Release Date: Oct 31, 2006
Record label: Republic
And, like much of the best of the Who's work, the best of Endless Wire does indeed connect at a gut level, even if it's in a considerably different way than it was in the past: instead of being visceral and immediate, this is music carries a slow burn. This is partially because they are no longer driven by Moon and Entwistle, but quite frankly, this most manic of rhythm sections never really anchored the Who; Townshend always did with his furious windmills and propulsive rhythms, and there was never any question that this, along with his songs, formed the complex, contradictory heart of the Who, while Daltrey gave the songs both muscle and a commonality, undercutting Townshend's pretensions -- or giving him a voice behind which to hide, a voice to act out his best and worst impulses. After all the upheaval of the first part of the 2000s, Townshend needed to have Daltrey interpret his songs, which do confront many tough emotions and questions regarding faith, mortality and persecution, albeit often in oblique ways.
Of all the aspects of the Who's history, their role in the invention of the rock opera is perhaps most controversial. Their peerless 1960s singles and the brawny street rock of Who's Next and Live at Leeds are held to have ultimately led to Good Things, including punk rock, Nirvana and the really visceral, exciting bits of Britpop. However, you could draw a worryingly direct line between the highfalutin ambitions of Tommy and Quadrophenia and stuff of more questionable value: the oeuvre of Marillion, Jesus Christ Superstar (and thus the career of Andrew Lloyd Webber), Rick Wakeman performing The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on ice.
Pete, sweetheart. Enough with the rock operas already, "mini" or otherwise. The age of grand statements died with Keith Moon. Thankfully, Endless Wire's first nine Townshends garrote their predecessor, 1982's It's Hard. "A Man in a Purple Dress," "Black Widow's Eyes," and Supreme Being "God Speaks ….