October 25, 2020

1973-02-03 – The Tampa Tribune

1973 02 03 The_Tampa_Tribune_Sat__Feb_3__1973_

Now On Record

. . . If You Liked Tommy I, You Won’t Dig Tommy II

Tribune Staff Writer
“Tommy” (Ode)
Produced by Lou Reizner

Lou Reizner, who conceived
and produced this repackag-
ing of the Who’s career mile-
stone, said the reason he did
such a thing was because he
felt that “Tommy” was due
for a wider-range exposure
than the original had re-


What? More exposure for
“Tommy,” the rock opera
which has had its “overture”

a n d “Underture” piped
through almost as many
Muzak vetilators as “The
Sounds of Silence”; that

stayed in the top 20 LP’s in
this country for some infinite
number of months; from
which several hit singles were

live by the Who from coast to
coast for two years, even at
the Metropolitan Opera
House? Anybody who reads
Time magazine knows about
“Tommy,” fer heavensakes.

Generalizations are a pain
but I think it’s safe to say
that most everyone who ad-
mired the Who’s work for it’s
music more than for its story
will take a dispassionate atti-
tude towards this set. My
hrother-in-law wants to trade
me a beat up copy of the orig-
inal, which I never bothered
to acquire, for my spiffy new
promo copy of the Reizner
version, and I think I’ll take
him up on it. Reizner’s con-_
coction reeks with pomposity
and cornball melodrama. It
can by no stretch of the imag-
ination be classified as rock
despite the inordinate number

culled; which was performed of rock hot-shots involved in

the vocal part of the score.
The musical part is neatly
turned to blandness by the
London Symphony Orchestra,
conducted by young dynamo
David Meascham. The mix-
ture defies simple description.

Basically, the plan to sell
“Tommy” to a larger audi-

ence was to get a top name
rock person to fullfill the
vocal role of a character from
the work (e.g. Merry Clayton
as the Acid Queen,‘Ringo as
Uncle Ernie, Rod Stewart as
the Local Lad, Roger Daltry
as Tommy, Steve Winwood as
Captain Walker) and have the
music appropriately rendered
by the LSO. Well, music is
music, yes. But personal taste
is personal taste and again it
.is a generalization but from
my own experience, I know
that people who are drawn to
rock tend to ignore art music
for the most part and vice-
versa regardless of the degree
of sophistication of a person’s
musical scope. It’s been tried
before and will be again, but
no one effectively fu s e d
rock and art music yet, al-
though Procol Harum came
awfully close on their last live
album. So I really don’t know
who the new “Tommy” is
going to reach that it didn’t
reach the firat time around.
As stated before it ain’t rock.
But neither is it something a
true lover of art music would
be able to get into; not be-
cause of the fact that rockers
are right in there singin’
away in front of the lush
orchestra just couldn’t adapt
music lacks the power and
grandure of good art music.
It’s not the LSO’s fault or
David Meascham’s. Most of
the music was written around
a limited, electric instrumen-
tation concept, and the
orchestra just could’t adapt to
to the spirit. “Pinball Wizard,”
the “Tommy” classic (as one
example), is bare without
what a friend 2 calls Pete
Townshend’s ‘I‘Big Guitar”
booming and churning, push-
ing and urging cresendoes of
pure energy with
Moon’s always incredible
drumming. Here, the song
lilts into pablum, and not
even Rod Stewart can save it.

None of this treats the new
“Tommy” very objectively,
but it really cannot be Judged
on its own merits (namely the
singing, which is overall
pretty decent). By nature of
the ambition of the work
apart from any version except
that of its creators and its
competitive innovative aspect
as a tull-blown rock opera,
“Tommy” stands as a highly
personalized piece of music.
The bond between “Tommy”
and the Who is solid. If some
producer were to take
“Madam Butterfly” and get a
slew of the top opera singers
backed by the Voodoo


Rhythm Devils, what do you
think the reaction of the
opera’s fans and critics would
be? HORROR! that’s what,
and no doubt it would be
pretty horrible in the face of-
the classic version.

As Reizner has implied, the
point of his putting out this
project was not for the imme-
diate benefit of any’ person or
persons, but for the benefit of
“Tommy" as a contemporary
musical masterpiece. Fancy

scores and phony drama do
not make what is already a
masterpiece any more a mas-
terpiece. An “A” for effort,
but who needs it?