The Who: "The Seeker"

With "The Seeker" Pete Townshend and the Who take that proverbial one step backwards.

A subdued (for the Who) rock and roller that gives the impression of having slightly more muscle than it shows, "The Seeker" addresses itself to the futility of seeking The Answer (which, we are informed, neither Bobby Dylan, the Beatles, or even Timothy Leary has to bestow). Built around a rather familiar rock riff and employing a typically obvious change to hook in its chorus, it's highlighted instrumentally by sympathetic interplay between Townshend's guitar and Entwistle's bass, bombastic (and unusually well-recorded) Moon drumming, and a Chuckleberry-ish break by Townshend, who elsewhere amuses himself by brushing up on his "Sally Simpson" piano licks.

Well-performed and clever as it is, though, it's a trifle mundane compared to most everything from Tommy or the group's live act. Distinguished by neither the pulverizing fury of "I Can See For Miles" nor the perverse wit of "Pictures Of Lily" and "I'm A Boy," it is reminiscent of "Call Me Lightning," "Magic Bus," and other disappointing singles Townshend slipped us in between strokes of genius.

What's most disturbing about this single is its tone: After the success of Tommy, Townshend seemingly feels called upon to re-define his context, to reassure us that he's not off building a soapbox. Very somber, this. They should have given us Entwistle's exhilarating "Heaven and Hell" instead.

On the back is Daltrey's "Here For More," his second released attempt at songwriting. Unlike his earlier "See My Way," this one is even a little hummable, comprised of a catchy melody and nice bluegrassy guitar from Pete. Country-flavored in the typically charming English way, it demonstrates that Daltrey may yet surpass Ringo Starr.

Bring on the live album, he said for the millionth time.