The Who, ‘I’ve Known No War': Rock’s Hidden Gems
Probably best remembered for "Eminence Front," which would become an FM staple despite its decidedly un-Who like approach, It's Hard certainly wasn't perfect. But it rekindled a bit of the band's fire on tracks like "Athena," "It's Your Turn" (written by bassist John Entwistle) and, in particular, "I've Known No War."
The latter has all the makings of a classic Who moment. There's a heavy riff, a heavy lyric (dealing with the Cold War and World War II, as well as the hovering tensions of the early '80s) and superb performances from both Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. Jones and Entwistle play in an uncharacteristically subdued manner, providing a perfect anchor – though we can only imagine what this track would have sounded like if Keith Moon had lived to play on it. (That definitive crash, bang and wallop is really the only thing missing from "I've Known No War.")
Listening to it all these years later, one has to wonder: Why hasn't this song, with its anthemic sound and aggressive theme, held a more prominent place in the Who's history? Instead, it's merely a long-forgotten album track. Certainly, Rolling Stone's Parke Puterbaugh thought "I've Known No War" would have a different fate. In his original 1982 review, Puterbaugh said "the key to the album is 'I've Known No War,' a song that could become an anthem to our generation much the way 'Won't Get Fooled Again' did a decade ago."
Perhaps, it was an issue of timing. Despite various issues at hand, there were those who decided to put politics on the back burner in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era. The Who's "I've Known No War," one of rock's hidden gems, may have simply been the right song at the wrong moment.
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