Great Rock Albums of 1981: The Who- Face Dances

220px-The_who_face_dances_album

In 1985, I remember listening to a radio programme about The Who and the concluding bit stated that the death of Keith Moon in 1979 marked the end of The Who as a band. The programme went on to admit that the band would continue to tour and that Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend and John Entwistle would all have successful solo projects, however, The Who as a band, were gone. My reaction was then as it is now, “What about the 1981 album with Kenney Jones?” For me, “Face Dances” has always been a good album but it’s Kenney Jones I feel sorry for. Because he was the replacement drummer for Moon, he didn’t get the respect he deserves. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Jones has been relegated to a pub trivia question and that’s not fair on him. It is the exact same thing I said about Jimmy Farrar, had been Jones made it with another band, his drumming efforts would have been more appreciated.

That said, the radio programme also stated that after Moon’s death, The Who’s sixties hard rock lyrics and rebelliousness as well as their seventies creativity were gone as well. Not entirely true! When I listen to “Face Dances” I hear a little bit of both of these elements in the album. While there isn’t the crashing hard sound that they made famous in classics like “My Generation,” the elements of hard rock are definitely there in songs like “Don’t Let Go the Coat” and “Another Tricky Day” to name two. Plus, the big single from the album, “You Better, You Bet” definitely has reminds me of that creativity that radio programme praised them for over the likes of the rock opera “Tommy.”  Whichever way you want to view “Face Dances” the one thing I can say about it throughout is that you know that it is definitely The Who on this album. Their trademark truly resonates on it.

Track Listing:

1. You Better, You Bet

2. Don’t Let Go The Coat

3. Cache Cache

4. The Quiet One

5. Did You Steal My Money

6. How Can You Do It Alone

7. Daily Records

8. You

9. Another Tricky Day

The Who

The Who

Roger Daltrey- vocals

Pete Townsend- guitar, vocals

John Entwistle- bass, vocals

Kenney Jones- drums

Hopefully, I have provided sufficient evidence that the radio programme was wrong in regards to The Who being finished in 1979 because in 1981, they put out one very good album in “Face Dances.” It showed the world that they were still a force to be reckoned with in the music world. Thinking of Keith Moon, his passing opened the way for the many drummers who would join him since. John Bonham would follow him a year later. I believe that Moon, Bonham, along with the likes of Cozy Powell, Levon Helm and Razzle are drumming away together in a better place.

Keith Moon

Keith Moon

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10 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1981: The Who- Face Dances”

  1. Right on. I don’t mind this period of The Who at all. You Better You Bet is a personal favourite. So is Eminence Front from the next record.

    A buddy of mine told me that at this period, Townsend was contractually obligated to deliver something like 6 albums over a 5 year period, solo and Who, and that’s why some of these albums are not entirely as up to stuff as the old stuff. According to him.

    • Thanks, I’ll have to check out the next record as well. Your buddy might have been right, I heard people say at the time that Townsend’s 1985 album was to fund his coke habit. But I can’t say for sure.

  2. Kenney Jones was a fantastic drummer with The Small Faces and Faces, but he probably wasn’t the optimal choice for replacing Moon in The Who. I’ve read that Daltrey was against hiring him at the time, but this was Townshend’s band and I assume he liked the fact that Jones was a more controlled, timekeeper-style drummer. His playing certainly fit this batch of songs really well.

    I’ve loved Face Dances since the day it was released (I was 15 at the time), and it has a special place in my heart as the first new Who album released after I became a fan (I started listening to them in ’79). I’m glad you didn’t slag off “Don’t Let Go The Coat,” which has always been one of my favorites from this album.

    Thanks for highlighting this much overlooked album. And one small correction: John Bonham died two years after Keith Moon.

    • I thought Moon died in 79 and Bonham in 80. I have to check that one out. Never mind, I always like this album so it was my pleasure to visit it here. There isn’t a song on the album that I would slag off here.

      • Moon died in September ’78 and Bonham was 2 years & 2 weeks later.

        I saw The Who on their “farewell” tour in ’82 at Shea Stadium. At the time I thought it was great because I was 16 & finally seeing The Who, but in hindsight they were merely decent (I’m basing that on the live recordings I’ve heard from that tour). I’ve seen them several times since then and they’re always great, but the show I saw around 2000 or 2001 was mind-blowing. Townshend was on fire, and the choice of Zak Starkey as their drummer was an inspired choice. It was the closest I could imagine them sounding to the original lineup.

      • The radio programme got that wrong too then, it was they who said he died in 79. I never got to see them live so I envy you a bit. I will say that I put them as the best ever Super Bowl half time act.

  3. As the High Numbers and the Small Faces were both Mods and even shared the same stage in the early days and then add Pete’s and Ronnie Lanes playing solo together it made all of the sense in the world to me

  4. Love the Quiet One by the Ox. Face Dances is a great RnR album.
    I liked the output of the Who mostly esp there later day stuff but for me I always loved there albums one being the Live In Toronto from 82…

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