No one said it would be easy for The Who to carry on after the death of Keith Moon, but they found a way of remaining relevant and inventive with the 1981 release Face Dances. Nevertheless, Pete Townshend would later admit that he sensed that by then, a gulf had opened up between the band and the young generation of the day.
When The Who’s next album It’s Hard appeared in September 1982, the release was hurried forward to meet the deadline of their impending tour. As Townshend remembered in his Who I Am autobiography, the rest of the band knew long before those lucrative dates were over that Pete would announce his departure.
It’s Hard made its US chart debut on September 25, and climbed to No.8 in a 32-week run. Pete thought at the time that, in his own words, The Who were “laid to rest” and, in terms of new albums, that appeared to be true for a generation. That was until the remarkable reunion of the Endless Wire album 24 years later.
Roger Daltrey would say in interviews later in the 1980s that the only song he really liked on It’s Hard was the somewhat dance-oriented “Eminence Front.” But for all of the hurried circumstances of its production, Townshend viewed the album as a creative success, and praised Daltrey for two particular performances. He wasn’t alone. Rolling Stone saw It’s Hard as “vibrant with the palpable energy of rekindled bonds and rediscovered group values.”
The piano-led ballad “One Life’s Enough” was, said Pete, “about acceptance, and the simple pleasure of making love.” He described it as one of Roger’s favorite vocal performances. The rockier “Cry If You Want” was a song Pete had tried to sing for an earlier solo project, and one on which Daltrey had learned the stream of words by heart. “He nailed it, almost fainting for lack of breath,” Townshend wrote.
Buy or stream It’s Hard.