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Friday, December 23, 2005

Pete Townshend: Gold

Since I declared yesterday a day of mourning because it was the day (in history) on which Kenney Jones joined The Who, I decided that today I would cover yet another reason for mourning... Pete Townshend's solo career.

I kid, I kid.

Well, mostly.

Pete Townshend has recorded only 6 proper solo albums during / after his stint with the Who. Of those, one was a collaboration with Faces bass player Ronnie Laine, one was a "radio play" with music, and one was a collection of songs for a Broadway musical he was attempting to sell. In addition, he also released 3 double-albums of demo material, a 6-disc box of Lifehouse material, yet another collection of demos, Who Came First, and two live albums.

From this ungodly mish-mash of sources Hip-O compiled the 2-disc "Best of" package Gold. Now, there is some fantastic work on display in this set, "English Boy," "Secondhand Love," "Let My Love Open The Door," "Slit Skirts," "Rough Boys," "Give Blood," "Crashing By Design," and "Don't Try to Make Me Real" are all wonderful, powerful songs. However, the compilers mixed the actual, proper, in studio solo recordings with the sonically inferior, garage-produced demo material and over-produced, guest-star laden "Broadway" material to create a set that, while being a good overview of Townshend's entire solo output, is a very unsatisfying listen as a coherent set.

Maybe a better idea would have been one disc all "proper" material, and one disc demo material. Maybe an even better idea would be two separate releases Gold and Gold: Demo.

In addition, in order to fill the running time of 2-discs, some rather questionable material was chosen. Who would ever consider "I Won't Run Anymore," "Outlive The Dinosaur," "Keep on Working," "All Shall Be Well," or "I Am Afraid" as at all representative of Townshend's best? It is especially troubling when there are a few great never-before-released-on-CD b-sides that could have been utilized to fill out the set, like "Dance It Away."

So, what could have been the definitive set to summarize Pete Townshend's career outside The Who, is instead a maddening head-scratcher, and only an average collection, at best. Here's a link to the collection at Amazon: Pete Townshend: Gold, so you can look at the track listing for yourself. Here's how I would resequence, recompile the set to be Definitive:

Disc 1:

1. Give Blood
2. Rough Boys
3. Heart To Hang Onto
4. The Sea Refuses No River
5. Don't Try To Make Me real
6. Face The Face
7. Let My Love Open The Door
8. Secondhand Love
9. Dance It Away (B-Side)
10. Keep Me Turning
11. Slit Skirts
12. Crashing By Design
13. Uniforms
14. My Baby Gives it Away
15. Now And Then
16. Misunderstood
17. A Little Is Enough
18. English Boy

Disc 2:

1. Let's See Action
2. Time Is Passing
3. Pure And Easy
4. Dirty Water (From Scoop)
5. Sheraton Gibson
6. Relay (from The Lifehouse Chronicles)
7. I Am Afraid
8. Never Ask Me (from Another Scoop)
9. Baroque Ippanse (from Another Scoop)
10. Drowned (live) (from Pete Townshend Live: A Benefit for Maryville Academy)
11. I'm One (live) (from Pete Townshend Live: A Benefit for Maryville Academy)
12. Save It For Later (live) (from Pete Townshend's Deep End Live)
13. Barefootin' (live) (from Pete Townshend's Deep End Live)
14. Who Are You (live) (from The Lifehouse Chronicles)
15. Parvardigar

There! Overall, I believe that is a much better representation of the best of Townshend's various solo projects arranged in an order that won't incur whiplash in the listener. The hits are there, there's a nice selection of the best of his demos, even a few live performances and covers.


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