Sometimes a project doesn't go as planned. Despite hard work and effort, the
goal never quite materializes. Sometimes, the end result is something else
The Who's Pete Townshend had one of those moments while working on a science-fiction rock opera titled "Lifehouse."
While the work never came to fruition, and the related stress nearly caused Townsend to break down, much of the music created was thankfully salvaged.
That music would become the bulk of The Who's 1971 album "Who's Next?"
Some of the bands most memorable songs, including "Baba O'Riley," "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Behind Blue Eyes, all meant to be part of "Lifehouse" stand alone perfectly here.
This is The Who at arguably their loudest and rowdiest. The bombastic guitar tracks owe much of their weight to the ever-impressive drumming of Keith Moon.
The synthesizer-heavy "Baba O'Riley," sometimes referred to as "Teenage Wasteland," has become timeless. That track and "Won't Get Fooled Again" serve as the album's bookends, emphasizing just how near-perfect the record is. Roger Daltrey's vocal cord-scraping scream of "Yeah!" on "Won't Get Fooled Again" has become iconic.
Even some of the more mellow tracks are riddled with emotion. "Behind Blue Eyes" delivers the best harmonies on the album, yet the melancholy track quickly transforms into something fiery.
When Daltrey sings "My love is vengeance, that's never free," his fierce tone makes the listener believe it.
Pop culture seems to be permeated with The Who's most popular songs. The "CSI" televsion franchise uses their tracks for all the shows' theme songs, two of which are on this album. The music has also been used in moves and commercials.
The songs are recognizable by even the most casual listeners. They might not know when or where they heard "Baba O'Riley" or "Won't Get Fooled Again," but the tunes are unforgettable.
"Who's Next?" is a solid album from beginning to end. The fact that much of the album was meant for another project negates nothing from the artistry, if anything the pain and anguish Townshend experienced giving life to this art is more than evident.
We didn't get a follow-up rock opera to "Tommy," instead we got one of best hard rock albums of all time. I'd call that a bargain.
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