Monday, January 19, 2009

Who 14: Face Dances

Having broken in Kenney Jones on the road—and with a fat contract from Warner Bros. beckoning—the Who managed to put together another album. Face Dances arrived with a good amount of fanfare, and while it’s very challenging for those looking for the classic Who sound, at least there was an attempt to evolve.
“You Better You Bet” is good Roger, with a good arrangement throughout. Even after all this time the album version, which includes a second verse cut from the single version, sounds too long. “Don’t Let Go The Coat” utilizes a swaggering vocal that unfortunately would get used in the wrong places soon enough. And then “Cache Cache” arrives to confuse. Pete’s lyrics have started to get incredible obtuse, and there’s too much going on for us to care. “The Quiet One” is John’s statement, and made for the stage. “Did You Steal My Money” is a self-indulgent mess, with awful rhymes. If it’s not the worst Who song, it’s up there.
Side two has a majestic introduction in “How Can You Do It Alone”, but soon explores territory that’s probably a little too creepy under its overly happy arrangement. (People really don’t want to hear Pete or Roger try to analyze flashers and whatnot, do they?) “Daily Records” has improved over the years, a bold ode to the joy of writing songs and recording demos. “You” is another angry Ox tune and not very good. But “Another Tricky Day” is a great closer with fantastic harmonies and good playing throughout.
With the exception of “Don’t Let Go The Coat” and “Another Tricky Day”, it’s clear that Pete had used his best stuff for his solo album the previous year. Face Dances is okay, not much worse than Who Are You, but would be viewed differently when compared with what was to come. (The ‘90s reissue didn’t have the elaborate liner notes as found on its predecessors; bonus tracks include the pointless “I Like Nightmares”, the biting “It’s In You”, a preview of “Somebody Saved Me” and two live songs—a 1979 jam that was the starting point for “How Can You Do It Alone” and a pointless 1982 performance of “The Quiet One”.)

The Who Face Dances (1981)—
1996 remaster: same as 1981, plus 5 extra tracks

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