The Who - Who By Numbers (1975)
Devoid of the overarching concepts that ruled the best-known Who albums, this 1975 return to simple, straightforward songs found Townshend exploring more starkly autobiographical themes.
Gone are the waves of synthesisers and endless overdubs that characterised Quadrophenia; in their place a new musical starkness befitting the dark subject matter of songs such as ‘However Much I Booze’, where Townshend owned up publicly to his alcoholism and other out of control appetites; not least on its baleful refrain, sung by Townshend as Daltrey considered it too personal to perform himself. The guitarist also began to address the fact of his approaching middle-age, a new concept in rock back then. Indeed, on tracks like ‘They Are All In Love’, he seems to anticipate the arrival two years later of the new wave of punk bands that would accuse groups like the Who of encroaching obsolescence: ‘Hey, goodbye all you punks, stay young and stay high / Hand me my chequebook while I crawl off to die’. Even lighter moments like the hit single, ‘Squeeze Box’ had a bitter edge (‘Mama’s got a squeeze box / Daddy likes to play all night…’)
Sheer bravado make it one of the Who’s most compelling collections.
Slip Kid / However Much I Booze / Squeeze Box / Dreaming From the Waist / Imagine a Man / Success Story / They Are All in Love / Blue, Red and Grey / How Many Friends / In a Hand or a Face
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