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The Who - Who Are You CD (album) cover


The Who



3.32 | 208 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars After the relatively weak "Who By Numbers" could The Who survive a bit in 1978 ?

Again, this album has no real anthem (only the title track will have a long live life). None of the songs are especially bad, but do not expect anything like what they produced in their past grandeur. There will be several attempt to re-create the "Quadraphenia" atmosphere with songs like "Had Enough", "Sister Disco" (for the arrangements and mood) but none will equal the brilliant master copy.

"Music Must Change" has lots (too much) orchestration. One of my favorite song (and the rockiest one here) is "Trick Of The Light". And the pleasure is still extended with the next song which is one of the very few (the only one ?) to really match The Who standards : great rhythm, very strong vocals and delicate piano to add a special flavour to this song. It is also one of the most sophisticated of the album. It definitely raise the level of this album. "Guitar & Pen" is also one of the highlights.

"Love Is Coming Down" sounds a bit pompous to my ears and the title track is of course one of the best songs available, but I prefer it while being played live. It rocks alright and it is maybe the only number during which Keith holds the sticks effectively. During all the other numbers, he is far to equal his previous performances (even on "By Numbers" he was great).

The remastered version holds two unreleased song : "No Road Romance" which sounds very "Beatles-esque" and "Empty Glass" which is a weird song : very strange atmosphere, somewhat decadent. It is still unpolished in this version and actually it is not at all of interest. There will be several remixes as well of which a good version of "Guitar & Pen". "Love Is Coming Down" is even more syrupous here and the "lost verse mix" for "Who Are You" should have remained lost, if you see what I mean.

One word about the era (1978), just to mention that The Who had nothing to fear from the British punk scene. They were actually praised by a lot of punk bands. It started in 76 with Eddie & The Hot Rods who covered "The Kids Are Alright" on their first album. The Clash carbon copied the riff from "I Can't Explain" in their song "Clash City Rocker" and only refer to "No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones" in their song "1984".

The Sex Pistols also covered a Who song in their early live appearences ("Substitute"), Patti Smith (a rebel rocker, punk by attitude but not by her music) and The Ramones (both from the US) were also very elogious about The Who. The former covering "My Generation" while the latter even invited Townsend on their album "Acid Eaters" for an hilarous cover of "Substitute" in 1993.

So, only lots of respect from the Punk scene (even if Generation X will record the punk anthem "Your generation" referring of course to "My Generation" with their famous phrase "Your generation don't mean a thing to me".

This is no surprise actually, because by their behaviour The Who were kind of wild boys who could only be considered with enthusiam by the new scene (The Stranglers had almost the same crazy reputation than The who for "relifting" the hotel rooms in which they spent some time).

The danger for The Who, lied somewhere else. IMO, the power of songwritting which was sliding down after "Quadrophenia" and which will never pick up again (although their last album "Endless Wire" is an interesting come back, but that's another story).

"Who Are You" is somewhat "middle of the road". It won't hurt anybody but there are too scarce great moments as well. Like for the pre-Tommy and post-Quadrophenia albums, I would make the same recommendation : grab a good "best of" like "Who's Better Who's Best" or "The Ultimate Collection" (a double CD) not even talking about the anthology "30 Years of Maximum R&B" (a quad CD) to get the essence of The Who. But bear in mind that "Tommy", 3Who's Next" and "Qadrophenia" are masterpieces of rock music and that "Live At Leeds" is a phenomenal live album.

Three stars for this one, because only two would be too harsh.

It is also the last album featuring Keith Moon, a great rock drummer. RIP Keith, I miss you.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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