This day in 1971: The Who released their fifth studio album Who’s Next which featured the classic song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ and has since been viewed by critics as the Who’s best record and one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
The album developed from the aborted Lifehouse project, a multi-media rock opera written by the group’s Pete Townshend as a follow-up to the band’s 1969 album Tommy. The project was cancelled owing to its complexity and to conflicts with Kit Lambert, the band’s manager, but the group salvaged some of the songs, without the connecting story elements, to release as their next album. Eight of the nine songs on Who’s Next were from Lifehouse, the lone exception being the John Entwistle-penned “My Wife”. Ultimately, the remaining Lifehouse tracks would all be released on other albums throughout the next decade.
The Who recorded Who’s Next with assistance from recording engineer Glyn Johns. After producing the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they relocated to Olympic Studios to record and mix most of the album’s remaining songs. They made prominent use of synthesizer on the album, particularly on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Baba O’Riley”, which were both released as singles.
Who’s Next was an immediate success when it was released in August 1971. It was reissued on CD several times, with additional songs originally intended for Lifehouse.