Too Late the Hero (album)

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Too Late the Hero
Studio album by John Entwistle
Released 23 November 1981
Recorded 1979 - May 1981
Studio Crystal Studios, Los Angeles and Ramport Studios, London
Length 42:07
Language English
Label Atco (US)
Producer John Entwistle, Dave "Cyrano" Langston
John Entwistle chronology
Mad Dog
Too Late the Hero
The Rock
Singles from Too Late the Hero
  1. "Too Late the Hero"
    Released: October 1981
  2. "Talk Dirty"
    Released: December 1981

Too Late the Hero is the fifth solo studio album by English singer-songwriter John Entwistle, bassist for The Who. It was released on ATCO Records (his first and last album that was to be released on that label) in the United States, and his own pressing company WEA in the United Kingdom and other releases in different countries. The album was his only solo album of the 1980s and his last album to chart, (although he had tried to release The Rock in 1986)

The album stalled at number #71 on the Billboard 200, which later proved to be Entwistle's highest charting solo release since Smash Your Head Against the Wall and the last album to chart before his death in 2002.

The album features well known musicians Joe Walsh on lead guitar, Billy Nicholls singing backing vocals, and lesser-known Joe Vitale behind the drums.

Cover Photography[edit]

The album cover was photographed by Gered Mankowitz, the album cover depicts Entwistle with an Alembic bass guitar, and grainy photos of Entwistle dressed as various heroes.

Album success[edit]

The album found marginal success in the US. It had charted in the Billboard album charts reaching and stalling at #71.[1] That made it his highest charting album that Entwistle had achieved before his death in 2002.

"Talk Dirty" received quite a lot of airplay in the US on the album-oriented rock radio, along with Fallen Angel. "Too Late the Hero" was released in Italy on Jukeboxes across Italy where he also performed the song live.


The album was Entwistle's first solo album in six years. "I had stopped writing because I thought I was going in the wrong direction with the 'shoo-bop, shoo-bop,' old rock & roll stuff on Rigor Mortis Sets In and Mad Dog. When I started writing again, I went back to the kind of material I was writing before those albums.

"Until about two years ago, I tried to stay away from certain subjects. I was getting a feeling from everyone – from the fans right through my wife and family – that if you write about hookers, you must go to hookers, and if you write about drugs, you must take drugs. I got this reputation for sinister black humour after things like Whistle Rymes, when I was getting up at six in the morning to feed my son, Christopher, and then sitting down at the piano at seven to write songs about peeping Toms and suicide cases."[2]


The album was recorded over a couple of years, during those infrequent months when both Entwistle and long-time friend Joe Walsh were free (Walsh's James Gang toured extensively with the Who in the early seventies, and the two planned to collaborate for years).

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 1.5/5 stars [3]

Upon its release the album itself was generally poorly received by many critics, although Chris Welch praised the album.

Although being musically "impressive", the album has been described as lyrically "weak", and "a rather unspectacular listen." On the Allmusic review by Ben Davies, he praises the contributions of Joe Walsh on lead guitar and Joe Vitale on drums, but he says that they were unable to save the album from being "boring". The reviewer concedes that the combination of these musicians would have seemed, "Like something of a dream proposition back in the 1970s," making the album an even bigger disappointment.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by John Entwistle.

No. Title Length
1. "Try Me"   3:55
2. "Talk Dirty"   4:06
3. "Lovebird"   4:51
4. "Sleeping Man"   3:55
5. "I'm Coming Back"   4:01
6. "Dancing Master"   4:23
7. "Fallen Angel"   4:40
8. "Love Is a Heart Attack"   5:13
9. "Too Late the Hero"   7:25

Non-album track[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Too Late the Hero" (Single edit) 3:16




  • Dave "Cyrano" Langston - engineering
  • Neil Hornby - Assistant engineer
  • Jim Hill - Assistant engineer
  • Jeff Eccles - Assistant engineer
  • Mike Reese - mastering

Album artwork[edit]

Sales chart performance[edit]

Year Chart Position
1981 Billboard Hot 100 (US) 71
Billboard's Rock Albums Chart (US)[5] 17
Year Single Chart Position
1981 "Too Late the Hero" NME Charts (UK) 76
Billboard Charts (US) 101
Year Single Chart Position
1981 "Talk Dirty" Billboard's Mainstream Rock Charts (US) 41

External links[edit]