The Who – The Who by Numbers (1975)

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— The Who, who were huge in the late 60’s,
and all through the 70’s, and were one
of three bands in Rolling Stone’s British ‘holy trinity’
of rock. Here is 1975’s “The Who By Numbers,”
which is a much more personal and introspective
selection of songs than perhaps in any other album by
The Who (with the exception of the included song “Squeeze Box” lol)

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The Who
The Who by Numbers (1975)

Pete Townsend’s personal and introspective
offering from 1975 hits all the right notes

The Daily Walk with Love, March 15, 2018, by Paul Evans. Video is courtesy of YouTube. “The Who by Numbers” is © 1975 MCA Records. Featured photograph of The Who in 1975 is courtesy of Rolling Stone, with many thanks.

See Playlist: The Who – Love reign over me (which is a really great playlist, one of the best of the classic rock collections, but then, keep in mind, I always was a big fan of The Who), Another great CD from 1978 is The Who – Who Are You (1978); also The Who – Quadrophrenia (1973) (which was actually a sort of “rock opera,” a form or concert The Who virtually invented; and also The Who * Live at Leeds (which has been described as the best Live album ever made); all here on The Daily Walk with Love. The Who is one of those bands I guess you love them or you hate them, and I really love The Who, so we have carried a lot of their music.

Wikipedia says of The Who:

The Who are an English rock band that formed in 1964. Their classic line-up consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide and holding a reputation for their live shows and studio work.

The Who developed from an earlier group, the Detours, and established themselves as part of the pop art and mod movements, featuring auto-destructive art by destroying guitars and drums on stage. Their first single as the Who, “I Can’t Explain”, reached the UK top ten, followed by a string of singles including “My Generation”, “Substitute” and “Happy Jack”. In 1967, they performed at the Monterey Pop Festival and released the US top ten single “I Can See for Miles”, while touring extensively. The group’s fourth album, 1969’s rock opera Tommy, included the single “Pinball Wizard” and was a critical and commercial success. Live appearances at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, along with the live album Live at Leeds, cemented their reputation as a respected rock act. With their success came increased pressure on lead songwriter and visionary Townshend, and the follow-up to Tommy, Lifehouse, was abandoned. Songs from the project made up 1971’s Who’s Next, which included the hit “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The group released the album Quadrophenia in 1973 as a celebration of their mod roots, and oversaw the film adaptation of Tommy in 1975. They continued to tour to large audiences before semi-retiring from live performances at the end of 1976. The release of Who Are You in 1978 was overshadowed by the death of Moon shortly after.

“Moon the Loon” and his death in 1978

Paul Evans:There’s a story about Keith Moon and his death I want to relate to you. The Who always had rather violent, self-destructive tendencies and also performances. But Moon’s absolutely destructive and nutty behavior used to drive the more sedate Pete Townsend wild. Don’t quite remember The Who or just how madly violent they could get? Check out Flashback: Watch the Who Blow Up ‘Smothers Brothers’ in Primetime, Rolling Stone. That time while in live performance, Moon hid explosives in his drum set. He was always the most madcap of The Who, perhaps a bit “mental.” He “was fascinated by blowing up toilets with cherry bombs or dynamite, and by destroying television sets.” Wikipedia put it politely that Moon was, “noted for his unique style and his eccentric, often self-destructive behavior.” The Wikipedia article on Moon’s life mentions that he was an alcoholic, particularly with brandy and champagne,” (and that his nickname was “Moon the loon.”)

The famous album cover featuring Keith Moon and their classic rock album 'Who Are You'

However, Rolling Stone mentions that a reader’s poll lists Moon as the second best drummer of all time, and I guess that if you’re the very best, you can get away with a lot — for a while. The Who would have several comebacks after Keith Moon died, on September 7, 1978, but never again regain the special, classic rock perfection of some of their early albums. The album cover for Who Are You, which by the way is a fantastic album you should all get if you don’t have, features Keith sitting in a backwards-oriented director’s chair with the words “Not to be taken away.” The album was released August 18, 1978, just 20 days before Keith Moon died. The “not to be taken away” photo on that album cover was just one of those subtle (or not so subtle) things God seems to arrange in the world, but in the press it gave rise to a number of conspiracy theories about Moon’s death. mentions something about a “Buddy Holly curse,” and although this idea is a bit far-fetched, there do seem to be a number of artists who had problems or died through some relation to Buddy Holly. Not only Keith Moon, but Ricky Nelson and Del Shannon suffered deaths somehow related to the “big bopper.”

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The night Keith Moon died, he had attended the London premiere of The Buddy Holly Story with Paul and Linda McCartney. He died officially from an “overdose of Heminevrin, a drug intended to treat or prevent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.” — (Wikipedia) At the time, Retro Kimmer relates that the death was not intentional, really just a terrible stupidity. He died “after a night of partying — and to be fair, a lifetime of testing his own limits. Ironically, his death was caused from an overdose of pills that were intended to combat his ongoing alcoholism. The medication was primarily a sedative, only a handful of which would have caused death.” Moon took a handful the night before he died, September 6, and then a few more the next morning, and was dead within a few hours. “Police reports indicate that he took nearly a third of his 100 pill prescription.” Townsend mentions that this behavior, “taking handfuls of pills, was not terribly unusual for Moon,” he just “did it” with the wrong pills this time. This was really such a sad fate.

The Who Continues
And Summary of their Huge Contribution

A good news web site about The Who which carries current information on them, such as touring dates is The, news archive. It has an article from September 22 of this year titled “new line-up, new mixes, new era.” If only they could be half as good as the old band! Wikipedia speaks of their musical journey after Moon’s death: “Kenney Jones replaced Moon and the group resumed activity, releasing a film adaptation of Quadrophenia and the retrospective documentary The Kids Are Alright. After Townshend became weary of touring, the group split in 1982. The Who occasionally re-formed for live appearances such as Live Aid in 1985, a 25th anniversary tour in 1989 and a tour of Quadrophenia in 1996–97. They resumed regular touring in 1999, with drummer Zak Starkey. After Entwistle’s death in 2002, plans for a new album were delayed. Townshend and Daltrey continued as the Who, releasing Endless Wire in 2006, and continued to play live regularly.”

Wikipedia sums up just how great a rock band The Who were: “The Who’s major contributions to rock music include the development of the Marshall stack, large PA systems, use of the synthesizer, Entwistle and Moon’s lead playing styles, Townshend’s feedback and power chord guitar technique, and the development of the rock opera. They are cited as an influence by hard rock, punk rock and mod bands, and their songs still receive regular exposure.”

You might wish to read a biography of The Who at Rolling Stone, who mentions that “along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Who complete the holy trinity of British rock.” If you’d like, please feel invited to visit their Facebook page. I also want to mention that in my opinion the very best album by The Who is Who’s Next ( purchase page). Good people, “Peace, Love and Rock!”

Wikipedia discuses The Who By Numbers (1975):

The Who by Numbers is the seventh studio album by English rock band The Who, released on 3 October 1975 in the United Kingdom through Polydor Records, and on 25 October 1975 in the United States by MCA Records. It was named the tenth-best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.

…Pete Townshend has claimed that the band recorded practically every song he had written for The Who by Numbers, partially due to a writer’s block that he was experiencing at the time. The songs on the album were, for the most part, more introspective and personal than many other songs that the band had released. Townshend had his 30th birthday in May 1975 and was struggling with the idea of being too old to play rock and roll and that the band was losing its relevance. He began to feel disenchanted with the music industry, a feeling that he carried into his songs….

The Who
The Who By Numbers 1975

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