On this day in 1971….

….The Who scored their first, and unbelievably, only U.K. number 1 album with ‘Who’s Next’, the iconic cover art, taken at Easington Colliery, depicts the band urinating against a large concrete piling (I think this might have been a wry joke at the obelisk that appears at seminal moments in the earth’s evolution a la Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001 A space Odyssey’ but I might be wrong?). Apparently several of the band couldn’t perform so rainwater was tipped onto the concrete to achieve the desired effect!

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Although undoubtedly a classic album many of the songs were originally part of a mammoth project guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend was working on called ‘The Lifehouse’, this was to be a grand rock opera set around the idea of a future society where world pollution is so bad that the population are forced to wear ‘lifesuits’. These suits allowed the wearer to simulate all experiences so vividly that no one ever wanted to leave home, the suits are also connected to a huge mainframe called ‘the grid’ – jeez….prophetic or what?

I’d say Pete Townshend may have invented the internet, (anti)-social media and virtual reality at the same time! Joking aside it does have some incredible parallels with the modern world. As for the album, apparently Pete could not translate these grand, epic ideas to the rest of the band and it eventually fell by the wayside, however, several songs would appear on ‘Who’s Next’ and also ‘Who Are You’. In fact the next time you spin the classic opening track ‘Baba O’Reilly’ you’re hearing a glimpse of what might have been, when Roger sings ‘Sally take my hand, We’ll travel south cross land, Put out the fire, And don’t look past my shoulder. The exodus is here, The happy ones are near…” that’s a reference to the original plot where Scottish farmer Ray, gathers his wife Sally and two children to begin their exodus in London….

If you’re looking for Who vinyl, CD, memorabilia and more – be sure to check the Who Collectors Store at eil.com for a huge range of items.

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