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January 29, 2008

Classic Albums: The Who, "Who's Next"

The first thing to say is that I'm not a huge Who fan, as I never really listened to them as a kid so, apart from the soundtrack to "Tommy", which for me was somewhat hit or miss.

I do, however, appreciate The Who's style of musicianship. My primary reason for getting this episode of the "Classic Albums" series was to find out how they created their sound, both in terms of the guitar work and the orchestration as a whole. On that level the DVD didn't give me much insight. Some, but not much. The main focus on the creative side seemed to be the use of synths and Keith Moon's contribution on the drums.

Having said that, once the character set-up was complete, which was a slightly weak beginning to the show, the origin of the "Who's Next" album was actually fascinating. You really got a sense of the time. Pete Townsend wrote the songs as a musical statement which was intended to be reflective of the zeitgeist of the time, or perhaps more that it was allegorical about what could happen if the world carried on down the path it was going. It was, after all, the era that popular music became political. It's a shame that these days the ability of music as a medium for expression has been diluted and much contemporary music has become disposable. Perhaps musicians just aren't angry enough any more.

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