Cover of the canceled U.K. single
|Single by The Who|
|from the album It's Hard|
|"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.
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 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 produced a video, shot at a rehearsal in Landover, Maryland, during their 1982 US tour, which enjoyed consistent airplay on MTV upon its release. Footage from the Who's 1982 concert at Shea Stadium was also used in the video.
"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.
The song is in the key of F minor.
In a fully 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."