The Who – The Who By Numbers

1975 – MCA Records


With the entire canon of Who material to sort through, I’m sure that this album gets looked over by many. There is only one “hit” on here: “Squeeze Box”, and it departs from what people would expect form this band. That being said, overlooking this album is definitely a mistake. There is a lot of great material here. One thing that stands out to me is that Keith Moon plays a more restrained role here. His normal style is over the top, full of fills, and unhinged. While there are hints of that style, “However Much I Booze”, overall his playing more straight ahead. What you would expect from a drummer in a rock band. On one hand, it is nice to hear him play this way, and on another, I miss the craziness. This album as a whole seems more restrained, and as a result, seems more sophisticated. Pete Townsend commented that it was an introspective album and by doing a little research, it seems like the band was disengaged from this album when they were recording. That really doesn’t come across in the music. It sounds great to me. There are songs like “Imagine a Man”, “Blue Red and Grey” and “How Many Friends” that seems to come out of left field for the Who. I wouldn’t expect these tunes to come from the band that brought you “Baba O’Reilly” but they work perfectly. The cover art is a cartoon of the band and drawn by John Entwistle (who comes up with some really great bass-lines throughout this album as well). This may be my favorite Who album (maybe tied with Tommy) and it should be listened to. If you are looking for a different side of a classic band, make sure to listen to this album, you won’t be disappointed.