Who’s Next

The Who

1971/1995: MCA MCAD-11269

  1. Baba O’Riley
  2. Bargain
  3. Love Ain’t for Keeping
  4. My Wife
  5. The Song Is Over
  6. Getting in Tune
  7. Going Mobile
  8. Behind Blue Eyes
  9. Won’t Get Fooled Again
  10. Pure and Easy
  11. Baby Don’t You Do It
  12. Naked Eye
  13. Water
  14. Too Much of Anything
  15. I Don’t Even Know Myself
  16. Behind Blue Eyes

Given the amount of commentary and analysis this album’s received since its debut, I won’t try to describe more than a few personal reactions and observations. I didn’t add this to my library until circa 2009 despite the fact that it came out when I was about 5 years old and has been readily available the whole time.

Above all, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” still amazes me: it’s been kicking around my sonic consciousness for most of my life, usually relegated to casual background encounters, but when I sit down to face it directly I find it’s always a little bigger than it seems it should be…a recording that contains solid rock ’n’ roll as its core but which is introduced by a semi-synthesizer/sequencer line that presages much of what it took 1980s bands such as Eurythmics to cristallize. When that sequencer effect (produced by whatever means in this case) returns for an almost Zen-like 60 seconds near the track’s end, it’s marvelously not what you’d expect from any other full-on Rock recording of its era, yet it’s purely and profoundly intrinsic to this one…hypnotic almost to the point of religious, soothing as well as disturbing, and subtly giving form to a “Big Brother” techno-state motif hinted by the lyrics. It’s endlessly fascinating if you can commit some time to concentrating on it all the way through and not let distractions dilute the effect. And I must say the stereo organ-echo effect in the latter appearance of that element is surprisingly and effectively evocative as it splits a sound that should seem authoritative and reassuring into sonic halves, resulting in something disturbingly technological seen from the wrong side of the picture….

The other biggies on this album, for me, are “Behind Blue Eyes” (which is just about perfect as songs go, although Daltry’s specific performance of it here may or may not strike you as being great) and “Baba O’Riley,” which enchants me more because of its bookending elements than because of its “teenage wasteland” lyrics and effectively generic Rock heart (which I confess I find almost boring, and certainly unmoving, compared to the song’s intro and outro).