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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 13 January 2009
held back over buying this who album, even though im a really big fan, because it was not as recognised as the others.
However, far from dissappointed. Exceptionally good. A refreshing new slant by Pete Townshend and The Who, even though the stuff before was amazing.

Very impressed and i would reccomend to anyone who likes The Who, a definite 5 stars.
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on 16 June 2013
This really is a cracker. A wonderfully varied album which might be The Who's best. The different song styles keep the album very interesting and the quality of the compositions is consistently high. This is also a rare occasion where the bonus tracks actually add a lot to the set. Three killer tracks added here including Behind Blue Eyes, sweet!
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on 6 May 2016
This album is underrated. It is consistent and has depth. Nothing staggering: just solid, poignant and varied. I first bought the tape back in 1983 and had not listened to it for while. Suddenly I decided to remind myself how good it is ended up buying the CD. This versions has extensive sleeve notes and the 3 live tracks are an extra bonus.
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on 17 February 2001
I bought this album with some sceptacism, but was pleasantly suprised. It is much mellower and less in your face than other albums and has some imaginative arrangements. "Squeeze Box," and "Slip Kid," are two of the best songs along with the reflective "How many friends," the live tracks round off a superb album.
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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.
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on 29 March 2015
This was the LP when I stopped listening to The Who's new releases. To me it was a throw-away album. Songs run off quickly with little originality and at times a painful tweeness. Reading other reviews I must have missed something. Maybe I didn't listen to the lyrics enough. Having followed The Who from the beginning of the ride perhaps I just expected to much of them at that time.
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on 26 December 2012
This is by far not the Who's best album - apart from the rather twee "Squeeze Box," The Who By Numbers produced no hit singles at the time (I would personally have chosen "Slip Kid," as it's a much stronger and better track, and still gets plenty of air play on US classic rock radio). They had peaked commercially with the previous 3 studio efforts - Tommy (1969), Who's Next (1971) and Quadrophenia (1973) - and with a hat trick like that, how do you follow it up?

Sadly, it would seem, the Who were never quite able to manage that. The songs here are good, not great, to middling - Townshend's demons were getting harder to hold back, all four members were putting more effort into their solo albums (although Pete was much less prolific than Daltrey or Entwistle, and even Keith Moon had made an album) and other projects - and it really seemed as if the band idea was taking a back seat to everything else. It might honestly be said that the best Who album of the mid '70s was Odds & Sods, which collected non-LP singles and outtakes in a manner rarely seen up to that point and which were, on the whole, better-quality tracks. Still, however, By Numbers should not be completely discounted - if you're a Who completist, you'll want this album, as it is a part of their canon. Just be advised that you may be underwhelmed. But even the most dedicated Who fan can find something of value in this long-player; don't pass it up.
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on 22 February 2014
cd arrived on time and proved to be in excellent condition. It was great to hear again sounds that i had first heard decades ago ....
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on 9 March 2015
Fantastic album, quite mellow for the who but some great tracks on here
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