Who Are You Selling For 5 Bucks?

I made a purchase this weekend. One could call it an impulse buy easily. I purchased a CD by The Who.

“The Who – Endless Wire”

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It is a CD/DVD combo and it was only 5 bucks, even at that I hesitated for a moment, but bought it.

It reminded me of the old days of buying cut-out records. They were usually not the best from the band, poor sales probably sending them to the cut-out purgatory, but there was sometimes that diamond in the rough. It was a gamble then, and no different now. I haven’t bought anything from The Who in MANY years.

I bought “The Who – The Kids Are Alright” from the record club way way back in the day. I of course was familiar with all the radio songs from The Who and loved them all, but I didn’t have any of their records. I figured “The Kids Are Alright” double album was a good place to start.  It definitely was. It was a great collection and I bought it in lieu of a live album (odd for me). I learned a few things from “The Who – The Kids Are Alright”. Namely, that I don’t like old Who stuff.

I bought “Who Are You” and “Face Dances” but there was only one great song on each. Frankly I thought The Who was done. “The Who – Who Are You” and “The Who – By The Numbers” were cut-out bin residents, which is where I bought them and even so I still felt robbed.

However in 1982 “The Who – It’s Hard” blew me away. I loved it! The song “Cry If You Want” may be my favorite Who song ever. The whole album works. I had a Who resurgence. I felt a new connection to “The Who – Tommy” and “The Who – Quadrophenia” opting for the latter more often than not.

I have to admit that I had a shirt exactly like Roger Daltrey. It was a black shirt that had a huge zipper that went diagonally from near the shoulder halfway down the shirt. It was thick and I sweat like a pig in it (probably why Roger cut his sleeves off) but I loved it and wore it a lot. When I was in the dorms one day sometime in 1984 likely, someone rented the dorm AV cart and a concert video by The Who and we crammed into a dorm room and watched it. It was awesome, and of course they played all the stuff I loved. Roger wore his black zipper shirt in this video. It was a great day. He was swinging the microphone and doing amazing rock star poses and Pete was Pete as he made a show of playing his guitar. I always think of that video when I think of The Who.

The death and replacement of Keith Moon was sad, and then John ended up dead at The Hard Rock. It was horrible. That was surely the end of The Who, only it wasn’t.

The decision to go on with half the original members gone is always I’m sure a difficult one. Do you change the band name and carry on, or is the voice and guitar the essence of the band? The Who pressed on.

They played the Superbowl halftime a few years ago.

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I have to admit they were good. I liked it despite the hype. Of course there were a lot of flashy lights…

All this is what flashed through my mind as I held “The Who – Endless Wire” in my hand at Big Lots. I didn’t even know they were still recording. I was nostalgic for The Who perhaps and hoped that somehow this would be another “It’s Hard” surprise. It was priced 5 bucks and had 2 CD’s; an album with a mini-opera, an album that was recorded live, and a DVD of a live performance. I judged that it was worth 5 bucks.

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The “Endless Wire” songs were not bad, but nothing very hard edged or fast. Introspective medium tempo former rock god songs. There is a bit in the liner notes about the guys doing the synthesizer work, but it sounds too much like the synth in “Baba O’Riley” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again” for my taste. Seemed rehashed. Half way through the album it changes to a Mini-Opera entitled ” Wire & Glass”. I was frankly afraid of the mini-opera, but that part turned out to be better than the “regular” part of the album. Again, nothing stunning. Then came the Live CD “The Who Live At Lyon”. Only 7 tracks. It too was ok, but not great.

Personnel has changed

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Seems like this is the Pete Townsend show with Roger on vocals, though one could argue it always was. Simon Townsend? Pete’s Son? Then Zak Starkey? You got it. Ringo’s son.

I was hoping the Bonus DVD “The Who Live At Lyon” would pull the whole package out of the realm of “I want my 5 bucks back” but alas, it did not.

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Roger’s voice is not near as strong as it was, and Pete is now backed up with a second guitarist. Zak Starkey was pounding up a storm, but sadly, Roger and Pete were lackluster. I wanted to like this CD/DVD, but in truth I will probably never listen to it again. Ever.

Go buy “The Kids Are Alright” or “Who’s Next” and save your money.

Even if you see it for 5 bucks.

Sorry Roger and Pete.

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