September 23, 2020

1981-04-21 – Courier Post

1981 04 21 Courier_Post_Tue__Apr_21__1981_

The Who keeps its vitality i

By MARSHALL FINE
Gannett News Service

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 instruments, The
Who remains 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 essen-
tial 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. pre-
ceded by mere weeks the death of
Keith Moon. the group’s clown and
its rhythmic driving force. A
maniac behind a drumset. he
charged the music with a free-
spirited zest tha‘t made him one of
rock’s finest drummers.

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. finding his niche and.
in the process. altering the group's
sound slightly.

The new album offers a couple of
other differences. The group is rec“:
ording for Warner Bros. Records.
after years on Decca and then MCA.
Instead of producer Glyn J ones. The
Who worked this time with producer
Bill Szymczyk. best known for his
work with the Eagles.

The guiding force. however.
remains Pete Townshend. the lead
guitarist. He 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 playing. has put
together a group of songs that con-
tinue 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 OFTownshend's songs
center on obligation and its dead-
ening effect: on art. on sex and on

love. The album‘s single. “You Bet-
ter 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 cynicism. fueled
by Townshend’s rave-up guitar.

Similarly. “Daily Records“ deals 1
with a sense of obligation to be true
to oneself. rather than to trends.
Townshend ponders the state of
music and his commitment to it in ‘
an era when a band looks has I
become more important than the
music they produce: "1 Just 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 lifensaying "This is no social
crisis/This is you having fun."

The rest of the songs crackle with
electricity. whether it‘s the sadly
quizzicai "How Can You Do It
Alone." the enigmatic “Cache
JCache" or the unconciliatory "Did
You Steal My Money."