Friday, January 2, 2009

Who 12: Who Are You

Who Are You was the last album Keith played on; he would die two weeks after the album finally came out. Listening to the songs one gets the impression that Pete had already used some of his better ideas on Rough Mix. Many of the songs deal with the importance of music, the result of yet another stab at Lifehouse. Pete doesn’t seem to reach any conclusions, positive or negative.
“New Song” crashes in with a good start, but soon ends up in a wash of synthesizers. “Had Enough” is John’s, a little too close to the Quadrophenia title. At least Roger was happy to sing one of John’s songs for a change, even if he wasn’t thrilled about the string arrangement, courtesy of Pete’s father-in-law. (This song would be ripped off in four years’ time by Asia on their first album.) “905” is also from a futuristic opera John was writing that fits just barely into whatever the Lifehouse plot was this time. “Sister Disco” has some great movements, but to this day nobody seems to possibly understand what it’s supposed to be about. “Music Must Change” is the big statement, spread around a jazzy idea.
“Trick Of The Light” is one of John’s best, and perhaps the best on the album. “Guitar And Pen” is easily the worst. It careens around an annoying Gilbert & Sullivan arrangement that takes too long to finish. “Love Is Coming Down” is the pretty ballad that doesn’t quite fit Roger’s voice or the audience. The title track is still classic after all these years, though if you’ve gotten used to hearing it daily on Classic Rock radio, you may have long tired of it.
As an album Who Are You hasn’t aged well, and the bonus tracks on the reissue aren’t very revealing. “No Road Romance” is a stark Pete demo that sounds of a type with his 1975 material. An early runthrough of “Empty Glass” shows promise, yet it’s doubtful Roger would ever sing it. The rest of the tracks are alternate mixes or versions of the last three songs on side two, none very exciting.
It would have been a shame to end the band on this note, and fans still argue about whether The Who should have kept going. But they did.

The Who Who Are You (1978)—3
1996 remaster: same as 1978, plus 5 extra tracks

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