The death of drummer Keith Moon (1978) and bassist John Entwistle (2002), rock's most savage, most identifiable rhythm section, couldn't stop the Who. Neither could loss of hearing, interpersonal hiccups between survivors Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, arrests, or strained vocal cords. At 68 and 67 respectively, Daltrey and Townshend dusted themselves off and refused to die young, despite what an early hit, 1965's "My Generation," hoped. Instead, this pair took the band's most inspired and imaginative rock opera, 1973's Quadrophenia (which I prefer to Tommy, despite its filmic and Broadway runs), stripped away its chatty, bothersome narrative, and let Townshend's most brutal and poignant songs of youth's wrongs and longings breathe with defiant, if aged, effervescence.
- A.D. Amorosi
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
With only three previous solo albums - the most recent is 2011's excellent Here We Rest - it might seem a little early for Jason Isbell to be releasing a live set such as the current Live From Alabama. But before going solo, the 33-year-old Alabama guitarist spent six years as the third songwriting wheel to the Patterson Hood-Mike Cooley tandem in Southern rock standouts Drive By Truckers. So it turns out that Live From Alabama is stacked with sharply detailed Isbell-penned tunes that deftly navigate the rock-country divide - like "The Blue," from Isbell and the 400's 2009 solo album, or "Danko/Manuel," from the Truckers' 2004 The Dirty South. So you'd think he wouldn't need to include covers like Candi Staton's "Heart on a String" or Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane." Good thing he did, though: The former is a most effective vehicle for the horn section that pumps up the 400 Unit on the home-turf gig, and, while "Hurricane" may not quite measure up to Youngian standards, it still unleashes a mighty wind.
- Dan DeLuca
- Steve Klinge