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The Who - It's Hard:

UK - 1982 Polydor LP

UK - 1982 Polydor Cassette

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers LP

 

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers LP

Autographed by John Entwistle

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers LP (Promo)

Quiex II Vinyl Pressing

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers Cassette

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers 8-Track

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers 8-Track

USA - 1982 Warner Brothers Reel-To-Reel

USA - 1984 Warner Brothers CD

Original pressings made in Germany. Reissued and remastered in 1985 (USA pressing).

USA - 1984 Warner Brothers CD

Longbox (original packaging)

USA - 1985 MCA LP

USA - 1985 MCA Cassette

USA - 1989 MCA CD

Original mix

USA - 1997 MCA CD

Remixed/Remastered

Argentina - 1982 Polydor LP

Argentina - 1982 Polydor Cassette

Australia - 1982 Polydor LP

Australia - 1982 Polydor Cassette

Brazil - 1982 Polydor LP

Canada - 1982 Warner Brothers LP

Canada - 1982 Warner Brothers Cassette

Ecuador - 1982 Polydor LP

France - 1982 Polydor LP

Gatefold cover

France - 1982 Polydor Cassette

Germany - 1982 Polydor LP

Germany - 1983 Polydor CD

Original mix - 1st pressing has Polydor logo on cover

Germany - 1997 Polydor CD

Remixed/Remastered

Greece - 1982 Polydor LP

Holland - 1982 Polydor LP

Hong Kong - 1982 Polydor LP

Hong Kong - 1982 Polydor Cassette

Indonesia - 1982 King's Record Cassette

Ireland - 1982 Polydor LP

UK cover

Israel - 1982 Polydor LP

Italy - 1982 Polydor LP

Japan - 1982 Polydor LP

Japan - 1982 Polydor Cassette

Japan - 1984 Polydor LP (reissue)

Japan - 1996 Polydor CD

Original mix

Japan - 1999 Polydor CD

Remixed/Remastered. Mini-LP cover

Japan - 2011 Polydor CD

SHMCD. Mini-LP cover. Original mix studio tracks

Japan - 2013 Polydor CD

1997 mix & mastering. SHMCD

Korea - 1982 Polydor LP (back cover)

Korean pressing deletes "Cooks County" and "Cry If You Want" (Common front cover)

Korea - 1982 Polydor Cassette

Korean pressing deletes "Cooks County" and "Cry If You Want"

Korea - 1982 (no label) LP

Unlike Korea Polydor LP, this version has the full track listing

Korea - 1982 High Light LP

Mexico - 1982 Polydor LP

New Zealand - 1982 Polydor LP

Philippines - 1982 Polydor LP

Portugal - 1982 Polydor LP

Russia - 1997 n/a CD

Saudi Arabia - 1982 747 Cassette

Saudi Arabia - 1982 Pyramid Cassette

Saudi Arabia - 1982 UFO Cassette

Saudi Arabia - 1982 J&R Cassette

Saudi Arabia - 1982 IMD Cassette

Saudi Arabia - 1983 First Cassette

South Africa - 1982 Polydor LP

Spain - 1982 Polydor LP (front cover)

Spain - 1982 Polydor LP (back cover)

Titles in English & Spanish

Taiwan - 1982 Liming LP

Thailand - 1982 Peacock Cassette

Zimbabwe - 1982 Polydor LP

Album: It's Hard

LPs (vinyl) Sampled: Polydor (UK), Warner Brothers (USA), Warner Brothers – promo copy pressed on Quiex II vinyl (USA), Polydor (France), Polydor (Argentina), Polydor (Japan)

CDs (original mix) Sampled: Polydor-1st pressing (Germany), Polydor-2nd pressing (Germany), Warner Brothers-1st pressing (USA), Warner Brothers-2nd pressing (USA), MCA (USA), Polydor (Japan)

CDs (remix) Sampled: Polydor (Germany), MCA (USA), Polydor (Japan)

LP Comments: Both Polydor (UK) and Warner Brothers (USA) sound just about the same. The promo Quiex II is a better quality of vinyl, but in this case, it doesn't seem to improve the sound.

Note: MCA subsequently pressed this on both vinyl and CD, after the Who deal with Warner Brothers fell apart. I have not listened to the MCA LP at this time.

CD (original mix) comments: This album seems to be the only one of the Who releases that Polydor (Germany) updated since their initial releases and before the reissue series. The first pressings of this CD (both Polydor (Germany) and Warner Brothers (USA)) were made at the Polydor plant in Germany and sound identical, but unfortunately, pretty bad--as they are overly dull and muddy. The 2nd pressing from Warner Brothers was made in their USA plant and sounds excellent. The updated Polydor (Germany) sounds excellent too. The Polydor (Japan) CD seems somewhere in-between the original USA/Germany pressings and later USA & Germany pressings, but still dull and muddy sounding.

CD (remix) comments: All 3 of these CDs (Polydor (Germany), Polydor (Japan) and MCA (USA)) sound different from one another. None of them sound bad, just different. Both the Polydor (Germany) and MCA (USA) suffer from too much compression in the mastering process, but otherwise sound fine. The Polydor (Japan) version seems to be stripped of most of the extra compression and has the extra bass (which is present in most of the other Japanese Who CD releases). However, in this case, it helps the album sound "punchier", as if it's more "live" sounding. I can't seem to find an explanation for what happened which caused the differences on this release, but as long as the differences aren't bad, they are acceptable.

Summary: If you like the original mix of the album, seek out the 2nd pressing (made in the USA) Warner Brothers (USA) CD, The MCA (USA) CD or the latest (pre-reissue) pressing of the Polydor (Germany) copy. If you like the remix, go with the Polydor (Japan). Overall, it sounds better without the extra compression and the extra bass.

Other Comments: For some reason, most of the Who fans in the UK I've encountered do not like this album (American fans seem mixed—I love it). However, after the album was remixed, it seems to have gained more respect on both sides of the pond. Apparently there's a Roger Daltrey lead vocal track on "Eminence Front" and a Pete Townshend lead vocal on "One Life's Enough". These would have made a great bonus tracks!

About: It's Hard

As a fairly new Who fan looking forward to my first concert, new Who book (
Maximum R&B) - I looked forward to buying this record on its release date in 1982.
 
We got a tease from the radio stations which were playing "Athena" constantly on the radio...

So when I finally got the album - I was kind of disappointed. Why? (Here's the funny part) - it didn't seem as good as...
Face Dances !

I loved "Athena" and "Eminence Front" but the rest just seemed... ok.
 
However, I was determined to figure it out (sometimes new music takes a while to be "absorbed").
 
Sure enough - after about the 10th listen the album started to really grown on me.

There were a lot of interesting reviews at the time - "great album", "bad album", "best album since
Who's Next", etc.
 
Fast forward to the
Before I Get Old book (which I think was poorly done) - the author lumps Face Dances and "It's Hard" under the same breath as "too personal." (It seemed as though he reviewed the latter without even listening to it and assumed it was personal. What's "personal" about the songs in "It's Hard"?) For whatever reason, this was his pet peeve - and after harping on this point once too often - <in my opinion> destroyed Pete's confidence as a writer for years.

The 1997 remix version is great, except I disagree with the centering of Pete's vocals on "Eminence Front" - I always loved the right channel vocal version. It added character to the song.
 
This album seems to stir up a bunch of emotions in Who fans. You have those who love it (i.e. me) and those who hate it (most UK fans). Seems sort of odd that something as small as the Atlantic Ocean would divide Who fans like this.

It seems that depending on when and how you became a Who fan tends to play into which albums you love and "love less" as you "grew up" with the band from a different perspective.

For me - it all began with
Who Are You - but for many before me, it was The Who By Numbers.

I've noticed that if you started this craziness around 1978 your fondness for Who Are You can exceed that of <what I refer to as the "depressing"> The Who By Numbers.

So... What happened with "It's Hard" (other than Kenney Jones - who always gets trashed no matter what)?

In the USA - it was the "final tour" - stadium after stadium full of 50,000+ Who fans all converging for their final tour and in support of their new album...

How many shows did they play in the UK in 1982??? (Seems like 2.)

So we Americans had the opportunity to buy the album, listen to it, get familiar with it, watch the "Eminence Front" video on MTV a billion times (great video) and then see them play the songs live!

The album grew on us and became part of our lives! In the UK.. It represented no tour and the end of The Who.

A bit too much of analysis here - but hard to imagine why any Who fan *doesn't* like it. I used to piss people off when I said this album was a better album than
The Who By Numbers.

3 singles ("Athena", "Eminence Front" & "It's Hard") were released from the album in the USA as well as some nice picture discs out if the UK - it was all good!

My favorite tracks are:

* Athena (what the hell is this song about? A girl? A bomb? Both? I never got a good answer. Out of the ashes of the rejected "Theresa" demo, Pete reworked this... I finally got my hands on a live version years later and was a but disappointed. Could have just been the mix - or perhaps they didn't rehearse it enough. I like it - but it's a bit weak).

* It's Hard (from the ashes of the rejected "Popular" demo - comes another gem. Such a great Who song.)

* Eminence Front (wow! A real masterpiece. I recall the first time I heard the remix and I was very upset - it's ruined!!! Mind you - I LOVE all the remixes (one of the best things that happened to The Who catalog) - but I hated this!!! Why? I loved the right channel lead vocal. It was different. It also made me laugh because half the NY area radio stations had their CD players wired backwards and Pete would be coming out of the left <wrong> channel when they played the song! (God forbid anyone pay attention to the red and white connectors!) Anyway - I loved the right channel vocal and the endearing timing error when Pete and Roger sang at different times in that one spot - that was gone too! The very cool added bass was very nice (but it didn't make up for the centered vocals). I used to carry around my 12" promo of the song - from stereo store to stereo store to demo electronics and speakers. The right channel vocal helped me tune into the various nuances. I recall <calling or writing> Andy Macpherson (the nice gentleman who remixed it) and asking him "what did he do!!!" He then lauged at me and told me - "Rich, you still have your old versions don't you?" Well yeah but...

I think
Jon Astley (who also may have giggled at my frustration) told me about the Roger Daltrey lead vocal version that was still "in the vault" and thought - please release that some day!!!

Supposedly the UK 12" promo has a different mix - One day when I find my copy, I will be sure to play it.

* One At A Time (a great John Entwistle song where Pete opens on lead vocals and John's last Who studio horn session. Great song - "My Wife part 2" for sure. John told me it was "impossible to play live". Why? Skip the horns like you did for the 1970 "Overture" and ???)

* Cry If You Want (Roger wanted this as the single. This is great Who song.)

I love all the songs in this album - but those are my very favorites.

I'd also like to hear the Pete vocal version of "One Life's Enough" - Roger does a great job in it - but I've always been curious what Pete would sound like on it instead.

So... To all you folks who drive your cars and scooters in the "wrong" side of the road - take the album out - give it a good dusting and enjoy it!

Track Listing:

Original Mix: Athena, It's Your Turn, Cook's County, It's Hard, Dangerous, Eminence Front, I've Known No War, One Life's Enough, One At A Time, Why Did I Fall For That?, A Man Is A Man, Cry If You Want

Remix: Athena, It's Your Turn, Cook's County, It's Hard, Dangerous, Eminence Front, I've Known No War, One Life's Enough, One At A Time, Why Did I Fall For That?, A Man Is A Man, Cry If You Want, It's Hard (live), Eminence Front (live), Dangerous (live), Cry If You Want (live)

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