Face Dances

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Face Dances
The who face dances album.jpg
Studio album by
Released16 March 1981 (1981-03-16)
RecordedJuly–December 1980
StudioOdyssey, London
LabelPolydor, Warner Bros.
ProducerBill Szymczyk
The Who chronology
Face Dances
Singles from Face Dances
  1. "You Better You Bet" / "The Quiet One"
    Released: 21 March 1981
  2. "Don't Let Go the Coat" / "You"
    Released: 5 May 1981
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[1]
Robert ChristgauB+[2]
Rolling Stone2.5/5 stars[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[5]

Face Dances is the ninth studio album by English rock band the Who.[6] It was released in 1981 by Warner Bros. in the United States (it was the band's first release on that label) and on Polydor in the United Kingdom. It was one of two Who studio albums with drummer Kenney Jones, who joined the band after Keith Moon's death three years earlier.

Despite mixed reviews from Rolling Stone and other critics,[4] the album peaked at No. 4[7] on the US Billboard 200 and No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart.

Album cover[edit]

The album cover features 16 paintings of the band members by 16 British painters, who were commissioned by Peter Blake, designer of the cover of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Artists include Tom Phillips, Richard Hamilton, Allen Jones, David Hockney, Clive Barker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Caulfield, David Inshaw, Mike Andrews, Joe Tilson, Patrick Procktor, David Tindle and Blake himself.

Photographer Gavin Cochrane took a reference photo of each of the four members of the band (Pete Townshend,[8] Roger Daltrey,[9] John Entwistle[10] and Kenney Jones[11]) which the 16 artists used to paint on 6" x 6" canvases the portraits of each member of the band for the front cover of Face Dances. Roger Daltrey was painted by Mike Andrews, Allen Jones, David Inshaw and David Hockney. Kenney Jones was painted by Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Patrick Procktor and David Tindle.

R. B. Kitaj did a charcoal portrait on Ingres paper of John Entwistle. Kitaj (1932-2007) was a Jewish American from Chagrin Falls, Ohio but made his home in England for many years and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1991 – the first American to do so since John Singer Sargent in the 1890s.[12]

David Inshaw[13] painted a portrait of Roger Daltrey which features on the cover of Face Dances. David Inshaw was a member of the Brotherhood of Ruralists along with Peter Blake and Jann Howarth and Graham and Annie Ovenden in the 1970s. In 1973, his painting 'The Badminton Game' was exhibited at the ICA Summer Exhibition and was subsequently acquired by the Tate.[14]

The late Richard Hamilton, RA (1922-2011) did a portrait of Pete Townshend for the cover of Face Dances. Hamilton was one of the first British Pop artists renowned for his painting and collage work. Richard Hamilton was the cover designer of The Beatles' White Album and its iconic poster insert, and for his painting 'Swinging London 67 (f)' which depicted Mick Jagger and art dealer Robert Fraser in handcuffs following their arrest on drug charges.[15]


In 1993, Polydor re-released the album on CD. It only held the songs from the original LP.

In 1997, the album was remixed, remastered and re-released by MCA with three outtakes as well as two live tracks. The live track "How Can You Do It Alone" is an edited version of the live performance.

"You Better You Bet" was the first single released from the album; its music video was one of the first music videos aired on MTV in 1981, and was the first to be repeated on the channel. "Don't Let Go the Coat" was the second single to be released from the album, and it also had its own music video. While a video was shot for "Another Tricky Day" it was not released as a single.[16]

Face Dances celebrates its 40th anniversary with the release on Saturday 12 June 2021 on Record Store Day 1[17][18] of a 2-LP expanded coloured vinyl version (LP1 is blue and LP2 is yellow). Both discs have been mastered by Jon Astley at Close To The Edge[19] and cut at half speed by Miles Showell at the Abbey Road Studios.

LP1 is the newly re-mastered version of the album while LP2 has a side of studio out-takes and four live tracks from the band's 1981 Rockpalast show which appear for the first time on vinyl.[20]

Live performances[edit]

Every song on this album, with the exception of "Daily Records", has been performed live by either the Who or one of its members' outside bands.

On the band's 1981 tour supporting the album, five songs were performed live: "You Better You Bet", "Don't Let Go the Coat", "The Quiet One", "Did You Steal My Money", and "Another Tricky Day". However, only "You Better You Bet", "The Quiet One" and "Another Tricky Day" were played after the tour.

"You Better You Bet" is one of the band's more famous live songs, being played in almost every tour following 1981, namely 1989, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2019. Live performances of this song did not differ much from the studio arrangement, save for the guitar solo, which was usually played differently.

"Don't Let Go The Coat" was played in every concert of the 1981 tour but did not last past it.

"The Quiet One" was written by Entwistle to replace "My Wife" on stage, and it did for the years of 1981 and 1982. However, in the later tours, it was not played again and "My Wife" was brought back.

"Did You Steal My Money" was only played four times on the 1981 tour, three of those times as an encore, and usually leading into another song.

"How Can You Do It Alone" was first performed live much earlier than the release date of the album. In fact, all of its live performances came before its release. In 1979, Townshend introduced this song with a different, faster arrangement with different lyrics during the encores of the US/Canada leg of the tour. It was played once more in 1980. A version more similar to the studio version (though still quite different) was played at a concert at the Cornwall Coliseum in St Austell on 30 January 1981. By that time, the lyrics had been more or less set in stone. However, it was never played again after that concert.

"Another Tricky Day" was also performed live first before 1981. Townshend introduced some lyrics of the song during a jam of "Dance It Away" in Los Angeles on the 1980 tour. 1981 performances of this song featured a lengthy jam at its conclusion, and these versions could reach as long as eight minutes. In 2002, this song was brought back for the North American tour as a tribute to Entwistle, who died right before the start of the tour. The song was played a few more times in 2004 as well.

"Cache Cache" and "You" were never performed live by The Who, but Daltrey performed the former once on his 2009 Use It or Lose It tour, while the John Entwistle Band sometimes played the latter during their concerts.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Pete Townshend except where noted.

Side one
1."You Better You Bet" 5:36
2."Don't Let Go the Coat" 3:43
3."Cache Cache" 3:57
4."The Quiet One"John Entwistle3:09
5."Did You Steal My Money" 4:10
Side two
1."How Can You Do It Alone" 5:26
2."Daily Records" 3:27
3."You"John Entwistle4:30
4."Another Tricky Day" 4:55
1997 reissue bonus tracks
10."I Like Nightmares"3:09
11."It's In You"4:59
12."Somebody Saved Me" (Also found on Pete Townshend's 1982 solo album All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes)5:31
13."How Can You Do It Alone" (Live, 8 December 1979 at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago)5:24
14."The Quiet One" (Live, 13 October 1982 at Shea Stadium in New York City)4:28


The Who

Additional musicians


Artwork and design

In the order they are presented on the sleeve (left to right, top to bottom), the pictures are painted by:

Pete Townshend: Bill Jacklin, Tom Phillips, Colin Self and Richard Hamilton
Roger Daltrey: Michael Andrews, Allen Jones, David Inshaw and David Hockney
John Entwistle: Clive Barker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin and Patrick Caulfield
Kenney Jones: Peter Blake, Joe Tilson, Patrick Procktor and David Tindle[21]

Sales chart performance[edit]

Year Chart Position
1981 The Billboard 200 4[22]
1981 UK Chart Albums 2[23]
1981 Canada RPM 100 Albums[24] 1
Year Single Chart Position
1981 "Another Tricky Day" Billboard Mainstream Rock 6[25]
"Daily Records" Billboard Mainstream Rock 36[25]
"Did You Steal My Money" Billboard Mainstream Rock 38[25]
"Don't Let Go the Coat" The Billboard Hot 100 84[citation needed]
"How Can You Do It Alone" Billboard Mainstream Rock 50[25]
"You Better You Bet" Billboard Mainstream Rock 1[25]
The Billboard Hot 100 18[25]
UK Singles Chart 9[26]
"You" Billboard Mainstream Rock 51[25]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[27] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[28] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Face Dances at AllMusic
  2. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: the who". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  3. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 1227. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b "Face Dances".
  5. ^ "The Who: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  6. ^ Discogs - Face Dances LP 1981 Artone (POLY 5528) South Africa
  7. ^ The Hypertext Who › Liner Notes › Face Dances Archived 19 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ The Who Facebook page > "One of the reference photos (of Pete Townshend) taken by photographer Gavin Cochrane..." post on 7 June 2021
  9. ^ The Who Facebook page > "...Here's Roger photographed by Gavin Cochrane..." post on 8 June 2021
  10. ^ The Who Facebook page > "Meanwhile, here's one of the reference photos of John Entwistle taken by photographer Gavin Cochrane..." post on 9 June 2021
  11. ^ The Who Facebook page > "...here's the photograph of Kenney Jones taken by Gavin Cochrane..." post on 10 June 2021
  12. ^ The Who Facebook page > "A charcoal portrait on Ingres paper of John Entwistle by R B Kitaj..." post on 9 June 2021
  13. ^ David Inshaw website
  14. ^ The Who Facebook page > "Here's a portrait of Roger Daltrey painted by David Inshaw which features on the cover of Face Dances..." post on 8 June 2021
  15. ^ The Who Facebook page > "A portrait of Pete Townshend from the cover of Face Dances by the late Richard Hamilton, RA (1922-2011)..." post on 7 June 2021
  16. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/the-whos-50-greatest-songs-81794/another-tricky-day-face-dances-1981-34580/
  17. ^ RSD 2021 UK
  18. ^ RDS 2021 US
  19. ^ Close To The Edge studio website
  20. ^ The Who Facebook page > "We're kicking off the week leading up to Record Store Day on Saturday 12 June with The Who's first single off their 1981 album, Face Dances. Face Dances is The Who's official release for Record Store Day 2021..." post on 7 June 2021
  21. ^ "Illustration to the cover of 'Face Dances'". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  22. ^ "Artist Chart History – The Who". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  23. ^ UK Albums Chart w/e 4 April 1981
  24. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g "The Who Official Website".
  26. ^ UK Singles Chart - w/e 21 March 1981
  27. ^ "British album certifications – The Who – Faces Dance". British Phonographic Industry.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Faces Dance in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  28. ^ "American album certifications – The Who – Faces Dance". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]