The Who by Numbers – The Who Look Inward

The Who by Numbers

The Who

Polydor, 1975

This is a sleeper hit for the once Guinness Book of World Records holding loudest band in the world. Following on the heels of of the epic and grandiose Quadrophenia, The Who did the most unexpected thing they could do. who CVRRecorded ten songs, seemingly unconnected, introspective and relatively uncluttered by mountains of horns or synthesizers.

In short, they went back to being a rock band. And they declare this with the decidedly contrarian opening track, “Slip Kid,” in 6/8 time, with one of Keith Moon’s most restrained performances ever recorded. With militant posturing, “Slip Kid” declares fidelity to freedom at any cost, “There’s no easy way to be free.”

“However Much I Booze” is a personal, confessional piece sung by Pete Townshend which could be a folk number flogged and throttled by this restless rock band. “Squeeze Box,” the most readily identifiable track from the disc is a bright spot of pop where the band lets loose like it’s 1968 and they’re still a singles band.

On “They Are All in Love”, Daltrey sings “Hey goodbye all you punks, stay young and stay high/Hand me my chequebook and I’ll crawl off to die”. Bitterness that success may not be exactly what one had hoped for has crept into the band’s collective psyche. John Entwistle’s one tune, “Success Stories” belies much the same sentiment “I’ve gotta play some one-night stands/Six for the tax man, and one for the band/Back in the studio to make our latest number one/Take two-hundred-and-seventy-six/You know, this used to be fun.”

This may be a deep cuts collection for fans, but who hasn’t shrugged their shoulders at some point uncertain of what they should do next? We get to hear a powerful band in transition, contemplating their next move, with one half-step forward and two steps back.