The Who con­firm first new stu­dio al­bum in 13 years

The Guardian Australia - - World News / Opinion - Laura Snapes

The Who have con­firmed that they are work­ing on their first al­bum of new ma­te­rial in 13 years. Lead gui­tarist Pete Town­shend said in a state­ment that fans could ex­pect “dark bal­lads, heavy rock stuff, ex­per­i­men­tal elec­tron­ica, sam­pled stuff and Who-ish tunes that be­gan with a gui­tar that goes yan­gadang”.

The al­bum is due later this year. It fol­lows the band’s 11th stu­dio al­bum, End­less Wire, re­leased in 2006, which in­cluded a 10-part mini-opera. Guardian mu­sic critic Alexis Petridis de­scribed it as “a fit­ting coda to [the] band’s ca­reer”.

The group has also teased de­tails of a US or­ches­tral tour. Lead singer Roger Dal­trey said of the tour: “Be aware Who fans! That just be­cause it’s the Who with an orches­tra, in no way will it com­pro­mise the way Pete and I de­liver our mu­sic. This will be full throt­tle Who with horns and bells on.”

Dal­trey, 74, has said it could be his last tour. “I have to be re­al­is­tic that this is the age I am and voices start to go af­ter a while,” he told the Mir­ror. “I don’t want to be not as good as I was two years ago.” The group pre­vi­ously sug­gested that a Las Ve­gas res­i­dency in 2017 would be the start of their “long good­bye”.

Town­shend, 73, had said he would com­mit to the tour only if they had new ma­te­rial. “This has noth­ing to do with want­ing a hit al­bum [or] the fact the Who need a new al­bum. It’s purely per­sonal. It’s about my pride, my sense of self-worth and self-dig­nity as a writer.”

The pair com­mu­ni­cate through their man­age­ment. Dal­trey told the Mir­ror that Town­shend “wanted a year off, so I haven’t spo­ken to him for a year. That is how we are. He needs that time away.” He added: “It is not mu­sic to fuck to. Ours is mu­sic to fight to and if it ever loses that fight­ing edge – which still ex­ists be­tween Pete and I – then I will stop. Be­cause then I will be cheat­ing my au­di­ence.”

Town­shend and Dal­trey are the only re­main­ing full-time mem­bers of the Who. Drum­mer Keith Moon died in 1978; re­place­ment drum­mer Ken­ney Jones left the band in 1988, and bassist John En­twistle died in 2002. Their cur­rent tour­ing band in­cludes Zak Starkey, son of Bea­tles drum­mer Ringo Starr, and Si­mon Town­shend, younger brother of Pete.

Dal­trey re­cently told Bill­board mag­a­zine that he hopes to re­lease a live al­bum from re­cent or­ches­tral per­for­mances of the band’s 1969 rock opera Tommy, which fea­tured new ar­range­ments by com­poser David Camp­bell. Dal­trey has said he would like to un­der­take a sim­i­lar tour of their sec­ond rock opera, 1973’s Quadrophe­nia. He pub­lished a mem­oir, Thanks a Lot Mr Kib­ble­white: My Story, in Oc­to­ber.

Dal­trey said that he is still pur­su­ing a biopic of Moon, a project that has been in the work for three decades, and dis­missed ru­mours that the Who would per­form at this year’s 50th an­niver­sary re­vival of the Wood­stock fes­ti­val. The band per­formed at the orig­i­nal 1969 event.

“Au­gust in Amer­ica is too hot for me to work any more,” Dal­trey said. “You can’t redo Wood­stock be­cause the stars of Wood­stock were the au­di­ence. You can cel­e­brate the date, but you can’t redo [the fes­ti­val].”

Pho­to­graph: Frazer Har­ri­son/Getty Images

‘Full throt­tle Who with horns and bells on’ ... Roger Dal­trey, left, and Pete Town­shend of theWho per­form at the Desert Trip fes­ti­val, Cal­i­for­nia, 16 Oc­to­ber 2016.

Pho­to­graph: The Visualeyes Archive/ Red­ferns

The Who in 1965 ... from left, Roger Dal­trey,John En­twistle, Pete Town­shend and KeithMoon.

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