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The Who It's Hard album cover
2.55 | 90 ratings | 9 reviews | 2% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1982

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Athena (3:46)
2. It's Your Turn (3:39)
3. Cooks County (3:35)
4. It's Hard (3:47)
5. Dangerous (3:15)
6. Eminence Front (5:39)
7. I've Known No War (5:46)
8. One Life's Enough (2:22)
9. One At A Time (2:55)
10. Why Did I Fall For That (3:18)
11. A Man Is A Man (3:49)
12. Cry If You Want (4:35)

Total Time 46:29

Bonus tracks on 1997 remaster
13. It's Hard (live) (4:56)
14. Eminence Front (live) (5:37)
15. Dangerous (live) (3:48)
16. Cry If You Want (live) (7:12)


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Roger Daltrey / vocals, guitar
- Pete Townshend / guitars, keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
- John Entwistle / bass guitar, French horn, synthesizer, vocals
- Kenney Jones / drums
- Andy Fairweather-Low (guest) / additional guitar and vocals
- Tim Gorman (guest) / additional keyboards

Releases information

Remastered by Polydor in 1997 with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to nuncjusz for the addition
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It's Hard [Remastered]It's Hard [Remastered]
Remastered · Extra tracks
Geffen 1997
Audio CD$3.93
$3.92 (used)
It's HardIt's Hard
Universal Japan 2011
Audio CD$39.99
$40.17 (used)
It's Hard by Who (2009-12-09)It's Hard by Who (2009-12-09)
Polydor Records
Audio CD$72.08
It's Hard [Remastered] by GeffenIt's Hard [Remastered] by Geffen
Audio CD$23.99
It's HardIt's Hard
Imports 2013
Audio CD$42.95
$32.86 (used)

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THE WHO It's Hard ratings distribution

(90 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(2%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(17%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (36%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

THE WHO It's Hard reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by fuxi
2 stars Opinions are strongly divided on IT'S HARD, but in my opinion it's far preferable to its immediate predecessor, the indifferent FACE DANCES. Back in the early 1980s the Who were my favourite band. When FACE DANCES came out, it was obvious to all and sundry that Pete Townshend was saving his best songs for his solo albums. IT'S HARD came as a relief. It seemed as if the Who had been telling themselves: 'We're going to show the world we can still rock.' It's true that about half of the tunes on the album sound hopelessly boring, but let's not forget the other half!

"Athena" is an utterly charming opener, similar in spirit to "You Better You Bet" - the Who were obviously hoping for another minor radio hit. Two of John Entwistle's hard-rocking songs are captivating: one with rather flat lyrics ("Dangerous") and one with deeply poignant ones ("It's your Turn"). Townshend's ballad "One Life's Enough" sounds moving, but the highlight of IT'S HARD must be its energetic closer, at the end of which Townshend really lets rip on electric guitar, something he never even tried on FACE DANCES or WHO ARE YOU. I have always found it a magical moment. I'm surprised few other Who fans seem captivated by it - but I have a hunch they simply never made it to the end of the album.

Rating: IT'S HARD as a whole only merits two stars, but the tracks described above (as well as "Eminence Front", perhaps) firmly deserve three.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars So, here we go for the last Who studio album...for over twenty years and the surprising "Endless Wire" (2006). What can you expect from this one ?

Some good rocking songs, trying to remind us from the good old days, like "It's Your Turn" and its "Substitute" mood. The title track, "It's Hard" is a very good song as well. Well in the tradition of the band : great rhythm, solid vocals and a pleasant melody. Do we need more ?

At this time of their career, while some other giants have completely change from musical direction, it is pleasant to hear that not all bands have sold their souls during those difficult eighties times (I won't refer to any bands, but I 'm sure you all know whom I am talking about).

The who remained loyal to their roots and only for tis reason, they should be regarded as a very distinct rock band. OK, "Eminence Front" has some disco / funky flavour, but its hypnotic riff is captivating though.

No real highlights on this album (but this has been more or less the case on their last ones), but no blunder either. A song like "I've Known No War" could have been written during the Who's Next sessions. You couldn't tell. Because most of The Who music is timeless (from "Tommy" onwards). Anyway it is one of my fave on this album. Very strong and convincing vocals from Roger.

The very subtle "One Lifes Enough" also indicates that Townsend is a very ecclectic songwritter. The croony style of "Why Did I Fall For That" reminds me of some Roxy Music songs. Not too great, I should say (the song I mean, not Roxy). The ballads are a bit too invading on this album. "A Man Is A Man" is not really what I'd expect form The Who. On the contrary, the closing number "Cry If You Want" is a great rock and violent number. Precisely the kind of track that makes you love The Who. It would have been great to hear what Keith would have achieved on the drums in this song. But we'll never know of course.

Four live numbers from the album can be found on the remastered edition. This is of course how The Who sounds better and they all bring a plus to the original album.

What will be the future for The Who ? Well, lots of compilation albums, some punctual reunions, a drama (the death of John Entwistle), some great tours and finally a new studio album much, much later than this one which I would rate with three stars.

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Well could The Who have done another stinker like the previous Face Dances? Most likely not, but remember that we are in the early 80's and the music scene stunk badly and was invaded by new bands armed with then-modern digital synths that allowed anyone to "write" music without actually knowing how to play it, and "old-timers" groups were having a difficult time either surviving (many didn't) or adapting (Eehhhmmm!!!... like Genesis). So still in tow is Kenny Jones and his impossible task of filling Moon The Loon's shoes, The Who decided to call it a day after the release of this album and a farewell tour! Sporting a rather modern picture on the cover, one could fear the worst.

And indeed, their last statement was not exactly their better one, but neither was it their worst: it easily surpassed Face Dances! Not very hard to achieve, but one of the main point is that the production of this album is much better than the flat-faced previous "effort". Songwriting-wise, the album is again in great part unusually (historically) supplied by Entwistle, but in here, his worst tracks easily surpasses anything from FD. Somehow Jones' drumming is a bit more adapted to the rest of the group, but the group had also softened by now! Pulled by two singles, the correct title track and the very good Eminence Front (although not coming to the waist height of Who Are You?), the album goes by rather smoothly and there are few cringey moments. Another good moment is I've Known No War, which like Eminence Front share the honour of being the longest tracks on the album.

But retrospectively, even if this album has its moments, it was clear the band had lost its impetus and had missed its exit! They might have followed Zep's example! I can't really say this album should be avoided, because I still have some personal feelings of this being a great group's prepared farewell album, but it was certainly not Cream's Goodbye or The Beatles' Let It Be!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Actually, nothing is truly stands out from this "It's Hard" album by The Who. But, if you have get used to the music, you still like this album, I think. From the opening track "Athena" which was pseudo-named for Theresea Russell, I still can grab a great sense of the Who sound and style. Not so interesting in terms of composition but the more I enjoy it, I like the music. At least, I like the Daltrey singing. "It's Your Turn" also bring significant colors of the band even though Keith Moon (who died) had been replaced, the drumming still sound similar. "Cooks Country" uses keyboard in the music.

The title track "It's Hard" starts something bluesy with nice guitar work followed with a straight forward pop rock style. "Eminence Front" has an interesting opening in ambient mode followed by stunning guitar solo. It's unusual that The Who starts the music with long intro. "I've Known No War" flows in similar vein like the previous one even though this one has better melody and energetic singing. "One Life's Enough" is a nice acoustic setup using piano, string section and mellow Daltrey's singing. "One at A Time" has an excellent drumming work right after the brass section. Townsend's guitar work during the song is also excellent.

One thing I like about this album is the live version as bonus tracks where on "It's Hard" Daltrey plays guitar. The song actually reminds me to Dutch's Golden Earring. The rest three tracks (bonus) : "Eminence Front (live)" (5:37), "Dangerous (live)" (3:48) and "Cry If You Want (live)" (7:12) are also excellent. I like "Eminence Front" in this live version.

Overall, this is a good album by The Who, even though not the best album from the band.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Chicapah
3 stars The Who's last album for a very long time to come has all the earmarks of one assembled only to complete the terms of the contract with their label and many critics have dismissed it as a throwaway. However, I refuse to believe that Pete, Roger and John had such little respect for their amazing legacy that they would carelessly soil it by not giving it the old college try. The truth is that this is all they had left in the tank after 18 years of giving every ounce of their souls to the group and the Who's NASCAR race was over. The lyrics betray a bitter and jaded viewpoint of what rock & roll was turning into just as the MTV virus was spreading like swine flu through the industry unabated. I wish they would have gone out like the Beatles did with Abbey Road but it is what it is.

They don't do themselves any favors by opening with their most insipid single ever, the cream puff "Athena." First of all, it's a fantasy crush about here-today-gone-tomorrow movie actress Teresa Russell and secondly the repeated line of "she's just a girl - she's a bomb" solidifies this tune's position as the band's all-time bottom feeder. Skip it. John Entwistle's contributions are some of the highlights of the album, starting with "It's Your Turn." It has a big, cascading opening to take your mind off the previous cow patty and it has some heft to it. Kenney Jones' drumming is forceful and Pete Townshend's taut guitar lines lend a palpable tension. John's words offer a warning for those who envy him to be careful of what they wish for. "There's a stranger inside me somewhere/that shadow behind me don't even look like me/an echoed apology/he's a wolf in sheep disguise/I wake up in places I don't even recognize/pretender in paradise."

The most disconcerting trait about this record is that often they sound like trend followers instead of trend setters. The "New Wave" genre that was all the rage in the late 70s had just about petered out but its influence is substantial on "Cooks County" and The Who don't wear that cheap suit well at all. There's a pretentious, minimalist undertow lurking just beneath the surface and it comes off more like something The Knack would've done than the titans of arena rock. Pete tries to say something profound in his lyrics about the woeful suffering, hunger and loneliness rampant in the world but he gives away his true feelings with the line "this song is so long/it ends up where it begins." The album's namesake tune has a certain Elvis Costello & The Attractions slant to it but it's still a step upward. Singer Roger Daltrey's use of his lower register on the initial verses adds a mean edge to the number and Townshend's weary statement that "anyone can do anything/if they hold the right card/so I'm thinking about my life now/I'm thinking very hard/deal me another hand, Lord/this one's very hard." is very revealing but, taken as a whole, the tune still falls below their high standards.

Entwistle's "Dangerous" is one of his better compositions and I'm willing to bet it was inspired by Genesis' "Duke" LP. It has a grandiose intro that's repeated a few times, a pulsing guitar/bass platform and a convincing vocal performance by Roger. One gets a sense of foreboding from John's introspective lyrics when Daltrey belts "fences, we put up defenses/then we come to our senses/it may keep us out/but it keeps us in/and that makes us dangerous/we're all dangerous to ourselves." By far the most familiar cut (and with reason aplenty) is "Eminence Front" and I especially love the programmed synthesizer that bounces through the song. They allow the infectious groove to simmer patiently like a good Louisiana gumbo long before Pete begins to sing while his guitar jabs and stabs like an ice pick. Entwistle holds back until after the first verse but, to cop a dated phrase, just listen to what the man is puttin' down when he barges in. It's greatness. Pete captures the phoniness of the coke-crazed in-crowd of the day with words such as "the snow packs/as the skier tracks/and people forget/forget they're hiding/behind an eminence front." I'm pretty sure he was including himself in that gang, too.

The haunting "I've Known No War" features a chiming piano chord banging over slap-happy drums and my thoughts are "what would Moonie have done with this?" It makes me miss his unmistakable stamp even more. The most unusual part of the song comes in the middle when they let the wide-open spaces rule for 13 unembellished bars before a very subtle but excellent symphonic score creeps in like a fog bank. Methinks they kept the orchestra too far down in the mix but maybe that's just my symphonic prog monster demanding MORE. (Heel, Fido!) Penned amidst the constant atomic threat of the Cold War, Townshend reminisces about the brutal, hand-to-hand combat tactics employed by armies in previous generations and, tongue firmly in cheek, presents the bright side. "I'll never know war/and if I ever know it/the glimpse will be short/fireball in the sky/no front line battle cries can be heard/as the button is pushed by a soul that's been bought." Unfortunately he was wrong as enemies have just gotten slicker about how to kill/maim each other without resorting to nuclear annihilation. The calming "One Life's Enough" follows and it's a short but pleasant piece that starts in an operatic motif before evolving into a blues ballad. The lyrics are a sighing glance back at youthful romance as Townshend's skill on piano shines through.

The next three tunes are a disappointment. John's one-man attempt at being the USC marching band is admirable during the onset of "One at a Time" but it gets to be way too frantic down the road. The synths on the bridge almost rescue the song but once they're gone it returns to its jarring, brittle ways. It's The Boss meets the Eagles on "Why Did I Fall For That?" but, despite some decent lyrics about naively believing political promises ("we're impotent and neutered like whining cats/we've found the piper but we've lost the rats"), Kenney's sloppy drum track in particular drags it down and they didn't bother to fix it. "A Man is a Man" is a gallant try at creating another memorable Who rock ballad but it sounds forced (even the stilted words) and, once again, much of the lack of drama can be blamed on Jones' loose stick work. At least they go out with a roar. The military snare approach on "Cry If You Want" actually works quite well. It marches underneath the band as they punch out this angry spit-wad of a tune with a vengeance. Here Townshend sums up his crushed ideals with "now you know your leaders lied/does it stop you acting snide?/or are you still a boy that cried/tears now surely long since dried/cry if you want." The capper comes when Pete takes out his frustration and pent up fury on his defenseless guitar as he blazes through the distorted power chords to the very end.

Despite its bothersome unevenness, "It's Hard" has its moments and is far from unlistenable but the trio of remaining survivors that had been there from the beginning surely knew this was their last rodeo together and it shows up in the uncharacteristic frayed edges. As the gruesome cover art conveys, the pinball wizard had been replaced with the Space Duel toggle-stick punk and it was time for them to journey on as individuals. 2.5 stars averaged upward for the captivating and still relevant "Eminence Front."

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'It's Hard' - The Who (5/10)

The last album from The Who for a quarter of a century, it was clear by this point that the band was on their hind legs. After the tragic (yet foreseeable) demise of their drummer, a poor album and sure signs that the music industry was leaving them behind, The Who were wearing very thin, and 'It's Hard' does reflect this. Although it is not technically their swan song anymore, 'It's Hard' does end the saga of The Who on a fairly dull note. Although it is a step up from 'Face Dances', 'It's Hard' is nothing compared to their earlier, more lively days, although it does stand as a fairly good rock album for those who are looking for another dose of The Who.

To describe 'It's Hard' in the simplest terms, it may not rock, but at least it rocks harder than the album before it. 'Face Dances' was something of a pop album; absolving their grit for the sake of soft sounding tracks that might give them some more appeal to the ever more commercial realm of the '80s. 'It's Hard' still features some fairly lacking songwriting. Although the songs here are decent and sometimes even great, it is clear that the band members no longer had their hearts set on making great music with the band, instead saving their best material for solo material, as was the case for guitarist Pete Townshend. However, there are a couple of tracks here that stand out. The first of these is 'Athena', which is an upbeat rocker with a chorus that almost sounds like a precursor to Michael Jackson, or am I just dreaming? In any case, the real highlight here is 'Eminence Front', which is the album's claim to fame. A song that builds with a psychedelic electronic texture and some nice guitar grooves, the song is a really great Townshend-driven track.

The rest of the tracks here lack a memorable hook or solo for the most part, even after several listens to the album. The drums of Kenney Jones try to emulate Moon's work, and for the most part, it is a nice tribute, although there is still not the same ferocity that Moon commanded. 'It's Hard' is a decent album for fans of The Who that want a little more, and there are even a couple of songs here that are really great. As a whole though, this album is something of a disappointment coming from a band that was once creating some of the best music that rock had to offer.

Review by Guillermo
2 stars By 1982 THE WHO was really in its last days as a permanent band. They survived for some years after the death of Keith Moon, but without him their sound changed a lot. Having a new drummer (Kenney Jones) since 1979, who really was not really "new" in the music bussiness , because he previously was a former member of the SMALL FACES in the sixties and of THE FACES since the late sixties to 1975, it was obvious that his style of playing the drums was very different from Moon`s. But also, the music from the band (composed separately by Peter Townshend and John Entwistle) also changed. They were in their late thirties, and the music also lost some "power" that it even was there in their "Who Are You" album from 1978, their last album with Moon on drums. By 1982 Townshend also had some substance abuse problems which required from him being in rehabilitation, a thing which he achieved early in that year. Anyway, the band recorded this album which sounds a bit "lighter" musically and lyrically in comparison to other albums they recorded with Moon. Kenney Jones is a good drummer, more technically oriented than Moon, maybe more disciplined in his drums playing than Moon. But Moon, even if he was not as technically oriented and disciplined as Jones, really was at the centre of the music style of the band, playing with a lot of power which was one of the characteristics of the sound of the band. Anyway, Jones played the drums in this album very well...but he does not sound as Moon. But Jones did his best while he was in the band.

This album sounds more oriented to the Pop Rock of the eighties. The album still sounds like recorded by THE WHO. But I think that they really were looking for how to adapt themselves as a band to the musical changes of the eighties. With lyrics about Cold War and Nuclear Weapons, social and economical problems, and even some ballads, this album as a whole is not bad, but it also is not very interesting. The best songs from this album are "It`s Hard", "Dangerous" (composed by Entwistle and a song which sounded better played in concert than in this studio album), "Eminence Front" (the best song in this album and with a keyboard arrangement which sounds to me a bit inspired by the keyboard sounds from "Baba O`Riley " from "Who`s Next"), "A Man is a Man" and "Cry if You Want".

Roger Daltrey said in interviews that he really does not like this album. Anyway, this album is not too bad, and in fact it really sounds a lot inlfuenced by Pete Townshend`s sound as a solo musician. When they finished their "farewell tour" in late 1982, Townshend tried to compose more songs for the band to record a last studio album for their record labels. But by the end of 1983 Townshend announced the end of the band saying that he could not continue composing songs for the band. They released in late 1984 a last album (a contractual obligation) recorded live during their "farewell tour" in 1982 and titled "Who`s Last" , which is not a not very good live album which does not include any songs from this album and their previous album from 1981 titled "Face Dances". This "It`s Hard" album was their last studio album with Entwistle (who died in mid 2002) and Jones, until Daltrey and Townshend released a new studio album in 2006 as THE WHO titled "Endless Wire".

Latest members reviews

2 stars Well, it at least is better than FACE DANCES. But, not by much. Along with many people, I believe that The Who lost their heart and soul with the passing of Keith Moon. This is pretty basic hard rock and AOR middle-of-the-road rock with little of interest. "It's Hard" was not bad, "Athena" was o ... (read more)

Report this review (#628341) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Who ? The last of a long line of The Who album before the band made a comeback a quarter of a century later. What we get here is middle of the road rock which soaks up all sounds and whims of that era. A bit funk, a bit pop, a bit disco, a lot of AOR and a lot of what The Who were at their best. ... (read more)

Report this review (#570832) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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