defend the indefensible: FACE DANCES by the who

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back in college, a good friend w/ good taste in music used to swear up-and-down that this was a GREAT record. as for myself, i like "you better you bet" fine enough, "don't let go the coat" was weak, and i may have heard the rest but it's apparently left no impression on me whatsoever over the years. this one doesn't seem to get much love, from who fans or anyone else.

Eisbär (llamasfur), Sunday, 29 August 2004 06:58 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

haha, I almost said "it has eminence front on it which is like the best who song ever" and then realized that's on the equally dismal It's Hard.

The cover art on this is great though, it used to freak me the fuck out when I saw it as a kid. It seems that there were always hundreds of copies of this in cut out bins in Kmart for years and years

kyle (akmonday), Sunday, 29 August 2004 07:03 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The Huh?

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Sunday, 29 August 2004 07:54 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

uh-uh!


(my memory of the rekkid is rather poor)

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Sunday, 29 August 2004 12:38 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I heard this playing in a record store not that long ago (after not giving it a thought for over 20 years), and Daltrey sounded like an utter twunt. Absoutely an unnecessary release.

blightersrock (Da ve Segal), Monday, 30 August 2004 03:55 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"You Better You Bet" was possibly their best song since the early days.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Monday, 30 August 2004 04:21 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The album as a whole is indefensible. The key thing to take away are the Entwistle tracks: "The Quiet One" and "You", which show him in as fine a form writing as ever.

JC-L (JC-L), Monday, 30 August 2004 15:05 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

When I went on my Who trip, I got this CD and promptly turned around and sold it. "It's Hard" should get more props. There is some great stuff on that, most memorably "I've Never Known War". Best war song ever, and a truly great performance from Daltrey.

Bimble (bimble), Monday, 30 August 2004 23:18 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"You Better You Bet" was embarassing crap. Especially the line..."...and open legs".

Was "Athena" on this record too? That was crap.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 30 August 2004 23:50 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I assume that you're saying that, musically, the song is embarassing crap, too, in addition to the one line that you do not like. Why that would be, I wouldn't know. I think it's a powerhouse.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 03:14 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"Another Tricky Day" was also a minor hit. um. That's not a defense of it, just a statement.

(Athena was on It's Hard, btw. It's Hard has gone up in my estimation, yet, it's still crap.)

"Face Dances" shared its name with an equally horrible townshend solo track.

dave225 (Dave225), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 10:57 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"Another Tricky Day" wasn't bad.

"You Better You Bet" is decidedly not a powerhouse (considering what the band was capable of). It's a throwaway....lyrically and musically.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 12:00 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Argh. I see the Who is starting to get dull around Tommy. Not to say that they didn't have good moments here and there. I can see why someone would say that a song like "Magic Bus" or "Squeeze Box" is a throwaway. But those songs are compositionally insubstantial. "You Better You Bet" is not. I'm not saying that you're doing this--maybe you just don't like the song for some other reason--but I SUSPECT that people might see this song as being insubstantial because it was from those serious '70s rock prophets THE WHO. What the hell were they doing making a goofy, fun-spirited pub rock song with all of those hooks? What a bunch of clueless dinosaurs!

"Another Tricky Day" was great, too--glad that was mentioned. Townshend had a lot of great songs on his solo albums Empty Glass and All the Best Cowboys...around this time, too.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 15:09 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

if you combined the best stuff from empty glass and all the best cowboys you'd have a who record that trounced all over anything the who did after quadrophenia, definitely

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 15:37 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"Face Dances" shared its name with an equally horrible townshend solo track.

I'm gonna have to disagree with you there. Had I heard it later I might have judged it differently, but I remember playing it over and over as a kid and dancing around the Christmas tree to it. I think I even broke the tape I played it so many times. It was certainly cut from a different cloth than anything else on the radio back then.

Bimble (bimble), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 16:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

...and the video for that Townshend song, "Face Dances Pt. II," featured some really cool and strange robot-like creatures.

shookout (shookout), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 16:10 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

it seems odd to me that townsend saved his really great songs for his solo records. why did the who "break up" anyway? was it just because of the critical drubbing of Face Dances and It's Hard? would White City have been an even greater album had it been a Who album (probably not because Daltrey would have been bellowing all over it)?

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 16:10 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

A lot of theories float around, but I get the sense that Townshend was through with the Who in a lot of ways after Moon's death. That, coupled with (and probably helping to cause) PT's drug and alcohol use at the time had him all screwy. Still, there are absolutely brilliant tracks on Empty Glass and Cowboy, some of which the Who would have made better, some of which I can't imagine getting the full band treatment.

JC-L (JC-L), Tuesday, 31 August 2004 17:18 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

actually, what's wrong w/ "you better you bet" is daltrey's singing. i'm not generally a daltrey-basher, but he's just wrong for this one. its virtues would be more apparent if someone else were singing it (dunno if townshend would be perfect, either ... just as long as it's someone OTHER THAN daltrey).

Eisbär (llamasfur), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 03:09 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

He's wrong because it's a goofy song?

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 03:22 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

He's wrong because it's a goofy song?

actually yeah, kinda. i could almost see bernard sumner singing it, for some reason.

Eisbär (llamasfur), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 03:30 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

It's Hard has gone up in my estimation, yet, it's still crap.

Why, you could almost say that it's a put-on!

Pleasant Plains (Pleasant Plains), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 03:49 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I will give them marks for:
"I been wearing crazy clothes, and I look pretty crappy sometimes."

dave225 (Dave225), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 11:09 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Didn't "You Better You Bet" begin exactly like "Lorelei" by Styx?

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 11:56 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

actually, what's wrong w/ "you better you bet" is daltrey's singing. i'm not generally a daltrey-basher, but he's just wrong for this one. its virtues would be more apparent if someone else were singing it (dunno if townshend would be perfect, either ... just as long as it's someone OTHER THAN daltrey).

-- Eisbär

I agree with this. He doesn't have the right for mid-tempo adult contempo rock. Check Pete's demo version of "You Better You Bet" for comparison.

Mark (MarkR), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 12:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I don't have it in front of me, but I think Pete has a couple live versions of YBYB released, too, and his voice is a better fit. Pete probably sounds better now, though, than he did 20 years ago, so maybe it wouldn't have worked at the time.

JC-L (JC-L), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 13:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, the Pete version of YBYB on "Another Scoop" (the 2nd in the Scoop series) is much, much better than Daltrey's.

Bimble (bimble), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 14:34 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

It's been a while since I heard it, but I remember the version on that benefit concert CD being quite nice, too.

JC-L (JC-L), Wednesday, 1 September 2004 18:20 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

"I will give them marks for: 'I been wearing crazy clothes, and I look pretty crappy sometimes.'

Exactly. And part of what makes it so rad is the fact that ROGER DALTREY is singing it.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Thursday, 2 September 2004 00:34 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

You mean the song or that line? It's a change from when he was a "dedicated follower of fashion".

JC-L (JC-L), Thursday, 2 September 2004 13:56 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

I listened to Face Dances and It's Hard for the first time in probably a dozen years or so. They pale in comparison to the great albums by The Who, but honestly I thought they were better listens than I remembered. I think the thing that I didn't like about it was that it didn't have the bombast of your usual tracks by The Who, but on this listen I think I could hear it for what it is more than what I wanted. There is more and better integration of electronics than you would have thought and Entwistle just plays like a brilliant bastard through both of the records.

Considering how cutting edge Townsend was on using sequencers and electronics, it is kind of suprising that he didn't go for the big Fairlight/Synclavier recordings next. I think something like White City, which has some great tunes and that anthemic sound on some could have been even better as a Who album.

earlnash, Saturday, 21 May 2011 04:58 (six years ago) Permalink

The Who were my favorite band. I might have been too young to understand exactly how "Cache Cache" and "Don't Let Go the Coat" would fit into my life, but I knew they were my future as much as "Tattoo" and "I Can't Explain" were my past.

Zachary Taylor, Saturday, 21 May 2011 06:50 (six years ago) Permalink

I think the thing that I didn't like about it was that it didn't have the bombast of your usual tracks by The Who

earl, as always I like your commentary and am pleased you revived this thread. one question though: don't you think Who's Next felt the same way? Other than "Who Are You" I guess, of course. But the rest of that LP kind of felt like it was already going in the direction of 'Face Dances'. I mean, I *love* Who's Next, don't get me wrong, but I do see that softening of their sound here already, so all Face Dances really represented was a drummer change. And sure, Moon is irreplaceable, but if you *have* to find a replacement, you could do a lot worse than Kenny. I honestly don't think Moon's presence would have changed the sound of these LPs too much, and I'm just glad to have them .. sub-par as they are

Stormy Davis, Saturday, 21 May 2011 07:26 (six years ago) Permalink

Keith Moon circa 1969 would have definitely changed the sounds of those records. I'm imagining what he would've played under You Better You Bet, and it brings a smile to my face.

The hypothetical Keith Moon circa 1981... judging from his Who Are You parts, yeah, probably wouldn't have made much difference.

Dodo Lurker (Slim and Slam), Saturday, 21 May 2011 12:33 (six years ago) Permalink

One thing that's often forgotten (understandably so, given the lifeless and desultory 1980, '81, and '82 tours) was that the 1979 Who shows with Jones were uniformly praised. I agree with Stormy: they could have done a lot worse than Jones, and I never thought he was the problem with this or It's Hard. As Jones said at the time, Townshend kept the best songs for his solo records and gave the Who the rejects. Supporting this, there are (unreleased at the time) Who versions of "Empty Glass" (with Moon) and "Somebody Saved Me" (with Jones). When given something substantial to dig into -- "You Better You Bet," "Another Tricky Day," or "Daily Records" -- Jones rises to the occasion. I think the real problem, other than Townshend's rejects, is the production. Bill Szymczyk sucked the life out of the band, completely stripping it of the dynamism it was capable of. Entwistle hated it: "He recorded everything in groups of three. I don't like playing a backing track too many times. We'd get a really good one and he'd say 'Give me three more exactly the same'. I lost a lot of confidence worrying about being brainwashed by the song, so I didn't play as loosely as I might have."

shake it, shake it, sugary pee (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 21 May 2011 12:57 (six years ago) Permalink

I don't know, the song "Who Are You" definitely has that big boom of the earlier records, so when Moon was inspired it could come through. Moon also has some pretty big flourishes on "Trick of the Light". Moon was having problems playing the stuff though towards the end, as that is why there is no drums on "Music Must Change" which was in 6/8.

"Who by Numbers" is a pretty subdued record, it's more like where Townsend went with his solo career.

I definitely think Townsend felt like he couldn't work all of his tunes out within the constraints of the Who, which is kind of a shame, as the guy had the best rock bassist in the world who could have probably did anything needed. Rough Boys is a great song and recording, but man you can hear in your mind what the Who could have done with that track.

I'm going to give them another listen this weekend, I was just surprised by the consistency of both records. That period of the Who did come up with Eminence Front, which is easily one of their alltime best tracks, so it wasn't completely disregarded. I think the thing that kind of orphans these two albums is that they quit going on.

Eh, they all hated each other at this point. Booze and drugs had killed one of them. Those kids getting killed in Cincy had to be a huge guilt to have on you. I can see why it didn't continue. Times had changed. You can see just in what was out there though, The Who could have had an interesting second act.

That's kind of interesting about how the record was made. I'd imagine that would kill the interplay between the instruments. I guess most of the Who Are You album was kind of made in the same way, just overdubbing on-top of very detailed demos. The group had lost that live interplay that made the earlier group so exciting. I don't doubt that to be the case.

earlnash, Saturday, 21 May 2011 13:16 (six years ago) Permalink

When set against the pace at which bands make records these days, it seems kind of insane that in their four post-Moon years they made two albums and did four major tours. In later interviews, Pete said that he wished the band had stopped completely after Cincinnati. I've also read that he originally intended By Numbers to be their last album.

They definitely hated each other. The only one with any enthusiasm for continuing was Jones, and Entwistle just wanted to tour non-stop. Daltrey went along with It's Hard to help Pete's post-rehab recovery, but wasn't happy about the result: "It's Hard should never have been released. I had huge rows with Pete...when the album was finished and I heard it I said, 'Pete, this is just a complete piece of shit and it should never come out!' It came out because as usual we were being manipulated at that time by other things. The record company wanted a record out and they wanted us to do a tour. What I said to Pete was, 'Pete, if we'd tried to get any of these songs onto Face Dances, or any of the albums that we've done since our first fucking album, we would not allow these songs to be on an album! Why are we releasing them? Why? Let's just say that was an experience to pull the band back together, now let's go and make an album.' He said, 'Too late. It's good enough, that's how we are now.'"

It's true that a lot of Who Are You was the band overdubbing Pete's demos, but they'd done that a lot on Who's Next, so they probably figured this wouldn't be much different (even the backing percussion track of "Slip Kid" is from Pete's demo). What's interesting/frustrating, is that Moon's best Who Are You performance, overdubbing the "Empty Glass" demo with Entwistle, went unreleased until 1996:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDTVgq62-m4

shake it, shake it, sugary pee (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 21 May 2011 13:38 (six years ago) Permalink

How many Who fans were gonna be into "Don't Let Go of the Coat"? Done by any other band, it'd be heard totally differently. I've seen it faithfully covered and loved it.

john. a resident of chicago., Saturday, 21 May 2011 15:39 (six years ago) Permalink

Townshend kept the best songs for his solo records and gave the Who the rejects

absolutely true. townshend's solo work beginning with empty glass all the way through white city is stronger than any material he let the who have (except for eminence and you better). if he's given the who the best of that material, they would in no way have had that creative slump.

akm, Saturday, 21 May 2011 15:43 (six years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

I like this album but "You Better You Bet" is embarrassing.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 30 December 2017 03:03 (three months ago) Permalink

Ha, I love Daltrey's vocal on "You Better You Bet". Never heard the whole album, though.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Saturday, 30 December 2017 03:47 (three months ago) Permalink


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