Monday, August 30, 2010

The Who - Who's Next

This kind of rock never truly resonated with me for some reason. When I was younger I would have thought it was too old, and now I tend to go after stuff that's a bit less traditional in some way. Still, I can't deny that this is a good album. Everybody in the band knows what they're doing with their given instrument, it just sounds so big, the use of synthesizers is really groundbreaking, and of the half dozen Who songs I could name you before I listened to it, four of them are here. Just a really important, and more importantly enjoyable album. The CD comes with seven extra tracks, demos or alternate versions of songs that weren't released until later or ever, although I found that the album flowed better when I didn't listen to them. You never want a band to wear out its welcome before the disc stops spinning, but if you take the oddities on their own, they're mostly pretty good, if a bit jammier than the normal album songs.

The Who played a factor in the development of so-called "arena rock", and the first and last tracks on the album proper are pretty much built for that. "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" are just huge songs, with extended synth breakdowns, big choruses, and they just sound totally loud. "Bargain" is less anthemic, though just as solid a rock song. "Behind Blue Eyes" is another famous one, starting out kind of mopey, but it ends up kicking a lot of butt too. The five songs sandwiched in between those four are less well known, but also entertaining. They tend to at least have singable choruses, and "The Song Is Over" is one of the more complex and interesting on the whole record. The songs on this album came out of a wildly ambitious idea by guitarist Pete Townshend that ultimately was never realized in its original form, involving live music creation, crowd participation, and a film. Compared to the vision of Lifehouse, Who's Next seems almost tame in comparison. But that doesn't prevent it from still being a good rock album, and one that likely won't ever be forgotten.

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