Volume 93, Issue 22

Wednesday, October 6, 1999


Grey Owl a disappointing effort

Pete reheats classic treats

Drive Me Crazy just teenage pap

Pete reheats classic treats

Pete Townsend
Platinum Records

If there is anyone out there who thinks for one second Pete Townshend has lost any of his relevance to rock 'n' roll, they need only listen to his new live album.

Townshend is a living legend whose creative legacy is bloody impressive. He's the former guitar player and creative force of The Who, architect behind the revolutionary film Quadrophenia and composer of the rock opera, Tommy.

There are very few artists who have single-handedly changed the face of the entertainment industry the way Townshend has. Proving that a rock musician can be more than a one-trick pony, Townshend succeeded in areas where many predicted he would fail.

On this live offering, Townshend delivers a devastating performance recorded at the House of Blues in Chicago. Each song builds on the previous, creating an epic performance which entertains without compromise.

The album opens with the blues inspired "On the Road Again," a rollicking number which sets a high standard for the rest of the set. This is followed by the rambunctious "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere," the only song on the record co-written with former bandmate Roger Daltrey.

Midway through the set, Townshend delivers some classic Who in the form of, "You Better You Bet." It's a frenzied version, delivered at breakneck speed. This is followed by an acoustic based, epic re-working of "Won't Get Fooled Again."

During this song, Townshend jams with his band proving he is indeed one of the finer guitar players in the industry. Also included is "North Country Girl," one of the finest ballads ever recorded.

The benefit album, with all proceeds going to charity, includes a bonus disc featuring two songs – "Magic Bus" and "Heart to Hang Onto." The former is a more robust version than the one featured on the main disc, with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder providing some sonic balls in the form of background vocals.

The latter, a beautiful ballad, has Townshend trading vocal duties with Vedder. Vedder's mournful baritone delivers as if it was created to compliment Townshend's music.

As the final note fades there is a lingering disappointment that Townshend left out many Who standards. However, it's a minor quibble on an album that raises the bar for all live albums.

–Terry Warne

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Copyright The Gazette 1999