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The Who By Numbers was The Who's 1975 follow-up to Quadrophenia.

When The Who By Numbers was being written, guitarist and main songwriter for the Who, Pete Townshend, still felt disillusioned about the failure of Lifehouse and his overall role within the band. The songs from this album were the bitterest yet, a stark exorcism of his demons in the form of introspective and often depressing lyrics. These demons included his drinking problems, marital issues, and the corruption of the record industry and business ventures. Even bassist John Entwistle's contribution, "Success Story", a satirical look at 'making it' in the music business, was bleak by his usual standards.

"The Who By Numbers is very dark because Pete was going through terrible agonies, but I didn't realise this at the time. He was also starting to write himself into a very cosy situation where nothing was shared, which put the rest of us in a very difficult position, {because we didn't want to disturb his writing}. We thought, if he wants space, we'll give him space - when what we should have done was been there saying 'You all right, Pete?' But that's just the way he was and still is.

"There's a side to him that's like a stone wall and what he really wants you to do is knock down the fucking wall and come through it...I understand it now, but I didn't understand it then...

"What's great about 'Squeeze Box' is that it's so refreshingly simple, and incredibly catchy song.....Nothing wrong with a little 'in-and-out', mate!"


-Roger Daltrey

By Numbers is what most critics would warn as a "hardcore-fan-only" record, producing only one radio single, "Squeeze Box". Having taken their eyes off of the singles market and focusing more on albums, it was strange that "Squeeze Box", a song least representative of By Numbers would be chosen as the single. With it's bawdy innuendo ("we all knew it was about tits," remarked Entwistle), "Squeeze Box" provided the Who with a hit single.

Also during this time, the band themselves were breaking apart. Pete and lead singer Roger Daltrey accused each other-in the public forum of Melody Maker; of performance flaws and inebriation onstage (Pete and Roger didn't really like each other). Drummer Keith Moon, in the yearlong absence of Entwistle, his best friend, began his downward spiral of boozing and drugs that would lead to his death in 1978.

When The Who By Numbers was released in October of 1975, it charted in the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic, but it was clear that the Who were not the same band they used to be. Some critics called By Numbers Townshend's "suicide note", and indeed, it was the beginning of the end for The Who.

Track Listing:

1. Slip Kid
2. However Much I Booze
3. Squeeze Box
4. Dreaming from the Waist
5. Imagine a Man
6. Success Story
7. They Are All in Love
8. Blue, Red and Grey
9. How Many Friends
10. In a Hand or a Face

cover art by John Entwistle

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