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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Who, The - 1984 Who's Last
Who, The - 1984 Who's Last

ARTIST: Who, The
ALBUM: Who's Last
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Roger Daltrey - vocals * Pete Townshend - guitar * John Entwistle - bass * Kenney Jones - drums

Guest Tim Gorman - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 My Generation * 02 I Can't Explain * 03 Substitute * 04 Behind Blue Eyes * 05 Baba O'Riley * 06 Boris The Spider * 07 Who Are You * 08 Pinball Wizard * 09 See Me, Feel Me * 10 Love, Reign O'er Me * 11 Long Live Rock * 12 Long Live Rock (Reprise) * 13 Won't Get Fooled Again * 14 Dr. Jimmy * 15 Summertime Blues * 16 Twist And Shout


When The Who embarked on their 'final' tour in 1982 they were clearly ragged and devoid of the spontaneity that made them the greatest live band of all time during the Keith Moon years. When they released 'Live At Leeds' in 1970 it was almost instantly acclaimed as the best live album ever, capturing the bands sheer heaviness, a wall of noise nobody has come close to before or since. So it seems bizarre that the band should also be in possession of one of the worst live albums of all time, 'Who's Last' documenting their 1982 tour, which was one of the biggest draws that year. To say this is terrible is an understatement, in fact it's mind boggling this is The Who live such is the shambles on display. It's no secret the end was nigh prior to 'It's Hard' that same year and although the Kenney Jones era started out promisingly in a live setting, but this tour they had degenerated into pure apathy and farce. All traces of the band during their peak live years had been unceremoniously trampled on, replaced by a bunch of punters going through the motions and not even sounding convincing as a cover band. The tour was held in huge stadiums for the most part, with the audience now a mixture of aging fans and their children, experiencing the band for the first time. So while they may have been filling seats, what the audience was exposed to was pure cabaret and a circus sideshow act, a pale shadow of what they once were. Whoever decided this should be released is at fault, proof nobody was thinking clearly post-break up.

The Songs
The setlist for the album is horrific, nothing but the routine hits and worn out numbers that The Who themselves probably couldn't face anymore. As such nothing from 'Face Dances' and 'It's Hard' appears, pushed aside in favor of utter manure like 'Twist And Shout' which should have been banned. They'd never played this live before to the best of my knowledge, yet for some reason they cranked it out for this tour and it made its way onto the album, a perfect example of how warped things had become. Here is a band with over two hundred songs at their disposal and they opt to please the crowd with a song made famous by The Beatles? This is the worst Who moment ever, just listen to Townshend's pathetic guitar work for evidence. The rest is as insipid, the prime offender being Entwistle's 'Boris The Spider' which is so weak you wonder if they were just taking the piss. It's comedy rock, the band turning karaoke. The crowd cheering it has to be inserted, because if I'd been at this gig I'd have thrown a full beer bottle at the stage upon being exposed to this. Limp wristed versions of all the favourites are there, 'Baba O' Riley', 'Substitute', 'My Generation', 'Pinball Wizard'.. bloody hell just writing them down is tiring. They're all universally terrible.. naturally.

One Who classic that's never made the cut live is 'Who Are You' mainly because Moon died before he could perform it live extensively (listen to the 1977 Kilburn version) and here it's just a dull run through, with no improvisational passages The Who once excelled at. Jones just couldn't replicate that kind of mad genius. The crowd goes delirious for no reason during the piano solo, showing how fake this is. Anyone looking for raw power on the bands part is going to be sickened and disappointed. Listening to 'Summertime Blues' is just as agonizing, especially when recalling the vicious versions of the 60's and 70's. Once again it's diluted to parody levels, a hoary chestnut that needed to be put out of its misery. 'Dr. Jimmy' from 'Quadrophenia' seems like a rarity amidst the predictable fare, but it too is wasted, a precursor to the disgusting 1989 tour which is another story altogether. They try to improvise on 'Magic Bus' as they did in the old days, but using a Fender really destroyed Townshend's guitar tone and it sounds lifeless during the faster sections, the only moment they resemble the old Who on this entire two disc aberration. Sitting through 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is torture and listening to Daltrey on 'See Mee, Feel Me' sounds like a man in the midst of a real-life nightmare. Nothing works and 'Love Reign O'er Me' conjures up images of Daltrey singing it at the Shea Stadium gig where he wore some atrocious silver suit getup, looking utterly ridiculous. Meanwhile Townshend's attire consisted of some clothes opening act The Clash were sporting, trying to look young and relevant but coming off as absurd and awkward.

In Summary
This album isn't The Who. It's a band who were burned out and at the end of their rope, which was reflected on stage. It's hard to blame them for their poor displays on that tour considering all their ups and downs over the previous 20 years, things which would probably push anyone into a catatonic state. But in years past The Who's standards were so high live that this would have been considered an abomination to them, something which no longer applied near the end of the first phase of their existence. To listen to 'Who's Last' is to suspend your disbelief and try not to think of the Moon years and instead contemplate where The Who were mentally. But there's no excuse for the pitiful statement that this album presents. This is what happens when the dream comes to an abrupt end and a once great band self-destructs. It could only be The Who, a band who always displayed their emotions live, which either resulted in good or bad shows. This time I think nobody cared.

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#1 | Eric on April 06 2014 13:33:18
Forgot about this one.
#2 | gdazegod on April 06 2014 21:55:01
I think I have to go back and listen to "Live At Leeds' to correct this release..
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