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The Who announce a new album ‘WHO’

Rock legends The Who will release ‘WHO’ their first studio album in thirteen years, this November.

The eleven-track album features the talents of long established Who musical stalwarts Zak Starkey (drums) and Pino Palladino (bass) along with Simon Townshend, Benmont Tench, Carla Azar, Joey Waronker and Gordon Giltrap. The record was co-produced by Pete Townshend & D. Sardy with ‘vocal production’ by Dave Eringa (best known perhaps for his work with Manic Street Preachers).

Bearing in mind that musicians are always terrible judges of their own work, Roger Daltrey says he rates it amongst their strongest “I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia in 1973, Pete hasn’t lost it, he’s still a fabulous songwriter, and he’s still got that cutting edge”. See if you agree, by previewing ‘Ball and Chain’ from WHO, below.

The artwork is of course immediately recognisable as the work of Sir Peter Blake, who created the iconic cover for The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Who’s relationship with Blake actually pre-dates that period; they met him in 1964 at a taping of the legendary TV show Ready Steady Go. Sir Peter also designed and contributed a painting to the sleeve of The Who’s album Face Dances in 1981.

Pete Townshend is refreshingly candid about the new work and his and Roger’s place in the world in 2019. He says:

“This album is almost all new songs written last year, with just two exceptions. There is no theme, no concept, no story, just a set of songs that I (and my brother Simon) wrote to give Roger Daltrey some inspiration, challenges and scope for his newly revived singing voice. Roger and I are both old men now, by any measure, so I’ve tried to stay away from romance, but also from nostalgia if I can. I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Memories are OK, and some of the songs refer to the explosive state of things today. I made new home studio demos of all these songs in the summer of 2018 using a wide collection of instruments old and new. We started recording as The Who in March 2019, and have finished now in late August just in time to make some vinyl………maybe even some cassettes……ready for release in November”.

In terms of formats, the deluxe CD features three as unspecified bonus tracks. It’s only a jewel case (in what looks like an outer slipcase) though, so hardly ‘deluxe’ in terms of packaging. There is a standard black vinyl, but available via The Who store is a triple coloured vinyl package which features the 11-track album cut at 45RPM over 180g blue & red discs with a white 10” pressing of never before heard 1965 demo ‘Sand’. Various bundles are also available. Also, HMV in the UK have an exclusive 2LP vinyl where the second record is a selection of classic hits.

WHO is released on 22 November 2019.

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All This Music Must Fade
Ball And Chain
I Don’t Wanna Get Wise
Detour
Beads On One String*
Hero Ground Zero
Street Song
I’ll Be Back
Break The News**
Rockin’ In RageShe Rocked My World

All songs written by Pete Townshend except

*Pete Townshend/Josh Hunsacker

**Simon Townshend

Produced by Pete Townshend & D. Sardy

Roger Daltrey Vocal production Dave Eringa

Mixed by D. Sardy

69 responses to The Who announce a new album ‘WHO’

  1. Philip Cohen says:

    Postponed into December.

  2. JediJoker says:

    Any North American sources for the deluxe CD?

  3. Bip says:

    This track is rather stiff to me,and just doesn’t have the punch I was hoping for.
    I wish they had listened to Cheap Trick’s “We’re all Alright’ album for inspiration.

  4. Enrico G. says:

    After listening to the new track, I’m going out to purchase the 3CD edition of Live at Leeds.

  5. John B Dunnebacke says:

    Well, after buying, and later selling, their last studio album ‘Endless Wire’, I’ll wait till it’s released on Spotify, so I can listen to the whole thing to see if I like it enough to purchase a copy. I personally thought Endless Wire was terrible…

  6. Geoff G says:

    I don’t care for the song, but I will buy the album. It’s always good to see older artists that still have the balls to put out new music. New music is always a good thing in my book.

  7. Face-ache says:

    all a bit tired-o – the main riff in guantanomo reminds me of about two dozen other choons, and from roger’s “political” comments one would have almost thought that he would have been in favour of the lock’em up school of thought – perhaps I’ve got that wrong . Peter Blake can churn that cover “mod” art stuff out in his sleep. Do they need the money ? aren’t they famous enough ? does anybody really know what time it is ?

  8. Bob says:

    I quite like the track they’ve posted . I’m looking forward to hearing the rest .

  9. Eduardo says:

    “Ball and Chain” is just a new version of “Guantanamo” from Truancy. But it rocks and there are things that is always good to remember.

  10. Stan Lee says:

    Bit lazy of Peter Blake to design a cover very reminiscent of Paul Weller’s classic Stanley Road.

  11. AndyB says:

    “It’s Hard” classics:
    ‘Athena’
    ‘Cry If You Want’
    ‘One Life’s Enough’
    ‘Eminence Front’
    ‘I’ve Known No War’
    It was my first Who album purchased with my own money. I love it. Stop knocking it.

  12. bruce kelso says:

    I don’t understand why pete and roger don’t get it. the WHO are a thing of the past. the music that they are now making is pete and roger music .they are harming the legend in which created.

    • Romchik says:

      When you get old you’ll get it.

      • bruce kelso says:

        hi romchik, I am old, 65 yesterday,for me the WHO ended after quadraphenia. since then they have been putting out inferior music in my opinion but, if others enjoy what they do that’s fine by me.

        • Andreas says:

          Why a thing of the past? Who defines that? If they have fun creating new music, and if it is even good like in this case… who are we to judge or decide about that? Just because Quadrophenia was great and well received, it doesn’t mean that they cannot try to compete with that. And if the name helps to sell – why not? You don’t need to buy it.

          Honestly, I am happy for every good piece of music that is put out today – among that huge amount of unlistenable crap that we are involuntarily surrounded by. We should be thankful that there are great writers as well – whether they are young or old.

  13. Charlie Waffles says:

    Let’s rename Endless Wire as Who’s Worst.

    • Mark says:

      Did not enjoy that album. Unsure about a song about Guantanamo bay. I guess it is controversial. I really like the music to ball and chain but the lyric is a bit controversial to the negative. I assume that beads and strings will be another slam at the catholic church. I wish they would realize that both the catholic church and protestant church as well as the public school system have all had roughly the same amount of incidents. While it is a crying shame and pure evil, it is not the catholic church, protestant church or school systems that promote this. It is the sickos who target those institutions because there are children present. I get tired of some of The Who’s politics. I wish they could just.write a few songs about Rock and Roll. Perhaps about having a good time with friends. So.eone said in the thread that they are old. Perhaps they could write a meaningful song about old age. Joe Walsh’s last album was a riot with Analog Man. And at the same time heartwarming with the song family. And it rocked with Highroller baby. I guess The Who are trying to maintain a sort of rock and roll rebel image. Most of The Who fans have all grown up. Yes, the Kids are alright but we grew up. As for me, I’ll hold out for one more Who album of good times, aging, and good old rock and roll. Love live rock.

      • Gorecki says:

        I wish I understood this comment! ‘Unsure about a song about Guantanamo bay. I guess it is controversial. I really like the music to ball and chain but the lyric is a bit controversial to the negative.’ What does ‘controversial to the negative’ mean. Is writing about Guantamo Bay more or less controversial than the continuing existence of the place itself – even the guards are now referring to the facility as an old peoples’ home! After the Second World War enemy combatants held in Britain were processed, de-Nazified and returned to Germany within two years; those who were thought guilty of crimes against humanity were tried and either punished or released – surely it shouldn’t be beyond the ability of ‘the greatest nation on earth®’ to have sorted out this issue given the 18 years they’ve (so far) had.

        As for ‘Beads On One String’ I can only reserve judgement until I’ve seen some lyrics: it may refer to the Rosary (quite probably does), but it might equally be Muslim prayer beads (and relate to the state of the Middle East, British Grooming Gangs, Faith in general, etc.), it might be just sweat beads on a guitar string….. I prefer to see the evidence of the lyrics before burning lyric books. I would note that I too am rather tired of facile attacks on the Catholic Church – although it’s simply untrue that there’s been roughly the same amount of incidents in Protestant denominations, Public School [by which I suspect you’re using the US term for State School], etc. – and a major difference has been the manner with which such attacks have been dealt. Ironically in British Public Schools – that is to say Private non-State schools (stupidly confusing terminology!) – there has been a long history of abuse (physical and sexual).

        I get tired of most bands’/ artists’ politics simply because I never agree with the totality of what anyone says or believes – simply because that’s the state of being human – if we all agreed with everybody else all of the time it would be terribly boring and Totalitarian. I listen to people, sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t, sometimes I change my mind, sometimes I don’t. But why should an artist devote their time to songs about old age just because they’re old any more than an Asian act make their songs about ‘being Asian’, or a Gay songwriter only write songs about being Gay? When I was at university the sole Asian student (there were only 8 of us in total) was constantly being pushed by the course leader to concentrate on writing scripts about ‘the British Asian Experience’ which the student found deeply exasperating (and embarassing) as he wanted to concentrate on writing about ‘the Superhero fighting evil experience’ – thankfully the student had the strength of character to completely ignore the course leader! :)

  14. Steve Benson says:

    Guantanamo was a bonus new song on a Pete compilation CD “Truancy” in 2015

  15. Alex says:

    I’m looking forward to this, although a bit concerned by ‘vocal production’ by an associate of Manic Street Preachers – who surely have the worst vocals in rock. I’m sure it will be OK.

  16. Guantanamo? A song about Guantanamo? A thoroughly off-base and naive song about Guantanamo? I feared this album would be a farce; sad.

    • Ben in Colorado says:

      “I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable” says Pete. And then, to your point, the first release is a song about Guantánamo Bay. “ designed to cause men pain”

      Based off this track it’s a solid no for me.

  17. mr Foley says:

    That is Daltrey isn’t it upper right…? c. may 1966 ? I’ve seen v similar shots in a news item about ‘found’ photos being auctioned a while back..
    Anyway that lead track sounds good. cover looks great. Anyone not a big fan or not current with these two – and half wondering about the dying of the light , or not, should check out Rogers last solo effort from 2018 produced by Dave Eringa ‘As long as I have you’. Pete contributed guitar on most it too. v good indeed to my humble ear…
    looking forward to this..

  18. Carl says:

    I had a confirmation email in January from the Who Store confirming a pre-order for the Deluxe CD signed by Pete Townshend, so there definitely was an earlier pre sale for this.

  19. Andrew Abley says:

    Classic Peter Blake artwork , tempted for the cover

  20. TheProgster says:

    Well this new track doesn’t sound too bad actually let’s hope the rest of the album is a whole lot better than “Endless Wire” which was absolutely diabolical, when I heard earlier this year they were working on a new album I thought please don’t make another endless wire, Daltrey is quite a shouty vocalist not someone who I personally would put up in the league of Steve Perry ex of Journey who is without any doubt the finest rock singer to ever front a rock band, That aside all credit to Daltrey and Townsend for still having a go at making new music and not going through the motions and sitting back and relying on the old songs to get by.

    • Pete says:

      I was with you until you named Steve Perry the greatest vocalist to front a rock band. That award goes to Robert Plant of a little band called Led Zeppelin.

      • DaveM says:

        And the award for greatest vocalist NOT to front Led Zeppelin goes to Terry Reid! Seriously though, that Who single is great.

        • DazH. says:

          Have to agree with The Progster.Theres a lot of great rock vocalists, too many to mention, but when it comes down to sheer power and vocal range, nobody can touch Steve Perry.

          • TheProgster says:

            Thank you DazH for agreeing with me on that because Plant doesn’t have the range and soul in his voice like Perry has…But again we all have our favorites and what we deem to be the best but it’s a lot down to personal preference and we should agree to disagree at times.

      • peter chrisp says:

        Not to mention the legendary Paul Rogers i’d rate him one of the finest too.

    • Kevin says:

      I thought ‘Endless Wire’ was good and a billion times better than most of the tracks on the dreadful ‘It’s Hard’. That is easily the nadir of The Who’s long career.

    • Nick Love says:

      Shouty or not Roger (along with arguably Steve Marriott) created the blueprint for the 70’s hard rock vocalist. I even read something by Jimmy Page saying he wanted a vocalist that resembled Daltrey for Zeppelin which led to Plant.

  21. Bruce N says:

    pleased to see this finally out. i pre-ordered a signed CD way back in January, so I hope they’ve remembered!

    • J.C. Richards says:

      I see nothing anywhere about them signing anything or else I would have pre-ordered too

    • Alan B says:

      I can remember months ago seeing an option to pre order the CD. At the time there was no title or even a release date. But I didn’t see any signed version though. Was that through a special link?

      • Bruce N says:

        It came via their mailing list and the link itself was on The Who website – but only for a short while, I think.

        • Guy.S says:

          Yep, just checked my emails and had a receipt on the 28th January for “Signed UK Exclusive 2019 Album CD” I think the extra fiver on each cd went to a charity to do with Pete Townshend. Can’t wait.

  22. Daryl says:

    Nice to see the jewel case specified. I despise flimsy digipaks!

    • Travis says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Daryl. I prefer jewel cases over any other type of packaging, particularly digipaks and those awful LP-style sleeves that do not include a plastic tray for the disc to sit in. In regards to the packaging of the deluxe edition of this new Who release, I agree with Paul that the addition of a simple cardboard slipcase doesn’t seem very “deluxe.”

      Although this is the first time that I’ve commented on this particular site, I visit SDE at least once per day, without fail. Paul, I appreciate everything that you do. I seemingly always find myself reading your in-depth articles, even when they are written about artists that I am not interested in. Thank you, sir.

  23. Federico says:

    That’s crazy. I was just listening to A Quick One.

  24. Alan says:

    The sleeve is a total ripoff of Stanley Road, even some of the things like the heart and the star are replicated.

    I hope the album is better than Endless Wire.

  25. gary oliver says:

    … dont know about the album, but i WOULD like a framed print of the cover art
    .

  26. Colin Harper says:

    Terrific. I’m a fan of their imperial phase (1969-78) and saw them a couple of years back – no more the 4-piece jam band of old but a few carefully set aside bars per song for Pete to turn up his guitar and do something unscripted amid the shackles of the otherwise ruthlessly (re)arranged stage songs, with a shower of extra backing singers and tambourinists. If that’s what they need to get them through a stage show or tour at this point, that’s okay – as Pete said in the quote above, there’s a time to accept when things have to change. (Though the recent tour with orchestras sounded like adding a litre of water to a fine whisky.) But I’m more impressed than I expected to be the new track – perhaps more as a ‘record’ (a recording/arrangement as a sonic artefact) than as a song, but a fair songwriting idea in that respect too. There’s a lot of analogue feel and the coiled spring tension of studio recordings like ‘Relay’ and ‘Who Are You?’ in the way it’s been assembled and mixed. ‘Endless Wire’ (the last Who album) seemed to be full of rather strange lyrical references – almost like a songwriting version of Peter Blake’s cut & paste designs – scattergun references to Doris Day, Mike Post, The Pope, Johnny Ray, sundry other people, which just implied a paucity of vision. Fingers crossed that Pete’s reigned in his attempts to write big themed stuff (as he says is the case), which often just ends up as bluster. (Quadrophenia was a bridge too far for me let alone any Big Idea since.) If it’s a record full of rocking chair reflections and observations by a former angry young man, that sounds like a winning idea to me. I’m now going to press ‘buy’ on the thing. I wouldn’t have done that before hearing the track. Ironically, perhaps, given Pete’s quote about nostalgia, I’ll buy the album at least partly out of nostalgia – for the Who of 1970, the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world. It sounds like there’s just enough of that DNA left to turn it up and pretend to oneself that we won’t get fooled again.

  27. andrew r says:

    Cover wise puts me in mind of stanley road
    and is that mr weller puffing hard on a ciggie
    top right? You have to salute them for keeping on
    but based on that track you would have to say the best since Who are you
    not Quad which is Townshends masterpiece. Sorry Pete and Rog

    • James C says:

      Spot on with the Stanley Road comment… particularly the cover of the box set / deluxe edition of that album. Clearly intentional on Peter Blake’s part but not very original all the same.

  28. vikerii says:

    I was close in my bet with my wife. Was thinking it would be called WHO’S LAST. Glad they are putting out another album!

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