In August 1978, the Who released their eighth studio album simply titled Who Are You. And for the band known for 1960s classics such as “My Generation” and the Tommy album, as well as early 1970s works including the landmark Who’s Next, the album came around the time popular music was ruled by punk, disco, and progressive rock. Even so, the album would be a success, peaking at number two on the charts (behind the Grease soundtrack), and sold over two million copies, while the title track went top twenty.
While punk and progressive rock were two different styles of music, many of the tracks seemingly put the two together, while igniting new life into the Who’s trademark anthemic rock. That would be relevant as the band incorporated synthesizers into their tracks including and the title track. Also according to Wikipedia, many of the tracks also represented Pete Townshend’s second attempt to completed the much ill-fated rock opera Lifehouse, and would be indicated on songs such as “Music Must Change”, “Sister Disco”, and “New Song”. And as he has before, Townshend pens the majority of the album, while three tracks were penned by John Entwistle.
In addition to being a commercial success, Who Are You also received positive reviews from critics. But the album success would be bittersweet. Drummer Keith Moon died just three weeks after the album was released. Ironically he appeared on the album’s cover on a chair that said “not to be taken away”. Taking his spot would be the Faces’ Kenney Jones, once the songs on Who Are You were later performed on tour in 1979.