"In June 1964, during a performance at the Railway, Townshend accidentally broke the head of his guitar on the low ceiling of the stage. Angered by the audience's laughter, he smashed the instrument on the stage, then picked up another guitar and continued the show. The following week, the audience were keen to see a repeat of the event. Moon obliged by kicking his drum kit over" - Anonymous hearsay
My Generation (1965)
Out In The Street/I Don't Mind/The Good's Gone/La-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
"With its ferocious blend of grungy distortion, rumbling bass and percussion, and brutish vocals, 'The Who Sings My Generation' became the blueprint for much of the subsequent garage rock, heavy metal and punk. In contrast to debut albums from The Rolling Stones (whose take on Southern American rock & soul was fairly earnest) and The Beatles (who spread the word of rock & roll through sweet harmonies and easily digestible melodies), 'My Generation' positively shoved at the boundaries of popular music. Townshend's fiercely original guitar experiments here predate the innovations of his later American rival Jimi Hendrix" - Mark Wild - Rolling Stone
By the time of this, The Who's debut album, both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had released a fair amount of material and bands like The Yardbirds, The Kinks and The Animals from the British blues explosion were doing the same, so The Who were just a tiny bit late on the scene. However, that didn't matter when one hears this stunning first offering. It was definitely the hardest rocking initial album from any of the bands at the time - full of Keith Moon's precocious and ebullient drums, Pete Townshend's pre-Hendrix feedback-drenched cutting guitar sound, John Entwistle's huge, deep bass sound and Roger Daltrey's strong, bluesy vocal.
Yes, there were definite Beatles influences in the vocal harmonies and chorus hooks, but what made The Who unique were Keith Moon's irrepressible drum rolls and, of course, Pete Townshend's knife through butter guitar. Also, nine of the twelve tracks were Townshend songs, whereas many of the other bands at the time released debut albums full of covers, The Beatles and The Stones included.
Out In The Street has a staccato, Bo Diddley-style fast bluesy shuffling rhythm. It introduced, briefly, Pete Townshend's feedback guitar break. I Don't Mind is a slow, rock 'n' roll influenced ballad but with that bluesy style that The Who made their own on this album. It was originally done by James Brown, hence the r 'n' b feel to it. The Good's Gone is a mysterious-sounding Townshend original, featuring a deep, sonorous vocal from Roger Daltrey. There is a bit of that freakbeat vibe about it. Once more that guitar sound is used again, particularly at the end. The Jam would use similar riffs twelve or thirteen years later on tracks like In The Crowd and Time For Truth.
La-La-La-La Lies is a poppy piece of r 'n' b but with a dark, cynical lyric that would have suited the character of Jimmy in Quadrophenia. Girls always let you down, don't they? The lyric is quite Lennon-esque too. Much Too Much is a catchy upbeat number that finds Keith Moon's powerhouse drumming beginning to make itself known. Once again, the young Roger Daltrey's voice is surprisingly much deeper here than it became in later years. He is trying to be more "soul" than "rock".
Then there is the huge, iconic hit My Generation - a frantic, energetic call to arms for the young to tell everyone to stick it. It was punk eleven years early. I can't listen to this since 1979 without thinking of the "party" scene in the film Quadrophenia. Mods jumping up and down, lads singing the song together like punks. My generation indeed. Oh, and there is John Entwistle's killer bass line.
The Who go all Beatles in the harmonies of The Kids Are Alright but it is far harder and punchy than The Beatles with great drums, guitar and bass giving it a more edgy, raw feel. Keith Moon's drumming was sensational and the whole band's vibrant interplay on the instrumental breaks is outstanding.
The band's other James Brown cover was the the soul/blues of Please Please Please, with Roger Daltrey doing his best Brown impersonation. The track has a great bit of blues guitar from Townshend and fits right in with the British blues boom of 1964-1966. It's Not True is a lively number with some amusing lyrics. Some of the guitar/drum breaks are sensational, easily up there with The Beatles and The Stones.
Bo Diddley's solid, muscular blues of I'm A Man is done next and done credibly with an impressive gruff blues vocal from Daltrey. Townshend's runs on the guitar give the track something else. This was strong stuff for the time. Moon's drumming is leading the way too. A Legal Matter gives probably the first sign to the sort of material that The Who would produce over the subsequent three years or so. Townshend's lyrics were wry for one so young. The Ox was a really impressive, pulsating instrumental to end with, featuring more superb drumming.
Onwards and upwards for The Who after this excellent arrival on the scene. They were going to be something special.
Who's Next (1971)
Baba O'Riley/Bargain/Love Ain't For Keeping/My Wife/The Song Is Over/Getting in Tune/Going Mobile/Behind Blue Eyes/Won't Get Fooled Again
"Only Townshend actually urinated against the piling, so rainwater was tipped from an empty film canister to achieve the desired effect" - Ethan Russell - photographer
This was the album that saw The Who fully morph in to being a "stadium" rock band. All the old sixties "mod" thing was long gone, their audience grown up and the whole zeitgeist changed. They effectively fully re-invented themselves as a heavy rock band, albeit retaining the ear for a catchy riff and refrain that they always possessed. Yes, they had been heading that way in the late sixties and 1970's Live At Leeds album but here they really went for it, with Keith Moon's sledgehammer drumming and Pete Townshend's mighty lead guitar well to the fore. John Entwistle's bass provided a solid, rumbling foundation and Roger Daltrey's soaring voice reigned high over it all.
All this had come out of the (thankfully, for me) aborted Lifehouse project - another "rock opera/concept" thing from Pete Townshend. I hated that sort of stuff - all somewhat pretentious and indulgent. It was art, I guess, and creative, but it was not rock 'n' roll. "Who's Next" changed all that and it became one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It was pure rock from beginning to end. Its music was simultaneously full of attack and power yet full of hooks. It raised the bar for hard rock, introducing acoustic guitars and synthesisers along with a huge drum sound and crashing lead guitar interjections. Both The Who and hard rock itself changed considerably as a result of this album.
Baba O' Riley opens the album with one of rock music's greatest ever introductions - that infectious keyboard loop that draws you in, seemingly never ending, before good old Keith Moon comes thumping in, followed by Roger Daltrey's titanic vocal - "out here in the fields" - and then Pete Townshend's immense guitar blows the whole thing apart. The bit where Daltrey first sings "it's only a teenage wasteland" and the Moon's drums power their way in is just pure rock nirvana. It is truly one of rock's greatest ever songs. Why it was called Baba O'Riley and not Teenage Wasteland has always puzzled me. This was one of the songs that made it through from the the Lifehouse project.
The full-on rock power continues with the barnstorming Bargain, with Moon and Townshend driving it along at full throttle. John Entwistle's bass is lovely in the middle of the song quiet bit. Check out the synthesiser/drum/guitar interplay at the end. Classic early seventies Who. Love Ain't For Keeping is a (comparatively) short but chunky ballad. There is a catchiness to it that makes it stick in your mind. My Wife is the "Entwistle song", with the bassist on vocals. It is a piano-driven bar-room blues-style number with some infectious brass parts too. The Song Is Over is a piano and guitar backed tender ballad that sounds like something from a concept album or stage project. A little way in, though, the whole band kick in and it has definite airs of the material that would appear two years later on Quadrophenia. Daltrey's voice lends a huge grandiosity to the whole thing. This was the end of the old "side one" and most impressive these five songs had been. The Who had really come up with something good here. Out of the apparent chaos and dispiriting experience of Lifehouse had come something wonderful.
Getting In Tune is a lovely, melodic but muscular number. The bass and drums are just sumptuously industrial. Full of rock power. Daltrey's vocal is once more staggeringly good. Going Mobile is an addictive song with Moon and the synthesisers running rampant. As with much of the album, there is an appealing commerciality to it that rendered it different from denser, heavier rock. This was rock, but with a singalong side to it. The anthemic ballad Behind Blue Eyes is almost folky in places before, half way through, it bursts out into some bloomin' beautiful Who rock. Man, this is just so good. Just listen to those Townshend riffs around 3:10. Wonderful.
Then, of course, if it couldn't get any better, along comes the iconcic synthesiser intro to Won't Get Fooled Again followed by the guitar, drums and vocals in what is probably The Who's finest moment. Oh, did I forget that marvellous bass line underpinning it all? What a magnificent, epic song this is. "Meet the new boss - same as the old boss..." is a line that still gets quoted today. I can't get enough of it. Moon is mammoth on here, monumentally mammoth.
Forget "rock operas", Tommy and all that guff. This was The Who at their absolute peak. A truly superb album. What was that cover all about, though? Pissing against a concrete monolith on a slag heap? What was the symbolism in that? Typical early seventies though. Back to the album - there is a fair case for saying that, along with "Quadrophenia", this was the only true classic album The Who made. Certainly, it was never really questioned that this was their best.
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
"Everything started when Pete got there, and everything finished when Pete left" - Ron Nevinson - engineer
Released in that truly great year for albums, 1973, this is by far my favourite Who album, by a long way. I have always had an instinctive, inbuilt suspicion of “concept albums”, and don’t get me started on “rock operas”. That said, unlike most supposed concept albums, which have one or two songs that adhere to the idea and that’s pretty much your lot, this album carries the whole thing from beginning to end. The story is of a disillusioned “mod” teenager, Jimmy, and the minutiae of his miserable, directionless life. While most of his mod mates enjoyed their scraps, music and back alley fumblings, it all was too overwhelming for the permanently morose Jimmy. It led, though, to some great songs detailing all this mod misery.
The album starts with the evocative sounds of the sea, wind-borne waves crashing against Brighton’s shingle beach for a minute or so before John Entwistle’s bass, Pete Townshend’s guitar and Keith Moon’s magnificent, powerful drums kick in to one of rock’s most outstanding intros. Roger Daltrey’s rasping voice joins the fray on The Real Me and we are into Who heaven. A rock group in perfect harmony with each other. Magnificent. “Can you see the real me?” barks Daltrey and then it segues into an atmospheric extended instrumental bearing the album’s name, Quadrophenia, chock full of musical hooks.
The plaintive Cut My Hair sets the mood of Jimmy’s internally conflicted life and fades out to a sample of BBC radio news broadcasts from the time detailing fights between mods and rockers. Then we are back to some classic Who rock with The Punk And The Godfather with some great bass and guitar interplay between Entwistle and Townshend.
The old “side two” sees more images of Jimmy’s life in I'm One, The Dirty Jobs and Helpless Dancer all played out against an atmospheric backing. Jimmy starts to question his sanity in Is It In My Head and the country-ish I've Had Enough sees him approaching rock bottom, and we’re only half way through the album!
5.15 is a favourite of mine, with a great brassy riff and some towering Daltrey vocals. It starts quietly, with that “why should I care” backing vocal before the signature riff and good old Keith blasts in. Great rock song. The Who at their very best. Again, the vocals are superb. It is rock quality all the way now in my favourite passage of the album.
The powerful Sea And Sand has Daltrey yet again dominating with Moon a close second.
The rocking Drowned, featuring more great drumming, leads us into Keith Moon’s showpiece, the rousing Bell Boy, where the madcap drummer gives us some hammed-up Dickensian lead vocals.
The final three songs are just a bit too lengthy to be honest. Doctor Jimmy is ok, but not up there with some of the others, The Rock is an instrumental, but nowhere near as catchy as Quadrophenia, while Love Reign O'er Me, while undeniably soulful and passionately sung, has never really done it for me. A bit too overblown and goes in too long. Many love it, however, so there you go.
Overall, though, this is a great album. I saw The Who perform it in its entirety in 2013 and it was superb.
The above picture will be familiar with all fans of the film dramatisation of the album.
The Who By Numbers (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
"I felt partly responsible because the Who recording schedule had, as usual, dragged on and on, sweeping all individuals and their needs aside. Glyn Johns worked harder on The Who by Numbers than I've ever seen him. He had to, not because the tracks were weak or the music poor but because the group was so useless. We played cricket between takes or went to the pub. I personally had never done that before. I felt detached from my own songs, from the whole record. Recording the album seemed to take me nowhere" - Pete Townshend
After 1971's wonderful Who's Next and 1973's almost as impressive Quadrophenia, this 1976 album from the by now mega-group The Who had a lot to live up to. It doesn't quite equal them, but it is still a reasonable album, containing some of the best aspects of both of its predecessors. It just doesn't quite have that certain je ne sais quoi that they had. It was recorded with Pete Townshend in a bit of a state - drunken, drugged up and questioning whether he should still be playing rock. Keith Moon obviously still had his own problems. Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle just worked around it, although Daltrey was said to be regularly bad-tempered at that time. Despite those problems, it comes over as a remarkable coherent and fulfilled piece of work. Indeed, Daltrey has sometimes claimed it to be his favourite Who album, surprisingly.
Many compare this album unfavourably with Who's Next. To compare it with that is unfair. Just take it on face value and you will find it is a very good Who album. I hadn't listened to it for years and was pleasantly surprised upon revisiting it. I played it over several times.
Slip Kid starts with an intoxicatingly rhythmic drum and guitar groove before Daltrey's vocal leads us through a mid-pace typical Who rocker. It could have fitted on Quadrophenia to be honest, musically, at least. the instrumental break in the middle is intoxicating and the following guitar solo searing. It also features some excellent piano parts (by Nicky Hopkins, of Rolling Stones fame). How Much I Booze is an appealing, upbeat number that again has many recognisable Who traits - a strong, dramatic vocal, great drums, acoustic and electric guitars merged together so well. It is an autobiographical confession song from Pete Townshend about his drink problem.
Squeeze Box was a hit single and is a bit lightweight in a country rock-ish sort of way. That said, it is a singalong pleasure and has a silly double entendre lyric. "She goes in and out and in and out....". Indeed. The rollicking banjo style solo is infectious too. The remastered album contains a live version of the song which is far heavier.
Dreaming From The Waist has some excellent, attacking Keith Moon drums, a big rumbling bass and a lot of verve and vibrancy. It also features some archetypal Who vocal harmonies. It sounds like quite a lot of the Quadrophenia material. It was, apparently, bassist John Entwistle's favourite song to play. Townshend, perversely, stated it was his least favourite! Imagine A Man is a lovely rock ballad, with a sumptuous bass line and some seriously powerful instrumentation. Again, it is a typical piece of grandiose Who balladry.
Success Story is a muscular song about the pitfalls of the music industry. More great vocal harmonies feature. a lovely piano and bass interplay introduces the beautiful They Are All In Love. The track fades into the light, plaintive acoustic McCartney-esque whimsy of Blue Red And Grey. Some Beatles-style horns feature on the backing. How Many Friends again has a great bass line and another convincing Daltrey vocal. It is a cynical song from Townshend. "How many friends have I really got..." he asks. There is something Rolling Stones about the backing, for me, with shades of Mott The Hoople too. That is probably just me, though. More Stonesy riffery and some heavy rock guitar launches the solid rock of In A Hand Or A Face. Moon has some great drum parts on this too.
It is a pretty short album, certainly no behemoth like Quadrophenia and certainly lacks the sheer brilliance of Who's Next, but it is not without its unsung charms. Well worth checking out.
Who Are You (1978)
New Song/Had Enough/905/Sister Disco/Music Must Change/Trick Of The Light/Guitar And Pen/Love Is Coming Down/Who Are You
"I was doing a drum track, and he hadn't learned the song. I actually had to stand up and conduct. He said, 'Can you give me a cue when you get to the middle part?' He hadn't done his homework'" - Jon Astley - co-producer
This was The Who's last album with Keith Moon, before his unfortunate death three weeks after the album's release. By mid-1978, The Who were struggling to remain contemporaneously relevant in the midst of punk, new wave and disco. This album does nothing to change that, being an amalgam of synth riffs and prog rock stylings in places with Roger Daltrey's dramatic, operatic but from the streets voice starting to sound out of time among the snarl of punk and cynical sneer of new wave. Their previous three albums, Who's Next, Quadrophenia and (lesserly) The Who By Numbers had been excellent, hard-hitting rock albums. Unfortunately, despite the individuals within the band's obvious musical proficiency, this is neither a great nor relevant album. It is still The Who, however, and there are good points to it, which I will highlight, but put in a cultural context, it was sadly a little irrelevant.
New Song bursts into action with a synth riff like the sort of thing Elton John and many others would use so much in the eighties, so maybe The Who were ahead of their time, at least. Pete Townshend's guitar injections are as mighty as you would expect and Moon's drumming is Moon, of course. Having said that, Entwistle has said that Moon was completely "out of condition" and disorientated during the sessions and struggled to get through them. There certainly isn't the vitality of his work on previous albums, you have to say.
It actually doesn't sound too bad, but in 1978, I certainly didn't want to listen to stuff like this. Those guitar parts are still superb, though, in any era. John Entwistle's Had Enough takes two thirds of the title of one of Quadrophenia's songs and indeed, its narrative, stage-y style sounds like something from that album, apart from those accursed synthesisers, that make it sound like it should be on ABBA's Voulez Vous album. 905 is another Entwistle song that is somewhat dull, albeit pleasant enough, sounding like The Strawbs in places, for me.
Sister Disco has remained one of the more popular tracks from the album, supposedly saying goodbye to the disco era - replacing it with ELO-style strings and proggy synths. Hmmm. Maybe I'd prefer "Disco Inferno". Daltrey's voice is particularly hammy and, dare I say it, irritating on this. The next track informs us that Music Must Change on an overblown Townshend song that has an air of a stage musical song about it. This sort of thing is so far removed from music in 1978 that maybe it was The Who that needed to change. There are some good bits in though - the bluesy, jazzy guitar bits are quite infectious.
Face Dances (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 Tricky Day
After a three year hiatus since 1978's slightly culturally-incongruous Who Are You, The Who returned with a really good album. Punk's fires had burnt out and anything The Who came up with now was going to be met with more positivity. They had now become respected elder statesmen, as opposed to "boring old farts". There is less reliance on powerful keyboard riffs on this. Yes, they are still there but so are the guitars. Keith Moon is gone, but Kenney Jones is a good replacement. He lacks the unique all-out attack of Moon but he is certainly more than competent, as his long career with The Small Faces and The Faces had proved. Criticisms of him for not being Moon could be said to be somewhat churlish and unnecessary, I feel.
You Better You Bet is a latter-era (i.e. post Moon, post seventies) Who classic, full of pounding, beaty drums, excellent guitar, more subtle keyboards than on the previous album and a very strong Roger Daltrey vocal. The lyrics are great too, suitably perplexing and crudely sexual in places - "you welcome me with open arms and open legs...". I really loved the single back in 1981, feeling it was The Who roaring back with a vengeance. After I had forgotten about them considerably during my punk years, I was ready to welcome my old 1973 favourites back again. This track certainly did that.
Don't Let Go The Coat is a little-acknowledged Who classic. Not in a bombastic, grandiose way, but in a quirky, rhythmic way. It features an almost Brit-pop style jangly, melodic guitar riff underpinning it and Daltrey's vocal is softer and soulful here. There is a certain new wave-ish appeal to this and it sounded fine in 1981, not out of date in any way.
Cache Cache is a semi-punky, upbeat rocker. Daltrey's vocal is a return to his hammy, overblown, dramatic style of the seventies. It contains an odd lyric in the repeated refrain "there ain't no bears in there, not a single bear in there...".
John Entwistle's The Quiet One is a very seventies-style Who rocker, which once more has a bit of a punky intensity to it. Did You Steal My Money sort of merges an early seventies Who sound with a funk rock rhythm. It is on this track that Kenney Jones sounds the most Keith Moon-like, for me.
How Can You Do It Alone has an appealing, chugging rhythm and verses, although the chorus is very typical seventies-style Daltrey. The semi-spoken verse bits are the best bits. Daily Records has tiny hints of Baba O'Reilly in its piano intro. It is a quirkily attractive number. Dare I say that in the verses, the vocal/piano interplay sounds like ABBA in places.
You reverses the lyric from You Better You Bet in saying that "your arms are open but your legs are closed...". It is one of those songs that sounds like it was written for one of those aborted "concept albums" that Pete Townshend was often dabbling in. Except it was written, surprisingly, by John Entwistle. It has received a fair amount of criticism, but it isn't that bad at all. It rocks pretty hard, particularly at the end.
Another Tricky Day could have come from ten years earlier, with its power and punch. Those old Townshend guitar interjections abound and Daltrey's vocal soars in that operatic way of his.
There were a fair few critics who panned this at the time, claiming the band had run out of material. I disagree. There's not a bad track on here and a vibrancy runs through the whole album. Personally, I much prefer this offering to both Who Are You and The Who By Numbers. It is a good Who album.
All This Music Must Fade/Ball And Chain/I Don’t Wanna Get Wise/Detour/Beads On One String/Hero Ground Zero/Street Song/I’ll Be Back/Break The News/Rockin’ In Rage/She Rocked My World
This Gun Will Misfire/Got Nothing To Prove/Danny And My Ponies
"It contains dark ballads, heavy rock stuff, experimental electronica, sampled stuff and Who-ish tunes that began with a guitar that goes yanga-dang" - Pete Townshend
As with most artists who are still putting out records many, many years after their heady, creative younger days, there will no doubt be lots of calls for The Who to retire and people saying “it’s not as good as Who’s Next or Quadrophenia..”. I can guarantee that. Such things would be unfair on this solid, muscular, rocking album, however. I really like it. Yes, it is a long time since Quadrophenia and even longer since My Generation, but for me it is a genuine pleasure to listen to this, and that is all that matters, isn’t it? Whether one likes it or not, and I do. It has made my day today.
Pete Townshend, as he always did, takes on various contemporary issues, trying to understand them and still seeming to fall a bit short - today’s world seems to be befuddling him to his frustration, but it results in some powerful songs. Roger Daltrey expresses Townshend’s sentiments with a fine enthusiasm and respect. Didn’t he ever. Nice to hear these two great old men still doing it - Townshend’s lyrics still sometimes cynical and barbed, Daltrey’s vocals still so expressive and theatrical. The use of more musicians on the rhythm section has given the sound a more expansive, polished feel too.
All This Music Must Fade is a great, thumping return, with a massive power to it and Roger Daltrey’s slightly operatic, characterful voice seeming as if it is still 1973 again. “I don’t care, I know you’re gonna hate this song…” he sings. All the punchy swagger and the self-belief that made The Who so appealing in the sixties and the seventies is there. Great song. Ball And Chain is similarly hard hitting, full of impact and lyrics about Guantanamo Bay. Already there is a dramatic, typically Who vibrancy about this material.
I Don’t Wanna Get Wise is an archetypal Townshend song - anthemic, cynical and wise (despite its title to the contrary). He looks back wryly about the group's early success and also their wild days. The drummer on this one, Carla Azar, goes all Keith Moon at one point, which is nice to hear. Another thing I am noticing so far is just how strong Daltrey’s voice still is - deep, expressive and soaring. It may not have the almost operatic range but it almost sounds better than it did in the nineties. I don’t know if him and Pete enjoyed recording this album, but it certainly sounds as if they did, there is an energy and enthusiasms that comes across loud and clear. They are still bringing out the best in each other, that is so beautifully undeniable. God bless ‘em.
Detour has a rhythmic but pounding drum sound to it and some nice low key vocal bits between the gritty chorus parts. Beads On One String has a world-weary sadness to it, despite its strength of delivery. There is a moving magnificence to it when Roger’s voice takes us higher on the refrain. As often with The Who, the keyboards are used so effectively too. I really like this song. To think that these two 75 year-olds are still doing it, since 1964, is inspirational. It gives me a warm feeling and if that sounds cheesy, then pass the glass of Port and the biscuits. The chunky feel to the material continues on the gritty Hero Ground Zero. Street Song is another big, upbeat anthem number, with a great bass line from Pino Palladino. Both these latter songs are quality offerings.
The pace and power finally subsides for a while on the touching, gentle tones of I’ll Be Back. It is one of The Who’s tenderest songs for a long time. Yes, Pete’s voice sounds old on it, to me anyway, (maybe not to others) but therein lies it appeal. It is a song sung by an old man. A beautiful, proud old man. Fair play to both of them. The harmonica solo is lovely too. Nice one. You would not actually recognise it as The Who at all, particularly, it has a uniqueness to it. Break The News is another more laid-back, reflective number again touching on the subject of ageing. It breaks out into a lively, contemporary but folky sounding chorus, sounding a bit like Mumford & Sons. The song, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, was written by Simon Townshend.
Time for some Quadrophenia-style Daltrey ranting backed by those archetypal Townshend chopping guitar stabs and they arrive in the aptly-titled Rockin’ In Rage. Townshend again acknowledges his ageing as he feels that he is too old to express his frustrations by marching and waving banners. “If I can’t speak the truth for fear of being abused…” he moans, before deciding that he must rage away anyway. You tell ‘em Pete.
The non-bonus track album ends with the melodically appealing She Rocked My World, featuring some almost jazzy, Latin-style acoustic guitar and some vaguely samba-style rhythms. It is a nice, understated end to an album that breathed fire, vim and vigour throughout. If this was The Who’s last album then it is a fine one as far as I am concerned. I am 61, I have known The Who all my life, it is still strange to think it may be their last recording, however. Mortality, eh? It's a tough one.
With regard to the bonus tracks - This Gun Will Misfire is a late seventies-sounding acoustic-driven number with some Moon-esque drums and a vague feeling of U2’s later material in places, for me (that’s probably just me, though).
Got Nothing To Prove is a 1966 Townshend demo that was rejected by then manager Kit Lambert. It is instantly recognisable as 1960s Who, despite the addition of contemporary string, brass and bass sonic enhancements. It has a real appeal to it and is packed full of nostalgia for a past age of the band.
Danny And My Ponies is a beguiling, slightly folky Townshend song, sung using a voice enhancing gadget that makes Pete sound like Jackie Leven. Again, it has an attractiveness about it. All three of these songs would have suited the album and indeed do when played within the ‘deluxe’ track listing.
1944 - 2002