|Classic Albums - The Who: Who's NextLabel: Eagle Vision
It isn’t really a new release, but even straight DVD reissues of most titles in Eagle’s Classic Albums series are worth mentioning, and Who’s Next is no different. All the inside information and ancient trivia that drives rock nerds wild with glee is present and accounted for, along with typically frank interviews with surviving (at the time of original release) Who principals Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle.
While none of the releases that have received the Classic Albums treatment could reasonably be deemed unworthy of “classic” status, not all the entries in the series were created equal; though most of them peg the needle between “fascinating” and “riveting” for all 60 minutes, there have been a few snoozers. Who’s Next, if you hadn’t already guessed, benefits from the documentary treatment more than most; not only does everyone on-camera decline to waste time saving anyone’s feelings with half-truths, but the album has a genuinely interesting back story.
Who fans are already well-versed in the birth of Who’s Next, but – in a nutshell – the follow-up to Tommy was originally supposed to be another song cycle, titled Lifehouse, based around a storyline that nobody other than maybe Pete Townshend really understood. Townshend eventually cracked under the pressure, and the scaled-back, narrative-free Who’s Next was the result.
Think about it: one of the best records the Who would ever release was assembled largely using leftover parts from another album. When you stop to consider the way the Beach Boys dribbled out bits of the bowdlerized Smile in the years after Brian Wilson’s collapse, Who’s Next is even more impressive.Anyway, the story’s all here, in one convenient hour-sized chunk, packed with archival footage, peeks at the recording process, and a few incredible in-studio performances of songs from the album. (Townshend’s solo piano rendition of “Pure and Easy” is particularly chills-inducing.) Well worth picking up for the music geek in your life.