November 27, 2021

Who’s Next


Roger Daltrey Vocals
John Entwistle Bass Guitar [Horns] & Vocals
Keith Moon Drums
Pete Townshend Guitar & Vocals

Produced by The Who
Associate producer: Glyn Johns [except where listed below]
Violin on ‘Baba O’Riley’ produced by Keith Moon
Executive producers: Kit Lambert, Chris Stamp & Pete Kameron.

Liner notes by Chris Charlesworth [with additions in brackets by Brian Cady]
Vinyl sleeve design by Kosh.
Front and back cover photography by Ethan A. Russell. [The front cover was shot at a location discovered as The Who drove back from a gig at the Top Rank Suite in Sunderland May 8th, 1971. John and Keith were talking about Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyseey when they spied the blocks used to hold slag heaps together and noticed their resemblance to the alien monoliths in Kubrick’s film. Russell said it was Pete’s idea for the group to urinate on the "monolith" and that the urine was actually water carried over in film cans. Pete has remarked that it was a dig at Kubrick for refusing to direct the Tommy movie, but he may have been kidding. It could also be said to express the idea of Lifehouse as a sort of dystopian version of 2001: A Space Odyssey but this may be reading far too much into it. Despite having no stated connection to Lifehouse, Pete revived the imagery of the cover in the 1999 radio version. The back cover photo was shot backstage at DeMontfort Hall in Leicester on May 4th.]

Who’s Next was released as Track 2408 102 on August 25, 1971.
It reached #1 in the U.K.
Released in the U.S. on Decca 79182 on August 14, 1971. [This is the date the album first hit the Billboard charts. It was actually released a week and a half earlier.] It reached #4.


[An expanded one-CD version was released Nov. 7, 1995. A two-CD remixed Deluxe Edition was released March 25, 2003.

Almost all the songs on this album were intended for a movie treatment written by Pete in 1970 called Lifehouse. Some of the songs had a specific place in the movie, some were extras to be dropped as the filming proceeded.

Here’s Pete’s 1999 recounting of the original plot: "A self-sufficient, drop-out family group farming in a remote part of Scotland decide to return South to investigate rumours of a subversive concert event that promises to shake and wake up apathetic, fearful British society. Ray is married to Sally, they hope to link up with their daughter Mary who has run away from home to attend the concert. They travel through the scarred wasteland of middle England in a motor caravan, running an air-conditioner they hope will protect them from pollution. They listen, furtively, to old rock records which they call ‘Trad’. Up to this time they have survived as farmers, tolerated by the government who are glad to buy most of their produce. Those who have remained in urban areas suffer repressive curfews and are more-or-less forced to survive in special suits, like space-suits, to avoid the extremes of pollution that the government reports.

"These suits are interconnected in a universal grid, a little like the modern Internet, but combined with gas-company pipelines and cable-television-company wiring. The grid is operated by an imperious media conglomerate headed by a dictatorial figure called Jumbo who appears to be more powerful than the government that first appointed him. The grid delivers its clients’ food, medicine and sleeping gas. But it also keeps them entertained with lavish programming so highly compressed that the subject can ‘live out’ thousands of virtual lifetimes in a short space of time. The effect of this dense exposure to the myriad dreamlike experiences provided by the controllers of the grid is that certain subjects begin to fall apart emotionally. Either they believe they have become spiritually advanced, or they feel suffocated by what feels like the shallowness of the programming, or its repetitiveness. A vital side-issue is that the producers responsible for the programming have ended up concentrating almost entirely on the story-driven narrative form, ignoring all the arts unrestrained by ‘plot’ as too complex and unpredictable, especially music. Effectively, these arts appear to be banned. In fact, they are merely proscribed, ignored, forgotten, no longer of use.

"A young composer called Bobby hacks into the grid and offers a festival-like music concert – called The Lifehouse – which he hopes will impel the audience to throw off their suits (which are in fact no longer necessary for physical survival) and attend in person. ‘Come to the lifehouse, your song is here’.

"The family arrive at the concert venue early and take part in an experiment Bobby conducts in which each participant is both blueprint and inspiration for a unique piece of music or song which will feature largely in the first event to be hacked onto the grid.

"When the day of the concert arrives a small army force gathers to try to stop the show. They are prevented from entering for a while, the concert begins, and indeed many of those ‘watching at home’ are inspired to leave their suits. But eventually the army break in. As they do so, Bobby’s musical experiment reaches its zenith and everyone in the building, dancing in a huge dervish circle, suddenly disappears. It emerges that many of the audience at home, participating in their suits, have also disappeared."

This plot was completely reworked for the 1999 BBC3 radio production leaving little but the concept of the Lifehouse and the names of some of the principal characters.]