The first Who record in 24 years opens with nearly the same synth line as Baba O'Riley, one of their most visceral tracks. Who are the Who in 2006? Well, Entwistle is six feet under; Townshend isn't windmilling the guitar but is still very musically studious and philosophical; Daltrey's voice has become more gravelly with age. Both are in their early 60s, and it's a very cerebral affair on Endless Wire, a nine-song record plus a mini-opera, Wire And Glass, that only makes sense if you read Townshend's novella, The Boy Who Heard Music. It's the mini-opera that moves spryly compared to the proper rock album half. The stronger material is in the opera chapters, which are short two-minute songs based on huge Who-type existential ideas. Save for It's Not Enough, Endless Wire feels strained and laboured, rarely hitting a classic Who moment. Could this be the coda of one of rock's greatest? Who's to say.
The Who return to Toronto, playing the ACC on December 4.