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Articles Home » 2006 Articles » Who, The - 2006 Endless Wire
Who, The - 2006 Endless Wire

ARTIST: Who, The
ALBUM: Endless Wire
LABEL: Universal/Republic
SERIAL: 170 952-0, B0007967-10
YEAR: 2006


LINEUP: Roger Daltrey - vocals * Pete Townshend - guitars, bass, drums, keyboards * Pino Palladino - bass * Zak Starkey - drums * Simon Townshend - drums, background vocals * John 'Rabbit' Bundrick - organ

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fragments * 02 A Man In A Purple Dress * 03 Mike Post Theme * 04 In The Ether * 05 Black Widows Eyes * 06 Two Thousand Years * 07 God Speaks To Marty Robbins * 08 It's Not Enough * 09 You Stand By Me * 10 Sound Round * 11 Pick Up The Peace * 12 Unholy Trinity * 13 Trilby's Piano * 14 Out On The Endless Wire * 15 Fragments Of Fragments * 16 We Got A Hit * 17 They Made My Dreams Come True * 18 Mirror Door * 19 Tea And Theatre * 20 We Got A Hit - (Extended Version) * 21 Endless Wire - (Extended Version)



For those keeping track of such irrelevant trivia, twenty four years between studio releases may be a record in rock history, but considering the artist is a legend, The Who, this fact can easily be dismissed. Having given so much to rock as a whole means The Who have earned the right to take such time, and considering all the well known circumstances that occured between 1982 and 2006, the decision to record as The Who, when down to Townshend and Daltrey as the two originals, was a courageous one. With Townshend as chief songwriter past and present, The Who always retain that unique sound that has never been equalled, so thoughts of the music taking a radical u-turn have been dispelled, and it must be noted that no single Who album has ever imitated another so 'Endless Wire' is in good company. Unable to free himself of the concept album, the centerpiece of the album is a mini opera 'Wire And Glass', based on a novella Townshend wrote many years ago. Surrounded by nine separate tracks this is a marvelous comeback, worthy of the bands storied history. As Daltrey points out in the liner notes, Townshend's music is still 'inventive and challenging'. This is a band who still have something to say.

The Songs
The tracks are not overlong, none over five minutes, which adds an immediacy on first listen. With Townshend playing much of the instruments himself, it is fascinating to hear him on drums, in no way trying to replace Keith Moon. 'Fragments' opens to a keyboard intro that recalls Townshends 1993's 'Psychoderelict', and his power chords are given a brief flash, with Daltrey turning back the clock vocally some thirty years. The acoustic 'Man In A Purple Dress' is stirring in the same way similar tracks from 'Quadrophenia' and 'The Who By Numbers' were a lifetime ago, with Daltrey giving the lyrics a breath of life. 'Mike Post Theme' is the clearest example of a traditional Who anthem among the regular songs, hitting hard rock heights with melody and a clever mixture of acoustic, electric and mandolin guitar. Townshend delivers an off beat, gruff vocal during 'In The Ether', a melancholy near ballad that takes back seat to 'Black Widow Eyes', a rocker with vocal harmonies so smooth it seems impossible. Musically this is almost late sixties, whereas the mandolin led 'Two Thousand Years' takes its cue from 'Blue Red And Grey' from the mid seventies. 'It's Not Enough' is the best of the remaining portion of the individual cuts, with an accessible chorus that sadly radio would pass over.

The mini opera consists of nine more tracks, most clocking in a two minutes or less. The concept regards Townshends novella 'The Boy Who Heard Music', but in reality the music is the novella. It is the strongest aspect of the album and is more indicative of The Who of the past. There are numerous moments of Who power that rival the best of the 70's, namely the rousing and compelling 'Sound Round', Pick Up The Peace', 'We Got A Hit' and 'Mirror Door'. This is the type of masterful songwriting Townshend excels at, crushing melodic hard rock that takes only one listen to fully settle in the listeners head. All are instant classics in turn. They are interspersed with more quiet, reflective moments such as 'Tea And Theatre', 'Unholy Trinity' and 'They Made My Dream Come True'. Townshends lyrics still present a man obsessed with aging, but one who has finally accepted it. Through the music here it could still be thirty years ago.

In Summary
This could be labeled as unconventional by the casual listener, but for dedicated Who fans it's a refreshing glimpse into a band much changed, that haven't changed much at all. Close listening reveals much of what allowed The Who to become icons, the identifiable power chords of Townshend and Daltrey's screams, and with that you have The Who. Towsnhend continues to gamble with creative gambits few would ever consider, and the mini opera should be embraced, not scoffed at. Quality music of this degree in this era is not easily obtained and this is far more noteworthy and memorable a moment that anything The Rolling Stones could summon. That's because The Who are still the real item. It does not get more thorough or better than this album.

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#1 | dangerzone on October 15 2017 22:22:22
Despite my glowing review, I haven't listened to this album since 2007 at least. Looking back it just doesn't cut the mustard so to speak.
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