MCA-3026 The Who By Numbers
Produced by Glyn Johns
Released on October 1975
UK CHART POSITION #7 . . . US CHART POSITION #8
Find it at GEMM
MCA-3026 cover  

P ete Townshend temporarily abandoned the destructive force of earlier efforts for quieter, acoustic songs on The Who By Numbers. Dubbed by some their country album, the record didn’t resonate with many Who fans, who preferred the old anthems of teen angst to the bitter dregs of “Dreaming From The Waist” or “However Much I Booze.” While it’s arguably the least inspired of the band’s 70s albums (discounting the catch-all compilation Odds And Sods), there are some very pretty moments here. “They Are All In Love,” “Blue Red And Grey” and “How Many Friends” are some of my favorite Who songs, while “Slip Kid” fits seamlessly with the band’s revolutionary stance. That track and “Squeeze Box,” a countryfied novelty, garnered radio play and helped The Who By Numbers perform well on the charts, yet they couldn’t hide the fact that Townshend was struggling with his creative muse. John Entwistle contributes one track, the humorous rock and roll fairy tale “Success Story,” which temporarily shifts the record’s gaze away from Townshend’s own inner conflict. In retrospect, Townshend would have done well to yield more of the songwriting to his bandmates, since surely Daltrey and Moon could have written something as good as “Imagine A Man.” The album closes with “In A Hand Or A Face,” which signals a return to The Who’s heavier rock exploits and looks forward to the far superior Who Are You. Clearly, Townshend shoulders the blame for Numbers’ failings. The band does the best they can with the material, Daltrey in particular imbuing languid tracks like “How Many Friends” and “However Much I Booze” with a sense or urgency. But for a band that built its monument to epic proportions, The Who By Numbers seems unnecessarily modest. It’s worth checking out, though for the who’s who of Who albums look to Who’s Next, Who Are You and The Who Sell Out.

MCA-3026 back cover
MCA-3026 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. SLIP KID    4:35
  2. HOWEVER MUCH I BOOZE    5:07
  3. SQUEEZE BOX    2:39
  4. DREAMING FROM THE WAIST    4:05
  5. IMAGINE A MAN    4:02
  6. SUCCESS STORY    (John Entwistle)    3:20
  7. THEY ARE ALL IN LOVE    2:59
  8. BLUE RED AND GREY    2:46
  9. HOW MANY FRIENDS    4:03
  10. IN A HAND OR A FACE    3:20

    Expanded reissue bonus tracks...
  11. SQUEEZE BOX (LIVE)
  12. BEHIND BLUE EYES (LIVE)
  13. DREAMING FROM THE WAIST (LIVE)

    All selections written by Pete Townshend unless noted

CREDITS

ROGER DALTREY -- lead vocals
JOHN ENTWISTLE -- bass, vocals, cover drawing
KEITH MOON -- drums
PETE TOWNSHEND -- guitar, vocals
Nick Hopkins -- piano

return to THE WHO discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/NET October 1975 Polydor LP/CS 2490 129  
US October 1975 MCA LP/CS MCA-2161  
GER   Polydor LP 2480 309  
US   MCA LP MCA-3026  
US/CAN 1979 MCA LP/CS MCA/MCAC-37002  
US 1982 MCA 2CS MCAC2-6914 repackaged w.
MEATY, BEATY, BIG AND BOUNCY
UK 1980/82 Polydor 2CS 3577 378 repackaged w. WHO'S NEXT
US 1988 MCA CD/CS MCAD-31197  
JPN   Polydor CD 9203  
UK/GER   Polydor CDX 533 844 digital remaster w. bonus tracks,
picture sleeve
US November 19, 1996 MCA CDX 11493 digital remaster w. bonus tracks,
picture sleeve
JPN 2000 Polygram Int'l CDX UICY-2318 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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