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THE WHO

Proto-Prog • United Kingdom


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The Who biography
One of the greatest of all rock and roll bands and one of the most influential of all time, The Who formed in 1964, when drummer Keith Moon left the Beachcombers and joined The Detours, who included singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, and bassist John Entwistle. The Who arrived on the scene at a crossroads in the English music scene: The Beatles were still king but were beginning to turn from the bubble gum pop of previous albums, the Merseybeat boom was fading and London was becoming the center of English music. A residency at London's famed Marquis club gave them a stage to make their impression: above all, The Who were a live band that had to be seen as well as heard. There first hit, "I Can't Explain", led to regular TV appearances and a tour with The Beatles. It also got them signed to Decca Records, where they recorded their first album, "My Generation". The album was a hit in England, reaching #5 on the charts, while the title track became an anthem of sorts for the times and still perhaps their best known song.

The Who were very original in that their arrangements were far from the normal in rock those days. Pete was more of a rhythm player who had Keith and John playing around him instead of
merely holding a beat, an influence acknowledged by the way Prog rock turned conventional rock idioms on their ear with regards to arrangement and traditional roles of the instruments. Keith's drumming was described as 'lead' drumming and John was having bass solos as early as 1965 in rock music.

Success out of the gate gave the group some measure of creative control on their next album which they lacked on the first. Pete and manager Kit Lambert had been talking about extended themes and ideas in rock and roll for some time. When The Who went into the studio for their second album in 1966 each group member was to contribute songs to help generate more revenue in royalties for the group, the group having a rather high overhead in terms of destroyed guitars and drum kits. When the others were not able to meet their quota of songs for the new album, Pete and Kit stepped in to fill the album out, and came up with what would be one of the trademarks of prog music in the future, the extended song cycle "A Quick One", which would be the title of the new album as well. It was 6 distinct song fragments tied together with a unifying theme; love, betrayal, and forgiveness. It is often called a rock opera... it could also be calle...
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THE WHO discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE WHO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.90 | 149 ratings
My Generation
1965
2.92 | 139 ratings
A Quick One
1966
3.55 | 199 ratings
The Who Sell Out
1967
3.93 | 488 ratings
Tommy
1969
4.36 | 502 ratings
Who's Next
1971
4.50 | 515 ratings
Quadrophenia
1973
3.52 | 172 ratings
By Numbers
1975
3.29 | 176 ratings
Who Are You
1978
2.46 | 98 ratings
Face Dances
1981
2.56 | 93 ratings
It's Hard
1982
2.90 | 71 ratings
Endless Wire
2006

THE WHO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.07 | 129 ratings
Live At Leeds
1970
4.09 | 38 ratings
The Kids Are Alright (Original Soundtrack of the Film)
1979
2.71 | 19 ratings
Who´s Last
1984
3.33 | 12 ratings
Join Together
1990
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Who Live (Golden Age serie)
1993
3.23 | 29 ratings
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
1996
2.83 | 23 ratings
BBC Sessions
2000
3.92 | 19 ratings
Live At The Royal Albert Hall
2003
3.83 | 6 ratings
Greatest Hits Live
2010
3.97 | 10 ratings
Live At Hull
2012

THE WHO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.92 | 26 ratings
The Kids are Alright
1979
4.00 | 8 ratings
Who's Better, Who's Best
1988
3.60 | 14 ratings
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival
1998
4.03 | 11 ratings
Who's Next - Classic Albums
1999
3.88 | 14 ratings
Live at the Royal Albert Hall
2000
3.17 | 6 ratings
Live & Alive
2003
3.00 | 6 ratings
The Vegas Job
2006
3.13 | 14 ratings
Amazing Journey
2007
3.77 | 13 ratings
The Who at Kilburn: 1977
2008
3.55 | 12 ratings
Maximum R&B Live
2009
4.29 | 7 ratings
Live in Texas '75
2012
3.22 | 8 ratings
Quadrophenia: Live in London
2014
3.95 | 3 ratings
Live in Hyde Park
2015

THE WHO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.23 | 14 ratings
Magic Bus: The Who on Tour
1968
3.32 | 26 ratings
Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy
1971
3.76 | 33 ratings
Odds & Sods
1974
3.33 | 6 ratings
Who's Missing
1985
4.07 | 11 ratings
Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B
1994
3.80 | 25 ratings
My Generation - The Very Best of The Who
1996
2.26 | 4 ratings
The Who (budget compilation)
1997
4.03 | 27 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2002
3.27 | 15 ratings
Then and Now
2004
1.79 | 9 ratings
Greatest Hits
2009
5.00 | 5 ratings
Live At Leeds 40th Anniversary Super-Deluxe Collectors' Edition
2010
4.83 | 6 ratings
Quadrophenia - The Director's Cut (Super Deluxe Limited Edition)
2011
3.50 | 4 ratings
The Who Hits 50!
2014

THE WHO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.70 | 9 ratings
I'm a Boy
1966
2.76 | 9 ratings
Happy Jack
1966
3.75 | 4 ratings
Summertime Blues
1970
3.05 | 6 ratings
Let's See Action / When I Was A Boy
1971
4.13 | 8 ratings
5.15
1973
3.05 | 3 ratings
Thirty Years Of Maximum R&B sampler
1994

THE WHO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 488 ratings

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Tommy
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As someone who is familiar with the Who from hearing their handful of hits on classic rock FM, it's a nice surprise to find Tommy, a thoughtfully composed and well played concept album. There's a lot to like here, and I think the reviews here on the Archives speak the truth in that one's enjoyment of this album will depend on taste and biography. For me, Tommy is a mixed experience.

It's at its most enjoyable when the band is playing ambitiously, such as on songs like "Overture," "Underture." These songs have dynamic energy and very skilled delivery. The band sounds great, and it's fun to hear music from the most classic or classic rock era so skillfully played; it's a vintage sound that stands the test of time. For me this is light-years more enjoyable than anything the Beatles ever put out.

I suppose it's not a coincidence for me that my favorite songs are both instrumentals, because I found the story, lyrics, and vocal inflection bland. This is definitely a "rock-opera" album, which is a euphemism for "musical with electric guitars." I do not like musicals, and the amount of storytelling that the Who crams into this album is cumbersome and distracting. The best concept albums allow their concept to drift in and out of the abstract, so that the listener can chose to be all in to the story, or enjoy songs individually without loosing much. You can't do that with Tommy, because every song is narrative.

The rave reviews of this album often have phrases like, "when I first heard this," or, "I remember when," which points strongly towards the high marks on this album coming from nostalgia. I don't have a problem with nostalgia, because it colors much of what we like and dislike, but because I am nostalgia-less when it comes to the Who, my experience listening to Tommy was one that grabbed hold of the great moments, and was left waiting during the downtime. The flow and momentum is too weird to be a straight ahead rock album, but not so well composed to be a true prog-rock album.

An album with that many highs and lows is worth a rock-solid 3 stars. Check it out if you like the Who's "greatest hits," or if you're interested in the development of the prog-rock movement.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 Live in Hyde Park by WHO, THE album cover DVD/Video, 2015
3.95 | 3 ratings

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Live in Hyde Park
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars This is the last show of their 50th anniversary tour in London's Hyde Park. The show start in the daylight atmosphere being a outdoor venue. It's still amazing to see Pete Townsend playing with this energy level after many years. And listening to him in this show, the band bring back the question each tour about being the possible last tour of the band, and they keep touring. The set list here is almost perfect with some of their classics, only the song "Join Together" didn't connect with me, but the pacing of all the songs is well done. I rediscovered how good were the songs "Amazing Journey" and "Sparks" that was done in a medley. The ending is the epic and great song "Wont Get Fooled Again" with all the atmosphere of the keyboards parts that was created by Pete Townsend. Roger Daltrey is still young enough to deliver a decent performance that could go along with those younger musicians behind him. I also find quiet enjoyable those short stories that share different artists between some songs explaining the influence of the Who in their life. The show in High Definition is nice to watch and the big screen in the back has plenty of beautiful projections throughout the show.
 Quadrophenia by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.50 | 515 ratings

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Quadrophenia
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Quinino
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #11

Pete Townshend is a Genius, this album is a Giant Masterpiece and the Mighty Who rule(d)

Global Appraisal

You want to know when I do get the maximum pleasure a human being can receive exclusively from music? Being alone at home, pushing the volume on the stereo and going to shower while listening and singing (shouting, in fact) full breath along Roger Daltrey. Over Quadrophenia, no other else!

It never fails to uplift and put me in a sunny mood, that's the reason I always remained a faithful worshiper going from vinyl (religiously kept, oh yeah) to tape and finally to cd immediately after it was released back in '84. What a glorious-happy-energetic-music.

Goodies

First the composition, all by PT, is top notch and as exciting today as it was then.
The vocals, of course, no one can refute RD is one of the best in his trade.
I get the feeling the bassists tend to be wrongly undervalued about their contribution and in the Who that would be a terrible huge mistake - John Entwistle is surely a pillar for the foundations of the band's sound and if you try, as I sometimes do, to follow the songs focusing on his playing, you'll be amazed.

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 488 ratings

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Tommy
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

1 stars Before I discourage anyone from giving this album a listen I'd just like to say that it does have some redeeming features, including and limited to a concept addressing many different facets of life and a level of ambition that was revolutionary at its time of release. So bear these in mind all ye who still dare to listen after reading my review.

Tommy is a concept double album rock opera and has been hailed as one of the first and finest thereof. I don't think there's any need for me to give a synopsis of the plot of Tommy's tale as if you listen to any of the songs on this 74 minute monstrosity you will invariably be reminded every other verse of Tommy's ailments, which brings me to the first problem I have with this album. It is not at all subtle and that is a huge pet peeve of mine in concept albums. The concept feels incredibly forced and it doesn't take very long before you being to get very sick of having obvious facts reiterated again and again. Did you know that the kid is deaf, dumb and blind?

"Tedious" describes this album very well and the conspicuous narration is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the album's tedious facets. If one were to take a look at the track listing of the album, they'd see that the band has written a novel of Tolstoy-esque proportions. The album's track listing is muddled and filled with redundancies and filler. Dozens of short (under 2 minute) tracks that fall flat of moving the narrative along are interspersed among stale instrumentals that don't develop. At this point you may be wondering to yourself, "well maybe the instrumental work on some of the tracks is good?" - Oh how I hoped that that were true. "Are the vocals good at least?" - Lifeless and cheesy. "Would the album cover at least look pretty sitting on my shelf?" - Unfortunately they couldn't even pull that off.

If you're ever feeling particularly masochistic, have 74 minutes to kill and have run out of paint to dry or grass to grow, Tommy would be the perfect album for you to listen to. Over 20 back to back, non-emotive spectacles of poor musicianship avail themselves on this overdrawn, megalithic flop. Admittedly there are two songs on the entire album that I can listen to without needing to physical restrain myself from skipping them, the hit "Pinball Wizard", which is more in The Who's classic hard rock vein, and "Miracle Cure", which is short enough that I wouldn't fall asleep before it's finished. In summary, "Tommy" is an incredibly overrated concept album that could have been worked out far more concisely and tolerably in a well-written single album or a one-side suite. Unappealing as it is, Tommy doesn't even deserve two stars as it should not be of much interest to fans of The Who given that there is none of the rowdy, rambunctious rock 'n' roll, or even the slightest hint of upbeat energy characteristic of their sound, on it. One star for an album that should not have come from a band so talented.

 A Quick One by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
2.92 | 139 ratings

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A Quick One
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My Generation was more than just an album when it came out back in 1965... it was a game-changer. The way it mixed soft R&B covers and pop rock tunes with a previously-unheard hard rock edge and raw production was ingenious, and the affectionate nods to the Mod subculture were icing on the cake. It seems as though I'm exaggerating when I state that The Who's debut was a decade-defining piece of work, but it truly was. So how would these London boys follow it up? Well, how about giving songwriting roles to every band member while becoming a hell of a lot sillier in the process?

What came of this question was A Quick One, one truly bizarre and inconsistent foray into more cheery and poppy territory. Here, we get everything ranging from blues rock, quirky comedic tunes, the band's first "rock-opera" track," folk rock sections, and more. It becomes clear very quickly which musicians really shine in the songwriting department, however: Pete Townshend and John Entwistle. In fact, the latter created perhaps one of the band's most iconic and entertaining songs in the form of "Boris the Spider"; aside from containing vocals that likely (and probably inadvertently) influenced a legion of death metal singers, the song's cheesy horror lyrics just add to its fun camp value. Curiously, Entwistle's other contribution "Whiskey Man" is a pretty standard fast-paced blues rock track compared to the amount of personality "Boris the Spider" had, but it's still a decent addition nonetheless. Of course, just as with My Generation, Townshend still manages to be the real driving force writing-wise. The title track, which is easily his best contribution on here, is an excellent prelude to the band's future rock operas; it also ends up being among the first progressive rock tunes with its varying sections and relatively long length of nine minutes. The whole thing is very elaborate, especially in terms of Roger Daltrey's vocal harmonies and Keith Moon's busy percussion, as the lyrics essentially give the listener a prelude to the story of the 1969 record Tommy. Seriously, this was some ambitious stuff in the mid-60s, especially considering the fact that it predates other proto-prog gems of the decade such as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Days of Future Passed.

Unfortunately, the biggest mistake of A Quick One was letting Keith Moon assist in any part of the songwriting process. He might be an amazing drummer, but his songs are seriously lacking compared to what the other members bring. First, we get an uninspired folky power ballad with "I Need You," which has some extremely obnoxious and raucous drumming during the chorus; it's so raucous that it literally overpowers the production itself. The other song he wrote might just be the single worst track to ever be released by The Who, that tune being "Cobwebs and Strange." Remember what I said about this album being really cheery? Well, "Cobwebs and Strange" basically manages to sound like a marching band performance at a Disneyland parade with its bright horns and stiff, angular drumming; that is, until the song turns into a disjointed mess of disparate musical ideas. The second half of the song is pretty much just a glorified Keith Moon drum solo, but it's not very engaging when combined with such an ugly jumble of instruments and styles. As for Roger Daltrey, his sole contribution "See My Way" is a decent pop song that thankfully tones down the dynamics of the album along with the previous Pete Townshend number "Don't Look Away." However, despite the weird mishmash of styles present in A Quick One, I have to give it credit for at least having some sort of overall focus and knowing what it is: a cheesy pop rock record. It often doesn't take itself too seriously, which is why incredibly fun songs like "Boris the Spider" and the title track were able to fit in so well with the experience as a whole. Basically, my advice is to enjoy the Townshend and Entwistle tracks and try to forget the Keith Moon tracks ever happened; I know that sounds harsh, but Moon is simply better off doing what he does best: drumming. In the end, if you don't want to stick with the familiar Who classics and want to delve into something a bit more quirky and strange, this is a pretty good bet. Despite how unusual and flawed it is, A Quick One is actually really fun and a refreshing oddball in the band's catalog.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 My Generation by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
2.90 | 149 ratings

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My Generation
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Who's entrance into 60s popular music was a hell of a game changer. With a rock landscape still heavily dominated by poppier and more melodically driven artists such as pre-Revolver-era Beatles as well as more folk-oriented groups like Simon and Garfunkel, it was inevitable that someone would try amping up the volume and increasing the distortion a bit. Well, Britain's answer came indirectly in the form of the Mod subculture. Mod was essentially based around British youths during the 60s and involved motor scooters, soul and "modern jazz" (as they tended to call it, usually referring to bebop) music, and drug-filled nights of club dancing. Anyway, long story short, mods and rockers did not get along during the mid-60s because of differing ideals, which even led to straight-up physical violence between the two! They eventually began to settle their differences, mainly because one certain band was able to combine aspects of both subcultures into their sound as if a musical truce was being called. Of course, that band would be The Who, with their phenomenal and revolutionary debut My Generation. It was a record that combined the rebellion and raucousness of both the mods and rockers, but has also maintained its status as a classic record over the years; you see it on best-of lists by Rolling Stone, Mojo, Q, and so forth. So what made it so good? Well, the answer is simple: it rocked. Hard.

My Generation, along with Jimi Hendrix's work a few years later, would truly become the blueprint heavy metal and punk rock in the years to come. Between guitarist Pete Townshend's aggressive and distorted playing, the way Roger Daltrey mixes gruff blues and hard rock vocals, John Entwistle's already-established presence as one of rock's earliest bass virtuoso players, and Keith Moon's ridiculous amount of energy on the drums, this must have been a sound to behold back then. That's not to say some of the elements typical of that era don't slip through; there are still plenty of poppy and soulful vocal harmonies, as well as three covers of classic R&B tunes. However, it's the raw and unhinged execution that makes it so influential. The production itself is quite bare, focusing more on sheer volume and impact than being lavish or slick; this definitely assisted in propelling the legendary title track and "It's Not True" to their status as youth culture anthems by contributing to their clangorous nature and proto-punk sound. But going back to what I said about John Entwistle earlier, the great thing about My Generation is that its high level of energy is still accompanied by an equally high level of instrumental proficiency and chemistry within the group. If I had to pick a standout musician, however, Pete Townshend would be that person. His work on the album really helped to expand the sonic boundaries of what the electric guitar could do, between more tightly-constructed hard rock numbers and more experimental jams. The latter is represented most strongly by "The Ox," an instrumental piece that has Townshend playing around with intense guitar feedback and very low tunings for the time period. The song's presence on the record might seem a bit unnecessary today, but it was just another innovative piece of work when it came out.

However, all influence and innovation aside, the age-old question remains: how well does the forty-year-old album hold up today? Well, that depends on which aspect of the record you look at. Unfortunately, the biggest flaw of My Generation really is its production; yes, it fits the style and vibe of the experience as a whole, but it's also very thin and more dated-sounding than other contemporary albums of the day such as The Beatles' Revolver or The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Luckily, the songwriting and musicianship are completely timeless. Countless punk bands still cover the title track and "It's Not True" to this day, not just because they're influential to the genre, but because they still evoke the classic themes of rebellion and being young. While the band later regarded this album as a weak and rushed effort, you'd never believe when listening to such well-crafted gems like the melodic vocally-layered pop rock anthem "The Kids Are Alright" or the slightly more somber and mellow "The Good's Gone." Also, while many blues or R&B covers may feel out of place on a record, the three that are featured on My Generation fit quite well as they display that the young band were still on their way to fully developing their sound. Plus, in the case of "I Don't Mind" and "Please, Please, Please," Roger Daltrey's charismatic and aggressive vocals are a perfect fit for James Brown's often bright and energetic material.

My Generation may not suit all tastes, but one can't deny its immeasurable influence on rock music as a whole. The energy, distortion, intensity, rawness, and sonic experimentation present on the album were very rarely heard prior to its release, and its ability to mix different subcultures and bring them together is just stunning. Sure, the record doesn't quite have the songwriting or maturity to match future classics like Tommy and Quadrophenia (the latter also being about the mod scene), but it makes up for that with sheer raw energy and aggression. My Generation is just a ton of fun, and I know I'll continue to play it as long as I feel young and rebellious...

'cause "I'm not tryin' to cause a big sensation, I'm just talking about my generation!"

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 488 ratings

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Tommy
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by jmeadow

4 stars The Who's first fully realised rock opera is a proto-prog classic, as we all know, the story of Tommy, a deaf, dumb and blind kid, who plays a mean pinball and becomes a messiah-like figure to his fans. The story addresses sensitive issues including alienation, child abuse and celebrity/fandom with directness and honesty

The album is certainly imperfect - there are some pretty big cracks in the storyline, in particular - but nevertheless it has pace, tension and emotion and some great rock tracks. 'Pinball Wizard' and 'I'm Free' are well-known classics, but less-renowned songs like '1921' and 'Christmas' are also superb. In the later the pathos of Tommy's isolation from the world is neatly captured by his blissful ignorance of Christmas Day: 'And Tommy doesn't know what day it is/Doesn't know who Jesus was or what praying is/How can he be saved?/From the eternal grave?'

An album that traverses the gap between standard rock and prog and in doing so shows the possibilities of rock music. Highly recommended.

 By Numbers by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.52 | 172 ratings

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By Numbers
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well. It seems that by 1975 THE WHO had to record another studio album having worked a lot since the release of their "Quadrophenia" album and the tours to promote it between 1973 and 1974. Bands worked hard in those years. They were expected to release studio albums each year and to do tours to promote them. In 1974, the band also participated in the "Tommy" film and also recorded a soundtrack album for that film version with guest musicians too. All the members of the band (including Keith Moon) have recorded some solo albums until then too. So, by 1975 they had to record another studio album as a band which became "The Who by Numbers". By that time, Pete Townshend, the main songwriter in the band, was having a hard time trying to write songs for this album, saying that the band practically recorded all the songs he wrote for this album. And this album is just another album without a concept or without being another Rock Opera. It is just a collection of songs with mostly introspective lyrics which have relation to Townshend`s `personal experiences at that time. So, the songs are very personal but very good anyway, despite most of them are really not showing "happy feelings". But the album as a whole in fact is very good.

John Entwistle also wrote one song for this album, the rocker "Success Story", which also is one of the best from this album and it also has some humour in the lyrics. And not all the songs which were composed by Townshend are introspective, because "Squeeze Box" is also a song with some humour in the lyrics. But for the most part, the songs are introspective. In six of the ten songs from this album the piano parts were played very well by the very good and famous late session musician Nicky Hopkins, who also worked with the band in "Who`s Next" in 1971.

The best songs from this album are "Success Story" (with very good bass guitar playing by Entwistle), "Squeeze Box", "Imagine a Man", "They are all in Love" and "How Many Friends". "However Much I Booze" is so personal that it was sung by Townshend and not by Roger Daltrey, who wanted to distance himself from the content of the lyrics. Keith Moon`s drums playing is very good in this album, and as a whole the band still was playing very well. So, as a whole this album, while being very introspective in most of the lyrics from the songs, still is very enjoyable.

The cover design was done by John Entwistle. Some people don`t like it, but I think that the cover design is very good and very original.

 Face Dances by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.46 | 98 ratings

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Face Dances
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

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.

 It's Hard by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.56 | 93 ratings

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It's Hard
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

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".

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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