Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Who - Face Dances (1981)


Note: the CD I listened to was the 1997 reissue.

Until very recently, my memory of The Who in the '80s had been limited to hating their 1982 single Eminence Front because it seemed that MTV played its video non-stop.  In 1982, I wanted these old guys to get off the TV so I could watch the latest New Wave videos (admittedly, I'm currently about ten years older than those so-called "old guys" were back in '82).  I hated Eminence Front so much that I called it Eminence F**ked.

About two weeks ago, the local "classic rock" radio station stopped playing Led Zepplin and Lynyrd Skynyrd for a bit and played Don't Let Go The Coat.  I was surprised to find myself humming along.  It had been many, many years since I had heard that song.  When it was over, the DJ mentioned that it was from the Face Dances album.  That mention made me remember a "Stuck in the '80s" blog post from 2008 and another from 2009 in which the writer, eighties guru Steve Spears, claimed that Face Dances "is my favorite Who album and I've owned it in vinyl, cassette and CD form over the years" and that his CD copy of the album has a spot on his "must-not-lend list."  I've followed Steve for many years and respect his opinion, so I thought maybe I'd missed something back in '81.

Thanks to the current technology that allows me to stream full albums, I finally gave this thing a listen 32 years after its release.  I thought I'd listen to a few songs, move on to something else, and that would be the end of it. Wrong.  After listening through the whole thing twice, I was hooked.  The excitement of finding a "new" good album was tempered by the beating I was giving myself for not listening to this before now.  After listening a few more times over the next week, I picked up my own CD copy at the local media store.  ($6.99 for a new disc - such a deal).

You were right, Steve, it's good stuff.  It's clearly Townshend's band by this point and his songwriting is in top form (musically, that is.  Lyrically, I have no idea what he's going on about).  Contrary to what most hard core fans think, the production by Bill Szymczyk perfectly serves Townshend's material; the clean rock sound reminds me of The Police around the same time.  Roger Daltry isn't at his best, but keyboardist John Bundrick is a welcome addition and new drummer Kenney Jones does a solid job after being put in an unenviable position. Like I said, I'm hooked; it's a sudden, inexplicable fascination.  I'm still listening to at least a few songs every day.  Better late than never, I suppose.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #4
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #3

Tracks:  I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite between You Better You Bet and Don't Let Go The Coat, but the only track I'm even tempted to skip is one of the John Entwistle tracks, You.  The other 8 tracks are underrated pop songs masquerading as rock songs.

Bonus tracks:  Of the 5 bonus tracks, I like only It's in You.  I can do without the other 4.  These weren't on the original release for a reason.  Overall, quite a letdown after hearing the original 9 tracks.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  Above

Previously revisited for the blog:
The Who's Tommy - Original Cast Recording (1993)

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