs make up one of the best endings on a concept album. "Dr. Jimmy" is a bit too long and a bit too repetitive for it's own good, "The Rock" is a good sum up of the musical themes, and "Love Reign O'er Me" is a great climax. Gotta love the vocals by Roger! They're quite passionate striking. When I first listened to the song, I thought he was singing "Love, Rain On Me". It kinda made sense cause there's the rain effects at the begining of the song. The only thing I don't like about it is the sounds at the very end. It sounds like kitchen cutlery being thrown against a wall. Oh well. Dispite its faults (especially on side three), IMHO this is one of the best concept albums ever. (Up there with The Lamb Lays Down On Broadway by Genesis, and The Wall by Pink Floyd).
Mark Evans email@example.com On first listen I was really impressed by this and was sure it was the Who's best album. However on repeated listening its many flaws become obvious. Should never have been a double album as disc two is absolutely awful. Songs like '5:15' and 'Love Reign O'er Me' seem to be regarded as Who classics but they do absolutely nothing for me. Thus can't give it more than 6/10. No offence meant to Who fans as I actually love the band's early singles it's just that their albums simply aren't up to much.
Ewan McRobert firstname.lastname@example.org Love the film and the album. This is my favourite Who album and I'd definitely give it a 10. There's not many stand out songs, but in this instance, the sum of the parts is most definitely greater than the whole. For me, 'Love Reign O'er Me' is an classic song and the highlight of an extremely solid album.
Neil Eddy email@example.com Probably my favourite Who album without a doubt. Pete's writing here is very good... before this it was more the case of two or three good'uns and the rest were filler. Here its almost all good. And the playing by John, Keith and Pete is amongst the best they ever did. As a bass player, I just love John's playing on this album - some absolutely great lines all over the place. I do like the instrumentals - they stand up against the best prog rock offered and are a lot tighter in conception too. Lyrically Pete captures the mindset of the disaffected young peson so well too... For me this album is a 10... but then so are the original "Live At Leeds" and "Who Are You" as well!
GAZZA Edinburgh After the failure of the lighthouse project townshend was determined that his next rock opera would be a sucess - unfortunately it was only partially so .
While the narrative is stronger than "tommy" and the movie is simply a classic the music works far better on the single disc soundtrack version , theirs simply way too much filler , way too much of pete noodling around on a synth as well . The rhythme section sounds terrific though.
The horn section here was a great idea but it sounds wimpy and badly recorded it should have jet propelled songs like 5.15 for example .
However it does have great songs "5.15" "the real me" and of course the mighty "love reign over me" . I also have a soft spot for "had enough" and moonys turn on "bellboy"
id go for a more restrained 6.5/10 .
The Who By Numbers 8½
( 1975 )
Slip Kid / However Much I Booze / Squeeze Box / Dreaming From The Waist / Imagine A Man / Success Story / They Are All In Love / Blue Red And Grey / How Many Friends / In A Hand Or A Face
The title of the album combined with the dot to dot Entwistle cartoon artwork? Well, 'The Who By Numbers'? No concept for this one. Perhaps critics have shrugged their shoulders and rather concentrated on more noticeable, marketable, newsworthy Who albums, like 'Quadrophenia' or 'Tommy'? No concept, but 'Who By Numbers' is full of terrific numbers. The songs here could just as easily have been recorded as a Pete Townshend solo record, these are personal songs. Brought to the table by Entwistle, Daltery and Moon is superb muscianship, great group interplay. Brought to the table by 'Who's Next' producer Glyn Johns, is crystal clear sound and seperation, wonderful production. Pete admitted in various interviews around the time that with the 'Quadrophenia' record he'd perhaps painted himself into a corner. The idea of an album such as that, drawing a line under everything you've done before? I can understand that. So no concept, just songs. Moon can still drum, Entwistle is still a brilliant bass player, Daltery is still in full voice and Pete is still writing great songs. Can't ask for more than that, really. There are a number of key songs here, amongst the greatest songs The Who have ever done. 'Squeeze Box' is a great rock song, full of funny lyrics and full of great playing. The sex thing in the lyric, "Mama's got a squeeze box, daddy can't sleep at night.... in and out, in and out, in and out..." Of course, it's just about some lady accordian player Pete knew! Following 'Squeeze Box' with 'Dreaming From The Waist' hardly helps Pete's innocent assertion that 'Squeeze Box' isn't at all about sex, however. Roger sings that a cold shower helps his health and about controlling himself. Right! But, my god, The Who perform 'Dreaming From The Waist' damn well, right from the strummed classic Who sounding introduction through to the brilliant group interplay as the song fades out.
'Slip Kid' opens the whole shebang, not an especially special song in and about itself, but the production and performance is professional and a little exciting, too. The Who sound good, especially Daltery. He growls and roars and, you know? 'However Much I Booze' interests me. The Who would have attracted, by 1975, a new audience in part, a bunch of 16/17 year olds just discovering the group. They'd also have retained part of their original audience, guys who were now themselves in their late twenties/early thirties. These guys, the latter guys, will have easily have been able to relate to personal Townshend songs such as 'However Much I Booze'. I know I can. Not to go into detail, but this is a masterful piece of writing. It was probably written off the cuff, you know? I'm feeling this, i'll write about it. Got nothing else to write about. But then, you get Glyn Johns to produce and guys like Entwistle and Moon to be your rhythm section. Get Nicky Hopkins ( he played with The Beatles, you know! ) to play piano on a few album cuts. Sorted! Ah, Entwistle gets just the one composition here, but it's a good-un. Home for the weekend, he promises he's going to make the worst of his time. That's a threat. The song has a groove about it and the lyrics plug into the wondering what the hell you're doing in a band acting the fame and fortune thing when you really should be growing up and being mature, thing, that the Townshend songs here do. That's a sentence. I do apologise. 'They Are All In Love' and 'How Many Friends' let the side down a little, bland balladeering. Much more special is the Pete sung, accompanied by himself on ukulele 'Blue, Red and Grey'. Entwistle contributes a suitably sparse, beautiful and haunting brass arrangement. This is mature Townshend writing, the solo plus brass arrangement suits the song perfectly. Great song, a genuinely great song and affecting performance.
So, the closing 'In A Hand Or A Face', following a second half to the LP devoted to ballads or softer moments, returns the 'OO to teenage rock and roll wasteland. About bloody time, but what's gone before, the performances, mature writing and sophisticated feel of this 'Who By Numbers' set has more than impressed. Oh, by the way. This record was the last Who album released before the demise of Keith Moon. He wouldn't live to see the release or tour the 'Who Are You' record. His drumming throughout 'Who By Numbers', whilst not the whirlwind of yore, more than does it for me. Still the best Keith Moon type drummer in the world, indeed.
Joanna Angelmo645@aol.com Thank you for giving this album a good review, since it often gets put down for some of Pete's self-pittying bitter lyrics (like However Much I Booze, which is probably my least favorite song on the album). The music is definitely top-quality, even if some of the lyrics are hard to listen to. Slip Kid is freakin' awsome and catchy, Dreaming from the Waist rocks, and I swear I almost cried the first time I heard Blue, Red and Grey. That is honestly the sweetest most pure love song ever.
Simon Davies firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm gonna print off your reviews and send you some proper (positive)comments, but you say of Keith "He wouldn't live to see the release or tour the 'Who Are You' record". Check your dates ... he did see the release of "Who Are You" ... I double checked the other day when a signed copy of "Who Are You" was sold on ebay, signed by all 4 members including Keith! He had about 3 weeks to sign the album : relased 18 Aug 78 in UK and 21 Aug 78 in US. Keith died on 8 Sept.
john, county kildare email@example.com
disgracefully underrated. there's 1 or 2 lame fillers present, but they're vastly outweighed by "blue, red and grey" "dreaming from the waist" and "imagine a man". 8 1/2 /10.
Flashfoldman firstname.lastname@example.org Concept,smoncept...!!!Under-rated LP,although I like your rating.Rich sounds come from this result.Most original Keith to this point and some break-neck guitar-hero stuff from Pete.Simple ideas can lead to genius outcomes.Slip Kid still seems fresh,Blue Red and Grey is a beautiful tune,The Who...A huge reason to love music and the personalities that drive it!!!Great site!!!
Randall So California I love this album, I have listened to it at least as many time as I have any other Who album. I do not believe there are any weak songs on it. I'm glad there was no concept to it, just pure songs. I've wondered if the title had anything to do with The Who being called "The High Numbers" before changing their name to The Who. One thing I never see in reviews of this album or in the lyrics posted on the internet is any mention of the missing word in "The're All In Love". The lyric "Where do you fit in Truth Magazine" was changed to "Where do you fit in Pfffftttt (Raspberry Sound) Magazine, after the inital release of the album because of a law suit (or threat of one) from Truth Magazine. The original lyric was sung on the first albums released, then changed shortly there after. I remember hearing it when the album first came out. Those early ablums with the lyric intact must be a little known collector piece.
Who Are You 6½
( 1977 )
New Song / Had Enough / 905 / Sister Disco / Music Must Change / Trick Of The Light / Guitar And Pen / Love Is Coming Down / Who Are You
Keith Moon came into the sessions overweight and fresh from an unsuccesful stint in rehab. Recording the drums for this final Who effort by the original line-up proved somewhat fraught, but they got there in the end. Whilst not the very finest work Keith Moon had ever done, he still holds his own here. He still adds that extra dynamism the songs demanded. Well, on the whole. The music world was a changed place, Disco and Punk had sprung up since 'Who By Numbers' and The Who were increasingly seeing themselves considered as an oldies act. As such, 'Who Are You' needed to reassert the place of The Who in the musical marketplace. Pete had used keyboards before of course, but then, keyboards were hardly punk, were they? Which makes it rather puzzling that they'd choose to do a song titled 'Sister Disco' and marry keyboard flourishes with the Who guitar of old. The song is fine enough, although the marriage of musical styles presented here just comes across as rather awkward. Synths are also prominently featured on the 2nd song, 'Had Enough'. Wither The Who musical whirlwinds of yore? What's even wrong with 'Had Enough'? Well, the synths are overbearing, very nearly drowning out the backing vocals and the lead vocals. Poor mixing, basically. Unwise choices, although having said that, 'Had Enough' does have some worthy creative musical parts here and there. 'New Song' opens with rather bouncy, slightly cringe-inducing keyboard melody. The lyrics are also rather puzzling, if understandable, as Roger sings lines such as I write the same old song you've heard a good few times - The Who were indeed in a difficult place in 1977. It would soon become even worse of course, the death of Keith Moon effectively sealing the bands fate once and for all.
Entwistle writes a few interesting songs here, although 'Had Enough' isn't really one of them. '905' is written from the point of view of a test-tube baby. The vocals don't really cut it, sadly, so when combined with the opening two tracks, it means 'Who Are You' as an album gets off to a rather flat beginning. Things do get better, Entwistles other tune 'Trick Of The Light' is storming and wisely, sung by Roger rather than Entwistle. The Pete penned 'Music Must Change' always intrigues me, plenty of soulful jazzy vocals during the quieter sections, some nice sounding guitar during the quieter sections. Roger raising his voice very well to add good amounts of drama. Still, if The Who really were searching for a new sound or wondering about their place in the grand scheme of things, releasing a lyrically cliched song presenting nothing new at all and calling it 'Music Must Change' was never likely to do the trick. 'Guitar And Pen' and 'Love Is Coming Down' are both rather average. The former a bizarre and difficult to enjoy rock song with an annoying chorus. The latter a decent enough ballad, although venturing into MOR territory. Eight tracks in then and 'Who Are You' is rather disappointing, although still strangely listenable for all its faults. A saviour was at hand, the albums title track based on a 1971 synthesizer instrumental by Pete. A true Who classic in every sense of the word. The synth intro is distinctive, the main part of the song combines synths with very effective drumming and good guitar work. A great backing track then, made even better by the wonderful performance of Roger. Roger really lays into the lyrics, his performance is full of venom and anger. It raises the track to another level. 'Who Are You' is a very well produced and arranged song, making you wonder why the same kind of effort couldn't have been spent on the remainder of the album.
john email@example.com obviously keith's playing style is not up to his usual standards, but i think the real problem is the production sound perse. it feels like he is being recorded live, whereas the other guys performances are more layered, then keith is inserted into the final mix in a very sloppy manner. very confusing, and hardly pleasant on the ear. "guitar and pen" has the feeling of a song written for an 1970s early morning kids educational tv show, and produced by mike moran or russ ballard [no offence intended russ, cos i genuinely like you as a person.] it's amazing this managed to get on the boxset ahead of "new song" with its living for the cityesque synths. "trick of the light" is a solid rocker, but john overshadows pete on this one just a little TOO MUCH. the ox is the greatest bassist of all time, but it's no harm to play him down now and again. "sister disco" and "music must change" are immensely likeable, but like some of the "tommy" material, they are vastly superior live. the! album is not a disaster, but you just feel that the real magic has gone. 6[or maybe even 7/10.
Mike Harrison firstname.lastname@example.org I couldn't agree more with Adrian regarding this middling Who album. These guys just sound tired, though Daltrey could still belt it out. Problem is, there's nothing substantial for Daltry to actually belt out, and by the album's end, I feel like belting Daltrey for belting it out once too often! And then there's the problem that too many bands thought was the solution when the album proceedings didn't go very well....they stuck on a bunch of annoying synthesizers to fill the holes left by the lackluster music and lyrics. The title track is the best thing going on the album, but it's like bland icing on a collapsed cake.
Matt Klein email@example.com I couldn't disagree more with this review. Okay, so this isn't the best album these guys put out, but it has so many great songs on it! "New Song," "905," "Trick Of The Light," "Sister Disco," "Music Must Change," and "Who Are You" are all worthy of a perfect 10, and the weaker songs only manage to drag the score down a little for me. As solid a 9 as there ever was.
Face Dances 5
( 1981 )
You Better You Bet / Don't Let Go The Coat / Cache Cache / The Quiet One / Did You Steal My Money / How Can You Do It Alone / Daily Records / You / Another Tricksy Day
Where's Keith Moon? Ah, ok. I see. Kenny Jones of The Faces arrives into The Who ranks and you've got to feel sorry for him. A perfectly accomplished drummer, although replacing Keith Moon was always going to be a difficult task. For Kenny, this task wasn't helped by the fact Pete Townshends commitment to the future of The Who as an ongoing concern must have been dubious at best. They were contracted and had to produce albums. He released several solo records inbetween this and the release of 'Who Are You'. Perhaps it can be said he was stretching his writing abilities a little thin, or that he didn't exactly save all his best material for The Who. What even is a Who album in 1981? Time seemed to have passed the band by, there's precious few concessions made to being modern or progressive, given the huge changes we'd seen in the pop/rock world since 'Who Are You'. Funnily enough, the title track from 'Who Are You' has stood the test of time stylistically, far better than the subdued sound present here on 'Face Dances'. 'Don't Let Go The Coat' is the 2nd song in and sounds like a pop song. Not a particularly impressive one, but it passes muster. The Who produced great pop tunes in the 60s, the 70s was ROCK Who. Back to pop for the 80s? It may have made sense,
because whatever the merits of 'Don't Let Go The Coat', it sounds more pleasing
married to the 80s production values than nearly any of the rock tunes do. John Entwistle seems to inject some life into his tunes, 'The Ouiet One' and 'You', the former easily one of the best tunes here. I mentioned I'd rather the band had switched to pop? The production is pop production, the songs are mostly rock songs with poor lyrics. How much of the blame can be laid at the door of Pete Townshend and co and how much at the producers door, I guess we'll never entirely know.
I'll mention 'How Can You Do It Alone'. It sounds like a pop song to superficial ears, because the keyboards and bass are bouncy and both sound fake. Yet, Roger bellows the same way he's been bellowing since 1970 and suddenly the blinkers fall away. This is a rock song arranged and performed as a pop song. Not the same thing at all. Married to the pleasing sound of 'Who's Next' or even 'Who By Numbers', could this song and the album as a whole have sounded better? Well, of course they could. Would it have been a good album, with those production values? Possibly not. Pete seems to be writing dreadfully throwaway and inane lyrics, for the most part. Mr Entwistle is hardly writing any better lyrics, but compare the difference between 'The Quiet One' and the vast majority of the rest of the album. Genuine energy, a suitable rock production for once, cymbals flashing and a decent performance from Kenny Jones in all respects, actually. Pete? Well, he plays the solo. His guitar is buried usually on the 'Faces Dances' LP, good to hear it at least on a couple of tracks. Oh, 'Another Tricky Day' is a song that whilst not exactly good, certainly isn't bad and it's a song that survives the production. It bookends the album quite well actually with the hit song 'You Better, You Bet'. Certainly not another 'Who Are You' or 'Won't Get Fooled Again', yet when presented with decent material, The Who as an entity seem to be a different band altogether to the mostly forgettable mediocrity of the vast majority of the LP. It's an LP that certainly isn't offensively bad whilst it's playing, just that, one or two songs apart, it's an entirely forgettable LP when you try to remember it more than ten minutes later.
john firstname.lastname@example.org Definitely stick with the c.d. reissue. Bonus tracks take the quality levels up a bit more. Highlights of the original are John's 2 songs, apart from that, not much to go on. Production safe and limp, Roger seems uninterested, Pete's is saving his best material for his solo work, Keith's amazing energy and inventiveness are sorely missed. All in all about 6/10.
Brandon Hammell An album that gets the sh_t' beat out of it far too often, for my liking. While I understand Adrian's theory about this being a rock album masquerading as pop, the same could very well have been said for "The Who Sells Out". "I Can See For Miles," "Relax," "Rael," etc. What makes these pop songs rather than rock ones? The difference in 1981 is that as people have said time and again, the band was tired. Particularly Pete. He'd gone through nearly a decade as a highly-functional alcoholic, but he finally stumbles on this one. To be fair he'd been responsible as main songwriter for five albums in 5 years, including his solo career, collaborations and the Who's career. Who can blame him for being rather tuckered-out? However, there's a lot of pop sensibility still left here. I actually find the lyrics to be the most interesting part of the album: "[some women] just relax and lay back/ while people like us scratch our jeans," "I showed up with! a neon light for a visa," "Did you ever pass the police at work, And hope that they might take you in". Some very seedy stuff working its way through Pete's mind here.
Endless Wire 8
( 2006 )
Fragments / A Man In A Purple Dress / Mike Post Theme / In The Ether / Black Widow's Eyes / Two Thousand Years / God Speaks, Of Marty Robbins / It's Not Enough / You Stand By Me / Sound Round / Pick Up The Peace / Unholy Trinity / Trilby's Piano / Endless Wire / Fragments Of Fragments / We Got A Hit / They Make My Dream Come True / Mirror Door / Tea & Theatre
"This is not the old Who. We never said it would be. It is something else" - Pete Townshend, September 2006. Those who are too busy reading Pitchfork to actually listen to new albums will jump up and down on that quote and use it as proof that 'Endless Wire' pales into comparison when put side by side with any Keith Moon era Who record. That it's actually the best album put together by any Who member or The Who themselves since 1975 may pass you by completely, are you not going to enter into this with an open mind full of forgiveness. We need to forgive Pete and Roger that half of their band have passed away. The session guys and regular band touring guys have hit upon a good formula though. They've hit upon sounding exactly like a Who rhythm section should sound like, far more so than 'Face Dances' or 'It's Hard', two albums that at least featured half of the original Who rhythm section. You know, 'Endless Wire' even sees fit to include an opera, or rather more accurately, a mini opera of sorts. Loads of brief one/two minute tunes that take the mind back to Tommy, if you're so inclined. Sound nothing like it, but nods to the past occur all over the album. Taking the opening moog type sound straight from 'Who's Next' for example. Plenty of songs sound like they could have come from 'Who By Numbers' and nothing sounds bad enough to have come from either of the post Keith Moon Who albums. One of which I can't even be bothered to review but may do some day. The guys behind the CSI tv franchise may well be scouring 'Endless Wire' for future TV Themes as we speak, it sounds that much like The Who. Pete's comment at the top may just have been dampening expectations. He didn't need to do so, nobody I know had any expectations anyway, so much so, their low expectations carried though when they heard the album. Damming it with faint praise seems to have been the thing to do. What, it wasn't recorded in the 60s or 70s? Pete has set a damn fine set of Who songs to Who vocals. That's all that really matters. It sounds like a Who album should sound like. It sounds more like a Who album that a Paul McCartney album does a Beatles album. Is that enough?
Highlight number one arrives with 'Mike Post Theme'. A classic Daltrey vocal We're not strong enough! We're not young enough! he sings. Hey, CSI executives? You could use that start of this song as your next theme tune. It mentions being strong, suburbs. Just cut it short of the 'Mike Post Theme' lyrics if that's bothering you. Anyway, stupendous stuff and as good as anybody could have reasonably expected. 'It's Not Enough' sounds like it may have been written in 1983 and might have been for all I know, but it's epic enough to send images of skyscrapers through this listeners mind anyway. The folksy 'You Stand By Me' is wonderful and enough on its own to prove this album is Pete writing songs very very well. 'Sound Round' remarkably manages to sound like Keith Moon on drums. What more did you want? It's certainly more than enough. Only once the mini opera has ended does the album lose it's way a little. True, 'We Got A Hit' is a fine sounding song, yet the album just threatens to outstay its welcome a little. It's a small matter. Not a classic set mind you, not at all, but 'Endless Wire' is enough of a good set to send the blood racing for all you Who fans anyway. It's good enough an album to start out on your Who journey with also, very strange as that may sound. Well, it's better than 'Face Dances', 'Who Are You' or 'It's Hard'. Even better than 'A Quick One'. Is that enough?
Matt Klein email@example.com I completely agree with your review here. I don't quite understand Pete's comment either, because from the first notes of "Fragments," this is clearly a product of The Who. The only problems for me involve some of the numbers in the "opera" (second half of the album). "Endless Wire" and "We Got A Hit" are excellent songs, but they're far too short. Thankfully, if you bought the deluxe version of the album, it includes extended versions of these songs as bonus tracks. I agree with the 8.