The last time the classic rock legends the Who released an album was way back in 2006, with Endless Wire. Since then, it’s been what you might expect from aging greats: tours, more (maybe-goodbye) tours, compilations, revisiting the glory days in various forms, but not too much more fresh material. Along the way, frontman Roger Daltrey did find the opportunity to release a collaboration with Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson, 2014’s Going Back Home. Shortly after that, seeds were planted for another collection, a full-fledged solo outing titled As Long As I Have You that’ll see the light of day this summer.
Though the album is indeed a Daltrey endeavor, seven of the songs also feature his longtime accomplice Pete Townshend on guitar. So it’s almost like new music from the Who, but the music therein isn’t exactly what you might immediately associate with the Who, unless you go way back to their earliest days. Daltrey’s positioning it as a callback to their soul roots, and the album is a mixture of new compositions and interpretations of songs that have inspired Daltrey over the years, ranging from logical picks like Stevie Wonder to, somewhat incredibly, Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms.”
Here’s what Daltrey had to say about the album:
This is a return to the very beginning, to the time before Pete [Townshend] started writing our songs, to a time when we were a teenage band playing soul music to small crowds in church halls. That’s what we were, a soul band. And now, I can sing soul with all the experience you need to sing it. Life puts the soul in. I’ve always sung from the heart but when you’re 19, you haven’t had the life experience with all its emotional trials and traumas that you have by the time you get to my age. You carry all the emotional bruises of life and when you sing these songs, those emotions are in your voice. You feel the pain of a lost love. You feel it and you sing it and that’s soul. For a long time, I’ve wanted to return to the simplicity of these songs, to show people my voice, a voice they won’t have heard before. It felt like the right time. It’s where I am, looking back to that time, looking across all those years but also being here, now, in the soulful moment.
Townshend added that As Long As I Have You “shows Roger at the height of his powers as a vocalist.”
Along with the announcement, Daltrey’s shared the album’s lead single and title track. And it does indeed sound like a throwback to the Who’s ’60s R&B origins, considering it’s a rendition of a 1964 soul song sung by Garnet Mimms. Something about the aging rock frontman talking about the passage of time and posing introspectively in a peacoat for his album cover makes me expect an album of meditative balladry and standards, but Daltrey’s version of “As Long As I Have You” keeps the lively urgency of the original, with Daltrey using the grit that the decades have given his voice to rip through a song from his youth. Check it out below.
01 “As Long As I Have You”
02 “How Far”
03 “Where Is A Man To Go?”
04 “Get On Out Of The Rain”
05 “I’ve Got Your Love”
06 “Into My Arms”
07 “You Haven’t Done Nothing”
08 “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind”
09 “Certified Rose”
10 “The Love You Save”
11 “Always Heading Home”
As Long As I Have You is out 6/1 via Polydor. Pre-order it here.