Pete Townshend: ‘The last great album by The Who’
Pete Townshend performed an exclusive acoustic set last night in front of a select audience at Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush.
The 66 year-old guitarist from The Who was promoting the re-issue of Quadrophenia, an album Townshend described on the night as “the last great and the most fully formed album by The Who.”
Great is one way of putting it, but inspirational, iconic and many more adjectives could be used to describe it. Originally released in 1973, it would go on to rate among one of the greatest albums of all-time in various music magazine countdowns, while it would also inspire the cult British film of the same name, starring Phil Daniels as the protagonist Jimmy.
With the interior walls of Bush Hall adorned with pictures and the lyrics of The Who and a row of scooters outside, Townshend took to the stage for a Q&A session to discuss the album.
He provided a fascinating insight into the consideration and thought that had gone into its creation, explaining that the album’s central character Jimmy was an ambitious attempt to capture the four members of the Who – himself, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon and John Entwistle: “I wanted to portray what everyone had been through growing up. I’m amazed at what I managed to achieve on an 8-track studio and what the band did when we came to record it,” he said.
As Townshend reminisced, the dynamic of the universally recognised band came to the fore as he explained to the audience how he and Daltrey (who was in the audience) would get something out of the aggression of The Who’s music, while paradoxically, the notoriously wild Moon did not. He also told how after the release of Quadrophenia it “felt like the end” of the band.
It was clear that the six months trawling though the archives, diaries and demos had been a pleasure for the thoughtful and eloquent guitarist. The album’s re-issue was borne ultimately out of a desire to bring it into the 21st Century, he explained. It was also the only album Townshend produced in its entirety, something he was clearly proud of: “I produced the album, as a composer I had absolute control, and for the one time I had absolute control, it proved that when I do, I get it right!”
Following the Q&A, Townshend performed a rare acoustic set for the small audience. The set list included Drowned, Acid Queen, a cover of Bob Dylan’s version of Corrina Corrina and I’m One.
It may have been more than 40 years ago that he and his band were starting out, playing gigs at the likes of Bush Hall, but with the re-issue of Quadrophenia and his beautiful performance, The Who without doubt have a place in the 21st Century.
Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut’ Boxset is released on November 14 via Universal Music Catalogue. Go to www.facebook.com/thewho to find out more and also register at the www.thewho.com for further news.
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