Introducing Sphinx's Music Blog! The Who - Who's Next
Welcome to my new music blog. My passion and love for music has finally driven me to write a little about it. My hope here is to share what I know, provide my personal connection to the music, convince you to give a listen, and hope you will agree with me how amazing these albums are. With how easy and accessible it is to get music nowadays (streaming, YouTube, etc.), I hope you give these a listen. I’ll provide a Spotify playlist for you too.
I start with a band that is deep in my heart. They are my favorite rock band. I don’t think we will ever see a group of four guys have as much individual talent that these guys had. I’m talking about The Who, and the 1971 album Who’s Next. Released on August 14, it peaked at #4 on the Billboard Chart as it got stuck below Carole King and some other singers and songwriters of the era. The album also follows The Who’s insane hit album Tommy that came out 2 years earlier. The Tommy album was a rock opera/concept album, and the band’s songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshend wanted to go even bigger with what he called the Lifehouse Project. There is a bunch of information you can find online about Lifehouse (it’s an interesting idea and maybe prophesied the internet?), but Townshend eventually gave up on the idea of it and we were left with pieces of his project. Those pieces make up this album.
Who’s Next has become an album for me that gets a regular listening in any mood, whether I’m driving in the car or rocking out at home. The songs are catchy, vary in style, and were innovative at the time, leaving a lasting impact on rock.
The album starts off with one of their most famous songs and possibly the most famous start to any song/album ever, the synthesizer-led Baba O’Riley. The repetitive drive of the synth is said to be the vital signs of Meher Baba (an Indian spiritual master that deeply influence Townshend) playing out, and the entrances one-by-one of the piano chords, the drums, the bass, then the vocals, and then finally those power chord guitar hits (I can see Pete using his famous windmill hits every time in my head, maybe sometimes I do them too with my air guitar), the song puts you in a trance. Roger Daltrey’s voice shoots out like he’s singing on top of a mountain, or rather as the lyrics say “out here in the fields”. To me the lyrics scream of freedom and escape from whatever was happening before the present, and the famous line “teenage wasteland” (as the song is often incorrectly called) is perhaps discussing the transition into adulthood. The song ends instrumentally that begins with a fantastic guitar solo, then moving with a fun little jig-like bounce with a fantastic violin solo. Don’t just take my word for how great this song is, it appears on several lists as one of the greatest songs of all time.
The album continues with another favorite song of mine, Bargain. Making more use of the synthesizer, this is a gritty love song with some amazing drum playing by Keith Moon. It sounds like 3 drummers are playing. The lyrics are so simple but hit hard as Roger sings “I’d gladly lose me to find you, I’d gladly give up all I had, to find you, I’d suffer anything and be glad... I’d call that a bargain, the best I ever had. `` Pete sings the bridge with another great lyric “and like, one and one don’t make two, one and one make one”. Overall, a great tune where all members of the band are at the top of the game. Every time I listen to this song, I try to focus on a different instrument. For instance, John Entwistle’s bass playing here is so neat to follow and so intricate.
The middle songs on the album are all great tracks. You hear some great acoustic work from Townshend in “Love Ain’t for Keeping” and “Going Mobile”, John Entwistle gets a writing credit on the fun track “My Wife” where he discusses how his wife thinks he’s cheating on him and how he plans to protect himself. In addition we get more synthesizer/piano leading tracks in “This Song is Over” and “Getting in Tune”. I personally find “This Song is Over” to be a hidden gem on this album. The song is absolutely beautiful (especially with Pete singing), but then knows when to hit hard too when Roger steps in to sing the chorus with Keith Moon’s powerful drum fills. You can feel the emotion when Pete sings near the end “this song is over. I’m left with only tears. I must remember. Even if it takes a million years”.
The album closes just as phenomenally as it started. “Behind Blue Eyes” is a near perfect song. The first half being Pete’s amazing acoustic guitar and Roger Daltrey’s best singing he’s ever done, the emotion in this song is just spilling out the speakers. You follow Roger’s mood in the song as he starts off sweet and pure, and then the rage creeps in and finally takes over after he sings “My love is vengeance. That’s never free” for the second time. After that, the whole band comes in and Roger is all anger as Keith plays some amazing drum work again. It’s another song that you can listen to a different instrument each time and get a whole different rendition of the song.
Finally the album closes with the epic rocker “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in all eight and a half minutes of its glory. Producing synthesizer led tracks that are bookends to this album, this song has everything in a true rock anthem. Great lyrics that I love about being a realist in this world. Shit happens. Things change all the time. You still do what you gotta do to survive. “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” But through all that you rock like crazy. Pete’s guitar solos are amazing, Keith’s drum-fills are everywhere and so lyrical, and John’s bass keeps it all together. Oh, let’s not forget about the greatest rock yell in history that Roger pours into this song. Not the first one at the 4:30 mark, but the second one at the 7:47 mark.
I love The Who, and I love this album. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band twice live, and most recently took my father to see them (where I found out where my love of the band came from). The talent that comes out of these four individuals are locked into place with this album. It’s their most accessible album, and has had one of the largest impacts on rock in history. From growing the popularity of the synthesizer, to having songs played on the hit CSI TV shows, Who’s Next does not disappoint. Give it a listen in its entirety, and rock on. THIS ALBUM SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD! Below is my personal Spotify playlist for this blog. I added the deluxe edition, which includes bonus tracks and live renditions of the songs. I highly recommend all of it The Who have been often called the greatest live band of all time.
Have opinions on this album or The Who in general? I’d love to chat about it! Send a message either on social media or on the Gamezilla Media Discord in the music channel. In addition, if you love gaming and movies, check out the five podcasts on Gamezilla Media, and consider being a patron on Patreon!