The Who By Numbers - The Who
Polydor (UK) / MCA (US)
Produced by Glyn Johns
Released 3rd October 1975 (UK) / 25th October 1975 (US)
UK Chart #7
US Chart #8
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
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"
Singles from The Who By Numbers
(US Picture Sleeve)
UK Chart #10
US Chart #16
Did Not Chart
Following up a huge album like Quadrophenia was always going to be a mammoth task and one that The Who clearly did not master with their ninth Studio Album The Who By Numbers.
The album was their first on Polydor Records and recording took around three months to complete. This was mainly due to Pete Townshend's "writers block". 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. I actually found that to be quite funny the idea that at 30 he was thinking he was too old to be playing when you consider that he's still out playing loud rock and roll 41 years later!
The drugs and the drink probably didn't help in this whole matter of being creative and dreaming up a new bunch of songs. Townshed himself declared that "[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."
Glyn Johns worked his magic in the studio and finally an album featuring nine songs by Townshend and one by John Entwistle (Success Story - The Ox's satirical look at the world of rock and roll stardom).
The album wasn't all bad and it wasn't great as the Rolling Stone review of The Who by Numbers stated: "They may have made their greatest album in the face of [their personal problems]. But only time will tell." Personally I really like How Many Friends, that was a brave song to write!
Not many of the songs were deemed good enough to become part of the live set and when the band went out on the road to tour the album only a few were ever played. Townshend said that he disliked playing Dreaming From The Waist whilst John Entwistle declared it to be one of his favourites to play live!
Squeeze Box was a huge hit both sides of the Atlantic in 1975 but a year later Slip Kid failed to chart.
The 1996 Reissue included three live tracks from their magnificent show at Swansea Football Club in 1976.
Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!