Face Dances

The Who

MCA, 1981


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Led Zeppelin had it right. After the death of John Bonham, the band faced facts and called it quits. Zeppelin realized that without Bonham, they weren’t Led Zeppelin. So why oh why didn’t The Who learn this lesson in 1981?

Truth be told, Face Dances is a not bad record because Keith Moon does not play on it. After running through it a few times, I firmly believe even Mooney’s presence would not have rescued this album from the abyss of mediocrity it is so entrenched in. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Face Dances is a poor record, no ifs, ands or buts.

Pete Townshend and co. at least managed to keep rockin’ until Who Are You. That’s a great portfolio of work to showcase. However, their latter albums slowly sprouted more and more pop sensibilities. On Face Dances, that has pretty much become the case wholesale; with the exception of a few moments, this is not a rock album, but a pop record. The Who should not do pop.

The “shining” exception is the opening track and leadoff single “You Better You Bet.” This driving rocker really captures a mix of “Who Are You” and “Goin' Mobile,” and not coincidentally has that classic Who sound. “Daily Records” is the other highlight, a soaring number showcasing the band's underrated harmonies.

However, the proceedings immediately drop off with the second number, “Don’t Let Go the Coat.” Look, I admire Roger Daltrey as a vocalist as much as the next man, but the material he excels at requires a certain amount of quality. Lightweight, feather pop songs don’t do his incomparable bravado any good. It takes a lot to neuter Daltrey as a lead singer, but they manage to do it here.

To be perfectly frank, the rest of Face Dances is boring. There is no life to the material and I think that can directly be attributed to the absence of Moon. Songs like “The Quiet One” and “Another Tricky Day” are not performed badly by Kenny Jones; in fact, he is not the horrible musician some Who fans would make him out to be. He's just not Keith Moon.

Amazingly, The Who would decide to give the ol’ college try one more time with the gut-wrenchingly awful It’s Hard. With Face Dances, the band at least had the excuse of trying to go on without Moon, testing the waters, in a way. Unfortunately, Townshend and co. ignored the poor quality of this record and continued on. Face Dances should have been the last Who album.

Rating: D+

User Rating: C-



© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.