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Author Topic: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)  (Read 407 times)

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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« on: August 30, 2014, 02:48:41 AM »

I think this Microscope has waited more than it should. Who's Next is my favorite album by the Who, and I think it should be present in the collection of every hard rock lover. It was intended to be another rock opera like Tommy or Quadrophenia called Lifehouse, but the project was aborted and we got this record instead. Maybe this explains the excellence of the album, as we got the cream of the project. Who's Next was released in August 1971. The 60's were over, and the Who were one of the few acts of the decade that still could give high quality music. Let's see action...



Baba O'Riley. I'm not a big fan of the famous long synthesizer intro, but it was an original way to start the album. Things become interesting when piano appears at 0:42, and it gets better at 0:57 when Keith's drumming begins. The song's about teenage doubts and convictions. Great lyrics. Wonderful drum solo at 2:31. Love the short guitar solo at 3:06. The song ends with a neurotic violin played over the synthesizer. A classic song.

Bargain. Now we're really talking about hard rock. The intro is slow, but things get rapidly faster. Tambourine detected. I think the highest point of the song is Pete's devastating rhythm guitar. I always notice the bass touch at 0:53. Beautiful slower middle starts at 1:47. Great John's bass in the instrumental part. Back to the fast rocker at 2:57. Nice acoustic guitar toward the end. The song is a constant hard-soft-hard journey. Certainly one of the best tracks.

Love Ain't For Keeping. Fine little song with a good message. Love the harmony vocals and especially the acoustic guitar work.

My Wife. The only song written by John Entwistle in the album, and probably his best ever. Fantastic drumming, it drives the song from the beginning to the end. The plot is very funny, about a man who's going to be murdered by his wife because he couldn't get home, because he had drunk too much. The song ends with the frightened husband repeating "she's coming" continuously.

The Song Is Over. In my opinion, the lowest point of the album. It's not exactly a bad song, but it's quite repetitive and longer than I need. The synthesizer doesn't help very much. Good piano though. Funny enough, my favorite part of the track is the ending... when the song is over.

Getting In Tune. I like this one. Sweet piano intro. Very good bass, especially at 1:10. Love the channel changing of the answer "right in on you" during the chorus. Very fast piano at the end.

Going Mobile. Another funny fast number. Love the acoustic guitar throughout the song. Synthesizer is used to good effect this time, giving a "wah-wah" sound. Well done, Pete.

Behind Blue Eyes. I think this is Pete's peak as a lyricist and probably as a balladeer too. The bad man who doesn't want to be a bad man. Roger's voice is in high form here. Harmony vocals at 1:13 touch all the senses. The song is acoustic until 2:18, when furious electric guitar and drumming appear and Roger's voice is transformed. The song ends repeating the beautiful first verse. One of the best songs the band ever recorded.

Won't Get Fooled Again. A very long closer, and it deserves every second. Again, the synthesizer is well used. The song speaks about the failure of earthly revolutions. Bass is great as usual. Fine guitar solo at 3:53. First "yeah" shouted by Roger at 4:28. The famous drum solo at 7:31 reminds me a lot to Ringo's solo in "The End" from Abbey Road, even though Keith's solo is wilder. Then it's time for the second, louder "yeaaahhh" by Roger, a rock's emblem. The last words summarize the message of the song: "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

This record is the Who at their best, and it's probably a Top 5 album in my music world.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 03:05:32 AM by Hombre_de_ningun_lugar »
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tkitna

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2014, 03:46:04 AM »

Plays like a Greatest Hits doesn't it.  Awesome album.  I'll get to it asap.

Moogmodule

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2014, 04:07:44 AM »

Great review Hombre. I haven't listened to Who's Next end to end for a long time.  Going to
do it this weekend though. Id almost forgotten how much I loved this album.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 10:59:50 PM by Moogmodule »
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2014, 06:21:24 PM »

Thanks for the comments. I agree with tkitna, there's an almost constant quality in the album that makes it look like a greatest hits package.
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oldbrownshoe

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2014, 06:31:26 PM »

No offence, lost interest with The Who after '68.
Mind, I love the 45s before then, and the EP, and 'Sell Out'.
This sounds to me (and they look to me) like prog or metal or, worse, Led Zeppelin.
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2014, 06:45:50 PM »

No offence, lost interest with The Who after '68.
Mind, I love the 45s before then, and the EP, and 'Sell Out'.
This sounds to me (and they look to me) like prog or metal or, worse, Led Zeppelin.

I can tell you that I don't like prog, metal or Led Zeppelin, so the Who in the 1970's mean a different thing to me. I like all their albums until Who Are You (1978); no other band or artist reaches to that date in my music taste.

I also love the Who's singles, especially the 1965-1969 period; I put them at the level of the best albums of the band or even higher.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 06:51:25 PM by Hombre_de_ningun_lugar »
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oldbrownshoe

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2014, 07:15:25 PM »

There's a logic to going heavy.
You play in huge (American) stadiums, you've got to be more expansive/theatrical/loud/brash.
And that is going to translate to your records.
I just don't like it!

I'd swap one night at the Marquee or the Crawdaddy in the early/mid 60s watching the Who/Stones/Geno Washington/Yardbirds/Georgie Fame etc. for a hundred stadium concerts.   
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2014, 08:38:02 PM »

There's a logic to going heavy.
You play in huge (American) stadiums, you've got to be more expansive/theatrical/loud/brash.
And that is going to translate to your records.
I just don't like it!

That may be true, but I just see the Who as a hard rock band, and this album in particular is hard rock embellished with artistic issues.
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Moogmodule

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2014, 11:02:35 PM »

That may be true, but I just see the Who as a hard rock band, and this album in particular is hard rock embellished with artistic issues.

I think the Who were one of the few bands who could be hard rock while maintaining interesting songwriting elements. Too many hard rock bands to me went for songs of three or four major chords. Little variation or substituting interesting chords. That can be fine for a few songs but gets tedious pretty quickly.

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Kevin

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2014, 08:56:44 AM »

There's a logic to going heavy.
You play in huge (American) stadiums, you've got to be more expansive/theatrical/loud/brash.
And that is going to translate to your records.
I just don't like it!

 

Agree with that completely. The Who of My Generation are untouchable. Like The Small Faces they were good at three minute bursts of energy. I  find 70's The Who over wrought and pompous.  Each to their own though.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 01:19:42 PM by Kevin »
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2014, 08:33:43 PM »

I think the Who were one of the few bands who could be hard rock while maintaining interesting songwriting elements. Too many hard rock bands to me went for songs of three or four major chords. Little variation or substituting interesting chords. That can be fine for a few songs but gets tedious pretty quickly.

I agree. I always say that a main difference between the Who and Led Zeppelin, for example, is the songwriting. The Who were an unusual combination of virtuosity and great songwriting.
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2014, 08:43:57 PM »

Agree with that completely. The Who of My Generation are untouchable. Like The Small Faces they were good at three minute bursts of energy. I  find 70's The Who over wrought and pompous.  Each to their own though.

I think only Quadrophenia showed certain pomposity, though I still like it. In my opinion, the essence of Who's Next belong more to the late 60's than the 70's. The Who By Numbers is anything but a pompous album. And Who Are You is hard rock with some experimentation, recorded during the height of disco music.
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stevie

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2014, 02:59:58 AM »

One of the best albums in history. I recall first hearing it in about 1977 at a mates place. He used to play his older brothers stuff.

Behind Blue Eyes is one of the best ever songs written too. Love My Wife too though the vocals are mixed a bit low.

Keith's drumming on WGFA is among the best of all time too.
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stevie

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2014, 03:02:36 AM »

I agree. I always say that a main difference between the Who and Led Zeppelin, for example, is the songwriting. The Who were an unusual combination of virtuosity and great songwriting.

Love both bands but always felt that Zep's one weakness was their lyrics. Often shallow and about nothing but the strength of the music always covered any weaker lyrics. The Who on the other hand sometimes sounded less well produced as a whole but their lyrics were usually pretty good.
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Kevin

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2014, 11:30:21 AM »

Love both bands but always felt that Zep's one weakness was their lyrics. Often shallow and about nothing but the strength of the music always covered any weaker lyrics. The Who on the other hand sometimes sounded less well produced as a whole but their lyrics were usually pretty good.

I prefer Zep. I like their power and the noises (was going to say aural landscapes, but don't want to come across all Whoish and pompous.)
Seventies Who sounds like they trying too hard. Too clever. I'm not anti -prog: I listen to Supertramps Crime Of The Century endlessly. Seventies who are (thinking thinking) plodding.
I'm not a big fan of English hedhehogs and fasiries in the hedge row type stuff, but Zep's lyrics don't offend me, and certainly don't out weigh their good points. But then again I'm not a real lyrics man. More your ambiance kind of guy. Pompous! Moi?
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Ovi

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Re: Microscope: Who's Next (The Who)
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2014, 04:33:21 AM »

I love Zep, but they can't touch The Who for me - I hear much more layers in the latter's music, much more emotion beneath all the anger, much more to cling to, much more to come back to. There was a time when all I listened to was Zep, but nowadays there's few songs of theirs that really hit the spot anymore. Whereas The Who just keep getting better. How can you outgrow something like 'Sea and Sand' or 'How Many Friends'? Pete Townshend has much more in common with someone like Neil Young when it comes to raw emotion expressed through playing and song-writing. What Neil did on Cowgirl in the Sand or Like a Hurricane - that type of guitar improvisation based on "soul" and emotion rather technical proficiency - is what Towshend was already doing live in the mid to late 60's (which is how many of their songs were actually born).

I love Who's Next, but I often ask myself the "what could've been" questions when listening. Lots of great songs were left in the vaults...I trust Pete could've made Lifehouse work, despite the overreaching plot. I'll come back with more thoughts.
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