If the previous album, Thanatophobia, was unique because of its sonic scope and use of genuinely individual ways of writing songs, then John Who is unique because of the music it chooses to explore. Eagle-eyed music aficionados amongst you might have made the connection from the title. For those who haven’t had that light bulb moment, John Who? is reworking and reimagining some of the solo songs of The Who’s John Entwistle. Get it now?
If it is Pete Townsend who gets the most attention for the band’s songwriting (or perhaps Keith Moon for his antics, or even Roger Daltrey for his rock god persona), John “The Ox” Entwistle is often unfairly overlooked for his work with and after The Who. This album seeks to, in some modest way, correct that injustice.
Love Is A Heartattack, from Entwistle’s much-overlooked album Too Late The Hero, is polished of its staccato jabs and spikey nature and rendered into a wonky, acoustic-driven folk-rock ballad. It follows the same dynamic path as the original, with the same meandering twists and turns but offers something smoother and less abrasive.
Roller Skate Kate from 1973’s Rigor Mortis Set’s In stays faithful to its 50’s doo-wop style, a tongue-in-cheek take on the rock and roll crooners of that era. Do The Dangle, from the same album, feels like Mott The Hoople playing the song at a high school dance…which is as it should be, and Too Late The Hero is suitably reflective and poignant.
For my money, anything that gives The Who’s four-stringer, often regarded as one of the best there has been, I welcome the recognition he has long deserved for his writing. And if an album such as this makes a few people dig deeper into his solo songs, it has done its job. You know, he was more than just the writer of Boris The Spider. Much, much more.