More of the best from the best
In the 1960s, there was a British invasion that took over American rock music, and three bands stood above the fray. At the top were the Beatles, with their squeaky-clean guitar pop (and later psychedelic musings). The Rolling Stones were another, characterized by their brash personalities and blues-influenced sound. The slightly less appreciated third group, however, was The Who.
It’s amazing that a band that has sold over 100 million records can be (slightly) overshadowed by two counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less influential or powerful. From early singles like “My Generation,” to more elaborate ones like “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and their magnum opus Tommy, the instrument-smashing crew of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon were heavy influences on a wide variety of rock bands. Moon sadly died in 1978, and Entwistle in 2002, and there were several breakups and short reunions, but Daltrey and Townshend have continued on. Now in 2019, they are set to release the first Who album in 14 years, eponymously titled WHO.
Who fans will be delighted to learn off the bat that their beloved band has still got it. Daltrey’s booming vocals are powerful as ever, Townshend’s guitars and songwriting ability are sharp and the synths and orchestral strings sprinkled throughout create a grandiose sound that can only be attributed to one band.
There’s a good mix of sounds and styles on the album. Lead single “Ball and Chain” starts with a minute-long piano-driven intro before launching into a hard-rocking vibe. “Detour” channels garage rock with its handclaps and sparse power chords. Sweeping strings give “Hero Ground Zero” a “Baba O’Riley” level of over-the-top cheesiness, not that anyone is going to mind. There are softer moments as well, like the Townshend-sung “I’ll Be Back” and the finger-picked musings of “Break the News” one track after.
As a whole, the album delivers exactly what people would expect of a Who album, and that’s a good thing. Townshend didn’t seem to think so, as he opens the entire album with the line “I know you’re going to hate this song” but he could not be more wrong.