The Who has at last officially announced its first new album in 13 years, set for release on November 22nd, titled, WHO. The band unveiled the album's title and artwork on Thursday night (September 12th), when they played an acoustic mini-set at the opening of Manhattan's Pace contemporary art gallery. Legendary pop artist Sir Peter Blake — and old friend of the Who's and the designer of such iconic albums as the band's own 1981 Face Dances collection, is best known for his work on the Beatles' 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
The Who have released the lead single from the set online, titled “Ball And Chain,” and have rolled out a 10-city UK arena tour for next March and April.
According to the band's official press release:
55 years after they made their first recordings, the Who are back with their first new album in thirteen years entitled WHO due for release on 22 November 2019 and is preceded by “Ball And Chain” which is available on all streaming services now.
The eleven-track album was mostly recorded in London and Los Angeles during Spring and Summer 2019 and was co-produced by Pete Townshend and D. Sardy (who has worked with Noel Gallagher, Oasis, LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz) with vocal production by Dave Eringa (Manic Street Preachers, Roger Daltrey, Wilko Johnson).
Singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend are joined on the album by long-time Who drummer Zak Starkey and bassist Pino Palladino along with contributions from Simon Townshend, Benmont Tench, Carla Azar, Joey Waronker, and Gordon Giltrap.
Pete Townshend added: “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. Roger and I are both old men now, by any measure, so I’ve tried to stay away from romance, but also from nostalgia if I can. I didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Memories are OK, and some of the songs refer to the explosive state of things today. I made new home studio demos of all these songs in the summer of 2018 using a wide collection of instruments old and new. We started recording as the Who in March 2019, and have finished now in late August just in time to make some vinyl. . . maybe even some cassettes. . . ready for release in November.”
During a SiriusXM town hall discussion Roger Daltrey admitted that he was unsure how to tackle Townshend's new material: “Well, I've got to say to Pete's credit, he's written some fantastic songs. It sounded like the perfect Pete Townshend solo album to me. I said to Pete, 'They're great songs, Pete, but. . .' I just couldn't see me finding the way in to them and making them breathe as a Who album. But, I think we've got there. And I really think he's written something. . . I've always felt that he's the kind of writer that would write some of his best work at the age we are. And I think he's done it (laughs). So, y'know, finger crossed.”
Over 55 years since joining forces and changing rock history, Pete Townshend talked candidly to Sky News about his and Roger Daltrey's connection: “I think our relationship as friends and as co-workers, it's not an intimate one. When we travel on the road, we don't spend a lot of time together. I think what makes it interesting for us both is that this feels very much like work. It feels like we're co-workers. And when we get together, y'know, there's also that thing about carrying the history that we do; it kind of imposes, and interposes and interpolates a bit of magic — nothing to do with us!”
The tracklisting to The Who's new album WHO is:
“All This Music Must Fade” “Ball And Chain” “I Don’t Wanna Get Wise” “Detour” “Beads On One String” (Pete Townshend / Josh Hunsacker) “Hero Ground Zero” “Street Song” “I'll Be Back” “Break The News” (Simon Townshend) “Rockin' In Rage” “She Rocked My World”
UPDATED: The Who tour dates (subject to change):
September 18 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena September 20 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – BB&T Center September 22 – Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena September 25 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center September 27 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center September 29 – Denver, CO – Pepsi Center October 11, 13 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl October 16 – San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl San Diego State University October 19 – Seattle, WA – T-Mobile Park / Home of the Seattle Mariners October 21 – Vancouver, BC – Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena October 23 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place October 24 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl March 16 – Manchester, England – Manchester Arena March 18 – Dublin, Ireland – 3Arena March 21 – Newcastle, England – Utilita Arena March 23 – Glasgow, Scotland – SSE Hydro Arena March 25 – Leeds, England – First Direct Arena March 30 – Cardiff, Wales – Motorpoint Arena April 1 – Birmingham, England – Resorts World Arena April 3 – Nottingham, England – Motorpoint Arena April 6 – Liverpool, England – M&S Bank Arena April 8 – London, England – SSE Wembley Arena