on August 18, 2004
This is one of my favourite Who albums because it's got so much musical energy and excitement pulsating all throughout. It reflects the band's changing musical direction, like it or not; who wants a band or singer to have the exact same style on each and every album? Most music put out in 1978 was like this, very influenced by New Wave and the dawn of the Punk movement. And since I love this album so much, I was shocked to discover that the remastering had taken away some lyrics and instrumentation on the songs, like the first part of the chorus in "Trick of the Light." And the songs are linked together thematically, all about the changing nature of music. The album begins with a jolt of energy and pulls one right in until the final moment, Keith's final moment of glory on his beloved drums before his untimely premature death. His drumming on the other tracks hadn't been the greatest (esp. on the only track I don't really care for, "Music Must Change," where he had to play cymbals because he couldn't master the drumming it required), but on the title track, the closing track on both the original release and the later remaster, he comes back to life with a vengeance, going out in a blaze of glory.
The bonus tracks are kinda skimpy in comparison to the great bonus tracks on many of their other albums which doubled their original lengths, and three are just different versions of songs that were already featured, but what we have is really good. The best ones are the lost verse mix of the title track, "No Road Romance," and the band's version of "Empty Glass," which became the title track of Pete's real first solo album. Interestingly, the band version contains the refrain "Killing each other, then we jump off a ledge," but by the time the solo album was released two years later, the suicidal line, from one of three known songs Pete wrote during this time period with lines about jumping or falling off of a ledge, one of the others being "Love Is Coming Down" (a track on this album), had been changed to "Killing each other by driving a wedge." That was a really marvelous selection of a bonus track, on a really marvelous album which doesn't get enough credit.
on November 22, 1999
Yes, The Who were starting to ease into a kinder, gentler point in their career. True, The Who were forever changed when one fourth of it's original, incendiary line up became yet another rock casualty; but what a swan song this was. From the first notes of the muscular opening track "New Song" to the triumphant punch of the album's closer "Who Are You", Pete Townshend's matured outlook and vision remained just as clear as it ever had. With Daltrey's gruff, beefy vocals, Entwhistle's dazzling bass flourishes, Townshend's cranking power chords, and Moon's incredible timing and fills, this 1978 album bristles with all the energy of a band half their age. Rockers like "Had Enough" and "Guitar & Pen" showcase the vocal prowess and power of the man called Daltrey, whilst beautiful gems such as "Love Is Coming Down" and "Music Must Change" remind the listener of the songwriting genius of Pete Townshend. Hearing the bonus tracks at the end of the CD is icing on this already glorious cake, and is essential for any true Who fan (especially hearing some of the last drumming Moon ever put down on tape with "Empty Glass"). Everytime I put on this CD (and it's a lot) I am transported to a wonderful place. There are many reasons for it, and one is the magic in the chemistry of these four individuals... That this CD is the final curtain call for this legendary line up makes "Who Are You" even more important, and sadly, more poignant.
Who Are You was the final album made by the original Who quartet. The album is the least consistent of the original lineup's career, but the high quality of several of the songs make up for the lackluster ones. The title track as legend would have it was inspired by a situation where a drunken Pete Townshend got into a fight with some punks and they uttered the line who the f*** are you to him. The song is an instant classic with it's pulsating beat and first rate vocal performance by Roger Daltry. "New Song" is a catchy song about artists recycling their material and "Sister Disco" is a strong rocker in a "Baba O'Reilly" vein. Other songs like "Guitar & The Pen", "Trick Of The Light" & "Music Must Change" fall short. The reissue contains some nice outtakes including an early version of "Empty Glass" and a version of the title track with a lost verse. Sadly, Keith Moon would pass away shortly after the album's release thus extinguishing one of the brightest drumming flames in rock history and ending one of the greatest bands of all-time. The Who would go on, but without Keith Moon, they were never the same.
on March 2, 2005
Who Are You (1978.), the Who's eighth studio album
'Who Are You' by far gets the most unfair treatment of all of the Who works. Why it does so always perplexes me - I get sick and tired of seeing this album get called 'a failed attempt'. I'll say first though, that this is not at the levels of 'Who's Next' or the Who's live masterpiece, 'Live at Leeds', but it is a solid, sometimes catchy effort which sees the Who at their most personal and expressive. The fact this album is so revealing in its style and lyrics is probably the reason why many people like to bash this album about and give it a hard time. With this album you are getting a much different perspective of the Who. Gone are the days of the Who singing anthems on a 'Teenage Wasteland' theme but now, with 'Who are You' and the previous album, 'The Who By Numbers' we see a pouring of emotion based around the troubles of mid-life. At the centre of this transition is Townshend, who by this stage was getting pissed of with life in general. Going through very much a mid-life crisis, Townshend was determined to keep the Who up to date, against the tide of up an coming punk rockers who were emerging at the time - as a result with this album, the songs he wrote try to consolidate the punk ethos with the Who's normal rock R+B style and I would not say that it is a totally failed attempt at that either.
However, Townshend and the Who at the time were not in the greatest shape. Townshend had a drink and drugs problem and this was taking its toll on him and the band. The 'Who Are You' studio album took more than 6 months to record - with Townshend often sporadically turning up to recording sessions. Keith Moon was also not faring in the greatest fashion. His weight had increased dramatically since the last album was released in 1975 and the greatest drummer of all times work in this album are very much more low key and in some parts slightly sloppy - a mile away from the breathtaking stuff we witness in 'Who's Next' and countless other earlier Who albums. Furthermore, this was to be the last album on which Keith Moon played drums, as he died of an overdose on a prescription drug two weeks after 'Who Are You' was released. In many respects, this makes the front cover of the album extremely ironic as Moon, pictured with the rest of the band, is sat on a seat which says on the back of it 'Not to be taken away' - was this some kind of premonition with the album. That aside, you can therefore see the problems which were centred around the making of this album - in fact, it was a blessing that John Entwhistle was the only one who held the whole thing together - he went to every recording session and when the others didn't turn up would just practise his baselines. The often abrupt absense of Townshend also allowed a bit more of a contribution from the Ox, in this album, he contributes 3 songs as opposed to his usual allowance of 1 on previous albums.
So who do the songs on this the last album with the full Who line up we all know fare. I personally do not dislike any of the songs on the album, true some are unspectacular but there is nothing that marrs the work's overall standing, even if it isn't a classic. I quite like the very much 'I'm through with life' attitude of the album, this is not to everyones taste I suppose, but then I can be a bit of a pessimist.
The whole thing kicks off with 'New Song' a great track with that classic Who beat to it and a catchy riff. 'Had Enough' follows this, a John Entwhistle with very much negative lyrics but it works well with the keyboard backing and heavy baseline. Daltrey's vocals are very good here and actually stand out an awful lot on this album, purely because we see much less singing from Townshend and Entwhistle - he certainly shows why he is one of the great rock voaclists on this album. '905' is an intersting track, again by John Entwhistle with a theme about a test-tube baby. 'Sister Disco', 'Music Must Change' and 'Trick of the Light' are all good tracks, though they will never give you the urge to get up and press the repeat button to replay them. 'Guitar and Pen' is very much a Townshend work, with lyrics relevant to what he was going through in life at time. 'Love is Coming Down' is a very good track, a slower beat which works very well. 'Who Are You' the album title track is though an excellent finish to the album, a song well deserving of a place on any Who 'best of' album - Daltrey's vocals are again particularly powerful on this track as he sings, this time about the aftermath of Townshend's encounter with the Sex Pistols. These were the 9 original album tracks. 'No Road Romance' and 'Empty Glass' are both good extras as do the welcome remixes of the last 3 tracks on the original album.
A solid effort overall with some good material which works very well in context of where the Who were going at the time. This album does not deserve a lot of the criticism it gets. 'Who Are You' proved actually to be a good success in the UK, reaching #6 but in the US it did phenominally well, reaching #2 (partly due to a massive sales increase after Moon's death). It would have gone to #1 any other time, but Grease was out at the time and prevented it reaching the top slot.
This is no ultra definitive Who album but is certainly a work any person who is really starting to enjoy listening to the Who should invest in as it is another capture of the band's colourful career.
on February 23, 2000
First off, I don't think I understand everyone's complaints about the extra tracks on the re-released version of this album. I myself own the original album without the extra tracks, but if only the added songs are remixed and the originals are still the same, what is everybody's problem? Getting beyond that ambiguity, I can tell you that the original 'Who Are You' album is one of the best Who albums that the group put out. Yes, it certainly doesn't stick with their early formula electric guitar/bass/drums/Daltrey, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Instead you get the most 'orchestral' of the Who's albums. Probably everyone used to the early Who will have to listen a few times through this one to understand it, but once you do, it stands out as something really unique. Maybe I could describe it as prog-rock, I don't know. I think it defies categories. What you have is Townshend's most intricate and most produced Who album, and of the last three the Who put out, it's the only album that succeeded in what it attempted to do. Final word: the best song on there is NOT the title track, especially after we've heard it on the radio over and over on the classic rock stations. Everybody has overrated that one and underrated all of the other tracks. Especially good: science fiction '905', 'Sister Disco', and sometimes loud, sometimes soft, always vibrant 'Guitar and Pen'.
If you found this item and review you had to brave the amazon maze. WHY is this worth the extra $$?
1) It has the original mixes PLUS the bonus tracks from the remix remastered using DSD (a higher definition format for transferring to CD but the CD itself is still 16 bit)
2) The replica of the original artwork (which admittedly is the least impressive of the Japanese reissues but then again this was a pretty vanilla release when it came to that)
3) It's a limited edition (I'm not sure what that means. You do get a numbered card with YOUR number on it BUT the Japanese roll out these reissues pretty regularly in repackaged forms frequently. Still that doesn't mean this will be reissued like the other titles)
4) It's a SHM-CD (the polycardon used to create the CD results in better resolution according to the manufactured with less jitter, more accurate "transparent" resolution. As with everything, you may or may not believe this but the publicity about the SHM-CD BUT this does sound pretty darn good).
Ultimately, it's all for the original mixes of these songs combined with the bonus tracks for this edition that makes this worthwhile. You can however get this for less at CDJapan (but you do have to pay for the shipping which is a bit more expensive from Japan).
There are some minor problems with this remaster done by Jon Astley. It's all about the condition of the tapes. They still sound pretty darn good.
"No Road Romance" is a different take than the one on the remix as far as I can tell.
There's a glitch of some sort at the beginning of "New Song". I'm not sure if it's due to tape damage or not (there's some speculation about this) and there might be some minor drop outs.
Nevertheless, aside from the Mofi THIS is probably the best I've heard the album (and the Mofi has some alternate takes with some slightly different overdubs for compleists).
The production by Glyn Johns is solid throughout but the arrangements and production style is a bit more dated than other Who albums (in my opinion). Townshend still has enough strong material here to make the album interesting and Entwistle has the most songs on an album ever (3--he would equal that amount only on the band's last album "It's Hard")for a Who album.
Of the bonus tracks "No Road Romance" would have made a nice addition on this (or "Face Dances") album during its original release and while "Empty Glass" doesn't quite have the lean power of Townshend's solo version on Empty Glass, it suggessts what we might have seen if The Who had done it.
on April 20, 2008
1978's "Who Are You" was not the end of The Who, but it was certainly the end of an era for the band, as their superb, madman drummer Keith Moon would sadly die from an accidental overdose right after the album's release. "Who Are You" seems to get a mixed reaction from fans---some love it, but some think The Who weren't really firing on all cylinders with this one. "Who Are You" came out at the height of both punk and disco, and it's been said that The Who were basically caught in the crossfire of both genres in 1978, and sounded on this album a little bit "confused" about their own identity, and where they fit in the musical spectrum of the day. Hence, the album title. My opinion is that, despite the changing musical landscapes of 1978---and despite both Keith Moon's and guitarist Pete Townshend's problems in their respective personal lives at the time---the band still summoned up an excellent album. I think "Who Are You" is a great Who album, with lots of great, catchy material. The title song is the signature tune on the album, and rightfully so---it's a memorable rocker that has never left the Who's concert setlist to this day. All the other songs stand up too, including "New Song," "Sister Disco" (the band's swipe at the disco craze), the opera-influenced "Guitar And Pen," the beautiful "Love Is Coming Down," the late-night vibe of "Music Must Change," and bassist John Entwistle's strong trio of numbers, "905," "Had Enough," and the dirty rocker "Trick Of The Light." All the band members are in fine form: Roger Daltrey's powerful singing voice, Townshend & Entwistle's respective songwriting, musical & vocal chops, and although Keith Moon's drumming wasn't *quite* what it used to be---he'd put on weight, and he could only play cymbals on "Music Must Change" because he simply could not get behind the song's time signature---he still drums on this album with his unique, excellent flair (and his ferocious drumming on the closing, classic title song becomes a fabulous finale for this legendary drummer). The Who would bravely soldier on after Moon's untimely death, and they would still make great music together (three more studio albums to date, and various tours), and Daltrey & Townshend are still keeping the Who flag flying after the further tragic loss of John Entwistle in 2002, but "Who Are You" represents the last stand by the classic Who line-up. The first chapter in the Who's impressive musical career comes to a close on an exceptionally high note with "Who Are You," a Who classic.
on April 13, 2013
Love the record. Big Who fan of earlier stuff, finally picked up this one, the last with Moon. Good remastered CD sound quality, especially considering it was done quite a few years ago now. Underrated in Who catalogue, IMO. "Trick of the Light" has a fantastic riff, and "905" and "Music Must Change" are up there with best tunes that the band ever did. Whole record is solid, really. Nice extras, especially the expanded "Who Are You" with the added verse.
on December 26, 1999
Add "Guitar & Pen" to the list of songs, which includes "Who Are You," that appears in a different version from its original. Fans who've never heard the original LP of "Who Are You" may not care that "G&P" and "Music Must Change" are remixed differently, but some of us do, and my question is "Why! " It's tough enough to find the original "naughty lyric" version of the title cut in its entirety, and the "box set" has been rightly criticized for butchering and rearranging classic Who cuts.
The songs are certainly below the par of "Who's Next" or "Quadrophenia," but they hold together pretty well. Why Entwistle gets 3 cuts (none of which are that great) is a mystery, but it may indicate that Townshend was in the midst of a block and/or was holding back some goodies for his solo album. Too bad the boys didn't join together as a band and make this as listenable as it could've been. Consider it the Who's equivalent of Led Zeppelin's "In Through the Out Door."
on July 18, 2007
As the author of the Jefferson Airplane book "Take Me To A Circus Tent" and a former radio disc-jockey, I am often asked to write and or discuss various music supplies and recordings from the 60's and 70's.
When "Who Are You" hit the record store shelves in 1978 there were those that felt the album sounded too commercial and overly produced. Those that approached the material with an open mind were impressed with the energy and honesty of the compositions.
It has been debated by the Who faithful if the title track should have opened the record. As a collector of any note the original line-up would turn in to vinyl I have thought "Who Are You" or "The Music Must Change" are better suited for the first track. "New Song" is a solid cut. "I write the same old songs with a few new lines." Pete is being a bit modest but he is always thought provoking. "Had Enough" is pure pain of a human heart torn to shreds. "If you need a lover you better find another." There is some intense imagery during "Music Must Change." Roger's vocal is so believable you feel you are in the studio. The title track musically may sound new but the lyrics are a throw back to the rough and raw early days. After you digest the material, the components we love about the Who are very obviously in place, Pete's cynical view, his angry guitar, John's bass played with power and passion, Keith's drums kick us in the teeth, and Roger delivers the goods.
Don't listen to those that find the glass half empty. Make sure you look on Amazon for the version with the bonus material. The five tracks are solid, highlighted by an extra verse during "Who Are You."
Now almost thirty years removed if you never gave the album a fair chance in respect to Keith and John why not see how mighty the guitar and pen can be.
Enjoy the music and be well,
Author of the Jefferson Airplane book "Take Me To A Circus Tent"