Read: Who I Am: A Memoir
Pete Townshend’s extraordinary telling of his extraordinary life is fantastic, intense and compelling. He writes in a matter of fact style and lets the anecdotes themselves provoke the empathy in the reader. His abandonment by his parents, his sexual assault and the shadow it casts over him to this day, his constant struggle to reconcile the aspirations of high minded artistry and the indulgences of a straight up rock band – it’s all laid bare. As a long time Who fan it had me reaching for the back cataloge with a new understanding.
Listen: The Who Live At Leeds
It’s one of *the* great live recordings. One of the most powerful bands the world has seen, captured in stomach-pulverisingly vivid detail. Daltrey’s scream at the start of ‘My Generation’ will make your head spin, the riffs and feedback of Townshend’s guitar set the standard for live rock recordings that followed. The engine room of Entwistle and Moon endows the whole performance with amazing energy from start to finish. If you, like me, missed seeing the original lineup, the MFSL pressing of this album played back on a good system will have to do. And it does rather well.
Townshend’s first “Rock Opera” album paved the way for The Wall and subsequent grand concept albums. The film is intense, bizarre and kind of hilarious. The music is what makes it of course, though Elton John as the pinball champion and Ann-Margret’s Oscar-nominated performance hold the tricky narrative together well. And then there’s that dress. Pete Townshend is still creating critically acclaimed multi-medium works, but Tommy is where it all began.