This is my second round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
I bought this album when I was 14. I had a few albums by The Who…Face Dances, Big Meaty Big and Bouncy, and a greatest hits package called Hooligans. Hooligans was a 4 album set and had four songs from Who’s Next and that sample was enough to know I wanted the complete album.
With headphones on, I placed needle to vinyl and could not get over the sound…the sonic boom. The biggest sound I have ever heard before on record. I listened to every song three times through in the first sitting. I knew I finally found a band that moved me like no other except The Beatles. After this came Tommy, Quadrophenia, and The Who Sell Out…but this album left me speechless. Before this record. I liked the Who…after the album they were THE WHO.
It was 1981 and this album had been out for 10 years but that made no difference. As with the Beatles, I was late to the fan party but when I arrived… I arrived in style with Who’s Next under my arm.
There is not one clinker on the album. Forty-three minutes and thirty-eight seconds of pure bliss.
I have a Glyn Johns quote on recording the album to start this off.
I have a residing memory of sitting in the truck, my hair being parted by what was coming out of the speakers, a massive amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins. There have been a few occasions over the years when I have been completely blown away, believing without a doubt that what I was listening to would become much more than just commercially successful but also a marker in the evolution of popular music, and this was one of those moments.
Won’t Get Fooled Again… this is the best concert song I’ve witnessed on film or live in person. It has drama, action, suspense, and aggression… just as much as any movie. Every member of the band is at the top of their game. You have Pete’s thick power chords, John Entwistle’s rolling basslines, Keith Moon’s controlled chaos, and Roger holding it down and keeping it grounded.
When your bookends on an album are Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again you have a great album.
My favorite song on the album is Bargain. Moon’s drumming on this song alone makes it worth a listen. Pete Townshend has said the subject of the song is God…as one critic put it… it may be the angriest message God ever received.
Goin’ Mobile is a great vehicle for Townshend’s voice…and how could you not like the line..Play the tape machine, make the toast and tea, When I’m mobile.
Behind Blue Eyes is a song that lulls you with a beautiful melody with sparse accompaniment (probably the longest Moon ever sat on his hands while recording) and then it happens…all hell breaks loose and Roger sings…no correction…he doesn’t sing…he demands When my fist clenches, crack it open, Before I use it and lose my cool… it’s like getting hit by a bus that you didn’t see coming…and then it’s over.
My Wife is a song John Entwistle wrote for the album and one of his best songs. A rocking and hilarious look at marriage by a desperate man. Love Aint For Keeping is a song that gets a lot of play at my home and car. It has a great message. Getting In Tune…this song starts off as a slow ballad and then The Who kicks it up a notch as usual.
The Song Is Over is a beautiful song with Pete and Roger taking turns singing.
Baba O’Riley…One of the most well-known intros in rock ever. Not much else to say about this song except dynamic and exhilarating…that about sums it up.
Who’s Next was released on August 14, 1971. It started off as a rock opera called Lifehouse. The problem was that Pete could not get the idea across to other band members, journalists, or even his producer Glyn Johns. It was suggested to dump the story and make a great standalone album of the songs. The Who did just that.
This album kicked down the door to the seventies and future. The mixture of synthesizers and guitars are perfect. The synthesizers still sound fresh and vibrant today. 1971 was an extraordinary year for great albums…this one helped lead the way.
So far on Max’s Desert Island, I have the White Album and Who’s Next. Life is good…I think I will pick up my guitar and play…just like yesterday.
- Baba O’Riley
- Love Ain’t For Keeping
- My Wife
- The Song Is Over
- Getting In Tune
- Going Mobile
- Behind Blue Eyes
- Won’t Get Fooled Again