Believe it or not, this landmark album has *never been reissued from the original master tapes 'til now!* But that's only the beginning disc one adds six bonus tracks, three of which have never been available. Then disc two captures a largely unreleased April 26, 1971 gig at London's Old Vic Theatre at which most of Pete Townshend's Lifehouse project-the genesis for Who's Next -was unveiled to the public for the first time, warts and all.
The success of Who's Next
and its slate of classic-rock tracks has often obscured its true roots--Lifehouse
, the unwieldy multi-media project that Pete Townshend originally concocted as the follow-up to Tommy
. Variously informed by apocalyptic visions, sci-fi notions of interconnectivity that neatly presaged the Internet and, of course, an unwavering conviction that rock & roll would save the world, the core tracks of the sprawling Lifehouse
were recorded, cut, re-recorded and finally boiled down into a collection that seems to represent as much alienation ("Behind Blue Eyes") and overweening cynicism ("Won't Get Fooled Again") as it does liberation and unity. Aside from Townshend's own self-released, multi-disc meditation on the project, this expanded new edition is the most rewarding attempt to place Lifehouse
and the over-exposed classic it spawned in their proper context.
Six tracks from the album's original but abandoned New York sessions flesh out the familiar material, with previously unreleased outtakes of "Getting in Tune" and a revealing, early arrangement of "Won't Get Fooled Again" warranting special note. The second disc documents one of Lifehouse's most quixotic elements with the first-time release of one of the series of concerts staged at London's Young Vic theatre during the project's gestation--events during which band and audience would somehow mystically become one. Core tracks from the project are interspersed with typical hard-rocking Who fare of the time, resulting in a show whose focus and dynamics belied something very different from the arena-rock clichés that would eventually overwhelm them. --Jerry McCulley