Big Takeover Review - Tommy Deluxe

Scott Schrade schrade at
Mon Jul 26 19:12:15 CDT 2004

>From the pen of Jack Rabid & the pages of Big Takeover magazine:

You feel suckered buying the same double-LP three times in a life,
having already forked over for the vinyl, then the original CD.  But
if Pete Townshend wants to personally invade the record company 
vaults, uncover the elusive 8-track master tapes (legend had long 
had it the final masters had been destroyed by the late producer/
manager Kit Lambert.  Nope!), personally oversee a digital remix,
& present this classic in 5.1 surround sound, that's valuable enough.

And if he manages to uncover two totally unreleased songs plus
another deleted fragment - lost pieces of the rock opera from the
original 1968/69 IBC studios London sessions that hit the cutting
floor & stayed there for 35 years - as well as eight fascinating
outtakes & five wonderful Townshend solo acoustic demos for a
special second disk - then hell yes, I'll bite!  In a heartbeat!

As for the original double-LP, no need for much comment.  It was
already a great thing on one-disc CD.  Since it was a rock opera
(and indeed, it's one of the few good ones), it runs better without
having to turn it over three times.  And it has never sounded greater
than this ultra-clear master-quality version.  (Townshend may
suffer from tinnitus & hearing loss, but he's not deaf.)  So if you
don't have it, you need it, & that's that.  All the more reason with 
the special ANTHOLOGY-style bonus disc!

Indeed, even if you already own the LP, the bonus disc vault finds
remain strong incentive to purchase if you are anything beyond a
casual fan - as you should be.  If the Beatles were the best pop
group ever, then The Who were the greatest rock band, & this is
them at the end of their '60s peak.

In particular, Townshend's WHO SELL OUT style pseudo-jingle
"Cousin Kevin Model Child" clearly was conceived to presage the
black humor torture song John Entwistle wrote & sung, "Cousin
Kevin."  It must have been considered too unnecessary, attempting
to present Kevin as someone who had fooled Tommy's apathetic
stepdad into thinking him trustworthy, to Tommy's frightening det-

Even more substantial is the Townshend-sung "Trying To Get 
Through," which likewise must have been excised for being redun-
dant in expressing Tommy's parents' frustration with his new-
found deaf, dumb, & blind state.  Yes, lyrically it is already well-
covered in "Go To the Mirror" & "Smash the Mirror," but music-
ally this track is typical full-throttle band dynamite that should
have found a spot.

Meanwhile, some of the vocal-less outtakes, such as outtake three
of "Christmas," outtake two of "Welcome," & the full band outtake
of Keith Moon's "Tommy's Holiday Camp" farce are great chances
to hear the ensemble feed off each other, as if you were witnessing
the creation.

But for my money, the best things are this version of Mose Allison's 
1957 cool-boho-piano-jazz anthem "Young Man's Blues," as studio-
explosive as the LIVE AT LEEDS version, as well as an incredible
version of the staple "We're Not Gonna Take It" - only with Town-
shend doing a really great vocal instead of Roger Daltrey!  And the
five original Townshend demos are amazing!  Wow!

What we really need is for Townshend to clear out the whole vault
& give us a true ANTHOLOGY  I - III  to rival his Liverpool con-
temporaries.  There's plenty more where this came from, & he 
should do it himself while he's still alive, as the three remaining
Beatles did.  For now, this big bone he's thrown us (sure, that's a
reference to the ripping version of the b-side instrumental "Dogs II"
herein!) is plenty worth your attention!  The succinct myth-busting
liner notes by Matt Kent & dozens of Baron Wolman & Barrie
Wentzell photos from the IBC sessions are a nice plus, too.

- SCHRADE in Akron

John Kerry For President

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