“Who’s Next” (album) by The Who (1971)
Release Date: August 14, 1971
Produced by The Who
Associate Producer: Glyn Johns
Chart Positions: #4 (US), #1 (UK), #2 (Finland, Netherlands, France), #3 (Australia, Denmark), #5 (Canada), #6 (Norway), #14 (Ireland), #18 (Germany), #100 (Italy)
Certifications: 3xPlatinum (US), Gold (UK, Italy)
Singles: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (#15 US, #9 UK, France, #1 Singapore, #2 Malaysia, #3 Poland, #5 Israel, #6 Portugal, #7 Canada, #8, Netherlands, #11 Holland, #14 Australia, #27 Germany and Denmark)
"Behind Blue Eyes” (#1 France, #34 US and Holland)
“Baba O’Reilly” (#11 Netherlands, #13 Holland, #26 Belgium, #80 Australia, #200 France)
Who's Next is the fifth studio album by English rock band The Who. It developed from the aborted Lifehouse project, a multi-media rock opera written by the group's Pete Townshend as a follow-up to the band's 1969 album Tommy. The project was cancelled due to its complexity and conflicts with Kit Lambert, the band's manager, but Townshend was persuaded to record the songs as a straightforward studio album. The album was a major hit around the world and spawned three hit singles.
The Who recorded Who's Next with assistance from recording engineer Glyn Johns. After producing the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" in the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they relocated to Olympic Studios to record and mix most of the album's remaining songs. They made prominent use of the synthesizer on the album, particularly on "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley", which were both released as singles. The cover photo was shot by Ethan Russell and made reference to the monolith in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it featured group members having urinated against a concrete piling protruding from a slag heap.
Who's Next was an immediate success when it was released on August 14, 1971. It has since been viewed by critics as the Who's best record and one of the greatest albums of all time.
In 1970 The Who set out to record their science fiction rock opera “Lifehouse.” After a series of concerts to promote their upcoming “Lifehouse” project Pete Townshend became disillusioned with it and the group dropped the project and rapidly began work on their next album “Who’s Next.” Several of the tracks on “Who’s Next” were birthed from ideas from the “Lifehouse” project.
The first single “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was released on June 25, 1971 a month and a half before the album and was an immediate smash hit reaching the Top 10 all around the world. The album version runs 8:30. The single was shortened to 3:35 so radio stations would play it. The song, which closes the album “Who’s Next,” was written by Pete Townshend as a closing number of the Lifehouse project, the lyrics are a critique of revolution and power. To symbolize the spiritual connection he had found in music via the works of Meher Baba and Inayat Khan, he programmed a blend of human traits into a synthesizer and used it as a back track throughout the song. Townshend interviewed several people with general practitioner-style questions, and captured their heartbeat, brainwaves and astrological charts, converting the result into a series of audio pulses. The Who first recorded the song in New York in March 1971, but re-recorded it at Stargroves (Home of Mick Jagger and a recording venue for Rolling Stones and other rock artists) the next month using the synthesizer track from Townshend's original demo. Roger Daltrey's scream is considered one of the best on any rock song. It was quite a convincing wail - so convincing that the rest of the band, lunching nearby, thought Daltrey was brawling with the engineer. Townshend described the song as one "that screams defiance at those who feel any cause is better than no cause.”
The second single, “Behind Blue Eyes,” was originally set to be the album’s first single release, but the group decided to release “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as they felt that song better represented the band’s overall mood at the time. The song is another that was written by Pete Townshend for his Lifehouse project. "Behind Blue Eyes" originated after a Who concert in Denver on June 9th, 1970. Following the performance, Townshend became tempted by a female groupie, but he instead went back to his room alone, possibly as a result of the teachings of his spiritual leader, Meher Baba. Upon reaching his room, he began writing a prayer, the first words being "When my fist clenches, crack it open..." These words later appeared as lyrics in the "climactic rocking section" of "Behind Blue Eyes." The version of "Behind Blue Eyes" on the original Who's Next album was the second version the band recorded; the first was recorded at the Record Plant in New York on 18 March 1971 and features Al Kooper on Hammond organ.
"Behind Blue Eyes"
“Baba O’Riley” (aka “Teenage Wasteland”) was the third and last single from “Who’s Next,” like the other singles from the album, was written by Pete Townshend for his “Lifehouse” project. Roger Daltrey sings most of the song, with Pete Townshend singing the middle eight: "Don't cry/don't raise your eye/it's only teenage wasteland". The song's title is a combination of the names of two of Townshend's philosophical and musical influences, Meher Baba and Terry Riley. Townshend stated in an interview that "'Baba O'Riley' is about the absolute desolation of teenagers at Woodstock, where the patrons were smacked out on acid and 20 people had brain damage. The irony was that some listeners took the song to be a teenage celebration: 'Teenage Wasteland, yes! We're all wasted!'" The song is often mistakenly called "Teenage Wasteland", after the phrase repeated in the song. "Teenage Wasteland" was in fact a working title for the song in its early incarnations as part of the Lifehouse project, but eventually became the title for a different but related song by Townshend, which is slower and features more lyrics. A demo of "Teenage Wasteland" is featured on Lifehouse Chronicles, a six disc set of music related to the Lifehouse project, and on several Townshend compilations and videos.
Other album highlights include the song “Bargain” a love song in which the subject of love is not defined. Townshend has stated the song was influenced by Indian mystic Meher Baba and that the subject of the song is God. Another highlight is “Going Mobile” a song that many felt was strong enough to be released as a single. The song was originally written for Townshend's abandoned Lifehouse project, with lyrics celebrating the joy of having a mobile home and being able to travel the open road. The Who's lead singer Roger Daltrey did not take part in the recording of the song, leaving the rest of the band to record it as a power trio; Townshend handles the lead vocals, guitars, and synthesizers, with John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums.
"Baba O'Reilly" was used as the TV Theme song for the series "CSI: NY" from 2004 - 2013. "Won't Get Fooled Again" was the TV theme for "CSI Miami."