The Who: Endless Wire (PolyGram)

 |   |  1 min read

The Who: Endless Wire (PolyGram)

Right from the opening bars here - a repeated keyboard figure like Baba O'Riley and a crashing power chord - Pete Townshend puts you on notice that the sonic power of The Who, now just him and Roger Daltrey as sole survivors of the original band, is undiminished by the years.

Of course, that's the easy part and when Daltrey enters his voice lacks its former wallop. But that's an impression which doesn't remain. And Townshend is also back on top form penning brittle, angry rock (A Man in A Purple Dress is a swipe at religious figureheads) and some penetrating ballads which stand alongside some of The Who's best work in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

There are many echoes of former greatness here: that opener and the oddly-named Mike Post Theme recall passages from Quadrophenia, and God Speaks of Marty Robbins is a lovely lean ballad. But In the Ether finds Townshend doing his Tom Waits impersonation to no great effect.

Most interest alights on the 11-track mini-opera Wire and Glass, an oddly impenetrable song cycle which seems to be about three kids who become a rock band with all the triumphs and tragedies that journey entails.

Townshend was doubtless thinking of the '79 Cincinnati tragedy (when 11 fans were crushed at a Who show) when he wrote and sang the weary They Made My Dream Come True: People Died Where I Performed.

Daltrey really steps up for the angry, then wistful songs (some of which, like We Got A Hit and Mirror Door, nod back to mid-60s The Who), and the cycle ends with the wistful Tea & Theatre.

After decades of Townshend ambitiously pursuing sprawling concept pieces, these dense songs and the tight mini-opera leave the impression that The Who - like Elton John on his new album - sound at their best when, even 24 years on fromn their last Who album,  they sound like themselves.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Pine: Books and Magazines (Arch Hill)

Pine: Books and Magazines (Arch Hill)

In that great Kiwi tradition, Pine recorded this low-key charmer in a sitting room in Christchurch (the house since severely damaged by the quake apparently) and the trio here once again deliver... > Read more

Eddie Reader: Peacetime (Shock)

Eddie Reader: Peacetime (Shock)

The former voice of Scotland's pop hitmakers Fairground Attraction has been a very credible solo act for many years now, but it's a fair bet not too many signed on for her album of songs by the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Clayton Anderson of Beastwars

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Clayton Anderson of Beastwars

So of course the new Beastwars album Blood Becomes Fire out on limited edition 12" record for Record Store Day -- when they play free at Real Groovy in Auckland -- is on blood red vinyl.... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY'S OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY REVIEWED (1997): Still can't buy the love?

PAUL McCARTNEY'S OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY REVIEWED (1997): Still can't buy the love?

Paul McCartney is the Beatle old fans love to hate: his sins are manifest in Silly Love Songs, a Linda and not a Yoko, the permanent Mr Thumbs Aloft attitude, the knighthood which his old colleague... > Read more