Picks and Pans Review: Who's Last
The Who reigned supreme as the kings of arena rock for 18 years, a reputation won the hard way: They worked their buns off in concert. This double live album is culled from a number of shows on their final tour of the U.S. and Canada in 1982. While tamer than Live at Leeds, their 1970 concert release, Who's Last is rewarding both as a retrospective of their hits and as an example of the excitement they could create onstage. The rousing versions of My Generation, I Can't Explain, Who Are You and Dr. Jimmy alone make this album a necessity for Who fans. In concert, Pete Townshend was faced with the problem of somehow playing rhythm and lead guitars simultaneously. Usually he simply turned up his amps, windmilled his left arm and let the riffs fall where they might. But on this record, especially on Behind Blue Eyes and Magic Bus, he comes close to resolving the dilemma of being the sole guitarist in a megadecibel band with clean arrangements that emphasize his instrument. Substitute and Love, Reign O'er Me exhibit why John Entwistle is considered by many to be rock's best bass player. Roger Daltrey's vocals are excellent, but on Pinball Wizard, which segues into See Me, Feel Me, the weak harmonies from Entwistle and Townshend undercut a normally powerful song. Drummer Kenney Jones provides a solid basic bottom, but the hell-bent percussion of Keith Moon, who died of a drug overdose in 1978, is sorely missed on Baba O'Riiey and Won't Get Fooled Again. Keyboardist Jim Gorman accompanied The Who on this tour, and adds the necessary synthesizer textures of the group's later work, as well as playing some fine honky-tonk piano on Long Live Rock. Who's Last ends with Twist and Shout, which has become the most clichéd encore in rock history. But let us not quibble. The Who perform here in an extremely tight fashion, and the recording quality is a model of clarity. This is one for everyone's archives of their favorite LPs. (MCA)
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