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The Who - Who Are You (1978)

Who Are You is, frankly, a very difficult album to like. Besides the poignancy that it will attract for the rest of time due to its release being just two weeks before Keith Moon’s tragic death, this album, while not terrible, simply sounds like a band struggling for relevance and inspiration.

Keith Moon’s deteriorating health courtesy of his numerous addictions impacts heavily upon the songs. That energetic, fun and loveable character that had propelled the band through their first decade was now a shadow of his former self and his inability to capture that energy is all too evident.

Even if Keith Moon hadn’t passed away, the fundamental problem with this album is that it loses touch with the band’s true identity without finding itself another. It’s been said that Who Are You was Pete Townshend’s attempt to marry the prog and punk sounds, whilst trying to prove that The Who were not an outdated rock dinosaur by continuing to embrace new technologies. As a result, the overall sound is at best muddled. It's by no means a disaster - the title track is spectacular, while 'Sister Disco' and the ambitious 'Love Is Coming Down' suggested that perhaps they could still produce decent and interesting rock records, but tracks such as 'Had Enough' and 'New Song' do not hold up against the rest of their catalogue.

Who Are You is the sound of an exhausted band struggling to maintain a collective vision. Townshend provides six of the nine tracks, while John Entwistle chips in with the other three but in truth the band were basically finished. Completists will need this album but casual fans may want to look to one of the numerous Who compilations instead to pick up the title track.

New Song / Had Enough / 905 / Sister Disco / Music Must Change / Trick Of The Light / Guitar And Pen / Love Is Coming Down / Who Are You

  • 'Had Enough' was the Who's first to use a full orchestral string arrangement.
  • The project began its life as a possible sequel to the original Lifehouse project. The updated story was to be set 200 years after the original. A film version of Lifehouse was also mooted at the time. It was to be directed by Nicholas Roeg, who also made The Man Who Fell To Earth and Performance but Roeg and Townshend couldn't agree on a script and the film was never made.


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