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The Who - Who Are You CD (album) cover

WHO ARE YOU

The Who

 

Proto-Prog

3.32 | 208 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Who Are You' - The Who (5/10)

Although 'The Who By Numbers' was still something of a disappointment when compared to the epic achievement that had come before it (I speak, of course, of 'Quadrophenia'), it was still an album that I was able to develop some sort of personal connection with. The songs there were still fairly strtipped down and conventional, but the sincerity was there; the album largely give the feeling that Pete Townshend was spilling his heart to me, and that was a feeling that really made the album a good experience for me. As the seventies wore on though, The Who were not doing well at all; Keith Moon was soon on his way to falling victim to his vices, and the other members were feeling the strain of it. 'Who Are You' is the last album with the band all together (Keith Moon would die not long after this was released) and even though this was still four greatly talented musicians at work, it is clear from this album that the band were on their way out. Besides a fairly well-known title track that has met some revived interest in the band after being featured in the opening credits of a well-known television show, there is not much on the album that really stands out. 'Who Are You' stands as being the first of the bland albums by this band.

The songs here follow much the same fomrula as did the songs on 'By Numbers', albeit without the same deeply personal subject matter. One thing to the credit of 'Who Are You' however is the addition of new symphonic arrangements to their song. 'Quadrophenia' dabbled in this a bit, and while the orchestral aspects of that album were highly effective, it never felt like The Who truly grasped the symphonic aspect to their music. 'Who Are You' shows The Who taking the sound of string sections with greater confidence, and on such songs as 'Love Is Coming Down' (also possibly the highlight of this record), the string arrangements really add alot to the sound. Unfortunately, the subject matter (often one of my favourite things about what The Who does) and lyrical themes don't really speak much to me. They are certainly pertinent, but are much less personal, instead dealing with societal issues and problems, such as the cancerous onset of disco music.

The song here that most people will know best is the title track 'Who Are You', which features a very catchy hook, and a very gritty sound during the verses that gives a very urban feeling to the music. The song eventually develops from a typical rock song into a more atmospheric piano-heavy break that harkens back to the time when the band still had some great ambitions going for them. As a whole though, 'Who Are You' really is not that great of an album; even with 'By Numbers', I found myself somewhat disappointed by the band letting go of the epic musical ambitions. Needless to say, there are still some good songs here, as well as two tracks that stand out- being the final two. 'Who Are You' will likely satiate the needs of someone looking for fairly decent classic rock, but it is still somewhat underwhelming.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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