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It's Hard

It's Hard
Studio album by The Who
Released 4 September 1982
Recorded June 1982
Studio Turn Up-Down Studio at Glyn Johns' home in Surrey, England, UK
Length 46:29
Label Polydor, Warner Bros.
Producer Glyn Johns
The Who chronology
It's Hard
Who's Greatest Hits
Singles from It's Hard
  1. "Athena / A Man Is a Man"
    Released: 4 September 1982
  2. "Eminence Front / One at a Time"
    Released: 25 December 1982
  3. "It's Hard / Dangerous"
    Released: February 1983
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [1]
Robert Christgau C[2]
MusicHound 1/5[3]
Rolling Stone [4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [5]

It's Hard is the tenth studio album by the English rock band The Who. Released in September 1982, it was their last album until 2006's Endless Wire, and therefore the last to feature bassist John Entwistle, who died in 2002. It was also the final Who album with drummer Kenney Jones, as well as the last to be released on Warner Bros. Records in the US. It was released on Polydor Records in the UK, peaking at #11,[6] and on Warner Bros. in the US where it peaked at #8 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart.[7] The US rights to both this album and Face Dances subsequently reverted to the band, who then licensed them to MCA Records (later Geffen Records, itself once distributed by WB) for reissue. The album achieved gold status by the RIAA in the US in November 1982.


  • Cover artwork 1
  • Background 2
  • Critical reception 3
  • Live performances 4
  • 2011 reissue 5
  • Track listing 6
  • Personnel 7
  • Sales chart performance 8
  • Sales certifications 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Cover artwork

The album cover, designed by Graham Hughes (Roger Daltrey's cousin), depicts a young boy playing an Atari Space Duel arcade game. This is a reference to their rock opera Tommy, with the pinball machine that the main character played updated to the then-modern times.


The first track on the album, "Athena", peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. "Dangerous" and "One at a Time" were written by Entwistle for his failed rock opera that later merged with "Who Are You."[8]

In 1997, MCA Records re-released the album with new mixes for the album correcting problems evident in the original mixes for "Athena" and "Eminence Front".

Daltrey later said in 1994 that "It's Hard should never have been released" and that he also had arguments with Townshend over the release of the album. He stated that the record company wanted them to make a new record and they also wanted them to do a tour for the album, so in many ways they were forced to release it.[9]

Critical reception

Upon its release in 1982, Parke Puterbaugh of Rolling Stone magazine in the United States wrote a controversial review of the album that over time has remained polarizing. Puterbaugh gave it the magazine's highest rating (5 stars) and commented that it was, "their most vital and coherent album since [the 1971 album] Who's Next".[10] Puterbaugh also proclaimed that the song "I've Known No War" was "a song that could become an anthem to our generation much the way 'Won't Get Fooled Again' did a decade ago."[10]

Live performances

Just over half of this album has been played live over the course of the band's career, most of the performances coming from the then farewell tour in 1982 supporting the album.

"Dangerous" was the first song from this album to be played live, as the third song on the band's first 1982 concert. Its live performances did not deviate too far from the studio cut.

"Athena" was played sporadically on the 1982 tour, sometimes as an encore and other times in the regular set. The band hated playing the song and thought that their performance on it was not up to their standards, so they dropped it in the middle of the tour.

"A Man Is a Man" was also played sporadically on the same tour, and its last performance also came during the same concert with the last performance of "Athena".

"It's Hard" was played the entire 1982 tour and regularly featured a short full-band jam at its conclusion.

"Cooks County" was only played once, on 6 October 1982 at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, in place of "It's Hard". This was because the song was written by Townshend after seeing a television documentary on Chicago's Cook County Hospital.

"Eminence Front" was one of two songs (the other being "Cry If You Want") from this album to last until after the 1982 tour, and the only one to become a staple of the band's concerts. It was played in the tours of 1982, 1989, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2014. A highlight of these live performances was the guitar solo before the lyrics came in, where Townshend would play the solo differently every night.

"Cry If You Want" was played in every 1982 concert except one. These performances featured Townshend playing an extended guitar solo as an outro. In 2006, Daltrey requested that it be brought back, and it was for the first leg of the tour. However, it did not stay in the set list for long, only lasting three concerts. Later, the band would start incorporating it into their jams of "My Generation", albeit in a shorter and jazzier form, where it has lasted until 2009. The song was revived for The Who Hits 50! tour of 2014.

2011 reissue

On December 24, 2011 the original mix of the album was reissued in Japan in a miniature replica of the original album art work. The album was remastered by Jon Astley for this reissue using Direct Stream Digital (DSD) to transfer the digital files and included the bonus tracks added to the CD release of the album. The release was a limited edition in the SHM-CD format. The reissue included a picture of the original vinyl label.

Track listing

All songs written by Pete Townshend except where noted. The 1997 digitally remastered reissue of It's Hard added four live tracks recorded on the last show of The Who's 1982 tour, on 17 December in Toronto.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Athena"   3:46
2. "It's Your Turn" (John Entwistle) 3:39
3. "Cooks County"   3:51
4. "It's Hard"   3:47
5. "Dangerous" (John Entwistle) 3:36
6. "Eminence Front"   5:39
Side two
No. Title Length
7. "I've Known No War"   5:56
8. "One Life's Enough"   2:22
9. "One at a Time" (John Entwistle) 3:20
10. "Why Did I Fall for That"   3:56
11. "A Man Is a Man"   3:56
12. "Cry If You Want"   5:18
1997 reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Length
13. "It's Hard" (live) 4:56
14. "Eminence Front" (live) 5:37
15. "Dangerous" (live) 3:48
16. "Cry If You Want" (live) 7:12


The Who
Additional musicians
Album artwork

Sales chart performance

Chart (1982) Position
Billboard 200[7] 8
UK Albums Chart[6] 11
Single Chart (1982) Position
"Athena" Billboard Mainstream Rock[11] 3
Billboard Hot 100[11] 28
UK Singles Chart[6] 40
"Cry If You Want" Billboard Mainstream Rock[11] 34
"Dangerous" 38
"Eminence Front" 5
"It's Hard" 39
Single Chart (1983) Position
"Eminence Front" Billboard Hot 100[11] 68

Sales certifications

Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[12] Gold


  1. ^ It's Hard at AllMusic
  2. ^ "CG: the who". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  3. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 1227.  
  4. ^ Parke Puterbaugh (1982-09-30). "It's Hard | Album Reviews".  
  5. ^ "The Who: Album Guide".  
  6. ^ a b c "ChartArchive - The Who". Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  7. ^ a b "Artist Chart History – The Who". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 June 2008. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "It's Hard | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. 1982-09-30. Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Home". The Who. Retrieved 2013-10-26. 
  12. ^ "American album certifications – The Who – It's Hard".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links

  • It's Hard Liner Notes
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