The Who by Numbers pretends to be a series of ten unconnected songs, it’s really only a pose; there’s not a story line here, but there are more important unities — lyrical themes, musical and production style, a sense of time and place.
Townshend has now pulled the fastest one of all, disguising his best concept album as a mere ten-track throwaway.
– Dave March (Rolling Stone Magazine, 1975)
The Who by Numbers is the seventh studio album by The Who, released on 3 October 1975 in the United Kingdom through Polydor Records, and on 25 October 1975 in the United States by MCA Records.
“There’s no easy way to be free.”
– Pete Townshend (Slip Kid)
This is Pete Townshend’s journal, his confessions about drinking, women and his other ordeals in life (+ one great song from John Entwistle, Success Story). I like this record a lot, it stands out as a bit different in The Who’s discography, but it has great tunes and an intimate quality. No anthems this time, but great anyway. Some critics saw it as Townshend’s “suicide note” at the time.
“It’s a song I made the night I stopped drinking” (Pete Townshend):
With its acoustic guitars and drumless bits, this triumph of hard rock is no more a pure hard rock album than Tommy. … And… it uses the synthesizer to vary the power trio format, not to art things up.
On Who’s Next, the band crossed that line with power and grace. The album spawned the concert classics “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; the great Daltrey vocal vehicles “Bargain” and “Song Is Over”; Entwistle’s scorching, anxiety-ridden “My Wife”; and Townshend’s most delicate song on record, “Behind Blue Eyes.” On Who’s Next, Townshend unleashed the power of the synthesizer as a rock & roll instrument, to be used like guitar or bass rather than as a special-effects novelty.
~The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (rollingstone.com)
Ever since I was a young boy I’ve played the silver ball. From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all. But I ain’t seen nothing like him in any amusement hall. That deaf, dumb and blind kid, Sure plays a mean pinball!
It is 46 years ago that the rock opera, Tommy was released, one of the first attempts at treating rock as an art form. The artists were The Who.
It’s a double album telling a loose story about a “deaf, dumb and blind kid”, Tommy was the first musical work to be billed overtly as a rock opera. Released in 1969, the album was mostly composed by Pete Townshend. In 1998, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for historical, artistic and significant value.