Endless Wire

Since the early 1980’s The Who have been confounding their fans with endless reunion tours, stories of reconciliation's and promises of more albums. They reunited again 2000, and have been regularly touring since.

Since then they have had to deal with the massive blow of the loss of John Entwistle, their legendary and trailblazing bass player.

But finally, after all the trauma and disappointments, here it is! A new Who album.

This is very much Pete Townshend’s record. He plays most of the instruments (including violins, keyboards, mandolins and drums on some of the tracks) and sings on about a third of the songs.

When Daltrey does make an appearance, he is on fine form. Belting his heart out on the folksy ‘Two Thousand Years’ and the classic Who stomper ‘Mike Post Theme’. Townshend reserves his tenor for the more reflective, acoustic numbers such as ‘You Stand By Me’ and the beautiful ‘God Speaks of Marty Robins’.

Even in his old age, Pete Townshend seems to be on the edge of music technology. This is a very contemporary sounding record. The recording is very clean, and all the instruments sound crystal clear.

Far from aping the indie scene that they helped to create, Townshend moves The Who forward again, with an album that doesn’t sound quite like anything else out there. While peers The Rolling Stones rely on their well-worn rhythm’n’blues sound, Townshend writes and produces contemporary and clever rock songs. Electric guitars, and vocals hover on a bed of clean and crisp acoustic guitars and synths, making the album sound spacious and clear.

All of this changes halfway through the record, with the opening few tracks of ‘Wire and Glass’, another Pete Townshend rock opera. The electric guitar ramps up the distortion, and the drums get a lot more Keith Moon-ish. While the lyrics may be ambiguous, the songs thunder along and fly past. The Who, always a live band at heart have never sounded better in the studio.

This edition is accompanied by a disc of live songs, which proves that even in their old age, The Who can cut it live. The live version of ‘The Seeker’ adds a hard edge to the original, while ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ sounds absolutely immense.

This is an intimate, contemporary and inventive album. It is The Who’s best album in around 30 years.