Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Who: Who's Next [Decca, 1971]
With its acoustic guitars and drumless bits, this triumph of hard rock is no more a pure hard rock album than Tommy. It's got more juice than Live at Leeds. And--are you listening, John Fogerty?--it uses the synthesizer to vary the power trio format, not to art things up. Given Peter Townshend's sharpness and compassion, even his out-front political disengagement--"I don't need to fight"--seems positive. The real theme, I think, is "getting in tune to the straight and narrow," and comes naturally to someone who's devoted a whole LP to the strictures of hit radio. Another sign of growth: the love songs. A