50TH COMMEMORATIVE ISSUE NOW AVAILABLE! SHOP HERE

Christgau Consumer Guide

The Who

by Robert Christgau on August 14, 1971

THE WHO

 “Who’s Next” 

 [Decca, 1971]

With its acoustic guitars and drumless bits, this triumph of hard rock is no more a pure hard-rock album than Tommy. It’s got more juice than Live at Leeds. And — are you listening, John Fogerty? — it uses synthesizer to vary the power-trio format, not to art things up. Given Peter Townshend’s sharpness and compassion, even his out-front political disengagement — “I don’t need to fight” — seems positive. The real theme, I think, is “getting in tune to the straight and narrow,” and comes naturally to someone who’s devoted a whole LP to the strictures of hit radio. Another sign of growth: the love songs. 

A

BACK TO TOP