Daytona Beach News-Journal on Then & Now

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Fri Apr 30 14:25:22 CDT 2004

>From the Daytona Beach News-Journal at:

The Who stumbles with new songs

The Who, "Then and Now"
Universal Music
3 and 1/2 stars out of 5

You know it's the bean counters in accounting who prod
the old gods of rock to cough up a few new songs for
any new greatest-hits collection. After all, why
should fans shell out more bucks for yet another
Rolling Stones or Eagles best-of set?

But you also know the gray-beards themselves - or
rather their Zeus-size egos - have a different agenda.
You know Mick Jagger and Keith Richards actually
believe the "bonus new tracks" they slopped on "Forty
Licks," that 83rd and most recent Stones compilation,
had the juice to give fans satisfaction. You know Don
Henley believes "Hole in the World," from the latest
Eagles greatest-hits set, is a five-star suite in a
refurbished Hotel California.

Sorry, Mick. Sorry, Keith. Sorry, Don. Ain't so.

This same, pathetic dynamic is at work on the new Who
collection, "Then and Now," but with a truly
intriguing twist: The two new songs, "Real Good
Looking Boy" and "Old Red Wine," are the first studio
recordings from the Who in 22 years.

Question for Who guitarist Pete Townshend: This is all
you could come up with in those 22 years?

"Real Good Looking Boy" is a mishmash of art rock
wanna-be, Elvis Presley tribute, homo-eroticism and
dysfunctional family values, with singer Roger Daltrey
sounding like a junior varsity Meat Loaf as he gamely
tackles Townshend's lyrics. Uber-Who Heads may have a
grand time deciphering Mr. T's inner meanings, but the
rest of us will wait for him to appear on Jerry
Springer the next time the king of sleaze TV features
a program about Elvis worshipers who watch "Queer Eye
for the Straight Guy" while their mothers destroy
their self-esteem.

"Old Red Wine" is well-intentioned - it's a tribute to
the late Who bassist John Entwistle, who exited this
earth via a Spinal Tap-like, rock 'n' roll death in
Las Vegas in 2002. Yes, the song's central image is
charming: A guy wistfully promises he'll have a glass
of wine with his dearly departed mate again someday.

But Townshend detours into references about
Entwistle's final Vegas fling and the band's
rock-opera nights at the Hollywood Bowl and the
Fillmore West, plus the pseudo-grandeur of a Meat Loaf
song rears its head again. Therefore, what could have
been a simple, plaintive tribute crumbles under
excessive weight.

On a five-star scale, the two new tracks would average
two. As for the 18 hits here - yes, there are immortal
songs included, but there also are glaring gaps, such
as no "Baba O'Riley." A much better history of the
band is the two-disc, 35-track "The Who: The Ultimate
Collection" instead.

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

Do you Yahoo!?
Win a $20,000 Career Makeover at Yahoo! HotJobs 

More information about the TheWho mailing list