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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Rewind: 1975 The Who By Numbers - The Who

The Who by Numbers is the seventh studio album by English rock band 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. It was named the tenth-best album of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.

Pete Townshend has claimed that the band recorded practically every song he had written for The Who By Numbers, partially due to a writer's block that he was experiencing at the time. The songs on the album were, for the most part, more introspective and personal than many other songs that the band had released. Townshend had his 30th birthday in May 1975 and was struggling with the idea of being too old to play rock-and-roll and that the band were losing their relevance. He began to feel disenchanted with the music industry, a feeling that he carried into his songs.

    "[The songs] were written with me stoned out of my brain in my living room, crying my eyes out... detached from my own work and from the whole project... I felt empty."
    — Pete Townshend

For the album's recording, the band recruited producer Glyn Johns, who the band had previously worked with the band during the recording of Who's Next. Compared to previous Who albums, The Who By Numbers took an unusually long time to complete (nearly three months) and was marred by numerous breaks and interruptions due to the band members' growing boredom and lack of interest.

As an illustration of the band's lack of confidence in the material, only four of the ten songs on The Who By Numbers were performed live, two of which ("Squeeze Box" and "Dreaming From The Waist") became concert staples.

    "I felt partly responsible because the Who recording schedule had, as usual, dragged on and on, sweeping all individuals and their needs aside. Glyn worked harder on The Who by Numbers than I've ever seen him. He had to, not because the tracks were weak or the music poor but because the group was so useless. We played cricket between takes or went to the pub. I personally had never done that before. I felt detached from my own songs, from the whole record.
    Recording the album seemed to take me nowhere. Roger [Daltrey] was angry with the world at the time. Keith [Moon] seemed as impetuous as ever, on the wagon one minute, off the next. John [Entwistle] was obviously gathering strength throughout the whole period; the great thing about it was he seemed to know we were going to need him more than ever before in the coming year."

    — Pete Townshend

The album cover was drawn by John Entwistle. In 1996, when asked about the cover, he replied: "The first [piece of artwork] release[d] is The Who By Numbers cover, which I never got paid for, so now I'm going to get paid. (laughs) We were taking it in turns to do the covers. It was Pete's turn before me and we did the Quadrophenia cover, which cost about the same as a small house back then, about 16,000 pounds. My cover cost 32 pounds."

 The Who By Numbers - The Who
Produced by Chris Charlesworth, Bill Curbishley, Glyn Johns, Robert Rosenberg
Released 3rd October 1975
UK Chart #7
US Chart #8 

The Who
    Roger Daltrey – lead vocals, percussion
    Pete Townshend – guitars, keyboards, ukulele, accordion, banjo, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocals on "However Much I Booze" and "Blue, Red and Grey"
    John Entwistle – bass guitar (four and eight-string), brass, backing vocals, joint lead vocal on "Success Story", album cover art
    Keith Moon – drums, percussion

Additional musicians
    Nicky Hopkins – piano on "Slip Kid", "Imagine a Man", "Success Story", "They Are All in Love", "How Many Friends", and "In a Hand or a Face"

 All Songs by Pete Towshend unless otherwise noted

 Side One
1.     "Slip Kid"       4:29
2.     "However Much I Booze"       5:03
3.     "Squeeze Box"       2:41
4.     "Dreaming from the Waist"       4:08
5.     "Imagine a Man"       4:00
Side Two
6.     "Success Story" (John Entwistle)     3:20
7.     "They Are All in Love"       3:00
8.     "Blue, Red and Grey"       2:47
9.     "How Many Friends"       4:06
10.     "In a Hand or a Face"       3:25

Singles From The Who By Numbers
  1. Squeeze Box / Success Story
    Released: October 1975 UK Chart #10 US Chart #16
  2. Slip Kid / Dreaming from the Waist
    Released: 7 August 1976

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