New Then and Now review...



O'Neal, Kevin W. Kevin.ONeal at vtmednet.org
Wed Jun 23 12:08:51 CDT 2004


Thanks to Geoff at O&S for this re-post:
Kevin in VT

Disc Reviews
The Jerusalem Post
June 22, 2004
By David Brinn
THE WHO
Then & Now
(NMC) 
Then & Now, the new greatest-hits package from The Who, presents a
dilemma: do you buy a disc for two songs? 

It's by far not the most exhaustive (or cohesive) compilation released
in the name of the greatest rock 'n' roll band ever (oh yes they are),
but The Who's range and scope can't be properly channeled on one disc. 

The jump from the early power pop hits such as "Substitute" and "I Can't
Explain" to the rock opera phase of "See Me Feel Me" and the classic
rock era of "Won't Get Fooled Again" seem jolting without a context. 

"Summertime Blues" from Live at Leeds is a potent reminder of the band's
strength as a live unit, with the awesome dexterity of the rhythm
section's Keith Moon and John Entwhistle still able to teach a
generation of heavy metal kids a trick or two about power. But each disc
from the second half of the band's career is - some would say deservedly
- given rushed, single-song treatment.

So while a casual fan (like maybe a Limp Bizkit follower who's been
turned on to the group because of "Behind Blue Eyes") will get a
competent high-speed overview, the Who aficionado has nothing to gain
from anything here. 
That is, until the final two songs. 

Because here's where the curveball comes - the release of the first new
Who songs penned by Pete Townshend in 20 years or so - the "Now" element
in the title. And both tunes - "Real Good Looking Boy" and "Old Red
Wine" - are good, real good. Not classic Who greats, but surely better
than just about any song on Face Dances or It's Hard. 

Musically and lyrically, the songs are grown-up pop. Guitars support
piano and keyboard-led melodies, but when Roger Daltrey's voice kicks
in, it's still unmistakably The Who. And he sings Townshend's
confessional lyrics with a conviction long ago thought lost to rock 'n'
roll burnout. 

The songs' subjects are typical of Townshend solo fare - psychoanalysis
of his childhood tied to an Elvis motif on "Real Good Looking Boy," and
a heartfelt rumination on the death of Entwhistle on "Old Red Wine." 
Daltrey captures the essence of the songs, and the band's subtle
performance carries the rest. When the coda of "Old Red Wine" is
launched with a crashing guitar crescendo, it's almost as though The Who
of old are back. 

Moonie and the Ox are surely beaming somewhere.


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