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The Who Endless Wire album cover
2.88 | 100 ratings | 7 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fragments (3:57)
2. Man In A Purple Dress (4:14)
3. Mike Post Theme (4:28)
4. In The Ether (3:35)
5. Black Widow's Eyes (3:07)
6. Two Thousand Years (2:50)
7. God Speaks Of Marty Robbins (3:26)
8. It's Not Enough (4:02)
9. You Stand By Me (1:36)
- Wire & Glass - A Mini-Opera :
10. Sound Round (1:21)
11. Pick Up The Peace (1:28)
12. Unholy Trinity (2:07)
13. Trilby's Piano (2:04)
14. Endless Wire (1:51)
15. Fragments Of Fragments (2:23)
16. We Got A Hit (1:18)
17. They Made My Dream Come True (1:13)
18. Mirror Door (4:14)
19. Tea & Theatre (3:23)
20. We Got A Hit [Extended Version] (3:04)
21. Endless Wire [Extended Version] (3:05)

Total Time 58:46

Bonus CD from 2006 Deluxe edition - Live at Lyon :
1. The Seeker (2:36)
2. Who Are You (6:58)
3. Mike Post Theme (3:55)
4. Relay (7:40)
5. Greyhound Girl (3:04)
6. Naked Eye (8:26)
7. Won't Get Fooled Again (10:40)

Total Time 43:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Roger Daltrey / lead vocals
- Pete Townshend / guitars, banjo, mandolin, viola (6), orchestration (13), drums (3), drum machine

- Billy Nicholls / guitar (Live), backing vocals (10,11,14,20,21)
- John "Rabbit" Bundrick / Hammond organ (10,11,18), keyboards (Live)
- Pino Palladino / bass guitar
- Peter Huntington / drums
- Zak Starkey / drums (5,Live)
- Jolyon Dixon / acoustic guitar (8)
- Stuart Ross / bass guitar (8)
- Rachel Fuller / keyboards (8), orchestration supervisor (13)
- Gill Morley / violin (13)
- Brian Wright / violin (13)
- Ellen Blair / viola (13)
- Vicky Matthews / cello (13)
- Lawrence Ball / electronics (1,15)
- Simon Townshend / backing vocals (10,11,14,20,21)

Releases information

Tracks 10 to 21 are part of the mini-opera "Wire & Glass" directly based on the unfolding novella of "The Boy Who Heard Music" written by Pete Townshend on his weblog.

Artwork: Richard Evans (design & art direction utilising elements created with the Visual Harmony software designed by Dave Snowdon and Lawrence Ball)

CD Polydor ‎- 1709147 (2006, Europe)
CD Universal Republic Records ‎- B0007845-02 (2006, US)
2xCD Polydor ‎- 170 952-0 (2006, UK) Deluxe edition with bonus disc Live at The Vienne Amphitheatre, Lyon, France on 17th July 2006

Thanks to ClassicRocker for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE WHO Endless Wire ratings distribution

(100 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(17%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (27%)
Poor. Only for completionists (13%)

THE WHO Endless Wire reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The group's current (2007) line up, mainly Roger Daltrey lead vocals, Pete Townshend guitars, vocals, Zac Starkey Drums, Pino Palladino Bass, with John "Rabbit" Bundrick on Hammond Organ and Simon Townshend backing vocals, had been working on the album for some time. The album includes the typical dramatic Who signatures we all know and love interspersed with some very poignant acoustic numbers from Pete. One or two old Who fans of many years standing i played this album to recently were very enthusiastic about most of the songs, myself included, the band still have a lot to say, dealing with religious, social and political themes just as biting as their writing back in their early days!

The first song "Fragments" starts with what sounds like a speeded-up "Baba O'Riley" intro, a smile of recognition here as the song settles into traditional Who style signatures on vocals and guitar power chords from Pete. The next song "Man in a Purple Dress" is just Pete on acoustic guitar and Roger on vocals, written by Pete after seeing Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ". "Mike Post Theme" is a much heavier affair, awash with those dramatic Who crescendos, power chords and Pete's familiar backing vocals. This trackmore than any other reminded me of "Who's Next". "In the Ether" is a much darker song with guitar, piano and Roger's voice is obviously much deeper these days and sometimes growling. "Black Widow's Eyes" another traditional sounding Who song, some amazing Moon-style drum and cymbal crashes from Zac, Keith gave Zac drum lessons many years ago. "2000 Years" features Pete on mandolin with orchestral backing, and Roger repeating "2000 long long years..i've waited". Another demo-sounding track from Pete "God Speaks of Marty Robbins" is Pete singing with his acoustic guitar. "It's Not Enough"!! I would have loved to have written this song myself - "i gave you cash, i gave you love, all that i heard was it's not enough"...."i work so hard. it gets so tough, whatever i give, it's not enough.." a good rocker too! The next song is completely opposite, "You Stand by Me" about having unquestioning support through difficult times, another acoustic number from Pete.

The much publicised ten song mini-opera "Wire and Glass" kicks off with "Sound Round" and "Pick up the Peace", and immediately reminded me of "Tommy" - great! This is very much a re-invigorated Who we all know and love, one lyric-driven song leading into another interspersed with various instruments (mandolin, banjo) and vocal styles and harmony effects, though the most striking song here is "We Got a Hit" , though extremely catchy is very short, though an extended version is included on the CD. "Fragments of Fragments" describes the mini-opera fairly accurately, as overall this is how it comes over, a collection of fragments but which doesn't detract from some excellent musical ideas here, which is a mini opera after all so no long over-extended dramatic solos here.

Overall an exciting return to form for the Who and well worth the wait, though not an essential Prog album, who knows if they'll come up some more music in the future - but not 24 years please guys!!!

prog rating 3, music quality rating 4.5

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Could you imagine : TWENTY-FOUR years ! Yes, fans have been waiting for twenty-four years to hear this new studio Who album. The first one since "It's Hard" in 1982. To tell the truth, The Who were planning to start recording a new project in 2002, but John's death postponed the whole stuff of course.

When you start listening to this album, you are brought back in 1971 and the "Who's Next" sessions. The intro of "Fragments" is a carbon copy of "Baba O'Riley". The core of the song being less interesting.

There are some acoustic songs on this album, like "A Man In A Purple Dress", "In The Ether" and "You Stand By Me" (hopefully, very short). Let's be honest : this is not what we expect from The Who. Fortunately, there will also be very good rock song, like "Black Widow's Peak". Very much remininscent of the "Tommy" days. Emotional and melodious. This is one of my fave on this album.

We are brought back into some sort of a folk/rock tune with violin and acoustic guitar during " Two Thousand Years". Press double next because otherwise you'll have to stand : "God Speaks Of Marty Robbins" which is rather boring, to say the least. It is about time then, that a true Who song follows : "It's Not Enough" has all the ingredients of a mini-opera on its own and also sounds as such.

If some of you thought that "Quadrophenia" was "Tommy II" you were completely wrong. "Tommy II" sits here. It start with "Sound Round" a very short song but very powerful. You don't even have the time to breathe that "Pick Up The Peace" follows. Even stronger and more linked to the original masterpiece. The problem with this mini-opera is that it is made up of ten very short little songs (excpet the last two ones), which leaves little time to develop an idea. "Trlby's Piano" is probably the least interesting of all these parts while the title track is not gorgeous either, to tell the truth.

The song : "Fragments Of Fragments" starts as the album starts : like "Baba...". It is a kaleidoscope of the whole stuff. Somewhat funny. A very good song could have been "We Got A Hit". But again, a song shorter than eighty seconds has too little time to convince.

On the contrary, a song as "Mirror Door" (a wink to their past glory. Remember Tommy's smash the mirror ?). This song will convince you that "The Who" (Townsend) still have the talent to write great rock songs. By far the best featured on this album. Daltrey is in top form and our dear Pete, is great (as usual). I am not really convinced by the closing number "Tea & Theatre". A rock ballad a bit dull (sorry guys, you know that I love you a whole lotta but I just write what I feel).

I really believe that "The Who" missed the opportunity to make a great come-back. I don't say that they should have taken more time to release this album, but they should have consolidated some songs featured here (and probaly delete some others from the set list). You will have the confirmation when you'll listen to the "extended" version of "We Got A Hit".

This album is full of ideas that should have been better expressed. Far much inspired than lots of albums released by a much, much younger generation of musicians. But The Who are The Who, right ?

Only therefore probably, I will rate this album with three stars.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars In the summer of '67 I saw The Who in concert. The experience altered my life and that's no exaggeration. No longer could I be satisfied with sucrose pop songs about puppy love or perky odes to hot rods and surfing. Pete, Roger, John and Keith were compelled to exorcise their demons by playing rock music hard, fast and loud and that's what I craved. To heck with subtlety, theirs was an edgy roar rooted in the rough, soot-stained back alleys of London and it was join the rumble or get out of the way. Who music became as life- defining for me as any ever would. I bought every album dutifully through "Quadrophenia," after which my adventurous tastes and limited budget kept their later works from inclusion in my wooden crates of LPs but I never lost track of what they were doing. Only in the last few years have I finally caught up with "By Numbers" through "It's Hard" and, while acknowledging their flaws and inconsistencies, those four studio albums still managed to insightfully reflect the often confused and frustrated mindset of their maturing generation. It's also easy to see why they stopped recording new material after 1982. Moon couldn't be replaced. The fire was out.

When this CD came out in 2006 I was curious but I chose not to grab up a copy simply because I didn't want to hear my heroes fail. After all, Pete & Roger are the only two of the foursome still above ground and they're both in their 60s. I wondered if they had anything relevant or even entertaining to offer me at this juncture. But after seeing them perform the touching "Tea & Theatre" on TV some months back I knew I had to investigate and I'm glad I did. While glaringly bereft of any smidgen of humor (as is this review), it's honest, forthright and doesn't try to fool their fans into thinking they're still snotty, rebellious punks. Thank God.

One of the album's most admirable traits is the respectful homage they pay to the group's signature sounds and the opener, "Fragments," is a fine example. Lawrence Ball's whirling synth intro instantly brings to mind a "Who's Next" vibe and the clever arrangement of this rocker is a reminder of the progressive attitude that distinguishes so much of their catalogue. While Daltrey's voice has lost much of its range and esteem over the decades, his passion remains intact and he delivers the song's metaphysical lines ("We are a billion fragments exploding outward/like broken glass we damage even in defeat/we are tiny pieces falling now and settling/like snowflake crystal building on the city street") with undeniable conviction. It's worth mentioning that all of the musical instruments on the first seven tunes are capably played by Townshend.

The riveting poetry of "A Man in a Purple Dress" proves that Pete's ability to slay with words is intact. A naked yet forceful, folk-styled acoustic guitar-with-vocal approach allows the bold lyrics to stand out like the constellations on a moonless night. Penned after viewing Mel Gibson's powerful movie, "The Passion of the Christ," Townshend expresses what we yearned for Jesus to say to his cruel, ridiculously adorned accusers. "How dare you/do you think I'll quietly go?/you are much braver than you know/for I can't die/your staff, your stick, your special cap/they'll protect you in hell?/what crap!/believe the lie..." Roger snaps. Music this indignant and angry needs no embellishment. "Mike Post Theme" follows and it's a strong piece that expertly weaves hard and soft dynamics as Pete does a good job of piecing together the tight feel of a band all by himself. Daltrey sings for all of us who know the angst of aging firsthand. "We're not strong enough/we're not young enough/we're not alone enough/not cold enough/emotionally we're not even old enough/for love..." he screams. Ahh. Love, the elusive phantom of human existence.

I can't help but think that in the Waits-ish "In the Ether" Townshend portrays the specter of a lonely Keith Moon, drifting in purgatory. Accompanied only by droll piano and acoustic guitar, Pete literally growls lines like "In the ether I wait for you/hanging in this mist that I know's unreal/there is nothing there/there's no you, no me/even though it's crazy/I still appeal/this is heavenly hell/I appear insane/I have no idea who there is to blame..." and the effect is both sobering and chilling. This isn't something that would've worked on any previous Who disc but it fits perfectly here. Speaking of Moonie, Zak Starkey sits in on the drum kit for "Black Widow's Eyes" and effectively summons the wild man's inimitable spirit, adding punch to this driving number. Roger is in particularly healthy voice as he sings about a hostage stricken with Stockholm syndrome. "Strange that when infatuation calls/we think we've got real love in our life/it pumps like the pressure in the station hall/as the express train thunders on by" he intones.

"Two Thousand Years" is a stark, undecorated folk tune where we find Judas Iscariot quarantined in his own dark nook of the underworld, unable to find out what has happened above since his treachery. "...Two thousand years I have waited/to ask if I have loved you/to know if I have served you/to find if I've obeyed you/to know if I've betrayed you," he calls. For Judas, it would seem, an eternity of isolation is the harshest sentence. Townshend and his acoustic guitar go solo for the melodic "God Speaks of Marty Robbins" as he describes the Creator's decision to bring music into being. "I heard the heavens sing/predicting Marty Robbins/I knew I'd find music and time/were the perfect plan," he sings. Again, nothing fancy, just simplicity at its most effective.

Employing the skills of studio musicians, "It's Not Enough" applies a swift kick to the buttocks as they put to music the maddening frustration that every man has experienced with his woman since Adam was rudely ribbed by Eve. Daltrey's dry grit is more than appropriate as he shouts out biting lyrics like "you said you'd go as far as to turn to my friend/who once warned me of you/said you'd hasten my end/he'll choose you over me/because I have lent every ounce of my juice/my essence is spent," and "I gave you cash/I gave you love/all that I heard was/'it's not enough...'" Been there, Bubba. I feel your pain. Townshend then does a complete 180 with the quiet "You Stand By Me" in which he praises his lady companion for not abandoning him even when he was being a vile ogre. "I suppose I could make it all on my own/I know I'd arrive all skin and all bone/you are the strongest back I've ever known/you carried me, carried me, carried me home..." he confesses. It's a love song without flowery schmaltz.

The mini rock opera "Wire & Glass" is more of an interesting freight train of short sketches streaming by than a cohesive whole. Still utilizing the full band, they start with the raucous "Sound Round," a nostalgic throwback to their beginnings when they only needed to "feel the ground/feel the pulse." A quadrophenic atmosphere pervades the rocking "Pick up the Peace" in which the ether man (Moon) looks down on the remaining trio who've decided to carry on and laments "I see them older when life is done/I was a loser at the game they won." (Pete's explanation of the story is different and can be found online but this is my interpretation so sue me already.) On "Unholy Trinity" Townshend brings in mandolin and banjo for a folksy effect and I'd swear he's describing himself, Entwistle and Daltrey here. "Three kids from the neighborhood/three different lives/three different ways to be/three identical smiles," Roger sings. Pete scored the orchestration for "Trilby's Piano" on his own and that's dandy but it comes off like filler in a boring Broadway musical and marks the low point of the proceedings.

The album's namesake may be sing-along hokey but it's also extremely contagious and I love it. Townshend drawls "we found this pile of paper/written by the ether man/he hatched a mad old caper/he had a mad old plan/he'd turn us into music/he'd show us to our portals/he gathered wire and angels/to entertain immortals" but it's the repetition of the tune's title on the chorus that serenades. It fascinates me and I find myself mumbling it under my breath at the oddest moments. "Fragments of Fragments" follows and, yes, it's a reprise but this time the vocals are eerie, the background chorale is different and the synthesizers take center stage. "We Got a Hit" is another glimpse of early Who that avoids parody. "We got our folks together/we broke down barriers," Daltrey announces. (They most definitely did.) "They Made My Dream Come True" is a snide dirge and a commentary on the irony of fame in which Pete sings "People died where I performed...," a somber reference to the '79 concert tragedy in Cincinnati. "Mirror Door" has a palpable "Tommy" aura but Roger's overwrought croaking is embarrassing and the question of who'll have the nuts to step up and revitalize modern music goes unanswered. Fortunately, they end it all on a beautiful note with the thoughtful "Tea & Theatre," a heartfelt requiem presented with reverence as Pete and Roger face the road ahead without John. "We made it work/but one of us failed/that makes it so sad/a great dream derailed," he wails, "One of us gone/one of us mad/one of us, me/all of us sad..."

They tack on a couple of extended tracks and both are excellent. "We Got a Hit" has urgency and they artfully toss in the chorus of "They Made My Dream Come True" for the bridge. The longer "Endless Wire" is like a second helping of a decadent dessert and, since I adore the song, I don't mind being a glutton. There's also a bonus concert DVD, "Live at Lyon," that shows them as they are today but Daltrey seems preoccupied with attempting to hit the required notes and Townshend doesn't know what to do with himself. It just makes me cherish even more my fond memories of seeing the original lineup twice in my youth when they were full of spit and vinegar and took no prisoners.

I'm surprised at how much I like this album. I knew the technical aspects would be exemplary and the performances more than adequate but I didn't expect the tunes to be as engaging as they are. It's not all that progressive per se but that's not the point. If you're knowledgeable about the history of The Who then you'll find this to be a delightful bookend to their amazing legacy. It may not be the last we hear from Pete & Roger but, if it is, they definitely went out on a High Number. 3.8 stars.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Always a very risky business, coming back to public eye after such a long absence (although the group did some live appearance), but doing so while only two members were still alive was even riskier, since Entwistle always brought much to the group. Was rthiss going to be a Townshend solo album with Daltrey singing or would it be a real Who album??? Well it's safe top say it's a Who album, Peter talking care that it does sound as if the full group (or at leasxt The Ox) was still there. The album is separated in two entities, the first beuing a bunch of unrelated tracks where Townshend plays almost everything, except for Daltrey singing, while the "flipside" is a rock opera where bassist Palladino, keyboardist Brundick and drummer Huntington are helping out on most tracks.

Opening on the Riley-esque Fragments is obviously winking at their top Who's next album, which is a dangerous game because the rest of the album should follow. And of course you can guess it doesn't. But in itself Fragments isn't a bad tune, Pete pulling some nice guitars, and the chorus is catchy enough. Mike Post Theme is also Who-worthy track, Black Widow's Eyes as well, but we'll remember mainly the very good It's Not Enough All of these tracks mentioned so far would make for an album that would stack up with By Numbers. Then there are the simpler tracks with Pete on acoustic guitar or piano) and Roger singing like Purple Dress (an acoustic semi-blues), God Speaks, You Stand By Me etc?. are not really Who tracks and would fit perfectly a Townshend solo album.

The mini-rock opera fills the flipside (if you'll allow me to speak of it as a vinyl), the 20-mins Wire & Glass, I can't say it's sinking in at all, even if some bits (Fragments Of Fragments) are obvious. Whether Mirror Door was recorded live or not or was the suite built naturally or is it a patchwork of tracks, I don't know for sure, but it doesn't often sound like the 70's Who to me. W&G's not bad, but it pales in comparison to Peter's previous rock operas?.

The Deluxe edition comes with a live album dating from the French tour (in Lyon) and featuring the group as a sextet, with Ringo's son on the stool, Pino at bass and Brundick on keys, but also Peter's son on 2nd guitar and vocals. While only one track from the present album is featured, the rest being oldies (but goodies) like Fooled, Naked Eye or Who Are You, but also lesser classic such as Relay or Greyhound Girl. Unless you're a complete fan, it's not really essential to own this deluxe disc, because the live performance is not that powerful or even that inspiring and it shows by the audience's reactions, slightly more than polite applause, but no real madness. The new album is not as good as one could've hoped for, but it's also far from catastrophic either , as one could've feared, and is on the level of By Numbres and better than Face Dances and It's Hard, but I'll pass on it.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Endless Wire' - The Who (5/10)

Back when The Who and the rest of the British '60s rock scene was getting started, it was not uncommon for bands to release albums within months of each other, keeping the output of music fairly steady and flowing. As the years have gone on, this interval has widened, now to the point where it is sometimes several years between albums for working artists. But even still, a twenty-four year wait between releases is a pretty shocking figure for a band to go without releasing new material, and this was the case with The Who when they released their last album 'Endless Wire'. Since 1982 with 'It's Hard', The Who had not come out with anything, and since then, their bassist John Entwhistle had passed away, and the band had only been together intermittently. When 'Endless Wire' and a reunion tour came out then, there was alot of hype around the matter, but the album that fans had been waiting for more over two decades didn't manage to reach the level of their earlier work by any stretch. While not holding a candle in comparison to the albums The Who made when they were still a full band, Daltrey and Townshend can still be given props for attempting something ambitious, even if it is only partially successful.

The album is divided into two parts; the first half being comprised of single songs, and the latter half being composed of a mini-rock opera that was arranged into a stage musical. Musically, 'Endless Wire' is similar in style to the music of the band made on 'By Numbers'; rocking tunes that have some focus on acoustic guitars and somewhat angry lyrics courtesy of Townshend. A very notable change however is that unlike The Who's earlier material which featured a nice balance between all instruments, the mixing favours the guitars and Daltrey's vocals over anything else, almost to a fault. Naturally, this is due to Keith Moon and John Entwhistle no longer being with the band for obvious reasons, but from a musical perspective, it may have been nice to hear some more bass and drum during the rock sections, especially considering the great talent of bassist Pino Palladino and drummer Zak Starkey (the son of Ringo Starr), who both held the torch brilliantly in live concert.

Overall, the album feels like a lot of unfulfilled musical ideas and songs that could have been much better if The Who had only fleshed them out enough. Instead, 'Endless Wire' is composed mostly of very short musical observations that flow somewhat roughly together. The best material that 'Endless Wire' has to offer is in the acoustic tracks, which work quite well in their short-form. 'Stand By Me' is a lovely piece of songwriting', and 'Man In The Purple Dress' is an angry acoustic song that shows that the band hasn't lost too much of their grit over the years. While the somewhat half-baked attempt at a mini-rock opera is certainly ambitious enough, the most impressive thing that The Who offer here is the arrangement of some of the music. Many of these songs feature banjos and added guitar textures that show the maturation of the band's work. 'Trilby's Piano'- for however short it may be- is quite possibly the greatest thing that the album has to offer, featuring a string section, pianos, and the most beautiful vocal performance the album. Besides that, these tracks feel like the band was trying to cover far too much ground, without ever stopping for a moment and letting these tracks breathe.

An interesting observation from The Who in any case, but it is a disappointing one, considering how great the album could have been if they had only developed the record a little more.

Latest members reviews

2 stars when i heard the who were going to record a new album i was very excited pherhaps another tommy or the unfinished lifehouse project. needless to say i was quite excited to go out and get this album as soon as i could. and all i can say was what a major letdown.This is the worst Who album i hav ... (read more)

Report this review (#335855) | Posted by paroxix | Friday, November 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Concept Album Part 3 To be honest, not many people know of this album, mainly because it wasn't memorable. Yea, this album was alright I suppose, their was some effort on the behalf of Roger & Pete, but we all know they could do way better. Their was some alright moments, and some song ... (read more)

Report this review (#295121) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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