Much of Who's Next derives from Lifehouse , an ambitious sci-fi rock opera Pete Townshend abandoned after suffering a nervous breakdown, caused in part from working on the sequel to Tommy.
There's no discernable theme behind these songs, yet this album is stronger than Tommy , falling just behind Who Sell Out as the finest record the Who ever cut. Townshend developed an infatuation with synthesizers during the recording of the album, and they're all over this album, adding texture where needed and amplifying the force, which is already at a fever pitch. That's the key to Who's Next -- there's anger and sorrow, humor and regret, passion and tumult, all wrapped up in a blistering package where the rage is as affecting as the heartbreak.
Nice compound, quiet surfaces, etc. Chip Stylus , May 1, Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. This should be helpful. VinylNutz , May 1, Alan2 and marcfeld69 like this. Location: Saratoga New York. Should I look out for a W1 without the 2? Hanglow , Nov 18, I think if you do a search you'll find an astonishing amount of data on this album here at these boards. I have an old scratched up Decca and an early 80s blue cloud MCA. The Decca sounds better between the scratches.
The MCA sounds good, too. PhilBiker , Nov 18, Location: West Coast now, East Coast before. Baba O'Riley 2. Bargain 3. Love Ain't For Keeping 4. My Wife 5. Song Is Over 6. Getting In Tune 7. Going Mobile 8. Behind Blue Eyes 9. Some elements accurately describe future technology; for example, The Grid resembles the internet and "grid sleep" virtual reality.
The group held a press conference on 13 January , explaining that they would be giving a series of concerts at the Young Vic theatre, where they would develop the fictional elements of the proposed film along with the audience. After the initial concerts, the group flew to New York's Record Plant Studios at Lambert's suggestion, for studio recordings. Townshend used a Gretsch guitar, given to him by Joe Walsh , during the session; it went on to become his main guitar for studio recording.
The group gave a further series of concerts at the Young Vic on 25 and 26 April, which were recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio by Andy Johns , but Townshend grew disillusioned with Lifehouse and further shows were cancelled. Years later, in the liner notes to the remastered CD, Townshend wrote that the failure of the project led him to the verge of a nervous breakdown. Although the Lifehouse concept was abandoned, scraps of the project remained in the final album, including the use of synthesizers and computers.
This allowed the band to concentrate on maximising the impact of individual tracks, and providing a unifying sound for them. Although he gave up his original intentions for the Lifehouse project, Townshend continued to develop the concepts, revisiting them in later albums, including a 6-CD set, The Lifehouse Chronicles in The backing track of " Won't Get Fooled Again " was recorded there  before the band decided to relocate recording to Olympic at Johns' suggestion;  the first session was on 9 April, attempting a basic take of " Bargain ".
John Entwistle 's "My Wife" was added to the album very late in the sessions, having been originally intended for a solo album.
In contrast to the Record Plant and Young Vic sessions, recording with Johns went well as he was primarily concerned about creating a good sound, whereas Lambert had always been more preoccupied about the group's image. Townshend recalled, "we were just getting astounded at the sounds Glyn was producing". The synthesizer was used as an integral part of the sound, as opposed to providing gloss as was the case on other artists' albums up to this point.
The group gave him free rein to assemble a single album of whatever songs he wanted in any order. The album opened with "Baba O'Riley", featuring piano and synthesizer-processed Lowrey organ by Townshend. The song's title pays homage to Townshend's guru, Meher Baba , and minimalist composer Terry Riley , and it is informally known as "Teenage Wasteland" from a line in the lyrics. Townshend later said this part had "two or three thousand edits to it".
The track features several overdubbed brass instruments recorded in a single half-hour session. Moon, uncharacteristically, did not appear on the first half of the track, which was later described by Who biographer Dave Marsh as "the longest time Keith Moon was still in his entire life. Townshend explained, "a revolution is only a revolution in the long run and a lot of people are going to get hurt". The cover artwork shows a photograph, taken at Easington Colliery , of the band apparently having just urinated on a large concrete piling protruding from a slag heap.
The sky in the background was added later to give the image what Russell called "this other worldly quality. Other suggestions for the cover included the group urinating against a Marshall Stack and an overweight nude woman with the Who's faces in place of her genitalia.
Some of the photographs taken during these sessions were later used as part of Decca's United States promotion of the album. It reached 9 and 15 in the charts respectively. It became the only album by the Who to top the UK charts. The Who started touring the US just before the album was released.
The latter two songs involved the band playing to a backing track containing the synthesizer parts. The group then took eight months off touring, the longest break of their career at that point. Several additional songs recorded at the Who's Next sessions were released later as singles or on compilations. The album has been re-issued remastered several times using tapes from different sessions. The master tapes for the Olympic sessions are believed to be lost, as Virgin Records threw out a substantial number of old recordings when they purchased the studio in the s.
Reviewing for The Village Voice in , music critic Robert Christgau called Who's Next "the best hard rock album in years" and said that, while their previous recordings were marred by a thin sound, the group now "achieves the same resonant immediacy in the studio that it does live". Since then, Who's Next has often been viewed as the Who's best album.Vinyl LP Polydor / Who's Next Bonus CD, CD Sized Album Replica, Deluxe Edition, Numbered Edition, SHM CD Polydor / UICY/1.