Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD. Friday, April 3, 1981 11A
And they say it’s iust a stage in life
But I know by now the problem is a stage
And they say iust take your time and it’ll go away
But I know by now I ’m never gonna change
— From “Daily Records,” by Pete Townshend
Nearly 20 years after they burst on to the rock scene in a
cloud of smoke, a wave of feedback and a pile of smashed instru-
ments, The Who remain one of the most Vital and challenging rock
bands still playing.
For-proof, you need only listen to the English quartet’s new
album, Face Dances (Warner Bros. HS 3516), the group’s first
on a new label. It is a complex, mature album that reflects
the changes The Who has gone through in the past three years
— yet it never loses the essential energy of .rock’n'roll.
”Face Dances” is The Who's first album in nearly three years.
The band’s last effort, ”Who Are You,” released in the summer of
1978, preceded by mere weeks the death of Keith Moon, the group’s
drummer since its inception. Moon had been the group’s clown and
its rhythmic driving force. A maniac behind a drumset, he charged
the music with a free-spirited zest that made him one of rock's fin-
Yet the band played on after Moon’s death, recruiting Kenny
Jones, formerly of The Faces, to replace him. Jones has toured
with the band since then, finding his niche and, in the process. al-
tering the group’s sound slightly.
The new album offers a couple of other differences. The group is
recording for Warner Bros. Records, after years on Decca and then
MCA. Instead of producer Glyn Johns, The Who worked this time
with producer Biil Szymczyk, best known for his work with the
The guiding force, however, remains Pete Townshend, lead gui- '
tarist who wrote seven of the nine songs on "Face Dances” (the
other two are by bassist John Entwistle). Townshend, one of the
pioneers of rock guitar-piaying, has put together a group of songs
that continue his examination of romance and the rock life that
began years ago and could be heard most recently on his solo
album, ”Empty Glass,” released last year.
Several of Townshend’s songs center on obligation and its deaden-
ing effect: on art, on sex and on love. The album’s single, ”You
Better You Bet,“ depicts a man trying to balance a relationship
with a demanding woman: "When I say I love you, you say you
better." Roger Daltrey’s vocal has bitter bite and knowing cyni-
cism, fueled by Townshend’s rave-up guitar.
Similarly, "Daily Records" deals with a sense of obligation to be
true to oneself, rather than trends. Townshend ponders the state of
music and his commitment to it in an era when a band looks
has become more important than the music they produce: “I
y The Who shows maturity
Members of The Who are, from left, Roger Daltry, Kenny Jones, Peter
Townshend and John Entwistle.
iust don't quite know how to wear my hair no more/No sooner cut
it than they cut it even more.”
Townshend’s wry humor is intact, in spite of the band's turmoil.
.in ”Another Tricky Day,” he advises listeners to get used to the
flux of daily life, saying, ”This is no social crisis/This is you
The rest of the songs crackle with electricity, whether it's the
sadly quizzical “How Can You Do It Alone," the enigmatic ”Cache
Cache" or the unconciiiatory “Did You Steal My Money.” Entwis-
tle’s songs, ”The Quiet One" and "You," have that familiar Who
snap and sizzle, as we" as their share of bon mots, as in "You," a
nasty tune about a teasing female: "You lead me on like a lamb to
the siaughter/Then you act like a fish‘out of water."
The music ranges from the doubletime waltz of “Daily Rec—
ords" to the straight-ahead power of ”Another Tricky Day." In
many ways, the sound‘ is closer to mid-career Who (”Happy Jack,”
"Magic Bus”) than to the earliest guitar free-for-alls or the group’s
later stylistic explorations on albums like ”Tommy" and "Quadro-
‘xd Mameihailil Fﬁﬁne
"Face Dances” shows an older but wiser Who, still making
solid rock'n'roll but from the vantage point of lengthy experi-
ence at their craft. It is a bright, involving album, revealing a
band that uses its maturity to broaden its approach, rather than
limiting itself to what works.