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Local Review of Then & Now


Posted on Fri, Mar. 26, 2004 


Another best-of collection from The Who, released
Tuesday to coincide with the band's 40th anniversary.
Ho-hum, right? Yes and no.

OK, so let's deal with the "Now," or the Who2, as Pete
Townshend has dubbed the band assembled in the wake of
bass player John Entwistle's 2002 death.

"Old Red Wine," a sort of ode to Entwistle, is
definitely the better of the two, including a classic
Who mid-song tempo shift featuring Townshend's
trademark staccato guitar strumming that slaps you in
the face, drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son)
rumbling like a barely-in-control freight train, with
vocalist Roger Daltrey bellowing over the top, "Let it

The good news for fans pining decades for fresh
material is that neither track is a stinker and
shouldn't do anything to tarnish the group's legacy.

"Real Good Looking Boy," which incorporates portions
of Elvis Presley's "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love
With You," is not immediately accessible, mostly due
to overly wordy lyrics. It gets stronger upon repeated

The rest is a who's Who, from the band's first hit, "I
Can't Explain," through to its last, "You Better You

Thumbs down for including the radio edit of "Who Are
You," which cuts out the last verse. And hello,
where's "Baba O'Riley," an anthem, with the mantra of
"Teenage Wasteland," if there ever was one?

There is a superior package, released two years ago:
"The Ultimate Collection," which provides a better
overview of the band's catalog.

Therefore, "Then and Now" cannot be recommended to
anyone not dying to hear the new tracks.

Even then, save yourself some cash and go to Apple's
iTunes site (www.apple.com/itunes/), where you can
download " Real Good Looking Boy" and "Old Red Wine"
for 99 cents apiece.

Then pray that the rumors are true and the new songs
are precursors to The Who's first album of all-new
material since 1982's "It's Hard."


'Then And Now'

HIGHS | Two new tracks retain the band's original
fire, with an inevitably softer lyrical maturity.

LOWS | Sins of omission, mainly.

SUMMARY | Another compilation from the seminal British
band, notable for the "Now" portion: The Who's first
original songs since 1989's "Dig," from Pete
Townshend's solo album "The Iron Man."

Cheers         ML

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