November 11, 2006

Endless Wire

I've thought a lot over the past few days about what I wanted to say regarding The Who's first album in 24 years. I heard chunks of it when they played Wire and Glass at the concert, and I'd heard snippets from the iTunes music store while eagerly anticipating delivery. When I finally got my grubby little hands on it, I whipped it into the CD player and sat back, still not really knowing what I was about to hear.

I gave it a couple of listens, at home and in the car that night on the way to band. My first reaction was "this is what everyone's been raving about?" There were moments, hints almost, of greatness, but stretches seemed tired and forced. I was disappointed and wondering what I everyone was hearing that I wasn't.

Over the next few days, however, I realized I just couldn't get certain songs out of my head, even the parts that I thought were tired. They're catchy, and I couldn't shake them. A few more listens, starting to hear the words, taking more of it in. More parts sticking in my head, more parts finding their way out of my mouth in the shower. I gave it another listen today while I was doing some work and it all sort of gelled. I find myself liking...no, loving...more of it than I dislike.

Roger's voice isn't as strong, but it's still can be just as tough and just as sweet as it used to be. It's aged well. Townshend's songwriting continues to deliver lines that stick in your head, begging you to peel back the layers of meaning. It's a complex mix, I really needed to hear it on my studio monitors before I could appreciate it. For some reason my headphones don't do it justice. If asked to characterize it, the style seems very much a blend of the last 25 years. It sounds like It's Hard (their last studio album) in places, sounding like Townshend's solo work (notably White City, Iron Man) in others, and as punchy and brute force as some of the things they did in the 60s and 70s.

There are still a few weak moments, but there is greatness here, after all this time.

Interestingly enough, I found this on Pete's blog recently:

Looking forward to blowing the cobwebs away at Leeds Uni this Saturday. Among other things we will be playing Wire & Glass which is dedicated to Dr Vint Cerf (who in 1970 helped create TCP/IP, the protocol code that eventually unleashed the real power of data transfer by computer and wire).

Somehow being near greatness allows me to be closer to one my idols. One doesn't get that feeling very often.

Posted by pinkerton at November 11, 2006 2:39 PM