Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Who - Who's Next (1971)

Every time I look at this album, I think of a pissing Rimbaud in "Evening Prayer." Surely, any album whose cover depicts a band's just having pissed on a monolith has got to be excellent as well, right? A nod of approval from the heliotropes. But let's get to the real meaty beaty big and bouncy here: this album flat-out rocks. No clavichords, Mellotrons, flutes, brass quartets, intricate time signatures, overtures -- nope, not a whiff of rock opera here -- which is to say, no pretensions and especially, no filler. Ok, there's violin and some synth. Big schtooping deal. (I never said I wasn't a fan of Tommy or Passion Play or Days Of Future Passed.) It's there to give the music more power, not the illusion of majesty, which is all the difference, really, from a bloated rock opera and a great rock 'n' roll album. Besides, this album isn't trying to tell a story; every track is its own all-inclusive revelation. Perhaps that's why they're almost all radio staples.

Yet, everything I can say of this album is tautological, a bit of a retread, a mere puffing of pretty smoke. What can I add? -- that "Baba O'Riley" is beyond classic; that "Bargain" is, er, classic. "Going Mobile," "Behind Blue Eyes," "Won't Get Fooled Again," "The Song Is Over," "Getting In Tune" -- classics. Oh, and those are just the absurdly amazing songs. "Love Ain't For Keeping" and "My Wife" are damn good themselves; they're simply not played as often on the radio as the others. Still. Call me what you will, but I can feel 'ol Pete laying down a thunderous windmill on that first chord struck in "Baba O'Riley"

or right before Daltrey's final shriek in "Won't Get Fooled Again."

Sure, you can hear it, I know, but can you feel it? These songs are just synergistic. Don't be fooled by Tommy or Quadrophenia or any other concept album. Just because someone intends to connect the dots for you doesn't mean you can't connect them for yourself. Who's Next is just a big fat juicy cheeseburger greasing down the sides of your head and you can't help but lick the grease. Start to finish. One heart attack at a time. Exaltation. Exhaustion. Joy. Enlightenment. Long live rock. A+


bob_vinyl said...

This is, in my mind, the definitive rock album. It has everything. Everything. Nothing more than everything.

The Mad Hatter said...

I agree 250 percent. It doesn't get any better than this.