By John Rockwell
‘ .>,.,§. «- .
more vocally lavish Daltrey sometimes lacks.
Townshend sheds seIf-consciousness on LP
New York Times
NEW YORK -— Pete Townshend is one of rock
“music's genuine icons, a fact he’s long since
learned to feel profoundly uncomfortable about.
lAlways the brains behind the Who, Townshend
jhas also led a tentative life as a solo artist. There
was some material released privately through the
Meher Babs Society, a Meher Baba-influenced
‘holo disc in 1972 called Who Comes First and a
jollaboration in 1977 with Ronnie Lane called
Townshend’s solo ventures have apparently
always been accompanied by a good deal of guilt.
He has been the chief songwriter for the Who.
after all, and no band has had a greater mystique
or togetherness —- a mystique propagated in large
measure by Townshend himself.
1 But drummer Keith Moon's death in 1978 was
apparently liberating for the rest of the band, or so
Townshend indicated in an interview last fall.
Moon’s death had the effect of welding the
remaining members closer together and also of
making Townshend feel more relaxed about.
pouring his energies of the moment into a solo
L In any case. his latest solo album. Empty Glass,
is here at last, and a most appealing record it is.
This is not a disc in which an artist struggles
desperately to create some new musical, poetic or
religious identity for himself. Empty Glass is
re‘cognizably a product of Townshend. and the
musical idiom sounds like the Who's sound of
more than a decade.
,Similarly with the lyrics Townshend is not
not dealing with
trying to resolve
the future of
rock 'n' roll.
dealing with cosmic personal problems or trying to
resolve the future of rock ‘n' roll. Instead, he is
concerned with themes that have long obsessed
him: his own aging, the difﬁculties of love, the
place of violence in modern life and the
relationship between today’s young punks and
those of yesteryear (including himself).
Townshend plays nearly all the guitars and
keyboards. with a variety of drummers and a
couple of additional musicians (neither Roger
Daltrey nor John Entwistle of the Who appear).
What's most interesting is Townshend's singing.
which is every bit as strangulated as ever, but full
of a passion and personal commitment that the
Empty Glass is a modest, direct rock record,
lacking the ambition of some of Townshend’s past
efforts with the Who, but, fortunately, lacking i
some of his past self-consciousness‘as well.
0 e 0
Rachel Sweet, the 17oyear.old rock singer from
Akron, Ohio, by way of Britain, just completed a
three-night. sold-out run at the Bottom Line. Miss
Sweet came to prominence on the British Stiff
label, and was accom anied on her last tour here
by Fingerprintz. the ottish hand. But her band
now is all from Akron. and she says she went to
Britain in the first place only because that was
where she got a record deal.
“My music is American. and I'm not all that
fond of the English," she said recently. “The
music scene there is a bit too fickle for my taste.
They like you until you’ve had a hit single, but
when you get one, you might as well forget it.”
Miss Sweet’s ﬁrst album, Fool Around, for
which she says now she “was more or less invited
in to do the vocals," contained only songs by other
composers. Her new disc. Protect the Innocent.
has three songs written wholly or partly by her.
and she says her third album will consist entirely
of Sweet originals. Nonetheless, she waxes
indignant about what she sees as an ignorant
prejudice against interpretive singers.
“Anyone who doesn’t write their own material
today doesn’t have much credibility.” she com-
plains. “But if people would just look back 30
years, to (Frank) Sinatra or (Elvis) Presley. There
are a lot of singers now who are very good and who
don't write their own material."