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‘It’s Hard’: The Who Laid To Rest, Or So Pete Townshend Thought

For all the hurried circumstances of its production, Pete Townshend viewed 1982’s ‘It’s Hard’ as a creative success.

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It's Hard The Who

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.

Listen to It’s Hard right now.

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.

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 favourite 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.

It’s Hard can be bought here

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jared mashburn

    September 25, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Really its not a bad album so much as its not a good Who album.

    • Matthew

      September 27, 2015 at 3:26 am

      I’ve always felt Pete used his best songs on his solo stuff those last years. As great as Rough Boys was, I’ve always wondered what kind of Who album would have resulted with Roger singing the lead on “Let My Love Open The Door” and “A Little Is Enough.”

      You’re right though…it’s not a terrible album. Just not on the level of anything else they did. The bar was too high by then…

  2. Mb

    September 26, 2015 at 12:46 am

    The Kenny Jones or 80’s Who was as good as any other 80’s act as were their two records. They had to deal the unfair comparison to the 70s Who when the band really hit its creative peak. I think they should’ve kept going. Townsend felt old at 34?!?! Back then some thought you needed to be in your 20s to make relevant music,

  3. Rick

    September 26, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I recall liking the album quite a bit.. not a great Who album but good. I thought the cover was trying to illustrate a punk/ new wave feel….the boy on the video game marking a passing of the old pinball wizard Who and the emergence of a newer, hopefully more relevant Who.

  4. Helge Hovland

    September 27, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I thought it sounded dated and tired back then. And that was the impression that stayed with me during the years that passed. So I was quite surprised when I decided to listen to it again two weeks ago – the album really rocks!

  5. Helge Hovland

    September 27, 2015 at 12:11 am

    I thought it sounded dated and tired back then. And that was the impression that stayed with me during the years that passed. So I was quite surprised when I decided to listen to it again two weeks ago – the album really rocks!

  6. Octavio Andrade

    September 25, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    This album was great! As a young kid in 82 it was the album that introduced me to The Who. The lyrics to all the songs are amazing. Would come home from school and play it non-stop. It began a love affair with the band that now 34 years later is still just as strong. The album grabs you with Athena and never let’s go.

  7. Grant Schmidt

    September 25, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Love the album….. “Cry if you want ” is my favorite track . Also Entwistle had three really good tracks on It’s Hard
    “It’s your turn”
    “Dangerous”
    “One at a time”
    The Ox could write some great tunes.

  8. Donald

    September 25, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Great Album…it has aged well

  9. Gene

    September 25, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    It’s one of my favorite Who albums. The lyrics are good, the sounds are fresh and distinct from any other Who albums, and the musicianshio is great. Kenny isn’t the drummer that Moon was, but that’s fine, the songs aren’t songs built around Moon drums. I, too listened to this album over and over for years. In contrast I rarely make it through all of “Face Dances.” I wish they had kept going, too. By the time they did “Endless Wire” John was dead. A lot of the tracks on that album sound like one of Pete’s Scoop albums because he’s playing most or all of the instruments. The tracks where they have Zak Starkey on drums sound like the Who, and having Pino on bass is better but their bass has never been right since john died. It’s never loud enough.

  10. Dan

    September 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I’ll stick with Pete’s solo stuff from this time period. Athena is a great track but even Townshend’s demo Theresa on his 3rd Scoop album is, in my opinion, better. I listen to the album because I love the band I don’t listen often

  11. Dan

    September 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I’ll stick with Pete’s solo stuff from this time period. Athena is a great track but even Townshend’s demo Theresa on his 3rd Scoop album is, in my opinion, better. I listen to the album because I love the band I don’t listen often

  12. John

    September 26, 2017 at 3:24 am

    It’s Hard by The Who celebrates its thirty fifth anniversary this month and it is as relevant an album today, as it was then. Twelve extraordinary tracks, nine exquisitely written by Pete Townshend.
    With three masterpieces penned by John Entwistle worthy of being hit singles, in their own right.
    With “Eminence Front” getting the most coverage on rock radio, with possibly “Athena” garnering some spuratic air play.
    It’s Hard is a highly underrated album possibly more so than Face Dances, with “You Better You Bet” being their last hit single.
    Kenney Jones does some excellent drum fills on both albums and I believe that given the time to show his potential, he would have fit in well with The Who.
    Not taking anything away from Keith Moon, or Zak Starkey. I would just like to have seen more of Kenney Jones Era, WHO albums and live performances.
    Long Live Rock, Long Live The Who.

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