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Who's Next

Classic Rock album by The Who

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The Best? You Better, You Bet!

  • Aug 1, 2006
Why is The Who's 'Who's Next' one of the most perennially played CD selections on FM radio? Surely it has retained the richness of sound that hasn't dated the music for over thirty years. With intricate music, spare, yet memorable lyrics, and powerful vocals and guitars, it has all the elements of a worthy classic rock album. 'Who's Next' may or may not be a concept album, but it doesn't really meander ever really. It seems to make a post-sixties statement about the meaning of power and what's essential in life itself. They always challenged the ordinary, so it's no surprise that they deflate the sixties as well. Even the shimmering synthesizers overthrow the sixties decade with its rich, rippling sound. It never seems at all self-consious, either, probably because their delivery is so confident.

The anthems are powerful. "Baba O Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again," the albums opening and closing songs, respectively, are raw with Roger Daltry's primal vocals, accompanied by skillful guitars and mesmerizing synthesizers. All of the songs are uniquely intricate. "Baba," contains a very able and frenzied violin/fiddle delivery that gives the song considerable depth. "Going Mobile" is environmentally friendly (with the memorable "hippie gypsy" line) in a way that is seldom dated from this period. Accompanied by intricate guitar, it has the fluidness to be a folk-rock classic.

If the eloquence of word and sound weren't enough already, then "The Song Is Over" has to be simply one of the most exquisite rock songs ever created. Up there with The Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset," "The Song Is Over" is haunting lyrically and transcending for Daltry's echoing vocals and the shimmering interplay of piano, synthesizer, and Keith Moon's able drumming.

The allegedly lesser songs are great, too. "Bargain" is a hefty piece of hard rock that delivers eloquent and spare statements about the essence of love. "Getting in Tune" is lesser than most of the rest, but what a song! It is an anthem that gives heft to the remainder of the anthems, but contains great one liners about saying something as a rock band. (Notably, they swagger in confidence more than, say, the Moody Blues' "Singer in a Rock and Roll Band".) Then, Entwistle's "My Wife" seems autobiographical and weighty with its theme of jealousy written convincingly like a first-person short story. Pete Townsend, the helmsman, though is certainly more able with his own rendering of a first-person short story, "Behind Blue Eyes". It is pungent enough and sung with vengeance by Daltry. It is substantial, but it could be parordied, somewhat. (An outlaw who begs for a blanket?) The only other song is "Love Aint' for Keeping". It isn't significant, except that its modestness helps frame the rest of the album. It also prevents too much overdrive.

'Who's Next' deserves to be a major rock classic because the lyrics, delivery, and skillful musicianship are stunning and almost matchless after thirty-five years. The best moments from the CD still raise hairs on the back of the neck. It has to be one of the ten best rock albums of all time.

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More Who's Next reviews
review by . March 31, 2010
There's an old saying that advises us to aim for the stars at all times. The idea is that by doing so, even a failure might land you on the moon, at least. Here's an example of that idea in action - "Who's Next" is without a doubt one of the most magnificent records in the magnificent career of the Who, and yet it's really just the debris of a Pete Townshend project that collapsed under its own weight.    Fans of this band already know that in the years after "Tommy", Townshend …
review by . April 27, 2006
Originally intended to be a sci-fi rock opera titled "Lifehouse", WHO'S NEXT is a classic that ranks amongst the finest rock albums ever recorded. It's also the greatest album from The Who - and that's saying something. This is due in part to the variety of emotions on this album, ranging from scathing anger on the classic "Behind Blue Eyes" to free-spirited love on "The Song is Over". "Baba O'Reilly", as grand a song as The Who ever recorded, opens the album. There's very little time between that …
review by . August 18, 2001
Pros: It could be the perfect rock and roll album     Cons: It leaves you wanting more     The Bottom Line: The one album I ALWAYS keep near me to play.     It came from the ashes that was a movie project called Lighthouse. This story by Pete Townshend was a futuristic look at a place where pollution had taken it's toll.    Everyone had to travel in sealed garments or vehicles. All living quarters and public buildings were self …
review by . February 23, 2000
This is one winner of a recording. These songs just dominated FM radio throughout the 70's and I have fond memories growing up to classics like Baba O'Reilly, Bargain, and Won't Get Fooled Gain. Even the lesser tracks like Love Aint For Keeping and My Wife have alot of hidden beauty. And the Bonus Tracks such as Naked Eye, Water, and I Don't Even Know Myself blow away the best recordings of Def Leopard and Whitesnake with the upmost ease.
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #100
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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A mix of old favorites and buried treasures makes this edition ofWho's Nexta definite must. One of the defining albums of 70s hard rock from one of the 60s most successful bands, the original album includes some of The Who's best-known work, such as the anthemic "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again", the by turns sorrowful and angry "Behind Blue Eyes", and perennial favorite "My Wife". The new tracks on this album are equally worth hearing, including "Pure and Easy" (an alternate edition of which is available onOdds & Sods) and the original version of "Behind Blue Eyes". A hard rock classic,Who's Nextis required listening for rock fans of all ages.--Genevieve Williams
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Label: Mca
Artist: The Who
Genre: Classic Rock
Release Date: November 7, 1995
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