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The Who - Face Dances CD (album) cover

FACE DANCES

The Who

 

Proto-Prog

2.49 | 115 ratings

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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.

Guillermo | 3/5 |

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