3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Who Get Their Mojo Back!,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Who By Numbers (Audio CD)
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.