Cover of the canceled U.K. single
|Single by The Who|
|from the album It's Hard|
|B-side||"One at a Time"|
|Released||25 December 1982|
|The Who singles chronology|
"Eminence Front" is a song written and sung by Pete Townshend of the Who. It appears as the sixth track on the group's 1982 studio album, It's Hard. The single reached number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lead singer Roger Daltrey, vocally critical of the album, described "Eminence Front" as the only song on it that he felt was worthy of being released.[unreliable source?]
Background and recording
In the song, Townshend sings about the delusions and drug use of the wealthy and hedonistic. The lyrics describe a party in which people hide from their problems behind a façade. Townshend has introduced the song in live performances with: "This song is about what happens when you take too much white powder; it's called 'Eminence Front'". In an interview, Townshend explained:
'Eminence Front' was written around a chord progression I discovered on my faithful Yamaha E70 organ. I hesitate to try to explain what it was about. It's clearly about the absurdity of drug-fueled grandiosity, but whether I was pointing the finger at myself or at the cocaine dealers of Miami Beach is hard to recall.
In the originally released version, there is a timing flaw or a syncopation in the first chorus, where Townshend sings "behind an eminence front" at the same time Daltrey sings "it's an eminence front," with Townshend one syllable behind. A more linear-sounding remixed version appears on the 1997 re-release of It's Hard (a live version, recorded on the band's final stop on their 1982 tour in Toronto, appears as a bonus track on the re-release). Additionally, the remix has Townshend's vocals panned centrally rather than hard right in the stereo field.
The song is in the key of F minor.
"Eminence Front" was scheduled to be released as a single in the UK by Polydor Records in 1982; the catalog number was WHO 7 but the single was never released. The picture sleeve, by Richard Evans, depicted a 1930s Art Deco house in Miami. The single in its picture sleeve was finally released in 2017 as part of The Who's The Polydor Singles 1975-2015 box set.
A promotional video was produced, shot at a rehearsal in Landover, Maryland, during their 1982 US tour. Footage from the Who's 1982 concert at Shea Stadium was also used in the video.
In a wholly negative review of It's Hard, Robert Christgau gave faint praise to "Eminence Front" as the album's high point, sarcastically noting how the aging Townshend "discovers funk. Just in time. Bye." Rolling Stone ranked the song as the Who's tenth best song, stating, "'Eminence Front' showed they could connect Townshend's new wave-influenced solo work with the classic sound of Who's Next."
In popular culture
The song has been used as the intro music for Dallas Mavericks games since it was adopted during the 2000–01 NBA season, the team's final season at the Reunion Arena. The song was chosen by Mavericks marketing executive Matt Fitzgerald, who stated that he was looking for a song with an instrumental introduction which builds to a crescendo in the same manner as the Alan Parsons Project's "Sirius", which is used in the same way by the Chicago Bulls: "We tried many different songs during our last season in Reunion Arena... Then one day in my car, I was listening to a Who CD and 'Eminence Front' came on. We tried it, the Mavs fans responded in a very positive way, so it became our signature player introduction song". In a 2019 interview, Townshend said that its adoption by the Mavericks was "a wonderful use of the song... I must have known [the team used it], because I must have given permission, but I had forgotten".
- Peter Townshend – guitar, Lowrey organ, synthesizer, lead vocals
- Roger Daltrey – backing vocals
- John Entwistle – bass guitar
- Kenney Jones – drums
- Tim Gorman – electric piano
- Discography - thewho.com
- "Eminence Front". songfacts.com.
- The Archivist (11 October 2011). "Video Classics: Eminence Front" Archived 31 January 2013 at Archive.today. Wnew.com. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- Browne, David; Fricke, David; Dolan, Jon; Grow, Kory; Gehr, Richard; Greene, Andy; Hermes, Will (3 March 2016). "The Who's 50 Greatest Songs: 10. "Eminence Front" ('It's Hard', 1982)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- "THE POLYDOR SINGLES BOX 1975 – 2015". thewho.com. The Who. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
- Christgau, Robert (25 January 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017.
- Christiansen, Thor (22 October 2019). "What Pete Townshend of The Who thinks about the Mavs' intro song (which he wrote)". DallasNews.com. Retrieved 3 June 2020.