June 12, 2021

Who’s next (1971), de The Who

CATALOG FUND

“One of the most exalted, complete, addictive, overwhelming and influential albums in popular music”

Manel Celeiro recovers the fifth work of The Who, Who’s next. One of the most influential records in popular music signed by the immortal band of Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. A classic in rock history that cannot be missing from any catalog collection.

The Who
Who’s next
TRACK / DECCA, 1971

Text: MANEL BARN.

I have been fortunate to be able to enjoy on a stage a good handful of bands and artists considered classics in rock history. It is undeniable that the tingling and butterflies in the stomach the first time do not usually appear with the same intensity when you have the opportunity to repeat. In the following appointments, either because you already know what you are going to see, because you know the repertoires of great successes that they are going to perform (even sometimes in the order in which they will do it) or because of the condition of a social event in a large stadium they have, they attend with lowered expectations and with the only pretense, which is not small or trivial, to see a good show. With the Who it is not like that, at least as far as a server is concerned. The excitement and nervousness whip me up and the anxiety in the minutes leading up to each show is comparable to that of, and I assure you this is no longer the case, a beardless fan avid to see his heroes. I remember the last time, at the Azkena Rock Festival 2016, sharing beers with my friends in the crowd, staring wide-eyed at the video screens where you could read “Keep calm, here comes The Who” and looking forward to that. one time. A band that still today, fifty-seven years after its formation, commands respect and admiration.

They are the kind of bands played by the divine grace of the muses, who have left for posterity records that you never quite get the most out of, in which you discover new details every time you give them a pass through the player. It doesn’t matter that you’ve heard them a thousand times, that you know each chord or each bridge by heart, there is always a moment of surprise, the one in which you jump from the sofa to go back a few seconds and think: «But, damn, what? barbarity”. Y Who’s next it is one of those chosen works that resist impassive fashions, tastes and tendencies to remain firm and regal like the stone monolith on its cover. Even if it’s pissed. And that could be considered to be the product of a resignation.

A couple of years before they had edited Tommy, his famous rock opera, and immediately afterwards, 1970, the monumental —I insist: monumental— Live at Leeds. And in those that Pete Townshend was in his head, which has always gone at a different pace than the rest, with another concept album that was going to be titled Lifehouse. However, the matter did not seem to be working at all well and, after several conversations with the collaborators, the producer Glyn Johns and the rest of the bandmates, decided to park it for the moment, not without having a bad drink, and put on a record with a more “conventional” structure, for which he took advantage of some of the compositions he had completed. Conventional is not exactly the most appropriate term to associate with one of the most exalted, complete, addictive, overwhelming and influential albums in popular music. A Pete in a feverish creative stage had the response of an absolutely plethora of Roger Daltrey to the vocal cords and a rhythm section that played very well, or better yet: the way everyone had fun. Something that, when it comes to Keith Moon and John Entwistle, are big words.

The synth entry for “Baba O’riley” seems to say, “Guys, you don’t know what to expect, this is the revolution …”. Of those moments when you think that what is going to happen next is going to go beyond anything imagined, the repetitive synthesizer sequence, the piano, the rhythmic explosion of Moon and Daltrey blowing everything up: «Out here in the fields / I fight for my meals / I get my back into my living / I don’t need to fight / to prove I’m right / I don’t need to be forgiven / yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah », and that addictive violin arrangement at the end… And you think: «Ou mama, where have I been? What will come next? Then comes the power of “Bargain”, a solid track with bass lines that pierce speakers. His calmer side takes the reins with “Love ain’t for keeping”, again Daltrey leaving us speechless with his interpretation, and “The song is over”, two beauties separated by “My wife”, by an Entwistle that exposes his most pop and ironic face fleeing from an angry and vindictive wife for her husband’s revelry and foreplay.

A couple of numbers like “Getting in tune” and “Going mobile”, which on any other album would have been key pieces, become almost an aperitif preparing the ground for a couple of rough diamonds, songs of those that can make a difference to you. for life. “Behind blue eyes” is manna from heaven, a crystalline piece molded with sensitivity and tenderness, with introspective lyrics (autobiographical?) And a chorus as beautiful as it is sad. And as a farewell, “Won’t get fooled again.” A stroke of genius, a supernatural display of authority difficult to define. Eight minutes and thirty-two seconds of musical ecstasy. The raw rhythm guitar, another excellent use of the possibilities of a synthesizer, Daltrey’s scream, the euphoric and explosive chorus ideal for chanting jumping fist high between the first rows and taking five, ten, fifteen or twenty years off you, depending of the case, in a sigh to feel young again, rebellious, bursting with energy and dreams to fulfill. In one word, indestructible. Something that few things can give you. And none like rock and roll does.

Previous installment of Catalog Fund: Loveless (1991), de My Bloody Valentine.