October 30, 2020

1998-01-22 – The Journal News

1998 01 22 The_Journal_News_Thu__Jan_22__1998_

ON THE SHELF
New music video

helps explain
Pete Townshend

By Ian Walla, Knigu Bidder Newmapers
Strange, but it seems the laser—disc
bins are filling up with hard-to-find —-
or, just as often, rightfully ignored —

live music titles.

There are a few that might not be
worth a fiver. of course. but even the A
most interesting releases are sheer
anomalies: unpopular. unacclaimed
collector‘s items for an already-limited
collector‘s-only format.

Which makes the release of“Pete
Townshend Live”
(Image. $39.95) both a
welcome addition and
a true head-scratcher.
A two-disc, 150-minute.
warts-and—all docu-
ment ofa 1993 perfor—
mance at the Brooklyn
Academy ofMusic, the
set raises serious ques-
tions it can't answer. a
most importantly. PeteTovmshenfi-
“Why?“

Why now, alter four years. put into
circulation a show that only the most
devoted of fans will take notice of and
that ties in to no other Townshend or
Who release? Further. why do it when
the few who wanted it all along proba-
bly had it on an easily found Japanese
import?

Baffling. And yet I think there is rea-
son enough to own it. It’s not an impor-
tant step for either the genre or the for-
mat. but it is key in understanding the
trying evolution of Townshend since
the initial breakup of The Who.

“Live“ begins and ends with precise-
ly what we‘ve come to expect from any
home video release involving _
Townshend — lots and lots and lots of “
barely reworked Who classics. He does-
n’t fail here, though on some tracks
(notably “Behind Blue Eyes“ and
“Won't Get Fooled Again“) Roger
Daltrey‘s throaty roar is sorely missed.
Townshend‘s keening but careening
warble is an acquired taste, one which
appeals to the Neil Young battalion.
But though Townshend often brings
more poignancy to his performances of
such staples. there are also times when.
like Elvis Costello, the material
eclipses his abilities.

Still, “Rough Boys" kicks gloriously,
“The Kids Are Alright" is sweet in
acoustic form, a telling “Let’s See
Action" sneaks in toward the end. eve;
“Eminence Front" finds some drive.
But the centerpiece, and certainly the
best reason I can find for “Live's” late
arrival. is a complete performance of
Townshend's difficult 1993 concept
album. “Psychoderelict,” with actors
and plenty of multimedia tricks in tow.

“Psychoderelict” is a knowing but
preachy piece that creaks as often as it
crashes through your senses with pierc—
ing lyrics. A muddled tale of a one-time
here-to-save-the-world wunderkind
(Townshend? David Bowie? Ray
Davies? Marc Bolan?) whose embroil-
ment in a sex scandal forces him out of
self—imposed seclusion and back
toward making lofty concept records,
the rock opus tries to cover too much '1‘
ground in too short a time

None of which changes the fact that
this laser disc's appeal is just as limit-
ed as the inferior rarities issued lately.
Still, it’s nice to have it in print. at least
for a short while. Besides, it’s so rare to
see Townshend perform live solo these
days, preserving the few dates he does

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