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The Who - Tommy CD (album) cover

TOMMY

The Who

 

Proto-Prog

3.97 | 546 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Still I can remember the day I sneaked into the theater back in 1976 to see "Tommy" (It was rated older than 16 and I was 12 if not 11), I was simply impressed with the music despite seeing guys like Jack Nicholson and Oliver reed trying to sing, so I decided to buy the LP, not being a Prog album, it was easy to find in Peruvian stores and really it was totally a different thing, what a great album!

The concept is very forced, a kid who turns blind deaf and dumb because he sees his mother lover murdered by his father supposedly dead in war and was told "You didn't see I, you didn't hear, you will say nothing", but it's a deep critic to British society, religious sects very common in the 70's and in general for the hippy culture searching for enlightenment, something comprehensible coming from a Mod band, part of a movement that represented a violent alternative contradictory with the spiritual pacifist hippies ideology.

The music goes from Classic Rock (mainly) to pop and some almost Prog Related moments, but it's done so carefully that people keep the interest almost four decades after it's release.

But, lets search the tracks:

"Overture" is a brilliant opening for the album, really adventurous for the late 60's and one of the proggiest moments, the band hits the listener with everything they have and introduce us to the world of Tommy with a theme that will be repeated constantly along the whole album. At the end the band describes the moment when Tommy's father Captain walker is declared missing in action and supposedly dead.

"It's a Boy" describes the birth of supposedly orphan Tommy but acts as an introduction to the main song of the album "1921", a nice ballad that combines a good melody with a lot of the strength you can expect from THE WHO, and it's also the key of the album, "Tommy" sees the murder of his mother's lover by his father being told to forget everything he saw or heard, important for the concept but not musically in the level of the opener (In the movie the new husband of his mother is the one who kills Captain Walker creating confusion in the fans).

"Amazing Journey" describes Tommy's condition and it's a magnificent track, has absolutely everything, real Rock, a bit of Pop and even some Prog related moments, the vocals are outstanding and Keith Moon is simply out of his world.

"Sparks" is one of the weakest tracks, noisy, loud, but lacks of coherence and melody, pure futile rhythm with some effects, nothing more, some reminiscences of the Psychedelic era that was dying, they try to blend different sections of the album but never convinces, again the drumming saves the night.

"Eyesight to the Blind" is a weird song (That was weirdest in the movie with Eric Clapton and Arthur Brown as Marilyn Monroe priests), excellent guitar performance by Pete and impeccable bass by the always sober John Entwistle, an acid critic to the cults of the 60's.

"Christmas" is a very good track with an excellent vocal with the whole the band making the chorus, it's the first track in which the key word pinball is mentioned. And also when the famous "See me Feel me." phrase is heard.

"Cousin Kevin" tells the story of the bully relative to whom Tommy is trusted and physically abuses and mocks about him, great Rock moments and again nice vocal work.

"The Acid Queen" is a hell of a Rock track, the band is absolutely perfect specially Pete who is absolutely strong, the family searches for a cure to the boy in drugs that led him to a psychedelic experience which is developed in the extraordinaire Psyche/Proto Prog track "Underture" which is by far my favorite of the album, not a single weak second, everything is perfect, guitars, drums, keys, bass and chorus.

"Do you Think is alright" announces another key track "Fiddle About" where the perverted Uncle Ernie sexually abuses of the blind deaf and dumb kid, musically is weak but it's an important part of the concept.

"Pinball Wizard" is a Pop track made famous with an even poppier version by Elton John, in which Tommy defeats the Pinball champion despite his limitations, of course if you ask ten persons for the song they remember from Tommy, mine will mention this track, simple, well elaborate with some good guitar moments but nothing special.

Townshend writes in the album notes: "Oh my God, this is awful, the most clumsy piece of writing I ever done, so if the author thinks that you can understand my dislike for this track.

"There's a Doctor" is just a link to "Smash the Mirror", a very good track that summarizes the situation, Tommy has no physical problem all is an inner block, as a fact he gazes at his image reflected in a mirror, musically is another strong track that combines various elements, including Tommy's silent cry for help.

"Tommy Can you Here Me" is a country oriented track that narrates the desperation of the mother, just a link to "Smash the Mirror" that tells about the moment in which Tommy's mother breaks the mirror that the boy constantly looks and that leads to his cure, a harder track with strong mood and a n ice vocal work, a bit repetitive but still good.

In "Sensation" Tommy is cured and this lead to a cry of freedom, excellent Rock track, the cured kid is starting to be worshiped by people in search of a new Messiah, again the critic of Townshend for spiritual chase through cults that appeared everywhere.

"Miracle Cure" is another link to "Sally Simpson" a strange song about a worshipper that abandons the faith of his father to follow the new Messiah and of course as in any sect discovers the fraud behind it and gets wounded. Solid song with great piano performance, some kind of poppier Rock but still very good.

Now, "I'm Free" is something you might expect of THE WHO, a great Rock track with killer bass and drums, an excellent melody from start to end, incredibly the movie version is amazingly superior, but despite this anecdotic situation one of the best tracks.

"Welcome" is a soft ballad with a nice flamenco section in which Tommy starts to completely accept his role of savior, great harmonica.

"Tommy's Holyday Camp" is also a link to the climax of the album, "We're not Gonna take It" (In the deluxe edition is divided in two tracks being the second one "See Me Feel Me/Listening to You") that describes the rise and fall of the hallucinated Tommy, from God to human almost killed by the mob not ready to accept his conditions to be part of the holy people and finds the real enlightenment, really a great set of tracks that deserves to be listened, one of the most iconic moments in the history of Rock.

Despite the few weak moments in a Classic Rock web site I would rate this album with 5 solid stars, but this is a Prog site and this album can't be essential for a PROGRESSIVE ROCK...But Who cares?

5 stars

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |

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