Artist – Album: The Who – Who’s Next
Released: 14th August 1971
Sounds Like: Who’s on first
The first images that come to mind when I think of The Who are of the mop-topped, frustrated young rockers of ‘My Generation’ and the cartoon oldies that brought down the Springfield Wall with one windmilled guitar stroke of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ on The Simpsons. It’s hardly the most satisfying impression of a group considered as one of the greatest of all time. Delve a little deeper and I’m reminded that they had a hand in inspiring both the punks and the mod revivalists, whilst they (perhaps a little less happily) brought us the “rock opera” and made one of the first notable concept albums in Tommy. Pete Townshend coined the term “power pop” for goodness sake. The band is synonymous with power chords, the Marshall Stack and smashed guitars. But perhaps the most satisfying measure of a band’s lasting legacy is to listen to their albums, and Who’s Next is one of their best.
Inspired by Townshend’s newly discovered taste for a synth, the quartet produced their strongest set of songs yet, bookended by two barnstormers: the rousing ‘Baba O’Riley’ (a.k.a. ‘Teenage Wasteland’) and the inflammatory epic ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. Those two alone helped to cement the Who’s reputation as one of the greatest stadium rockers in history, as their bombastic sounds were made for the largest arenas. They keep rocking with the likes of ‘Bargain’ and ‘My Wife’ but they could also take it gently, delivering searching ballads on the likes of ‘The Song Is Over’ and ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. Roger Daltry has rarely barked away more theatrically and effectively, whilst behind him Keith Moon bangs the drums as forcefully as ever and John Entwistle dances along frenzied bass lines with impossible nimbleness (my high school band covered the final track and so I was given the unenviable task of trying to emulate him).
It’s a wonderfully invigorating album, one that’s sure to get you pumped and one that emphatically demolishes any unwarranted visions of The Who I might have previously retained as easily as it did that animated Springfield wall.
Albumaday... rating: 9/10
1. Baba O’Riley – 5:08
2. Bargain – 5:34
3. Love Ain’t for Keeping – 2:10
4. My Wife – 3:41
5. The Song Is Over – 6:14
6. Getting in Tune – 4:50
7. Going Mobile – 3:42
8. Behind Blue Eyes – 3:42
9. Won’t Get Fooled Again – 8:32
Listen to ‘My Wife’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW3ULv86zzE
Also released on the 14th August:
2006: Peter, Bjorn & John – Writer’s Block