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The Who - Who's Next CD (album) cover

WHO'S NEXT

The Who

 

Proto-Prog

4.40 | 550 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Summer of '71

I have great memories of this period of my life, a young child just "coming online" and enjoying the neighborhood with my older brother and his friends. It was the summer of 1971 and it was a magical time for this youngster. But it was the older teenagers who were having the most fun that summer. Can you imagine having "Who's Next" and "Zeppelin IV" hitting the streets within months of each other that summer and fall? Those kids were heading back to high school with some serious tunage.

It's hard (pun intended) to gauge how important this album is to a prog site, or how it compared to the other rock classics coming out of the same period from the Stones, Zep, Sabbath, etc. The album got so much radio airplay in the States that it makes it hard to listen to "fresh." But it was a crucial effort for The Who for several reasons. It salvaged the failed Lifehouse project into something cohesive. It gave them the more accessible rock anthems they needed to compete with Zeppelin for the title of 70s rock kings. And it split up Tommy and Quadrophenia with an album that required less effort to appreciate-the music more direct and streamlined. Last the songs are unquestionably inventive (note Townshend's synth experiments), powerful, emotional, and yes?fun.

Highlights included "Baba O'Riley" with its great use of piano and violin, along with "Won't Get Fooled Again" where you hear the band's ease at crafting memorable and flat-out amazing dramatic climaxes. "Behind Blue Eyes" brings in a softer acoustic presence although the heat isn't far below the surface, the song is a gem of melody and dual personality. "My Wife" is the only unfortunate selection here in my book, though many Who fans seem to love it.

The album surely proved that Townshend as a writer had not exhausted his best work in the 60s, as his peers in the Fab 4 had, but was intent on progressing in the 1970s despite the horribly unpleasant relationships between individual members. Until I read Marsh's extensive bio of this group I was not aware of the depth of animosities between the members throughout their relevant years. It is impressive that they stuck it out and another example of where conflict in a band did not damage the work, in fact it may have helped it.

A true rock and roll classic if there ever was, but for me, the next one was an even higher water mark.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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