Who's Next by The Who

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Who's Next by The Who
Who's Next by The Who

Album Released: 1971


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1.Baba O'Riley4:59
3.Love Ain't For Keeping2:11
4.My Wife3:35
5.Song Is Over6:16
6.Getting In Tune4:49
7.Going Mobile3:40
8.Behind Blue Eyes3:40
9.Won't Get Fooled Again8:31


The Who had such a great sound that a lot of people think that therefore their songs must be great too. That's not so, but still, what a sound!

John Entwhistle's bass is thunderous and metallic, and Keith Moon's drums are all over the rhythm, churning up the sound. And whilst Pete Townshend's guitar tone is nothing out of the ordinary, his style is full of grand Beethoven-esque gestures. Then throw in Roger Daltrey's stentorian tenor, and you've got a collective sound that blows out of the speakers and knocks the listener back a few inches.

However, the band's sound is all about power, and a lot of subtleties are lost - for example, I really can't imagine anyone dancing to The Who (when Entwhistle played in Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band, he said he had trouble with the laid-back bass style required for The Rascals' tunes in the set, and furthermore, he didn't enjoy playing them). So this is music designed to be listened to - it's no wonder they started writing rock operas: opera is the ultimate sit-down-and-pay-attention music.

If you're going to play music that demands attention though, it needs to be more interesting than this, things like a fourth chord now and then, maybe a minor key, or a melody that does something other than piddle around the blues scale.

Compounding the problem is the fact that The Who were really a great singles band - that is, most of their inspiration and energy went into a couple of great tracks a year, designed to capture the radio audience, whereas their albums were filled with tracks that clearly had less attention paid to them.

A pretty good case can be made (and has been, by Dave Marsh) that the whole of Tommy is less inspired than "Substitute". Not that there's anything wrong with that - much of the greatest music in rock and roll was made by singles bands. Unfortunately, The Who didn't realize their true nature and persisted in thinking that their album tracks deserved the same time and space as their terrific singles. Who's Next suffers as a consequence.

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by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton (blogging at Steve's Record Reviews)

Formed in London in 1964, The Who were at the time the finest exponents of British r&b - their early music can best be described as angry, threatening, energetic, and working class.

The band never did achieve the same level of recognition as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, but that didn't mean they weren't capable of producing some great material - early singles "I Can't Explain", "My Generation", and "Substitute" demonstrate that.

Who's Next opens with the looped synthesizer of "Baba O'Riley", a superb track that has crashing drums from Moon, crunching guitar from Townshend, and precision bass from Entwistle. There's also some piano and a bit of fiddle thrown in for good measure, as well as Townshend taking a turn on vocals here and there.

It's pretty obvious from that opening track that The Who mean business. "Bargain" is said to be a tribute to an Indian guru that Townshend respected, and has that typically unmistakeable Who sound; and "Love Ain't for Keeping" wouldn't sound out of place on Led Zeppelin III - it may be the shortest track on the album, but it's still a gem.

My only complaint about the album relates to Entwistle's "My Wife" - it has a good melody, but even on the remastered CD it's still very hard to make out his lyrics. The introduction to the next track - "Song Is Over" - reminds me of another Who classic called "5.15" from Quadrophenia - it's very similar in structure, but still a very good song in its own right.

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by Reviewer: Paul Mouse

Who's Next is the closest the band ever came to making a great album, and it is a great album in some ways, albeit not a flawless one.

"Getting in Tune" and "Song Is Over" are bloated beyond listenability, and just what is generic crap like "Love Ain't for Keeping" doing here? ... about a third of these songs I could comfortably live without, so it might reasonably be asked why I'm rating the album just short of perfection? Well, the reason is the good third, and even more the great third.

The teenage-wasteland of "Baba O'Riley" stands as the greatest of all Who performances; the '60's-are-over' realpolitik of "Won't Get Fooled Again" is the second greatest; and the peering into the cold-hearted abyss of "Behind Blue Eyes" takes its place as the greatest Who ballad.

"Going Mobile" is snappy ecology-rock, and "Bargain" rousing lust-rock, though my fave part has always been the tender Townshend vocal in the middle. And I'd always overlooked Entwistle's "My Wife", but for some reason when I picked up the reissue it leapt out as the great song it was, a comic Andy Capp tale about running from the old lady 'cause he spends too much time boozing in the pub.

The bonus tracks on the reissue aren't that great, abandoned Lifehouse tunes presented in inferior live versions for the most part, and the best of the lot, "Pure and Easy", was done better on Townshend's first solo album. The liner notes are extremely extensive though - it takes longer to read them than to listen to the album!

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)

This is a new Who, a Who for the 70's. Bloated and bombastic. Gone are the silly rock opera, the 2-minute singles, and the lyrics about kids or deodorant.

Instead, Townshend turns to matters spiritual on "Bargain" and "Behind Blue Eyes", or cultural with "Won't Get Fooled Again", and uh, ecological for "Going Mobile". But whilst all the songs have only three or four chords in them, they're still good.

I'd give this album 7 stars if it weren't for the two mediocre songs in the middle, "Song Is Over" and "Getting in Tune", both somewhat *bleah*.

by Reviewer: Cole Reviews

Listeners have mixed feelings about the songs on this album. Most people agree that the tracks bookending it are classics, but inbetween those there's such a hodgepodge of 'stuff', that I think no two people have the same opinion about which tracks are good and which tracks aren't.

But yes, this album is a good one. I wouldn't proclaim it to be a classic because ... well, it ain't a classic in the way Tommy or Quadrophenia were, but it's a nice, mixed little album, that's for sure, and absolutely mandatory for people who like The Who: firstly because there are a couple of Who classics here; secondly, because it finally features Daltrey as the awesome singer that everyone knows and loves; and thirdly because this is a new Who.

This is one of the first albums to use synthesizers so heavily, and Townshend was very clever in their use. They aren't just there to give a 'touch' to the band's overall sound. No, the synths are used as an independent unit, and they are responsible for some absolutely unforgettable sounds here.

The best example is of course the opening "Baba O'Riley", that kicks off the album with an awesome shiver-inducing synth loop. And the song as a whole is an indisputable classic - the deadly simple riff bangs on your head, the vocal lines, the song development, and the great fiddle-driven finale are moments that have to be heard to be believed.

Likewise, album closer "Won't Get Fooled Again" features synth loops, but this time the song is a fast, 8-minute guitar-laden rocker, and I wouldn't omit a single second of it. It sounds anthemic at parts, downright rocking at others, and jaw-droppingly awesome at others, like when Daltrey screams the immortal yeeeaah! at the end.

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by Reviewer: Fernando Canto (blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct])