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The Who: Chapter 17.

Music Review: The Who – Endless Wire

I have mixed feelings about Endless Wire. I was fine with The Who continuing as a group following Keith Moon’s death in 1978, but John Entwistle’s passing in 2002 hurt my image of the group as an ongoing entity. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, however, have kept The Who alive. They continue to tour and in 2006 released their first studio album in 24 years. Their usual band mates are now Zak Starkey on drums, Pino Palladino plays bass, and John “Rabbit” Bundrick handles the keyboards.

Whether you view Endless Wire as basically a Daltrey/Townshend duet album or a full blown Who release, it is a solid effort. It may not approach Tommy or Who’s Next in terms of quality or consistency, but still produces enough good music to make it interesting and worthwhile.

For a group that sang about wanting to die before they got old, they have produced an intelligent, dignified, and yes a mature album. The anger and rawness may have dissipated, but the passion and energy remain. Over four decades into their career Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are aging gracefully and creatively.

The album is divided into two distinct parts. There are nine songs in the first half while the second part is comprised of the ten song “Wire & Glass: A Mini-Opera.”

The first part of the release works best for me. Townshend proves that he can still construct a good song, and his guitar playing remains at one of the highest levels in rock music. Daltrey’s voice may be a little lower than in his prime, but it is still a potent instrument. My favorite track is the acoustic and beautiful “God Speaks Of Marty Robbins.” “Black Widow’s Eyes,” which may be Daltrey’s best performance on the CD, and the oddly titled “Mike Post Theme” are good rockers. “A Man In A Purple Dress” has a nice stripped down sound.

“Wire & Glass” is more problematic. What’s there is very good in places. The problem is that many of the songs are too short and appear almost unfinished. I have the feeling that such tracks as “Mirror Door,” “Pick Up The Peace,” and “Sound Round” could have been spectacular if a little more effort had gone into their development. Good stuff but just not enough to it.

Endless Wire contains some good music and provides a satisfying listen. It shows that Townshend and Daltrey are not just an oldies band, but can still produce relevant music. Hopefully it will not be another 24 years before they produce a follow-up.

About David Bowling

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