October 21, 2020

1981-05-02 – Austin American Statesman

1981 05 02 Austin_American_Statesman_Sat__May_2__1981_

THE WHO “Face Dances” (Wamers) -— As the
years go by, the Who‘s legend has grown in direct
proportion to the terrible odds against them ever
living up to it again. The weight of expectations is
too crushing for any rock godhead to handle, and
it’s all the more disappointing when they fail to
sustain even a few good ideas for 45 minutes worth
of record. After all, they're the only British lnva-
sion band left we still look to for proof that rock 'n’
roll can age gracefully, that it can keep growing
and help its audience grow at the same time.

Things looked good in 1980, too; their Austin
show last summer was the sound of an old war-
horse with a new lease on life. and Pete Town-
shend’s “Empty Glass" was full of humor and
bite, the best episode yet in his ongoing battle with
faith, doubt and booze.

With “Face Dances" he's lost his momentum,

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and the Who‘s promised rejuvenation has been
zapped in mid-air. Townshend’s new songs are
stillborn; every one has an idea that could have
been terrific. and all but a couple flail around in
seven different directions and finally run out of
gas. The better ones, like “You Better You Bet"
and “Don’t Let Go the Coat" are merely pleasant.
Producer Bill Szymczyk has let the songs go on too
long. and the sound is weak and scattered. Roger
Daltrey hasn‘t sounded so tired since the “Lisz-

tomania" soundtrack.

While Townshend & Co. obviously need a pro-
ducer -— like Chris Thomas of “Empty Glass" -
who'll push them relentlessly to hone lyrics and

Austin American-Statesman, May 2. 1981. Page 31

‘Face Dances’ crushed under weight of The Who’s reputation

sharpen melodies, John Entwistle’s
one self—sung composition, “The
Quiet One,” is a knockout that belies
its title by blasting through every-
thing else on the album. His “You,"
which Daltrey sings, isn't nearly as
effective — just more frenetic heavi-
ness going nowhere.

Entwistle sounds ready to cut

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loose on the killer record he’s always
had in him but never delivers. As for-
the Who as an ongoing entity, I’m
not optimistic. Looks like time to in-
vest in fresh copies of “The Who Sell
Out" and “Substitute,” and “Pic-
tures of Lily," and . . . oh, why
bother with a list? Those songs’ll

never f-t-lade away. Chris Walte
'- rs