The Who Wished This Album Never Went Public

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Even late in their career, The Who regretted releasing one of their albums.

Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend (photo via Rolling Stone)

By 1982, The Who had already released nine studio albums. Any band that has put out that much music, you would think, has to have had a tone of experience writing and recording songs.

But even still, The Who put out an album they were not at all happy with– they were so unhappy with the final product that they didn’t want to release it.

It’s Hard was, well, hard to release for them.

It was their last album until Endless Wire in 2006 and last album with the great drummer Kenney Jones. And even though it reached No. 8 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart in the United States and went platinum, lead singer Roger Daltrey regrets releasing it.

It’s Hard should never have been released,” Daltrey said. “I had huge rows with Pete [Townshend]… when the album was finished and I heard it I said, ‘Pete, this is just a complete piece of sh*t and it should never come out!'”

Likewise, Townshend was not too happy about it either.

Roger Daltrey
Roger Daltrey (photo via Last.fm)

“Face Dances and It’s Hard were made by a band who were very unsure about whether or not they wanted to be making a record,” he said. “And I think that’s a terrible doubt.”

So why did the album come out of the people who made it didn’t want it to? Daltrey said it was the label’s fault.

“It came out because as usual we were being manipulated at that time by other things,” he said. “The record company wanted a record out and they wanted us to do a tour.”

As Daltrey said, he and Townshend would have big arguments about it.

“Pete,” Daltrey said at one point. “If we’d tried to get any of these songs onto Face Dances, or any of the albums that we’ve done since our first f**king album, we would not allow these songs to be on an album! Why are we releasing them? Why? Let’s just say that was an experience to pull the band back together, now let’s go and make an album.”

“Too late,” Townshend replied. “It’s good enough, that’s how we are now.”

Townshend later reflected on that time in the band’s life.

“I think the enthusiasm wasn’t completely lost, but a lot of it had gone,” he said. “And that’s what starts to be a bit embarrassing, is that the last years of The Who were so desperate. It was the desperation of people who were lost. I was looking forward too far and Roger was looking back too far.”

And that’s why The Who hated not only It’s Hard, but also Face Dances as well as their live album Who’s Last.

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Caleb Murphy is a musician who writes about music. His writing appears in Consequence Of Sound, Pittsburgh City Paper, and some other cool places. He blogs about music at calebjmurphy.com.
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