Skip to content

The Who – Who’s Next (1971)

October 14, 2014

[Album 352/1001]220px-Whosnext

CSI Miami: both a heck of a show & a major argument against having cable TV.

You see I’ve enjoyed any & every episode I’ve seen but I can’t remember ever sitting down at home and watching it intentionally.  It’s the kind of show that comes on after something else, I get drawn in, and then 60 minutes later I realize that an hour has just passed.

Why bring this up now?

For many of those born in the last few decades, the name The Who may not immediately ring any bells.

Play the first few seconds of Won’t Get Fooled Again and that same younger demographic will likely have visions of a red-haired detective dancing in their heads.  Or at least, one who is constantly removing his sunglasses while simultaneously delivering a zinger about a gruesome crime scene.


For me, Who’s Next reads like a CSI Miami episode:

1) The dramatic beginning.  No dead body per se, but the line “they’re all wasted” could be taken out of context to improve my argument.  The similarity instead is that much like the show, the album starts with a bang.  Few who have heard the opening track, Baba O’Riley. will forget the “Teenage Wasteland” payoff.  Many will forget however that the song is not actually named Teenage Wasteland!

2) The middle 30-odd minutes of interesting twists & turns.  Changes in scenery, some plot exposition.  Different characters getting some time in the spotlight, sharing lead roles.  In this episode, Daltrey handles most of the lead vocals but Townshend (Going Mobile) and Entwistle (My Wife) each get some time front & centre.

3) The big finish.  There just aren’t many closers bigger than Won’t Get Fooled Again.

The 44-minute running time also lends itself conveniently to the episode + adverts hour-long TV format.

I’ll spare you my full detective Horatio Caine impression but *sunglasses removed* Who’s Next is a heck of an album but Next to the other Who records from the list, it’s currently holding down the bronze.  With Tommy & My Generation still to come.

As of now, I’ll happily consume Who’s Next if it ‘comes on’ but I won’t miss it terribly if it doesn’t.

Just like I haven’t missed cable TV for the last few months.

From → 1970s

  1. The album that defined them yet killed at the same time. Nice post

    • My thanks – and I really like that line about define/destroy, I’m trying to think of other similar turning points for other groups!

  2. I love your unique spin here. I don’t agree about the Bronze award, though, as this remains the definitive Who album for me and one of the most important albums of my adolescence by any band.

    • Thanks Rich – this one’s from a tricky time period for me as it’s in the window of time just after my dad stopped being interested in rock/pop music but before I was alive. So it’s not one I grew up with, one that I heard at that critical adolescent age.

      Live @ Leeds gets the silver for me, such an impressive live document.

      And for now, The Who Sell Out is the gold standard in my books – love the creativity. I definitely see the appeal of the stadium anthems but I find I prefer the more acoustic Who numbers like I can’t reach you. Even on Who’s Next, songs like Love Ain’t for Keeping were the ones I prefered

      • Interesting. I always assume that anyone who enjoys The Who would consider this their best, or in the Top 2-3. I guess it depends on your exposure to it, how old you were, what else you were listening to, etc. I still remember buying it at Sam Goody in 1980 when I was 14 and being mesmerized by it. I think it’s the culmination of everything they had done, without some of the bloat of Tommy or the quirkiness of Sell Out. I love those albums almost as much, but for me Who’s Next is simply perfect from start to finish. I feel the same about Live At Leeds so at least we agree about that one.

  3. Okay so I love Won’t Get Fooled Again but I still don’t connect with more than a handful of their singles.

  4. Well, I’m about the only person on the planet who enjoys the cheese that is David Caruso, however, I have never watched an episode of CSI Miami, as I am planning to binge watch them at some point. BTW, I love this album!

    • I look forward to hearing how the binge watch goes – I’ve never tried watching a ‘police procedural’ show on DVD before, I’m curious to hear if it starts to feel formulaic or if it’s somehow fresh every episode!

  5. I agree that this is one of their best. The Who are interesting because they never made a really bad album. At the same time, there is a huge range of styles across their career. I like most of their stuff, but don’t consider myself a huge fan—Townshend’s guitar smashing has something to do with this. He does do good interviews, though.

    In my view, their most under-rated is The Who by Numbers, which contains some real gems.

    • I agree with you regarding The Who By Numbers, Phillip. It’s always been an undervalued album, and it’s every bit as good as…if slightly different than…the albums that came before & after it.

      • Phillip – nice to hear from you sir, it’s been a while!
        I haven’t heard Who by Numbers yet – I may know some of the songs but at first glance I don’t recognize the names from the tracklist

      • You’re in for a treat. It’s almost like a confessional Townshend solo album performed by The Who when they were still at the peak of their powers.

      • That sounds promising!

  6. This may as well just be called “Greatest Hits”. LOL

  7. Early Who all the way for me. I kind of went off them once I started listening to Who’s Next and that era of albums (apart from the hits of course). I have to say that Daltreys scream on Won’t Get Fooled Again is the best rock scream ever though.

    • Nice call – that sounds like a good top 5 list, best rock screams!

      • Joe Cocker – With a Little Help From My Friends would also be a front runner. There you go Stephen, that’s two already!

      • 40% of the way there!

      • “Child in Time” has to be in that list. That’s 3.

        Not really screams per se, or maybe they are: What about “The Great Gig in the Sky”?

        Honourable mention: Geddy Lee for a quiet “yeah” in “The Spirit of Radio”. 🙂

      • I’ve always been partial to the Closer to the Heart ‘yeah’ as well!

  8. I like Who’s Next, but I’m still partial to Tommy. Agreed, it would’ve been an unbeatable single album, but it still is enjoyable to me through the four sides.

    • I enjoy the double LPs that meander – Tommy’s on the list so I’ll get to it at some point in the next 7 years, at the latest!

  9. ianbalentine permalink

    Nice post! I agree this is a terrific album, but I’m more of a Who Sell Out/Tommy/Quadrophenia guy. It’s the concepts, I think, that hooked me on the Who, but I pretty much love everything they did, up to and including Face Dances, which I think is highly under valued. It’s Hard, aside from Athena and Eminence Front, fell on deaf ears.

    • Just checked the discography, hadn’t realized they’d had a few post-Keith Moon records. Was the 2006 one ill-advised?

      • ianbalentine permalink

        I haven’t heard that one, so I can’t comment, but I’ve heard mixed things.

      • “Endless Wire” was okay but nothing special. Their biggest mistake was not recording with Zak Starkey, who’s done an amazing job of replicating the controlled craziness of Keith Moon for nearly 20 years. From what I read at the time, Starkey was touring with another band at the time (possibly Oasis) and wasn’t available for recording, so they used a drum machine on many of the songs. It sounds more like a collection of demos than a mighty Who album. I tend to think of it as more of a Pete solo album, which is what anything under the “Who” banner will be since John Entwistle’s death.

      • Right, Zak (a really good drummer) was touring with Oasis.

        I like Townshend’s demos; check out Scoop for example. However, if it says “The Who” on it, it should be the full band.

      • It feels like there should be an asterisk when the full band isn’t involved, The Who*

        *missing key members.

  10. Tangled Up In Music (by Ovidiu Boar) permalink

    Nice analogy with the CSI show. I have mixed feelings about this album – it absolutely rules every time I play it and I really like all of the songs, but then I hear stuff like ‘Too Much of Anything’, ‘I Don’t Even Know Myself’ or ‘Pure and Easy’ and think that it could’ve been EVEN better. Lots of great stuff was left in the vaults. Even the Lifehouse story-plot sounds interesting to me and trust Pete could’ve made it work, despite its overreaching nature. I mean, ‘Quadrophenia’ is one of my all-time favs, I love the whole of it, every damn song, and the story I find very inspiring. ‘Who’s Next’ is great, but it can’t touch Quad for me.

    • That sounds like Weezer’s Pinkerton – started off as a concept/opera plot that ended up being abandoned but the record ended up terrific all the same. And in their case too, some of those b-sides that didn’t make the cut were possibly even better!
      Quad is on my ‘to hear’ list (though sadly not the 1001 list)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Who – My Generation (1965) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1971 | 1001albumsin10years

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: