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The Who - Tommy CD (album) cover


The Who



3.98 | 554 ratings

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3 stars Although it was tremendously important in promoting the idea of the narrative concept album, I have to say that Tommy hasn't weathered the test of time quite as well as some of its contemporaries. It's not that the lyrics are goofy - though it's hard to deny that they are, seeing how they're so steeped in Pete Townshend's interpretation of Meher Baba's teachings that if you don't agree with their premises they are quite likely to grate - so much that we now have better performances of the material available to us that tease out the power of the songs so much better. Both Live At Leeds and Live At the Isle of Wight Festival contain performances of the Tommy album as the Who delivered them on their 1970 tours, in which the orchestration was jettisoned and they tackled the material - sometimes quite complex, as on the instrumental Sparks - as a standard "power trio plus vocalist" lineup. And brought the house down.

As it is, the album itself is a bit too mawkish, a bit too soft, a bit too unsure of itself, when what you want out of the whole is a howling, rocking, loud as hell monster. It's good, I won't deny that, but it's been outshone since both by other artists and by the Who themselves, leaving it upstage and sounding not particularly fresh. Sure, it was revolutionary when it came out, but I'm not listening to it when it came out, I'm listening to it *now*, and that's the basis on which I review albums. There are seminal, revolutionary albums from the early prog days that still sound as bold and new today as they did when they came out. Tommy isn't one of them.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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