Endless Wire (The Who) – Album Review

The circumstances surrounding the final Who album of 1982 (It’s Hard) were so bitter that it took the band 24 years to finally summon the resolve to issue a new album of original compositions. Unfortunately, John Entwistle was to pass away in Las Vegas on the eve of a Who tour before their new record (“Endless Wire”) could materialize, casting a question mark on the true validity of this new work as a Who piece, which (quite aptly) finds Roger singing “will there be music/or there will be war” at its conceptual climax.

Personally, I’m not going to entangle myself into the “this is not The Who any longer” debate, simply because there is no such debate to be had.

The Who did not have four members; The Who had four leaders. All three instrumentalists were revolutionary. Now the rhythm section is gone, and we have Pino Palladino on bass – a superb musician, but not someone who aims to replicate Entwistle’s thunder (nor should he, in the same way no-one really expected Kenny Jones to ape Keith Moon’s sound). Yet, the current incarnation of the band does feature Zak Starkey, who is incontestably the most skillful drummer The Who has ever had on Moon’s stead.

Which brings me to my one principal problem regarding “Endless Wire” – Zak does not make an appearance, as he was occupied touring and recording with Oasis. He does drum on namely one track, and it’s easily one of the standouts: “Black Widow’s Eyes” – a song about Stockholm Syndrome which evinces suspense and impending fatality, conjuring back the kind of tension that always defined The Who’s most characteristic numbers.

The album was released in October 2006, and it is divided in two parts. The first is an unconnected collection of vignettes and songs. The second is a mini-opera entitled “Wire & Glass” (which was also the name of an EP the band released ahead of the album).

Old friends abound – Pete’s brother Simon, keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick (the unofficial “fifth” member of The Who for as much as 30 years now) and also Billy Nichols, a Baba lover whose name will be instantly familiar to fans of Pete Townshend’s solo oeuvre (IE, Who enthusiasts everywhere).

The first nine tracks find Roger and Pete trading vocals throughout, and the songs themselves have a marked acoustic air, which is even reminiscent of The Who By Numbers in places.

Roger is in fine form throughout – give the man his due, he was on his seventies when he recorded this. His delivery is nuanced, and has a theatrical sheen of its own that somehow compensates for the missing roar of yore.

Nostalgia sets the tone from the very commencement with “Fragments” nodding to “Baba O’ Riley”, and (depending on your stance on The Who’s actual framework) you’ll either find it really endearing or the most conformist thing they ever set to tape (to be fair, Pete didn’t even write it all by himself – British multimedia composer Lawrence Ball receives a co-credit). 

Elsewhere, we have a song inspired by “The Passion of The Christ” (“Man In A Purple Dress”), and Pete might as well have the most touching moment of the whole album when he sings “God Speaks Of Marty Robbins” (a song which was actually made available on demo form during his “Scoop” series in 2001).

Conversely, it’s Pete who sings the one and only nadir of the album – “In The Ether”. I find it ludicrous to believe that he did actually record and listen to that and opted to include it on the finished album.

“You Stand By Me” closes the first side of the record. The song is certainly not without charm, but it is too brief, and the motif would be taken up again on the closing number of the album, and addressed more satisfactorily at that (although I do concede the two songs work well in tandem, offering Pete and Roger’s individual reflections on their fifty-year strong relationship).

The “Wire & Glass” mini opera is the most Who-like part of the album. It obviously helps that the subject matter hits home – it tells the story of some childhood friends that form a band, effectively replicating the story of The Who in more aspects than one (“we found a dream to dream/we were the carriers”, Roger sings on “We Got a Hit”, before retorting “we talked a lot of crap/they wanted more!”). Townshend’s aunt Trilby (the person who encouraged him as a musician when he was a boy) gets a name check, and the concept of a transcendental concert (IE, the one that fueled the “Lifehouse” project) shines through again on “Mirror Door” – a song which was actually released as the album’s first single, and that did acquit itself well on the charts. And “Tea & Theatre” ends the album on the most suitable of notes, featuring just Pete and Roger, who provides a vocal which manages to be both powerful and fragile. And the live versions just punctuates everything all the better.

I do also have the “expanded” version of the album, which includes an elongated version of “We Got a Hit” which outright vexes me – while the original is dizzying, this alternate take just plods along. What’s the added value in something like that?

This expanded version also comes with a DVD which is quite fun to watch but all too succinct (only one song from the new album?), and the person who thought that mimicking the “Leeds” cover was a good idea needs his head examined.

On the whole, “Endless Wire” is a solid album. Pete is very focused. Even his chord progressions (one of the main points of contention for people who tend to dismiss the band) are subjected to some very peculiar twists of their own.

And as of the time of writing this, the band is recording a new album. It will feature Zak on the majority of its track, and (in quite a bit of a stunner) Roger will also pen original material alongside Pete (who, by the way, is going to release his first novel, which will most likely set the scene for a new solo album). Actually, Roger did write some songs for “Endless Wire” – a much-cited composition titled “Certified Rose” did not make the cut. And neither did a song by John named “Sabotage”, for which it was heavily-rumored that a usable soundcheck bassline was available. 

Like everybody else, I had strong reservations when I learned The Who were issuing an album after John Entwistle’s passing. I actually took a long time to buy it. But as you can tell by this review, I was gratefully surprised.

However, I did not attend the band’s one show in Argentina in 2016; it was their first time playing South America. I do regret it now, specially after having listened to their “Live At Hyde Park” album. I hope I’ll be able to make up for that one big mistake if they tour their upcoming album. Now I know what I will find on stage.

Most of everything, I know Who I will find.

Music makes me, makes me strong
Strong vibrations, make me long
Long for a place where I belong
You will find me in this song

– Mirror Door

Customize The Latest Album By Kaiser Chiefs And Buy Just The Songs You Want

“The Future Is Medieval” Is The Newest Album By Kaiser Chiefs. In A Bold Move, Fans Can Choose Which Tracks To Actually Buy

Can you imagine what would happen if bands let punters build their own albums using the songs they have recorded, arrange them in the order they want and also pick a cover to go with these? Would that be beneficial for the actual music recorded by bands, or would that be taking things just too far? I ask you because a band has done exactly such a thing, and it is turning to be the talk of the Internet.

British indie band Kaiser Chiefs has just finished recording a 20-track CD, and it lets people buy any ten songs from it, in the order they see fit, and give it a cover of its very own using lots of preloaded images. What’s even more interesting is that once a person orders this customized CD, he will then be given the option to sell this customized album himself online, and earn 1 pound per sale.

This is as interesting as it is debatable. While letting fans do such a thing is the ultimate way to get them engaged, it also lessens the unity of what has been recorded. In this specific case, Kaiser Chiefs has recorded 20 songs. The fans buying the album will get to listen to only 10. A system like this one might as well come with a large sticker reading “Forget about sequencing or continuity”.

Plus, the fact that there might be as many versions of an album around as fans of the band means nobody will have the same impression of what has been released. There are thousands of ways in which songs can be combined.

This is not really the first time something like this has been done. Not so long ago, Devo crowdsourced the tracklist for its album “Something For Everybody”. And going way, way back I recall how MusicMaker.com let you customize your copy of The Who’s “The Blues To The Bush” before ordering it. Granted, it wasn’t the same thing. That was a live album. But it made for multiple permutations of the same disc to be available to the public.

Kaiser Chiefs’ “The Future Is Medieval” is a brand-new collection of songs. The only way to listen to all of them is by ordering two copies with 10 cuts each. So, how will this go down with fans? If your favorite band ever did the same thing, how supportive would you be? Leave a comment below and let us all know, please!

How Many Consecutive Number 1 Albums Did Elton John Have?

Elton John Had No Less Than Seven Consecutive Number 1 Albums During His Glory Years.

Elton John Had No Less Than Seven Consecutive Number 1 Albums During His Glory Years.

Beginning with 1972’s “Honky Chateau”, Elton was to have seven consecutive number 1 albums.

In order of release, they were:

Honky Chateau (1972)
Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
Caribou (1974)
Greatest Hits (1974)
Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975)
Rock of the Westies (1975)

It is interesting to mention that one of these albums (“Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy”) was actually the first album to ever enter the American charts at number 1.

MusicKO: The Best Album Reviews Of 2010

There you go, the best album that I reviewed in 2010!

Is there something that I omitted? Did you read a review on MusicKO that I left out of this list? Well, leave a comment below and let everybody know about it!

Black Gold: The Best Of Soul Asylum
Wasp Star (Apple Venus Part 2) (XTC)
Monster (REM)
Empty Glass (Pete Townshend)
Rough Mix (Pete Townshend & Ronnie Lane)
(What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (Oasis)
The Masterplan (Oasis)
All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (Pete Townshend)
The Iron Man (Pete Townshend)
Chips From The Chocolate Fireball (The Dukes Of Stratosphear)
Green (REM)
Grace (Jeff Buckley)
(Sketches For) My Sweetheart The Drunk (Jeff Buckley)
Southern Accents (Tom Petty)
Odds & Sods (The Who)
Once (Original Soundtrack Album)
Elizabethtown Vol. 1  (Original Soundtrack Album)
All This Useless Beauty (Elvis Costello)
The Band (Album Review)
Caribou (Elton John)
One For The Road (The Kinks)
Horses (Patti Smith)
Echo (Tom Petty)
Blue (Joni Mitchell)
Combat Rock (The Clash)
Pablo Honey (Radiohead)

Kayne West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” Album Has Been Leaked

Kayne West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” Album Can Now Be Downloaded By Those Who Look It Up

A Clean Version Of Kayne West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” Can Now Be Downloaded By Those Who Look It Up

And the biggest ploy of the decade hastens on… Kayne West’s latest album has now “surprisingly” been leaked into the Internet.

Now those of you who Google “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” are going to be able to find its edited version available for download, a good couple of weeks ahead of the album’s slated release date.

Kayne hasn’t spoken his mind about that yet.

He has been too busy retweeting some of the best reviews that have surfaced.

And there have been quite a handful of these.

Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.

Relisir – Never Miss A Music Release Again


Name: Relisir
Address: http://www.relisir.com

Relisir is a notification service that keeps you posted on new music releases. The idea is that you sign up and provide a list of these artists that you are ecstatic about. You will then be notified when they issue anything. In that way, you can realize how many days your piggy still has to live and how fatter it must become to be of any real use.

And in case you have a ton of favorite bands, you will be glad to know you can actually import the list from your Last.fm account and get the boring process of typing everything manually right out of the way. Continue reading

MusicVault – Rating Albums Old & New Using Twitter


Name: MusicVault:
URL: http://www.musicvault.fm

Recent events have shown us that Twitter can make or break any movie. Upon seeing theatrical release, “Bruno” was slammed by twitterers and died an instant death. Conversely, movies like “Inglorious Bastards” and “District 9” were lauded on the micro-blogging universe and became that kind of picture you can’t miss unless you want to stop being invited to top parties.

Now, does Twitter have the same strength when it comes to music? Well, it looks like we are about to find it out. This brand-new service lets people tweet out the name of any album they have just listened to along with a rating. These are then aggregated on the site, and you can quickly learn which albums are universally praised. You do also get to see the most active users at a glance, and you can obviously start following them right there and then.

It is interesting to point out that once you are on the site you can choose to see either the best-rated discs or the worst-rated albums ever. It seems somebody who holds a grudge against Mike Oldfield is around – he gave “Music Of The Spheres” an overall score of 1 %, whereas his rating for “The Millennium Bell” was 2 %. There was also someone who gave Oasis’ “Heathen Chemistry” an overall score of 30 %. And I swear it wasn’t me! Continue reading