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  • Writer's pictureSteven Pluto

Under The Radar: The Who - Face Dances (1981)

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

The Who Roger Daltrey – lead vocals Pete Townshend – guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocals on "I Like Nightmares", "Somebody Saved Me" and "How Can You Do It Alone" John Entwistle – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on "The Quiet One" Kenney Jones – drums

Additional musicians John "Rabbit" Bundrick – keyboards

Face Dances is the ninth studio album by the Who. The album was released on March 16, 1981 with. Bill Szymczyk ( Eagles, Bob Seger) producing. Face Dances was first studio album of new music following the passing of the band’s drummer Keith Moon.

The album peaked at No. 4 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart selling over a million units. Over the years, Face Dances has become one most undervalued releases in the Who repertoire.

In my opinion Face Dances is a solid album ,but it failed to connect with Who fans for the following reasons.

First, unlike their English contemporaries Led Zeppelin, who also lost their drummer during that time span and decided they could not continue without him, The Who decided to stage a comeback in 1981 with a new drummer, Kenney Jones. While some fans were thrilled to see the band find a way to carry on. Others, however, disliked it. They believed that The Who weren't The Who without Keith Moon.

Two, with the release of Face Dances the band had become slicker and little more pop sounding to reposition themselves for this newly established MTV market. That musical shift was little too far removed from the band’s days of rock operas and complicated theme albums that fans just didn’t know what to make of this “new” Who.

Granted, the album doesn’t reach the creative heights of Tommy, Who’s Next or Quadrophenia, but it still has a few flashes of greatness, like the album opener and first single ;You Better You Bet, the introspective Dailey Records ,the pop rock anthem Another Tricky Day, that rank as some of Pete Townshend's most contemplative compositions .

So if you like The Who, then you owe to yourself to give Face Dances a listen. P.S- I would like to say thank you to Steve Jacobs of the Phoenix Media Network for reminding me of this forgotten gem.

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