UPDATE: Details have been announced about the bonus tracks for the upcoming deluxe edition. Read on for more!
Today, legendary rockers The Who announced plans for their long-awaited new album, simply entitled WHO. It’s their first studio effort in 13 years, due
November 22 December 6 on CD, deluxe CD, digital, cassette, standard vinyl, and deluxe color vinyl. They’ve also unveiled the album’s artwork – designed by frequent collaborator Peter Blake – and released a new single, “Ball and Chain,” followed shortly after by “All This Music Must Fade.”
Together and apart, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have been hard at work in recent years with tours, solo efforts, reissues, and literary work. When Townshend and Daltrey reconvened this year for their symphonic Moving On! tour, Townshend said he’d only agreed to the tour because there’d be new music to perform. He and co-producer Dave Sardy worked for months in London and L.A. amping up demos with members of The Who’s touring band before Daltrey cut vocals for the tracks.
While many of The Who’s previous albums have delved into the rock-opera form, WHO is more straight-forward. As Pete Townshend says in a statement, “”This album is almost all new songs written last year, with just two exceptions. There is no theme, no concept, no story, just a set of songs that I (and my brother Simon) wrote to give Roger Daltrey some inspiration, challenges and scope for his newly revived singing voice.” Besides the lead single “Ball and Chain,” there’s “Hero Ground Zero” which will include a full orchestra, “Beads on One String” resurrected from a demo Townshend completed circa 2015, the Simon Townshend-penned “Break the News,” and “Detour,” a nod to their early days. The songs cover a wide range of topics, including spirituality, memory, The Grenfell Tower fire, and theft. There’s even a nod to “Sand,” an unreleased Who song from 1965 that gets a reboot here.
“Ball and Chain” is our first taste of WHO. It’s a re-recording of Pete Townshend’s “Guantanamo,” which was originally released as a bonus track on his 2015 career-spanning compilation Truancy. For WHO, the song is rendered more powerful– beefed-up with Daltrey’s fiery lead vocal which remains strong despite the years, Townshend’s thrashing acoustic guitar chords and electric leads, the ever-punchy rhythm section of Zak Starkey (drums) and Pino Palladino (bass), and spacey Mellotron lines from producer Sardy. It’s certainly whetted The Second Disc’s appetite for even more new Who!
The wait for the new album ends
November 22 December 6. WHO will be released in an 11-track standard CD version, alongside a deluxe, slipcased CD edition that adds three bonus tracks. Those three bonus tracks are entitled “This Gun Will Misfire,” “Got Nothing To Prove,” and “Danny & My Ponies.” While the deluxe edition will be available on Amazon’s digital service and physically around the world through the retail giant, the only place U.S. listeners can purchase the deluxe CD is through the mega-mart Target.
WHO will also available on cassette (exclusive to their Online Store) and in a standard 180-gram vinyl package complete with download card. Brick and mortar record shops will have an exclusive indie retail 2-LP set that includes the WHO album on LP 1 and an 8-song collection of classic hits on LP 2, including the single edit of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” The set will be pressed on black vinyl and will include a download card for the new songs.
Collectors and audiophiles may want to go for the deluxe, webstore-exclusive vinyl configuration. Housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, the three-disc set will present the album on two 45-rpm, 180-gram LPs (one red and one blue), plus a white 10″ EP featuring Pete Townshend’s previously unreleased 1965 demo for “Sand,” exclusive to this edition. It will not include the three bonus tracks from the Deluxe CD and digital configurations.
The band’s online store will also offer various format bundles for sale.
No matter your preferred configuration, WHO promises to be a return to form with exciting new music from the rock titans. You can enjoy the new singles, “Ball and Chain” and “All This Music Must Fade” below!
The Who, WHO (Polydor, 2019)
Standard CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / The Who Online Store
Deluxe CD: Target U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / The Who Online Store
Standard LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / The Who Online Store
Indie record shop 2LP edition: Bull Moose / HMV
Deluxe 45rpm 2LP/EP: The Who Online Store
Cassette: The Who Online Store
Format Bundles: The Who Online Store
* denotes bonus track exclusive to deluxe CD edition
- All This Music Must Fade
- Ball and Chain
- I Don’t Wanna Get Wise
- Beads On One String
- Hero Ground Zero
- Street Song
- I’ll Be Back
- Break The News
- Rockin’ In Rage
- She Rocked My World
- This Gun Will Misfire *
- Got Nothing To Prove *
- Danny & My Ponies *
Exclusive to 10″ EP on 3-disc vinyl version:
- Sand (1965 demo)
Indie record store-exclusive edition adds second LP with the following tracks:
- Baba O’Riley
- My Generation
- Who Are You
- Behind Blue Eyes
- Pinball Wizard
- Won’t Get Fooled Again (Single Edit)
- The Seeker
- Eminence Front