20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2003
I think that this is one of the Who's finest moments.
After Who's Next and Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend proves once more that he is a great composer and lyricist, or if I dare say, poet.
His inner pain comes in harmony in the songs 'However Much I Booze', 'Dreaming From The Waist','How Many Friends' and 'They're All In Love'. The more light-hearted 'Squeeze Box' and 'Blue, Red and Grey' lift spirits up, until you listen to the bonus live performances at the end (from the legendary concert in Swansea in 1976) and you are blown away!
Everyone should listen 'Dreaming From The Waist'. It's an amazing combination of music, lyrics, production and a great example of the chemistry of the four members of the group: Roger's dynamic vocals, John's amazing bass lines, Pete's unbelievable guitar riffs and Keith's incredible drumming.
A chemistry that verifies The Who as the Rock Giants that they are!
A perfect album for every Who and Rock fan!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2005
I can't complement this LP highly enough. Its one of The Who's hidden gems. Many of the songs here have an autobiographical feeling to them. Townshends' lyrics are very sensitive and sung with such strength and character by both Daltrey and Townshend himself. Highlights? Slip Kid, However Much I Booze, the timeless Squeeze Box but the very best track for me personally is Blue Red & Grey. Its a beautiful track sung by Townshend accompanied only by the ukulele.
This is probably the last great Who LP. I pondered over buying it for a long time and I don't know why I waited so long to purchase it.
Well worth purchasing, you won't regret adding this to your collection!
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2004
(Actual Rating- 4.5 Stars)
The Who By Numbers(1975). The Who's Eighth Album.
After the Massive Success of 'Who's Next' and 'Quadrophenia', The Who, instead of composing a Rock Opera or a Concept Album, decided to just Rock it out, and for that reason, some of
Townshend's most personal songwriting comes out to play. Pete Townshend chronicles his problems with alcohol ("However Much I Booze"), women ("Dreaming from the Waist" and "They Are All in Love"), and life in general. 'The Who By Numbers' was obviously a team effort, with Townshend's personal songwriting and guitar flair, Keith Moon's magnificent drumming, Roger Daltrey's sneering vocals, and John Enthwhistle's smooth basslines(The song "Success Story" is his shining moment here), The Who was ready to rock, and they succeeded well with 'The Who By Numbers'. Over time 'The Who By Numbers' has become a huge hit, going Platinum and spawning the major hit "Squeeze Box" and the minor hit "Slip Kid", showing it's legacy is still intact. So how does 'The Who By Numbers' measure up? Is it a dark moment in the Who's career, or a good one? Read on to find out!
Slip Kid- "Slip Kid" starts off 'The Who By Numbers' perfectly, as immediately Townshend's innocent keyboarding and Moon's drumming come on, and Daltrey's sarcastic vocals poke and
prod throughout behind Townshend's piercing guitar. "Slip Kid" is Classic Rock at its best.
However Much I Booze- "However Much I Booze" is Townshend's song, as his cheery vocals and acoustic guitar playing take center-stage. It's odd "However Much I Booze" is played so
happily, as the subject matter is so dark. Nevertheless "However Much I Booze" is an energetic acoustic rocker that won't fail to please.
Squeeze Box- "Squeeze Box" displays Townshend's sultry acoustic riff behind Daltrey's vocals that sound as if they are joking. "Squeeze Box" despite its short lenghth, is one of the Who's most classic songs, with a chorus and vocals to die for.
Dreaming From The Waist- "Dreaming From The Waist" mixes Enthwhistle and Townshend's bluesy beat, Keith Moon's perfectly on-the-mark drumming, and Daltrey's oddly angry vocals to
create an excellent bluesy rocker. Good guitarmanship and chorus!
Imagine A Man- "Imagine A Man" finds the Who doing a ballad, putting the main focus on Daltrey's oddly symphonic and soothing vocals behind a placid acoustic guitar beat, picking up
slightly for the chorus. A tad too slow, but not a terrible track. A pretty good track.
Success Story- "Success Story" finds Enthwhistle's oddly "Country Western" bassline complementing Daltrey's snivelling vocals, making "Success Story" a short but sweet gem.
They Are All In Love- "They Are All In Love" is a keyboard driven ballad, mixing heartbroken vocals courtesy Daltrey and soulful keyboarding. Great musicianship here makes "They Are All In Love" a great ballad. Contains Daltrey's famous "farting" noise!
Blue, Red, and Grey- "Blue, Red, and Grey" is a folk-inspired ballad, mixing Townshend's folk guitar with Daltrey's soulful vocals. "Blue, Red and Grey" is a folk ballad, and it comes out a little slow for me. Nonetheless excellent vocals from Daltrey.
How Many Friends- "How Many Friends" is a keyboard driven rocker, using Daltrey's betrayed vocals(Quite literally, this song's about being betrayed) to make "How Many Friends" a
memorable hard rocker that contains a great chorus!
In A Hand Or A Face- "In A Hand Or A Face" screams out the speaker with Townshend's piercing electric riff, but soon Daltrey's sneering vocals take center-stage behind the delicate
keyboarding. A great end to the album, "In A Face Or A Hand" is Classic Hard Rock at its best, using all of The Who to create an excellent song. Addictive chorus and guitar work!
The 1996 Remaster of 'The Who By Numbers' contains three Extra Tracks, which are Live versions of "Squeeze Box", "Behind Blue Eyes", and "Dreaming From The Waist". The Who have always been revered as a magnificent Live act, as 'Live At Leeds' will show, and these tracks are just icing on the cake, as they are magnificent versions that rival the studio cuts.
Overall, 'The Who By Numbers', while not being The Who's best, is nothing short of great, being only slightly blemished by "Imagine A Man" and "Blue, Red, And Grey", two ballads that drag on forever without much substance. After 'The Who By Numbers', The Who would record "Who Are You", before drummer Keith Moon tragically died, making 'The Who By Numbers' one of The Who's last and most professional albums.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF CLASSIC ROCK AND THE WHO! OFTEN
OVERLOOKED IN THE WHO'S CATALOGUE, 'THE WHO BY NUMBERS' RIGHTFULLY BELONGS IN ANY CLASSIC ROCK OR WHO FAN'S COLLECTION!
Who's Next- The Who
Tommy- The Who
Who Are You?- The Who
Thanks For Reading!
on 25 July 2012
I wasn't going to write a review for this album as the ones which have appeared thus far are so thorough and are clearly written by genuine fans who have taken the time to listen to By Numbers closely. With one exception. No need for names but someone has declared that "Roger Daltrey (is) largely pushed into the background" ? Sorry, mate, that is so wrong. Daltrey delivers some of the finest performances of his career on Imagine A Man, Slip Kid, How Many Friends, In A Hand Or A Face. Yes, this is Pete spilling his guts (Daltrey refused to sing However Much I Booze as it was too personal to Townshend) but it's Roger who supplies the passion and adds blood and sweat to the poetry. By Numbers lacks the rock power of Who's Next (but to compare any work to that landmark release is unfair) but it is still a fabulous, indispensable album. All four members of the band are given the freedom to express themselves; the bass, drums, vocals are of the highest standards and the band is as tight as a duck's backside. This is NOT a Townshend solo project, please do not be misled by those who say it is. Do not live another day without this album in your collection.
on 30 October 2015
WHEN THIS ALBUM WAS RELEASED IN OCTOBER 1975 IT GARNERED A LOT OF CRITISCISM FROM THE MUSIC PRESS WITH SOME CALLING IT "TOWNSHENDS SOLO ALBUM".CERTAINLY THE BAND WERE AT A CROSSROADS IN THEIR CAREER, THEY HADN'T TOURED SINCE 1973 AND MOON HAD EMIGRATED TO AMERICA AND TOWNSHEND WAS FULL OF SELF-DOUBT ABOUT WEATHER THE BAND COULD CONTINUE.THIS UPGRADED RELEASE WITH 3 LIVE BONUS TRACKS HAS THE SOUND MARVELOUSLY REMIXED SO YOU CAN NOW HEAR THE BEAUTIFUL BRASS ARRANGEMENT PLAYED BY ENTWISTLE ON "BLUE RED AND GREY" THE DRUMS ARE UP IN THE MIX AND DALTREY SINGS GREAT ESPECIALLY ON "IMAGINE A MAN".THE ALBUM HAS SOME CLASSIC WHO (SLIP KID,DREAMING FROM THE WAIST,SQUEEZE BOX) A COUPLE OF BALLADS AND A GOOD ENTWISTLE SONG (SUCCESS STORY). THE 3 LIVE TRACKS ARE FROM SWANSEA IN 1976 WITH DREAMING FROM THE WAIST A STANDOUT ESPECIALLY FOR ENTWISTLES BASS PLAYING.A QUALITY RELEASE.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2003
This album holds a very special place in my heart: its the first Who album I bought. Since then I have bought nearly every other, but I always drift back to this one. Many would recommend Who's Next as the best album to start with, but I'd opt for this one. It's without the Lifehouse/concept baggage of the earlier work, and is just an album of collected songs, albeit on a similar theme.
This theme is coming-of-age (not a new theme for the band) but the later coming-of-age that's not late teens but late twenties. It's also the coming-of-age of a rock band that realises they can't go on with the juvenile theatricals much longer. Consequently, song-writer Pete Townshend puts the focus back into well-crafted songs and self-criticism. A tad heavy perhaps for a casual rock fan, but if you know the genre well, this album can be a refreshing eye-opener.
Tracks that rock include "Slip Kid" and Entwistle's "Success Story," but there are other highlights like the guitar textures on "However Much I Booze," a killer chord sequence in "Dreaming From The Waist" and a lush melody in "They're All In Love." Musicians and songs are outstanding on this, and I really recommend you purchase it.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2000
This is a very special CD. Pete Townshend really puts heart and soul into it. It is not like many of the other albims by The Who, it is SO personal. Listen to tracks like "However Much I Booze" and "How Many Friends" they are really excellent. This CD often finds its way onto my player and I am sure it will for many more years... buy it and listen carefully.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Who's classic albums are so skycraping in their spectacle that it's often easy to forget the other peaks in their catalogue, of which The Who By Numbers is one.
The Who By Numbers is not perfect, not a classic, not as good as Tommy - there are so many things it isn't, but what it is is unique in The Who's catalogue. Drunk, tired, lonely and confused, Pete Townshend wrote his most personal songs to date and then handed them to three of rock's all-time greats to try and make a Who record out of them.
In truth, they didn't really manage - the trademark Who sound is not too much in evidence here and some of the songs sound like something else entirely. For fans who just want the hits, you have the bluesy 'Squeeze Box,' easily the most boring song here, or 'However Much I Booze,' which is just as easily the most interesting and personal to Townshend. With typical clattering drums from Keith Moon thrown in, you have an all-time classic Who song. Also good is 'Dreaming From The Waist,' seemingly constructed from different elements of their previous three albums all rolled into one tune.
The darker recesses of the album hold some truly fascinating work, however. 'Success Story' is a dark, narcotic John Entwistle composition about the less glamorous side of fame. 'They Are All In Love,' a very early homage to what would eventualy be the burgeoning punk scene, is a waltz-time piano ballad that is unique in their catalogue. Perhaps most out of character of all is the Townshend-sung 'Blue, Red, And Gray,' a truly lovely, wistful ukulele tune with only Entwistle's horns for comfort.
With Roger Daltrey largely pushed into the background as the album is dominated by Townshend's personality and problems, the album is not really a Who record in the traditional sense. But take it for what it is and there is a great deal to admire and plenty to love too.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2010
Up to about six months ago I had just one Who album, 'Who's Next', which is the key Who album if you have to have just one. Since then I've invested in Tommy, Quadrophenia, Odds & Sods and now The Who By Numbers.
Having read other reviews of this album, I was expecting something rather sombre and morose. Lyrically it's rather introspective and self-pitying at times, but I was simply amazed at how ballsy the band sound, especially after the rather distended goings-on of Quadrophenia. Daltry's vocals are full of light and shade, Keith Moon sounds tight and on-the-button (even if he wasn't in real life), Entwistle thunders away and wrote one of the best tracks, whilst Townsend provides some magical songs centred around his guitars and (on Blue Red & Grey) banjo-mandolin. There are some great ensemble vocals as well.
What is so refreshing is that there are NO SYNTHESIZERS or other electronic keyboards, in sharp contrast to the albums that came before and after. Rock music was blighted by early synths, especially in the mid-70s when monophonic synths were giving way to the early polyphonic or string synths. Well, there's none of that here, everything is driven by guitar, bass and drums, augmented by piano from Nicky Hopkins. How refreshing - it hadn't been that way since 'Tommy'.
Special mention must go to Entwistle's 'Success Story', a cautionary tale perhaps written from experience but also against the background of films such as 'Stardust' which sought to puncture the rock 'n' roll superstardom myth. Based around a catchy 12-string electric riff (with a great super-grungey bass middle eight), the lyrics capture Entwistle's typically sardonic take on life - "Back in the studio to make our latest number one / Take two-hundred-and-seventy-six - You know, this used to be fun".
At the risk of sticking my neck out, I think this is possibly the Who's second-best 70s album, Who's Next remaining the best. And with just ten songs in around 36 minutes, nothing outstays its welcome.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2009
In August 1975 it had been two years since Quadrophenia, which itself had been two years after "Who's Next", so these were lean times for Who fans. It would be three years the next one. "The Who By Numbers" is a remarkable album, recorded in discord, punch-ups and hospitalisation for Townshend after a Daltrey special to the jaw. May and then August had seen two very honest and confrontational interviews in NME first from Townshend being highly critical of himself and especially Daltrey, (leading to the Big Fight)and then Roger Daltrey laying it on the line about Pete's problems, all caused by Pete himself. Here was the atmosphere for the recording!
Sessions had to be suspended as Townshend, Moon and Entwistle took time out to get their feel again as a working unit. On return the band knuckled (literally) down to produce a work of an extremely rare type for the times, the confessional, almost self-deprecating honesty of a band and specifically a song-writer who had to question whether their time had come and gone, were they still relevant to their ideals, and more importantly in their opinions, were their audience still receptive to The Who?
The answer is a resounding yes, still relevant, still receptive. On release there was much criticism in the letters pages of NME and Melody Maker over the lyrics of "They're All In Love" (Goodbye all you Punks...)while the confessional and self-analytical nature of other songs escaped many minds. Townshend didn't want to go down the same road as the majority of the Rock audience, the It's only Rock 'n Roll, it's entertainment with a few gestures (The Stones,Led Zep, Glam etc), so produced with Glyn Johns a re-statement for grown-ups, we're older but still here, here's my soul so take it or leave it. Funnily enough, it was "Squeezebox" which gave them a return to the Top ten singles charts, a laugh on record and off. The 1975 tours on the back of this showed, as NME journalist Charles Shaar-Murray said at the time "who the real Guv'nors were. Who's the Greatest Rock 'n roll band in the world? The Who, that's who". The audiences at the UK shows were mainly under 20's, so relevancy, not nostalgia, were assured. It's much the same today.
The re-issue/remaster comes with three live tracks from Swansea in June 1976, all excellent, especially Entwistle's bass fingering during "Dreamin' From The Waist". Sure, most Who fans would have preferred the live versions of rarieties performed on the '75 UK tour, but you can't have everything. 'Tho you can ask.