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3.4 out of 5 stars
It's Hard
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2000
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2006
When THE WHO released this cd in 1982, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, were under heavy self impossed pressure because they also recorded and released their respective good solo albums "All the Best Cowboys have Chinese Eyes" and "Too Late the Hero".

So they wrote, recorded, rehearsed and released this collection of songs very fast(except for the Steve Lilywhite produced "Assention part I" recorded in 1982 and included on a Peter Gabriel produced collection).

The problem with this collection is the same one that the "Who are You" LP had, and its in my opinion, the wrong order of the continuity of the songs. The first one, the single, "Athena" followed by John Entwistle s`"It is your turn" and then "Cooks County" and "It s Hard" creates the problem, because those songs are the weaker ones. So to re-review this cd one should begin with "I ve Known No War", a great song comparable to the material and production of Who s` Next, THE WHO s'best album ever. Follow this song with John Entwistle s'"Dangerous" or Pete s` "Why did i fall for that" and then with "A man is a Man", and you have a better cd. There are very good songs on this cd such as the hilarious John Entwistle s' "One at a time" the sister song to "My Wife", and also "Dangerous", a song that seems written with Pete Townshend in mind (the same subject as "The Quiet One"). "I ve Known No War" is in my opinion, the best song here and also "Eminence Front" and "Cry if you want", a song the band tries with energy and abandon, as good rock should be.

The weakest songs on IT S HARD are in order: "Cooks County" and Entwistle s'"It s your turn". "Cooks County" is boring and goes nowhere except in the guitar break, and "It is your turn", sounded dated then in 1982 and still.

By the contrary, "A man is a Man" is as beautiful as "Behind Blue Eyes", and the same goes for the very quiet and piano driven "One life is enough".

This is by no means a bad collection of songs, and deserves a second chance, mainly on those days that THE WHO2 will be re-including on their live set two songs from it: "Eminence Front" and "Cry if you want".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have always liked The Who since the sixties, and have been gradually building up a complete collection of their studio albums. This album almost completes the collection ('My Generation' is not on my wish list and the only remaining item is 'Odds and sods' which mostly duplicates tracks I already have).

Since I starting collecting and listening to Who albums I was not previously familiar with, my appreciation of The Who has increased.

The question about his album is whether it can really be"The Who" without Moon. The distinctive fills are certainly missing, but otherwise the sound and songs fit into The Who mould. Therefore, while this album is not one of their best, it is a worthwhile addition to The Who catalogue. It should not be dismissed and it should not be ignored. If it had been released by a group without The Who's background, it would probably have been declared a triumph. That said I would rate Tommy (preferably SACD if you play it back in surround) and Who's Next as better. For a live album - the Deluxe edition of Live at Leeds (which largely duplicates Tommy - showing they could do it live).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2006
Back in 1982, when this album was first issued as a vinyl LP, it seemed that The Who had gained a fresh lease of life. Following the death of Keith Moon in 1978, Pete Townshend had indicated that he intended to lead the band in a new direction. Certainly, in live performances, there were changes, led by Kenney Jones' style of drumming - more regular and metric than Keith Moon's, but without the manic attack which had been the hallmark of the band since their early days.
"Face Dances", the previous album, had shown Townshend's writing in a state of flux - the songs were poppier, and reflected the influence of the electro / New Romantic era.
However, on first hearing, "It's Hard" just seemed an uninspired, sludgy mainstream rock album. It sounded dated - then.
Personally, I loathed it with a vengeance.
The remixed Cd re-issue (with bonus live tracks) has gradually changed my opinion - that, and the passage of time.
Many of the songs sound far, far better in this format - the Townshend guitar swings in and out, and the keyboards have a more subtle effect. To these ears anyway, John Entwistle's bass has a more rumbling, growling presence than is always necessary - this became more of a feature in live shows, not (I suspect) always to the delight of Townshend and Daltrey.
Jones does his job here - he keeps the beat, and makes his presence felt - it's just that, in (the inevitable) comparison with Keith Moon, his style seems too restrained - the difference between a good craftsman and an erractic but inspired freak of nature.
Daltrey gives his all - as ever, but somehow seems to lack conviction handling Townshend's more aspirational (but sadly unpolished) lyrics.
This is one of those albums that could have been so very much better - but which was perceived at the time as being far worse than it really is.
"I've Known No War" hasn't been mentioned by the other reviewers - and to me, anyway, it sums up the best and the worst of this album. It's an interesting topic - the way that the generation who grew up in the immediate aftermath of the second World War were both beautiful and damned: lucky to escape primal, pre-nuclear carnage, damned by failing to meet the challenge of an era of peace (on the global scale, anyway.)
Townshend's analysis of the situation seems fogged now - all-out nuclear war seems less likely in the post-Cold War era; we have our own nightmares to face now.
The song though - the song soars in a way that mid-period Who ("Who's Next", "Quadrophenia") managed to do - but it's let down by clumsy and ill-thought-out lyrics. It's a little over-produced too - the sound of thin(ner) material being stretched out to appear epic.
Yet despite the flaws - the album has a crooked charm - it does grow in its appeal, even if (for me) the Entwistle material tends to dominate the overall sound.
Perhaps there's a key there - several of Townshend's songs sound melodically not dissimilar to Entwistle's - and that's not usual. A couple of gentler, slower-paced Townshend efforts ("One Life's Enough For Me" being the prime example) reflect his growing interest in theatrical show-tunes - they don't work for me, but they have a stilted charm.
The live selection, though taken from the final gig of the band's 1982 North American tour (by which time they were flat, tired and fed-up with the whole thing) sound perversely strong: even below-par Who is pretty damn good.
Their last studio album? Townshend and Daltrey claim they're working on a new one. Just 24 years later then... Maybe I'll learn to appreciate that one in my nineties!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This album took a hammering from the critics when it came out but I have always liked it from the start.

Granted, it's not their best but it is still a good album. There are some great compositions here and Daltrey's vocals are fine; in fact the band are on great form.

This closed their career at the time, but thank goodness there was more to come!

The re-issue comes with additional live tracks
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2000
Perhaps the snooty british music press at the time decided The Who had been around for too long and were due a slating. I never agreed with one word written about this album. It's great. Maybe not a 5 star classic, but much better than the stodgy, hamfistedly produced 'Face Dances'; and if tracks like A Man is a Man and I've Known No War had been released 10 years earlier they would have been acclaimed. In a perfect world the title track would have been a no 1 hit. The only downside is Eminence Front, which I always hated - nearly as bad as Don't Let Go The Coat. In favour of the album is the number of tracks (greater than average), the 5 or 6 potential hit singles, some interesting brass arrangements, the usual excellent musicianship, a higher Entwistle input (particularly One At A Time. Few can surpass a vengeful Ox!)and the overall sound - it's hard! Most of the tracks were reportedly the best of Pete's then current demos, written on subjects suggested by the rest of the band. Pity there won't be an It's Harder.
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on 16 August 2014
My cassette version of 'It's Hard' went out of the door years ago due to the fact that the tape had become unlistenable. Not because I had played the cassette too much, mind you! The quality of my cassette - an official release, not a copy - was dubious from day one. Maybe Polydor wasn't into high quality tapes......
Replacing the tape with a vinyl album or CD wasn't high on my priority list. There were more important Who albums to buy and replacing It's Hard was something of an afterthought.
But recently I could get my hands on the 1997 re-release for only € 5,-- and that was it. I went home a happy with my newly aquired CD.
After listening to it several times I must say I have to say the album isn't bad at all. Not their best I admit. But comparing it with something out of the Who catalogue with a better reputation I would say I find It's Hard as a whole more enjoyable to listen to than Who Are You, and that includes Kenney Jones' drumwork on It's Hard, which is imho superior to Keith Moon's drumming on Who Are You. In fact, Kenney Jones did an outstanding job on It's Hard. When my oldest son heard It's Hard, he recognized it as The Wo immediately. And why? Because of the drumming which he thought was Keith Moon's.
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on 20 December 2012
When originally released in the midst of the new romantic heyday, the albums cover pretty much summed up the latter day Whos situation, the Who had made the "sinful" decision to carry on after Keith Moons inevitable early death and became a more conventional rock band, which in the eyes of the media was heresy! But listening again now 30 years on (to a CD copy much better than my old vinyl one) I hear a very good melodic rock album that just lacks a classic single, but demonstrates they had still had plenty of invention and fire left in them. John Entwistle manages to write one of the highlights "Dangerous" and apart from "Cooks county" which is filler really, the rest is very good. The reissue comes with live versions of some of the tracks, some of which are better than the studio versions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2006
Some of the reviews I have read about this album have dissapointed me, how can an album with songs such as 'Cry if you want, 'Eminence Front', 'Dangerous' etc.. be rated so lowly. I agree with one of the other reviewers in that the fact that the album isnt worse it is just different, than moon era who. You also have to look at the time of release, this album was released in 1982, while the rock opera that is tommy was released in 1969, why people expect the sound to be the same is beyond me. The who didnt get worse as a band they evolved into a great band with a different sound that hinted of the time of its release. If the soon to be released Who2, is anywhere close to being as good as this then I for one will be a very happy man.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2006
this album in my view has more standout tracks then its predessor face dances,and is very often overlooked,kenny jones whilst oviously not the late great moon the loon,is more then competant,standout tracks include.its hard,dangerous by john entwhistle,and eminence front,the album also has bonus live tracks on it.whilst this album is nowhere near as great as the last one with keith moon,who are you from 1978,it should certainly not be overlooked when,looking back at the the bands more than fine career.truly the who are one of the finest bands britain has produced.
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