This album has been rubbished and castigated nearly as many times as Kenney Jones, the drummer who succeeded the late, great Keith Moon in The Who. However, it's not really fair. Like Jones, much of the album is not worse, just different, in comparison with what came before.
Sure, there are some below-par tracks, "Cook's County" being one I was not too enamoured with. Concentrate on the album's high points, though, and there are some crackers. "A Man is a Man" and "One Life's Enough for Me" are tear-jerkers with messages, and Roger Daltrey proves he is as adept at putting feeling into softer, slower songs, as he is on the all-out rockers.
John Entwistle's three contributions would all slot into the latter category. They all have their merits. "It's Your Turn" unsentimentally hands the baton to younger rock stars, "Dangerous" sounds like it was written about the group, and particularly the insecure but brilliant Pete Townshend. "One At a Time" sees Entwistle on vocals, on a song which sound a lot like a faster version of "My Wife", his song on "Who's Next", no bad thing. Like the 1971 song, this one focuses on marital infidelity.
Finally, there is the anthemic "Cry if you Want To", which, in spite of its melancholy title, sees Roger Daltrey belting out a bittersweet review of The Who's career. The song proves you can bow out in style.
The extra live tracks added to my enjoyment, in particular the recording of the jazz-funk-inspired "Eminence Front", which sounds punchier than the studio version, and is sung with gusto by Pete Townshend. Watch out for Roger Daltrey's monologues, too.
All in all, I have heard the Who on better form, but this should not distract from the fact that "It's Hard" is a very good rock album, with changes of pace and musical intelligence aplenty.