The soundtrack to Ken Russell's, er, excessive version of Pete Townshend's rock opera, featuring tracks- Overture from Tommy by the Who and Pete's Sensation Parts I & II -not available on the soundtrack's previous release. 20-bit remastered!
During a 1971 concert performance, a seemingly relieved Pete Townshend announced that the event would mark the last performance of the Who's landmark rock opera Tommy
. To paraphrase Adam West: "Poor, deluded boy." Over the ensuing decades, the mushrooming popularity of the Who's tour de force would inspire an all-stars-meet-the-London Symphony album (1972), a star-studded Ken Russell film epic/soundtrack (1975), a Broadway show
(1992)--and become an enduring millstone around Townshend and the band's collective necks. But it was over-the-top auteur Russell who would give the morality tale of the deaf, dumb, and blind boy-cum-reluctant-messiah some of its most indelible pop-cultural iconography: Eric Clapton as High Priest; Acid Queen Tina Turner; Elton John in sky-high stack soles as the Pinball Wizard. The accompanying album is dutifully sprawling, a monument to Me Decade excess studded with loopy star turns (including the, er, "operatic" charms of Ann Margaret and Jack Nicholson), swelling choirs, and blustery synth fills. As he would later do to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
, executive producer Robert Stigwood manages to turn one of rock's seminal achievements into something more artistically akin to the World Wrestling Federation, and every bit as musically subtle. It's no mean feat to virtually overwhelm the Who on their own record; Stigwood makes it sound like a vendetta. Still, it's an album so ambitiously bad it's but one William Shatner performance away from being a kitsch masterpiece. --Jerry McCulley