Endless Wire

I wasn't born yet when The Who released their last album with bass player John Entwistle in 1982. Twenty-four years later, "Endless Wire" is available.
Opener "Fragments" has the same 'ting-ting' beginning from "Baba O' Riley" (from 1971's "Who's Next"), which happens to be my favourite The Who-song of all time. "Fragments" is far from a shameless copy of said song, it merely uses the leidmotif to form a new song. "Man In A Purple Dress" (apparently written around the unbased accusations of Pete Townshend downloading childporn) is, both musically and textually, very touching.

You can hear that Daltrey and Townshend aren't teenagers anymore. Daltrey's voice, powerful as ever, is rawer. And though Townshend - still the conceptual arty fart he is - can't stop making minioperas, his guitar (and various other instruments) has quieted down on most tracks. The Who, once dubbed 'the loudest rockgroup in the world' (according to Guinness World Records), have gone softer. But not soft. "Mike Post Theme" and "We Got A Hit" are quite loud for the 60-somethings.

Belgian weekly "Focus Knack" called it "a washout, a halfhearted coming of old age album" (but did the journalist ever make "Pinball Wizard" or "Won't Get Fooled Again"?! Let's see where he'll be in 30 years, huh?). Famed Dutch monthly "OOR" was more positive, stating that the album has several strong songs, but they disliked the overall "Townshendy"-feel, as if Daltrey was mere a guest singer. They credit this to the fact that this isn't really The Who. The Who as a group died in 1978, when Drummer Keith Moon choked on pills. The death of John "best bass player in the world" Entwistle in 2002 didn't help matters either.

I, for one, can more relate to OOR's opinion. I have never heard any of Pete Townshend's solo efforts. I love the "Wire&Glass" mini opera idea and the whole contains at least 6 very good songs. Let's see how this turns out 'live' : I've got my ticket for The Who in Antwerp come June 8.

"Endless Wire" is a file under "good" (not "great") and should therefore be purchased and not only at a discount price.

Julian De Backer, 18 April 2007