Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


The Who


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Who Face Dances album cover
2.50 | 129 ratings | 10 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Collectors/fans only

Write a review

Buy THE WHO Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. You Better You Bet (5:36)
2. Don't Let Go the Coat (3:44)
3. Cache Cache (3:57)
4. The Quiet One (3:10)
5. Did You Steal My Money (4:11)
6. How Can You Do It Alone (5:26)
7. Daily Records (3:27)
8. You (4:31)
9. Another Tricky Day (4:55)

Total Time 40:57

Bonus tracks on 1997 remaster:
10. I Like Nightmares (3:09)
11. It's In You (4:59)
12. Somebody Saved Me (5:31)
13. How Can You Do It Alone (Live *) (5:24)
14. The Quiet One (Live #) (4:28)

* 8th December 1979 at Chicago International Amphitheater
# 13th October 1982 at Shea Stadium

Line-up / Musicians

- Roger Daltrey / lead vocals
- Pete Townshend / guitars, keyboards, lead (10,12,13) & backing vocals
- John Entwistle / bass guitar, lead (4) & backing vocals
- Kenney Jones / drums

- John "Rabbit" Bundrick / keyboards, synthesizer & backing vocals (9)

Releases information

Artwork - The pictures on the cover were painted by (left to right, top to bottom):
Pete Townshend - by Bill Jacklin, Tom Phillips, Colin Self and Richard Hamilton
Roger Daltrey - by Michael Andrews, Allen Jones, David Inshaw and David Hockney
John Entwistle - by Clive Barker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin and Patrick Caulfield
Kenney Jones - by Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Patrick Procktor and David Tindle

LP Polydor - WHOD 5037 (1981, UK)

CD MCA Records - MCAD-25987 (1989, US)
CD Polydor - 537 695-2 (1997, Europe) Remastered by Bob Ludwig and remixed by Jon Astley, with 5 previously unreleased bonus tracks

Thanks to PROGMAN for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THE WHO Face Dances Music

More places to buy THE WHO music online

THE WHO Face Dances ratings distribution

(129 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(12%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (33%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

THE WHO Face Dances reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars An atrocious album!! Having lost Moon The Loon for a drummer, they might have folded as Zeppelin did, once they lost Bonham. Alas Townsend didn't have the foresight, but I'm not sure he was alone deciding this. Indeed, bassist John Entwistle contributed to the greater part of this album and to be quite frank, it shows. Entwistle's songwriting always brought a fun second facet to the group and everything was fine as long as his songs where in the small minority. But here, obviously Townsend seemed a bit at a loss for ideas, so Entwistle picked up the slack (he also released two solo albums around those "lean Who years") and most of them being good Entwistle composition, they simply can't match Townsend's songs even on a poor day.

And bringing in old boy Kenny Jones to fill Moon's shoes was also a big mistake, for he simply lacks the power that Keith had gotten us used too. The production on this album is also quite weak. And even the lead-off single You Better You Bet is twee, feeble and unworthy of The Who's sheer power, even in the studio.

The Who will rebound with a better It's Hard album with an excellent Eminence Front single, but clearly the group should've folded before FD. Best avoided especially if you are an authentic Who fan.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars After Keith's death it would have been wiser for The Who to call it quit. I don't know their history well enough to define whether or not the links within the band members were as strong as between Bonham and Plant. Probably not, which led to the situation that after three years, The Who produced this "album".

In terms of compositions, Entwistle is only responsible for two songs ("The Quiet Zone" which is a solid rocking number but with extremely poor production and "You" which is also rocking alright). These two songs are not worse than most of the other ones.

Actually, there are two good numbers on this album, of which the title track which belongs to the classic Who repertoire. "Cache Cache" is also very pleasant : rocking very nicely and harmonious. In one word : a good Who number after all.

Of course, the worse is also represented with songs like "Don't Let Go the Coat" an insipid reggae-ish song. "Did You Steal My Money" sounds as a very poor pre-Police number (although very interesting to hear from where Police took part of their inspiration to write some great rock numbers...).

I am more mixed about "How Can You Do It Alone" which sounds again as a mini-opera with its good but alas some poor aspects as well. As if Pete was willing to re-create "A Quick One, While He's Away". Needless to say that the objective is not met. Same seems to happen with "Daily Records". Pete can't help : he is still willing to write more complex tracks like he used to be but the enthusiasm is not there any longer.

The closing number "Another Tricky Day" is also combining different themes but can't hold the comparison with previous great Who songs.

The Who will release SEVEN singles out of this album of which the title track will hit the first spot on the US charts. The album will unexpectedly reach the second place in the UK and the fourth one in the US. So, as far as charts and sales are concerned, there is nothing wrong. But in this case, charts mean nothing to me. Unlike Daltrey who will say in a (much) later interview that he was happy with this recording I can only advice you to stay away from this album.

Two stars.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars For those The Who fans, I believe that "Who Are You" is probably the best or at least strong album by the band. And post death of Keith Moon was a real challenge for the band to move forward with their musical career. In 1981, the band stood up and started the decade with totally new approach in this "Face Dances" album with the new drummer. Kenney Jones, the new drummer, was of course not Keith Moon. However, he could sit quite well at the drum stool. John Entwhistle had been an excellent songwriter and in this album he was given more to contribute while Pete ran quite low on creativity.

This album was not successful for the band, commercially, even though it had the band's highest chart position single. But for those who have been familiar with the Who, they will find that the basic ingredients and characteristics of the Who sound are prevalent here and there in the album. For me personally, John Entwhistle is still a great bass player. In fact, in order to grab the subtleties of his playing, I use headphone when listening this album. Yes, his bass playing is great. And it's obvious that Roger Daltrey vocal sounds best here with this album regardless the song quality. What I really like about this album is the bonus tracks.

Being a not best-selling album does not necessarily mean that it's bad one, but it's a bit different with the original music of The Who. I still consider this album is worth collecting for The Who fans.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Chicapah
2 stars While Keith Moon's drumming skills were obviously on the decline due to his insanely overindulgent lifestyle (as evidenced by his lackluster performance on 78's "Who Are You" album) and reportedly the subject of heated band meetings where Pete, Roger and John clearly enunciated their dissatisfaction and concern, his sudden death still devastated the closely-knit group. Despite his many professional warts and blemishes, Moonie was the heart and soul of The Who. Replacing him would be no easier than if the Beatles had tried to replace Ringo Starr. No freakin' way. There was an undeniable chemistry that thrived between the four musicians that was impossible to duplicate and three years hence, when they finally decided to carry on regardless of their immeasurable loss, 1981's "Face Dances" confirmed to the world that this once-mighty juggernaut of innovative rock & roll had lost a big part of its spirit and inimitable uniqueness.

While Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle were far from being innocent angels, Keith's manic, out-of- control personality had provided a stark contrast that made their heady lives seem downright docile. In other words, no matter how degenerate they got there was always a "there but for the grace of God go I" temperament when it came to comparisons to Mr. Moon's destructive behavior. In some strange way this allowed Pete to peer outside the rock star madness and the messages his songs conveyed in the mid to late 70s were more or less aimed at the maturing "my generation" in general. But no longer. Here the words are self-centered reflections of his own jaded, bitter and too isolated existence, making them much harder to relate to. Say what you will about Keith Moon's flawed yet singular style, but without it The Who sounded a whole lot more run-of-the-mill. The shame is that he didn't know just how vital he was.

The album's opener, "You Better You Bet," will always summon specific memories. In '81 I was engaged to be married to my first wife and she would drive me to my minimum-wage job where I labored to load up wooden pallets with cases of LPs and cassettes in the Warner/Electra/Atlantic warehouse. It was about a 45-minute commute and, with us being unreservedly in love, it would be a playfully pleasant ride but inevitably (and much to my chagrin) this song would come on the radio and my mood would sour. Being a lifelong fan, I wasn't enamored with the revamped Who sound. I was still in mourning for Keith so it really didn't matter if they shook the entire planet, I wasn't going to like it. In fact, it was years later before I was able to listen to the tune objectively and recognize it as a decent composition. The Who always had a knack for catchy intros and Pete's popping synthesizer and John's springy bass lines draw you right in. It was the perfect track for the debut of Kenney Jones in that it didn't require him to freelance (thus avoiding any comparisons to the mighty Moon) and its concise, taut arrangement was custom-made for success on the FM dial. Townshend's words about being frustrated with his cross, demanding girlfriend/wife seem more like something Entwistle would've espoused and, as I pointed out earlier, are rather narcissistic and chauvinistic for Pete.

"Don't Let Go the Coat" is oddly straight out of Margaritaville as The Who does Jimmy Buffett backed by the Eagles' three-part harmonies. What I'm trying to say is this. It's an unmitigated disaster. This weak, cream puff offering is so utterly out of place on a Who album that it defies reason. Nothing, absolutely nothing exciting happens during its 3:43 of existence and that's depressing as hell. Roger may sing "I can't be held responsible for blown behavior" but the whole band has to be judged harshly for this AOR snoozer. The embarrassingly dated, new wave-influenced "Cache Cache" that follows is less than flattering, as well. By now it's apparent that Jones isn't doing anything that a drum machine couldn't have been programmed to do more efficiently and Townshend's obtuse, true-life lyrics about spending time in a bear cage at the zoo are so ill-defined as to be pointless. At least Entwistle's rocking "The Quiet One," while it comes up woefully short in the imagination department, contains some energy and projects a snotty attitude sorely needed at this juncture.

As much of a letdown as the album has been so far, the group doesn't completely bottom out until the pitiful "Did You Steal My Money" arrives. The incessant mumbling that runs just beneath the verses is one of the most annoying things I've ever heard. You'd think a veteran producer as experienced as Bill Szymczyk would've nixed this stupid idea in the bud yet there it is, turning a mediocre tune into something grotesque. Adding insult to injury, the trite lyrics are some of the most insipid Pete has ever penned. The large-scale beginning salvo for "How Can You Do It Alone" promises more substance than it can eventually muster but, after suffering through the previous fiasco, it's more welcome than Preparation H on a hemorrhoid. Perhaps the number's vaudevillian oompah polka beat is something Townshend had been itching to use for years (but that Keith Moon steadfastly refused to take part in) but it severely limits what John can do on his bass, thereby undermining any impact the song could've had. However, the Scottish-tinged military segment that rises up in the middle is unexpected and intriguing so it's definitely worth listening to. Pete's lines about the emptiness of self- gratification and the futile search for sexual fulfillment that doesn't involve intimacy with another human being are brutally honest and some of the most thought-provoking on the record.

If not for the final trio of tunes this album would be close to despicable. Thank God they're here. On "Daily Records" Townshend's well-known admiration for operatic melodies and dramatic vocal delivery is apparent as Daltrey confidently handles the track's intricate score. There's a cool electric vibe running through the whole thing and Pete's guitar solo is the best of the proceedings. The lyrics encapsulate the mindset of a man who no longer cares to address the moral dilemmas of society, preferring to stay hidden away in a studio. "Just want to be making daily records/try to avoid the bad news in the letters/just wanna be making records/play in - play out/fade in - fade out/making records day in - day out." Daltrey sings. "You" is another of John's power drivers but this one's played with intense urgency. Entwistle's bass tone is bold and brassy, the melody line is involved and he wisely lets Roger handle the vocal. That move pays off handsomely as Daltrey elevates things to another level entirely. John's ongoing difficulties concerning the fairer sex is one of his favorite topics but here his angst is palpable. "You, there's a name for girls like you/you lead me on like a lamb to the slaughter/then you act like a fish out of water." Daltrey cries, then pleads "Save me!"

"Another Tricky Day" jumps headlong into a hard rock groove and the fluid vocal duet between Townshend and Daltrey on the verses works splendidly. It's the only cut on the album containing anything near prog, mainly due to the underlying synthesizer and the tension-filled bridge section. Entwistle's slippery bass notes add excitement and movement to Pete's bone-crushing power chords. Once again Townshend's words reinforce my contention that Moon's sad demise caused Pete to become more introspective and less altruistic. "We all get it in the end/we go down and we come up again/you irritate me, my friend/this is no social crisis/this is you having fun/getting burned by the sun." he informs us with resignation.

The only difference between this album and the follow-up, "It's Hard," is that this one doesn't include an iconic song like "Eminence Front" as its saving grace. The gaping, bleeding hole in the group's creativity and sense of humor left by the tragic passing of their beloved bandmate who truly made their magic bus' wheels go 'round couldn't be repaired, no matter how determined they were to continue on. It's actually quite understandable, if not fitting, that "Face Dances" would be the nadir of The Who's career. No one else could comfortably sit on that particular drum stool. 2.1 stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Many fans sadly missed the boat

Unlike Zeppelin's horrid "In Through the Out Door" from around the same time, the Who delivered a classy and vibrant album of good rock songwriting basics in an updated package. Yes Keith Moon was gone, like Bonham, both men losing their lives to immaturity and alcohol excess. While talents like these are irreplaceable and many fans wouldn't give them the benefit of the doubt, The Who chose to keep going and somehow Townshend managed to pull out a rabbit. What immediately struck me upon returning to this old friend is the Pretenders' and Joe Jackson influence. It would be logical to guess The Who at some point influenced the Pretenders (and Jackson) but I swore I was hearing Pretenders in some of these Face Dances tracks--I really believe that. So I did some research and the Pretenders debut came out approximately 7 months before The Who went into the studio for Face Dances. I dug a bit further and found this line in an article about the Pretenders debut:

The Who's Pete Townshend described the effect of its provocative, sexually candid lyrics and hard-driving beat as being "like a drug." [guitar player, april 1981]

Bingo, he did like them! The Boston Globe also made waves by calling Face Dances "The Who's best album since 1973's Quadrophenia." Looking for a slightly refreshed sheen for the first post-Moon album they incorporated the swagger and edge of punk/new wave into a base of quality "pop and roll" songs. A calculated gamble for a band with a large number of entrenched heavier-loving fans but in this case it worked, at least for some of us. Production was handed to legendary producer Bill Szymczyk who believes his status as a non-musician gives him the ability to help bands presents themselves anew, noting "I'm a professional listener. I listen and I react. I never was a musician, so I don't bring any preconceived prejudices to the table; I don't favour the guitar over the keyboard, and so forth. I just listen and try to figure out if I have anything I can bring to a song." He did.

Beginning with a marvelous (if once again, overplayed) single, "You Better You Bet" delivers catchy hooks and sassy lyrics- the single was the freshest the band had managed in some time, with fantastic piano runs coloring the background, a very nice touch. "Don't Let Go Of The Coat" showed Townshend capable of crafting a light and sentimental pop track even if the lyrics were anything but light. The contrast is brilliant and the album is full of such inspired lyrical and musical trysts. "Cache Cache" continues the fun with one part Pretenders punky vibe alternating with a mellow vocal section. Entwistle's "The Quiet One" delivers a defiant vocal from the one people assumed was innocent, yet he claimed when Moon was blowing up hotel toilets with live explosives, it was he standing behind Keith with the matches. (Moon is said to have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars damages to hotel bathrooms, without even getting into furniture that went out the windows.) "Did You Steal My Money" delves into art-pop with some cool guitar shading from Townshend and a quirky feeling that would leave the faithful with their noses up, but it's pretty cool and a lot of fun. "Daily Records" has a 60s rock throwback feel to it and really nice drum work by Jones--obviously no Keith Moon but that isn't what the material here requires anyway. Only Entwistle's second number "You" stumbles a bit into faceless hard rock territory, a real shame they didn't choose the later-mentioned bonus track to slide into this location. The album closes with a flat-out Who classic rocker that was a middle finger to anyone who might suggest the band impotent or the cause unworthy. The not-so-subtle lyrics and raucous musical shove of "Another Tricky Day" would have in some ways been a perfect farewell for a band which never quite made another album this interesting. There are three unreleased bonus tracks from the sessions, "Somebody Saved Me" being a poignant, personal track that would have given this album more weight--it should have been included. Of the two live bonus tracks, it is "The Quiet One" from the '82 tour which jumps to another level of rowdiness in the live arena.

So while I may have judged this album more harshly at the time of its release, I believe it was one of the more successful releases by a "dinosaur" group to come from this era. Time's Jay Cocks said The Who had "outpaced, outlasted, outlived and outclassed" all of their contemporaries and at least in this period there was truth to that. Face Dances managed to maintain the dignity of the group's sound amidst the catastrophic loss of the band's 2nd most important member, while injecting a bit of fresh energy into their hide via new band appreciation and pop music recollection. All of this during a period of intense personal struggle for the band's lead songwriter. So while acknowledging the raw power of youth cannot be replaced and that many fans would never accept the new Who, looking back I would assert Face Dances a reasonable success. I think many people missed the boat on this one. Even our site Bio essentially ignores it which is a shame in my view.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Face Dances' - The Who (4/10)

The most critically panned of The Who albums, 'Face Dances' shows the band recoiling after the tragic death of their drummer Keith Moon. Killed by his own vices and demons, Moon left a large void in the band, even though it was mostly the guitarist Pete Townshend that wrote the music. Replacing him with Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones, the band kept going, but there was the sense that alot of the magic in the band was gone, and I'm sure this wasn't just because of the drummer's death. 'Face Dances' shows The Who skirting away from their rock sound in the favour for pop. As so many of the progressively inclined '70s bands did as the '80s rolled around, The Who simplified their sound in order to keep up with the music industry, but in the case of this band, the transition was quite rough, and the result is a fairly forgettable and disappointing album that does little for the imagination.

Pete Townshend was getting into his solo career, and The Who's music was suffering as a result. Leaving the best material for his solo and throwing the other things for the band, The Who was not a band that had all too much passion invested in it anymore, apparently. The performances here are still The Who that many people have fallen in love with, but the songwriting does tend to indicate otherwise; a fairly poppish, melodic, yet not necessarily memorable collection of songs. The heaviness of their earlier stuff is gone in the stead of keyboards and lighter guitar tones. Like the album after this, 'It's Hard', this album features a couple of tracks that provide something of a respite from the mediocre songwriting, but it is generally not enough to warrant an exploration of the album. In general, these songs get fairly boring after a couple of listens, and that isn't even enough time for these songs to really strike a chord with the listener.

The most memorable song here is 'You Better You Bet', with which the band had a minor radio hit with. It is very happy sounding and features very laid back guitars; a sure sign that The Who had dropped alot of the rock. 'Another Tricky Day' is a pretty cool song; featuring some interesting lyrics that have probably stirred the hearts of a few modern day indie rock bands. Besides that, what we have here is a band who are playing simple songs well enough, but the fire that made the band stick out in the first place is not really here. 'Face Dances' is not really a bad album, as it is fairly pleasant to listen to in the background, but there is very little here to draw you back for repeated listens.

Review by Warthur
2 stars Panned on release by those who believed that the Who without Keith Moon weren't the Who at all, Face Dances really isn't that much worse than Who Are You - an album on which Moon's participation was incidental at best. The problem is, Who Are You wasn't that great - I consider it to be highly overrated, possibly due to it being Moon's last album before his death. You Better You Bet is a catchy enough song in the vein of Who Are You from the previous album, but like the opening track from the previous album (with its allusions to constantly rewriting "the same old song") the lyrics reveal a bit more than necessary. When you have to namedrop one of your own best albums (Who's Next, in this case) in order to remind people that you're the same band that recorded it, that speaks to a severe lack of confidence in your own current material - and Face Dances isn't an album the Who should have been proud of. It doesn't stink, but it's just incredibly mediocre.
Review by ExittheLemming
4 stars Blurred Visionary

The thing about The Who for me, and this is sad in a way, is the amount of control that I've had to have, keeping the creative process close to my chest, making sure the other guys in the band felt they were part of the process but they really weren't. Pete Townshend

When did the Who cease to be a collaborative creative unit? Did Townshend's talent begin to eclipse that of his buddies after the successes of both Tommy and Quadrophenia vindicated his ambition, or had the rot set in even before this? As much as I admit that shorn of the textural input of Daltrey, Entwistle and Moon, those power pop 60's anthems wouldn't have sounded remotely as thrilling but they would still be great songs regardless of the means of execution. The band's enduring association with Mod culture is always overstated, as even by 1966/67 Mod had effectively abandoned it's origins in beatnik coffee bars, modern jazz, bohemian art school lifestyles and existentialism for a supplanted psychedelic hippie zeitgeist that embraced intoxication over stimulation. These precedents are seldom echoed in any of the Who's output. I've always suspected that the band's opportunistic managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp adopted the Mod orphan to pitch their client's act to any youthful demographic with burgeoning spending power. Teenage rebellion has never been anything more than a marketing ploy. You don't hear the sound of Italian scooters in the Who or the Kinks, (unless they're being advertised) but you do hear what amphetamines, R'n'B and working class urban modernism might resemble.

Over the years Roger Daltrey has come to sound increasingly uncomfortable at inhabiting what are some very unflattering alter egos from the troubled Pete psyche. Townshend has therefore often had to provide material for two distinct appetites of his target audience i.e. the experimental and confessional material for his solo albums and the more accessible but simplistic rawk fare for the legions of archly conservative Who fans. (who, by 1980 included the singer, the bass player and the drummer alas)

By the time the band convened to record Face Dances their individual orbits were at least on similar trajectories e.g. Jones, Entwistle and Townshend all had serious marital difficulties and were quaffing prodigious amounts of booze. To add lighter fluid to an already heavily combustible cocktail, Pete was also indulging in harder drugs (cocaine and heroin) Roger, by way of complete contrast, has always been strenuously 'clean' and was basking in the recent success of his role in the McVicar movie. (as the reformed armed robber now celebrated for his obtaining a degree in Sociology, like you need one to tell you stealing is wrong? go figure and gallery owners everywhere, give my regards to Jimmy Boyle's mutilated victims)

Pete's entire songbook is tantamount to the world's catchiest ever identity crisis. Teased and bullied mercilessly on account of his awkward adolescent gait and huge nose by playground sadists in childhood Acton, Townshend was inevitably a case book study in dealing with oppression and searching for belonging. He was a reluctant mod, a very unconvincing hippie, a meticulously unkempt punk and the oldest new romantic luvvie to ever frequent the Heroes and Embassy Clubs in London. What's rather ironic is that Townshend at this time was completely besotted with the Clash as embodying his holy grail of a sexy and politicized rock band who wrote and played great rock'n'roll while confronting pressing social concerns. It is clearly Townshend and NOT Joe Strummer who would have been best equipped to bring this nascent vision to reality. The reasons being that Pete does not suffer from the romanticized nostalgia for a past that never occurred in the first place that so afflicted Strummer, and he is a pragmatist at heart, a realist who cannot hide behind political rhetoric or empty agit prop. Townshend was a hoi polloi who eventually rubbed padded shoulders with the indolent elite: Strummer was the public schoolboy son of a diplomat who posed around with proles and considered the troops who manned the barricades of Northern Ireland as representative of nothing more significant than a 'photo opportunity'

You Better You Bet - 'Just' a pop song but a cracker for all that and such is the confidence of the writing that it survives a rather speculative and unwittingly comedic Daltrey reading.

I showed up late one night with a neon light for a visa But knowing I'm so eager to fight can't make letting me in any easier I know I been wearing crazy clothes and I look pretty crappy sometimes But my body feels so good and I still sing a razor line every time.

It seems clear that such dissolution expressed so unflinchingly in this song is completely alien to the singer.

Don't Let Go The Coat - Pete always cast a keen eye on the youthful competition throughout his long career and here we see his take on the contemporaneous 'jangle' indie pop phenomenon perhaps best epitomized by the LA's There She Goes. A beautiful and hauntingly powerful song that Roger pitches perfectly with just a hint of remorseful regret in his lower register.

It's easy to be sad when you lack a partner But how would I react to a broken heart now? It ain't really true rock 'n' roll unless I'm Hanging onto you and when I hold it next time

The rather unusual title was probably inspired by an oft repeated phrase sourced from Townshend's acknowledged spiritual guru Meher Baba:

and help us all to hold fast to Baba's daaman [hem of his coat] till the very end.

Cache Cache - Consumed with a sudden wish to give up music forever and live as a tramp in Switzerland, Pete decided to seek out the brown bears that live in cages in the hills above the city of Berne armed only with a bottle of brandy, his wallet and passport for company, Mercifully he found none, but this very endearing and strange song resulted which if nothing else, testifies to the faintly disturbing impulses that can afflict those with unlimited resources and impunity. The author was discovered unconscious in one of the bear pits and subsequently flown to Austria to perform a concert with the Who that evening. The cringe-worthy 'Spinal Tap' element to all this will not be lost on you I'm sure. Once again there is ample evidence that despite his excellent singing, Daltrey has very little clue about the motivation that prompted such spontaneous idiocy from Pete:

I got used to behaving very badly. Once I was so completely out of my brain that I actually humiliated the band in public. We were playing at the Rainbow in London -- this was early '81 and I kept stopping songs and making speeches to the audience. I kept playing long, drawn-out guitar solos of distorted, bad notes. I'd alter the act, making up songs as I went along. And I knew it was London, and I knew that everybody's friends and family were there, and I deliberately picked that day to f.u.c.k up the show. I just ceased to care. I threw my dignity away Pete Townshend

The Quiet One - Given that producer Bill Szymczyk (pronounced B.I.L.L) worked with the Eagles and was suggested by Pete's friend Joe Walsh for this album, it is perhaps not that surprising to report that this Entwistle tune sounds like erm... a Joe Walsh tune. John is on record stating that it was designed to replace My Wife in the Who's live set which he had grown tired of singing. I bet he wearied of this mediocre effort far quicker.

Did you Steal My Money? - We can forgive both the irony of this number being inspired by the Police (the band) and the very large debt it owes to the melodic seed of On Broadway. It's an unusual number for the Who but it works surprisingly well thanks to Pete's accusatory backing vocal that sits in a very pleasing contrast to Roger's more placatory lead vocal. The developmental sections are sufficiently inspired to warrant an entirely fresh writing credit anyway. Quite possibly the only song lyric that conspires to rhyme 'brasso' with 'ass.h.o.l.e'. trivia fans. The demo version on Townshend's Scoop 3 is also well worth hearing. As to the the shady events that inspired this tale, Pete merely states:

The true story behind this doesn't make anyone look good -- especially me. It is not the time to tell it.

How Can You Do It Alone? - A weighty and brooding descending intro provides the camouflage for a lighter and tightly swung verse to emerge that depicts the shame of thwarted desires being uncovered for potentially unfavorable judgement. These run the gamut of flashing on the underground, stealing porn mags and erm, showering with your girlfriend? The short synth driven martial interlude is unexpected but delightful as it leads very satisfactorily back into a verse to fade ending where 'sprightly' and 'creepy' somehow lock flirtatious hands and traipse off down the street inextricably entwined. Why any of this works defies all conventional musical wisdom as the verses centre unequivocally on D major while the intro and bridge begin with a clashing and contrary D minor? File under 'exceptions that prove the rule'

Daily Records - A belter and one of my favourite Who tracks ever. Similarly to Did You Steal My Money? notice how Townshend uses the harmony backing vocals to refreshingly original effect i.e. their wordless gaucheness adds to the feeling of befuddled alienation expressed in the lyric:

I look at baggy suits and leather capped with puke, I look at Richmond married couples denim look I watch my kids grow up and ridicule the bunch but When you are eleven the whole world's out to lunch

Pete's skiffle past is betrayed by an exhilarating guitar break where his command of rapid banjo finger-picking technique is deployed on 6 string electric. Kenney Jones drumming is particularly good on this and it's a shame that his very invisibility makes him one of the few top drummers capable of seamlessly replacing Keith Moon while receiving scant credit or censure for same. A simple and salutary song about how the best intoxication and anti aging tonic to be had anywhere is that fueled by pure, uncut and undistilled music fresh from the source.

You - Another Entwistle original but it's driven by such a tight arsed little riff that must be one of the stingiest ever committed to tape post big bang. Things do perk up thereafter as we transition into a clanking pedal point groove under 'A' which if nothing else, is an exercise in how far you can take this standard issue rock device without resorting to quasi oriental inflected modulations a la Fancy, See My Friends, Tomorrow Never Knows etc. Wisely, John resists such temptation as he's in way over his head in that company. It ain't bad, but I've never yet felt compelled to reach for the 'repeat' button on its cessation. Faintly cack-handed misogyny to boot?

You, your wasting my life, You can't lose what you've already lost Your arms are open but your legs are crossed

Another Tricky Day - Almost self consciously nostalgic for a simpler and more naive past, with trademark windmill power-chords punctuating the Ox's effortless but always muscular anchor and Bundrick's playful jesting piano. Very strong ascending melody that reaches its memorable summit thus:

(Just gotta get used to it) We all get it in the end (Just gotta get used to it) We go down and we come up again (Just gotta get used to it) You irritate me my friend (This is no social crisis) This is you having fun (No crisis) Getting burned by the sun (This is true) This is no social crisis Just another tricky day for you

You can't help but feel there are those amongst us in positions of great privilege, wealth and cultural standing who suffer from both a slice of self-loathing and that strange jealously of ordinary people with ordinary everyday concerns? Regardless, like so much on Face Dances, it succeeds because the writing is strong enough to withstand the lukewarm reception afforded by the band to Pete's original demos and the complete dearth of empathy from a singer who would have very little common ground with the hellish demi-monde inhabited by his songwriter

This just leaves the token doggie bag of tidbits that proliferate on reissued CDs these days. Word to the wise label execs everywhere: free s.h.i.t. is still overpriced.

Somebody Saved Me is an interesting draft that was given its definitive reading on Pete's brilliant solo album All the Best Cowboys have Chinese Eyes. Listening to this earlier version, it seems to inhabit harmonic territory similar to that retraced by Lloyd Cole's Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken? a couple of years hence. I Like Nightmares is good fun but is ruined by Pete's transparently rat a.r.s.e.d. delivery with uncharacteristic dithering over whether he wanted it punchy New Wave or country parody. It's In You sounds like something even the Stones would have rejected from one of their uniformly wretched 80's albums. There are also bundled a couple of live versions of How Can You Do It Alone? and The Quiet One which are decent but strictly for completists only.

Face Dances is an unjustly neglected album in my book as I consider it stronger than the more highly regarded It's Hard that followed. Although not 'proggy' in any conventional sense, of some interest to PA visitors has to be Rabbit Bundrick's keyboards which in the absence of the usual swathes of Townshend guitar, provide much of the internal detail and flesh out the arrangements accordingly. He does this quite brilliantly and his playing is borderline ornate in places with a choice in sounds and textures exemplary throughout. Bundrick is the rabbit that Townshend pulled out of the hat. It also seems clear that by circa 1974 the Who only existed in any meaningful form solely to perform the music of Pete Townshend. They ceased to be a 'real' interactive band long before then.

Review by Guillermo
3 stars "The New THE WHO for the eighties".

The change of decade from the seventies to the eighties brought some problems for a lot of bands. One of those problems was : "How are we going to adapt our new music for the new decade without still losing our identity in the process?'". Another problem was also brought by the changes in the music industry: to one who was led by "persons who loved music above record sales and a lot of money", to another in the eighties which was "led by accountants" (as Bill Bruford said in interviews done in the early nineties) and "by persons who previously worked in supermarkets" (as John Wetton said in a recent interview). Well. I think that both Bruford and Wetton are right. The music in most cases in the eighties became more like done to "satisfy the record executives in their business meetings" (as Bruford also said). Gone was the more artistic freedom which the music industry gave to the artists in previous years.

THE WHO had some problems then. One was to survive the death of Keith Moon in late 1978. Another problem was how to replace him. Another problem was how to make the change in decade to adapt themselves as a band for the new musical trends. First, they replaced Moon with former SMALL FACES / FACES drummer Kenny Jones. Then, In 1979 they started touring with a new line-up which apart from Jones also included keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick and also a horn section. For the first time in the career of the band they had extra musicians playing on stage with them (a thing which could have helped them to play better their "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" albums in their tours with Moon in the early seventies...but at that time it was not ever thought by them). So, from 1979 to mid 1980 the band first went on tour several times with these extra musicians before ever considering going to record a new album. The reviews about their concerts with this expanded line-up were good. It seems that Jones with those tours "passed the audition" from the fans. But by mid 1980 finally they went to record this "Face Dances" album. Their first album with Jones and Bundrick and their first album for the new decade. It was also their first of two albums for a new record label in the U.S. (Warner Brothers). They also had a new producer (Bill Szymczyk, who also worked with EAGLES).

"Face Dances" reflects some of the problems that I mentioned above. It was not only the change of drummer which made them sound different. Maybe the band also had ideas for a new sound for the band, And maybe their record labels too. The same could be said about having Szymczyk as producer.

The "new sound" incorporated influences from some new trends like New Wave music and even from bands like THE POLICE (in "Did You Steal My Money"). The music became more simple and accessible, more Pop Rock oriented (in eighties terms). The guitars`sound became more thin and less distorted. Kenny Jones is a good drummer and he really plays very well in all the tracks, but he sounds very different from Keith Moon in style. Moon`s energetic and "chaotic" drums playing was replaced by a disciplined playing with a lot of use of the hi- hats in comparison. Even John Entwistle`s energetic bass playing was a bit changed, with his two songs ("The Quiet One" and "You") still having his very good bass guitar playing and being two of the best and heaviest songs in this album. The more Pop Rock songs came from Pete Townshend: "You Better You Bet", "Don`t Let Go the Coat", "Cache Cache". Roger Daltrey sang very well but sounds like being more in "control". As a whole, "Face Dances" is not a bad album, but it is different in many ways to "Who Are You", their previous album which also was their last album with Moon and their last new studio album from the seventies. "Face Dances" was released in March 1981, showing how the band changed since 1978.

As a whole, "Face Dances" is better than their next album "It`s Hard". But both albums showed a "new THE WHO`s sound" which did not last for very long.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Not the best Who out there, not even close. I always considered this somewhat of a Pete Townsend solo album, at least it reminds me a lot of his work from this period such as "Empty Glass". More poppy than heavy, full of released singles, the missing ingredient of Keith Moon hurts this effort. ... (read more)

Report this review (#408006) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, February 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of THE WHO "Face Dances"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.