October 24, 2020

2007-03-09 – The Tampa Tribune

2007 03 09 The_Tampa_Tribune_Fri__Mar_9__2007_


By cun'rxs Ross
The Tampa Tribune

Half the band is dead; the two remaining
members are both in their 605; and 24 years
passed between its last two studio albums.

And yet, The Who still matters. Here's why:

1. “Endless Wire” is the best Who
album in 33 years: While it may not
reach the peaks of 1967's “The Who
Sell Out" or 1971 's "Who’s Next”

(see accompanying story), last year’s
- ' g . “Endless Wire" is a far more consistent
and ambitious album than either

“The Who by Numbers" (1975) or “Who Are You”

(1978). And unlike “Face Dances” (1981) at “It's
Hard" (1982), on which the band tried to sound
more contemporary, with horrid results, “End-
less Wire" is loudly, proudly, a Who album.

2. Daltrey + Townshend = ill: Has there ever
been a better match of voice and words than this?
Roger Daltrey brings heroic luster to Pete Town-
shend’s bold pronouncements and adds gravity
to his flights of fancy: An active Who keeps Town-
shend from recording concept pieces based on
Ted Hughes poems (i.e., 1989's “The Iron Man")
and keeps Daltrey from recording albums of Leo
Sayer tunes (i.e., 1973’s “Daltrey”).

3. The Who invented rock as we know it:

L Think about this — any band playing pop songs

in a hard rock format owes a debt to The Who.
The combination of power chords, violent
rhythm and sugar-sweet melody paved the way
for glam, punk, power pop, hair metal and emo.
We didn’t say it was all good.

Since they first joined together in the early ’605, singer

Roger Daltrey, left, and guitarist-songwriter Pete
Townshend have proven to be the perfect yin and yang.

4. They act their age: In the ’605, while the
Stones posed as grizzled bluesmen and The
Beatles posed as respectable adults, The Who
were wildly and defiantly youthful. In the ’705.

as most elder bands clung desperately to their
youth, The Who confronted aging (“The Who by
Numbers" and “Who Are You” are midlife crises
in album form). And while Mick Jagger now writes
from the point of view of a horny teenager, “End—
less Wire" comes from a still~passionate adult.

5. They make us proud to be English (even
if we’re not): Red-blooded patriotic Americans
gladly hoist the Union Jack when The Who rolls
into town. The band flouted its Englishness in
both overt and subtle ways, giving many US.

fans lessons in a foreign culture. How many of us
knew anything about Mods and Rockers before
"Quadrophenia"? Or about the British affection for
l ieinz Baked Beans before “The Who Sell Out”?

6. They’re rock’s true believers: Cool, aloof,
confident —- things The Who never were. Their
hearts were on their sleeves, their emotions
front and center, their insecurities in their songs.
Townshend represented the outsiders, the mis—
fits, the kids who tried to fit in but didn’t. The
“ teenage wasteland" Townshend wrote about
in “Baba O’Riley” was about more than getting
trashed. It was an anthem for all those who felt
left behind but who never quit believing in the
redemptive power of music.

Did this make The Who sound pompous,
overblown, silly, sentimental and uncool at
times? Sure. Just like we feel sometimes. When
kids — and the adults those kids eventually
become — stop feeling those feelings, then
The Who will cease to matter.

But it's not bloody likely.

ON TOUR The Who in

_ Vow W * the early ’70s,
The Who at the height

, _ of its creative

WITH: Rose Hill Drive powers: clockwise
WHEN: 7:30 pm. Tuesday from left, Pete
WHERE: Ford Amphitheatre. TownShend,
4802 N. us. 301. Tampa: John Entwistle,
(813) 7404446 Roger Daltrey
c051: $56. $91 and $131 and Keith Moon

Snange but true: The Who has
released only ll non-compilation studio
albums in its 40pm; year history. That's
easier to believe when one considers
the 24-year gap between its most
recent album, last year's “Endless Wire,"
and its predecessor, 1982‘s ”it's Hard."

Still, a fair percentage of those
albums must be considered essential:

“The Who Sell Out” (1967): This
loving salute to England’s pirate radio
stations features inspired commercial
parodies between tracks, as well as
timeless tunes such as “I Can See

for Miles" and "Tattoo."

“Tommy" (1969): The ambition of
"Sell Out" and the earlier “A Quick One
(While He‘s Away)" comes to fruition on
this epic concept album about a deaf
dumb and blind “Pinball Wizard."

“Live at Leeds" (1970): The Who
at the peak of its live powers, possibly
the greatest live rock band ever,

“Who's Next” (1971): “Lifehouse”
was to have been Townshend's follow.
up to ‘Tommy," but the project became
too big and sprawling even for him
”Who's Next” saivages the project‘s
songs (such as “Baba O'Riley" and
“Won't Get Fooled Again") for one

of rocks most powerful albums,

“Quadrophenia” (197$ Townshend's

second concept album is set during
the band's formative years in the early
to—mid '60s This one survived Its big-
screen neatment far better than

did ”Tommy."

Also highly recommended is 'The Kids
Are Alright" (1979), director Jeff Stein's
fantastic bio—pic which sadly served
as a good-bye letter to drummer
Keith Moon, who died in 1978.

Curtis Ross

Curtis Ross can be reached
at (813) 259- 7568 or
cross@tampatrib. com

Photos from Universal Music Group

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