The Who, 'Rock Is Dead – Long Live Rock!' (1972)
Lifehouse, Pete Townshend's multimedia dystopian fable intended as the follow-up to 1969's rock opera Tommy, proved too heavy to get off the ground. After a year of blood, sweat and breakdowns, the project was scrapped and the songs funneled onto 1971's Who's Next. For his next concept, Townshend chose a topic closer to home.
Rock Is Dead – Long Live Rock was to be an autobiographical album of the band's history. At a time when glam rock was taking off in the U.K., the Who were right on schedule to switch off their synthesizers and pound out some old-fashioned four-on-the-floor. The title track, a gloriously retro boogie-woogie number, sets the scene with a cinematic look at an early Who gig.
Sessions took place between May and June 1972, with Glyn Johns serving as co-producer. Townshend has claimed that recording was nearly complete, and there was even talk of a proposed television special to accompany the album. But as the summer progressed, the band began to feel that the work sounded too similar to Who's Next and enthusiasm began to wane. "People don't really want to sit and listen to all our past," Townshend grumbled to Melody Maker that fall. Yet revisiting their past had left him greatly inspired, and Rock Is Dead – Long Live Rock morphed into the Who's next rock opera: the Mod-centric Quadrophenia.