Sometimes when a band is 40 years old they release an album that is more for themselves than for the fans. This is the case with the Who's Endless Wire, which comes 41 years after "My Generation" and begs the question, "We still rock, right?" No one doubts that over the course of their career the Who climbed pretty high on the rock-and-roll totem pole. Many of today's rock clich‚s can be attributed to them: destroying one's instruments after shows, the rock opera (brought to you by Tommy), a Union Jack-heavy wardrobe, and, of course, selling out. So why, despite a 1982 "retirement" and the death of bassist John Entwistle in 2002, are remaining members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey recording again? To the Who's merit, Endless Wire does not try to recapture the past. Sure, "Fragments" opens with Baba O'Riley and Townshend power chords, but a chorus of "Snowflakes are falling / Snowflakes are falling" doesn't exactly scream "Teenage Wasteland." Riddled with references to age and experience, "Mike Post Theme" is both powerful and sweet. And the title track is a country number that that's a bit more rocking chair than rock-and-roll, respectfully. Listeners get the feeling that it must get awful lonely in the retirement home. Though it can't stand with their masterworks, Endless Wire gives loyal fans a reason to pay the Who a little more company.


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