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The Who 'Hearing' New Music

Years of discussion about a new studio album from the surviving members of the Who appears to be finally giving way to action.

A post on guitarist Pete Townshend’s official Web site (http://www.petetownshend.co.uk) reveals that he and frontman Roger Daltrey will begin demoing new material “before the end of the year” and plan to hit the studio in March.

Songs intended for the group’s first studio album in 21 years “will be based on story, now complete, ‘The Boy Who Heard Music.”‘ The set is being targeted for a summer 2004 release date on an as-yet-undetermined label and will be supported with a U.S. and U.K. tour. “Other regions” will be visited in 2005, according to the site.

The Who’s last studio album was 1982’s “It’s Hard,” which featured the singles “Eminence Front” and “Athena.” Ever since, Townshend has wrestled with the notion of writing new material for the group, as he told Billboard.com this summer.

“What made me stop making Who albums is very much the same thing that happened to Led Zeppelin. Somebody in the band died,” he said, noting the 1978 passing of drummer Keith Moon. “And unlike them, I was very slow to get the message.”

Townshend, Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle had made some tentative steps in the direction of new music in the summer of 2002, having run through one song each from Townshend and Daltrey during rehearsals for a tour. “That was as far as we got because two, three weeks later we were in L.A. waiting to tour and then found that John had died,” Townshend said.

With Moon and Entwistle dead, Townshend admitted he has wrestled with potentially releasing new music under the Who name. ” and I on a stage – whatever we call ourselves – can’t avoid the fact that in some illusionary way we bring down the mysterious mantle of the Who around us,” he said. “It will always happen. So we might as well call it the Who.”

Townshend is currently assembling a team to remix the Who’s 1973 classic album “Quadrophenia” in 5.1 surround sound. Plans are in the works to release the set in expanded form, much in the vein of this summer’s “Who’s Next” upgrade and the impending double-disc edition of “Tommy,” due Oct. 28 from Universal.

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