After making a surprisingly effective debut with Smash Your Head Against the Wall, Who bassist John Entwistle consolidated his solo success with Whistle Rymes. Like its predecessor, this album combines catchy, straightforward, pop-tinged rock with dark, often bitingly sarcastic lyrics; good examples include "Thinking It Over," a witty, waltz-styled tune about a potential suicide having second thoughts while preparing to jump off a building, and "Who Cares," a punchy, piano-driven rocker about a man who deals with the problems of life by refusing to take it seriously. However, Entwistle's finest achievement in this respect is "I Feel Better," a devastatingly sarcastic tune that features the singer putting down an ex-lover by listing all the things all the things he does to get back at her. Viciously witty yet full of emotion, this poison-pen gem ranks up there with Harry Nilsson's "You're Breaking My Heart" as one of rock's ultimate post-breakup songs. Whistle Rymes further benefits from a stylish production job by Entwistle that judiciously adds extra instrumental layers to the album's basic rock style to subtly broaden its sonic palette; for instance, "Thinking It Over" is anchored by a thick synthesizer bassline and "I Wonder" allows Entwistle to indulge his skill with brass instruments by overdubbing himself into a virtual big band brass section. It's also interesting to note that this album features a pre-solo fame Peter Frampton turning in some searing guitar riffs throughout the disc. All in all, Whistle Rymes is an entertaining and consistent rock album that balances energy with ambition. It may be a little too dark and eccentric for the general listener, but is well worth the time for any hardcore Who fan.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco