It’s Hard (The Who) – Album Review (Part 2)

Read the introduction to this review here.

The songs on The Who’s final record with Kenny Jones have a distinctive characteristic: many were written “to order” by Pete. That is, Roger and John requested that certain issues were touched upon and that is why we have a song about the health system (“Cook’s County”) and one about war (“I’ve Known No War”). These work in tandem with John’s “Dangerous”, about urban violence and security.

“Cook’s County” has the sad merit of being hailed by fans as one of the worst songs ever recorded by the band. The other is “Armenia, City In The Sky”, though to be fair that one was penned by Pete’s chauffeur at the time, Speedy Keene. ”I’ve Known No War” is better as it has a longer running time in which motifs are established and both the instruments and the vocals peak, culminating in an orchestrated fade.

The title track was actually reworked from an opera of Pete about each person being a soul under siege, and it has some mixed wordplay. But it is mostly compelling when taken as a whole. Continue reading

It’s Hard (The Who) – Album Review (Part 1)

The Who's Final Studio Album With Kenny Jones

The Who's Final Studio Album With Kenny Jones

Three years after Keith Moon had passed away, Pete must have been regretting they ever carried on. His attitude had changed for sure, as he began pumping out solo releases which in hindsight were to be the place to turn to if you were looking for The Who’s zest. Because The “New” Who on record and The “New” Who on stage were completely different entities.

Live, Kenny had to replicate Keith’s arrangements, and he was quite capable of doing that (they never, ever did “Happy Jack” with Kenny, though). As a studio drummer, it was a different story. He could drum excitingly enough for any band (“You Better You Bet” and “Daily Records” are clear examples), but nobody could ever hold a torch to Keith’s inventive performances in the studio. That wasn’t Kenny’s fault, certainly. And to be fair, Keith could never have played military drums like the former Small Faces drummer did on “Cry If You Want”. But he was under so much pressure and attention that it must have been unbearable. And Roger was hostile to him from day one. Continue reading