September 19, 2020

1983-04-03 – Hartford Courant

1983 04 03 Hartford_Courant_Sun__Apr_3__1983_

Pete Townshend

SCOOP
Atco Records

The demonstration tape, or
“demo,” is to the rock musician
what the sketchbook is to the art-
ist or the notebook to the novelist:
a way to try out ideas, to work
over problems, to begin new pro-
jects in private. Now Pete Town-
shend, the guiding light of the
Who, has released 25 of his own
preliminary, personal recordings
as a double album. “I have hun-
dreds oi nUCh demos,” he explains
in the tiner notes. “This isn’t
meant to be a definitive collec-
tion, just a scooP.”

Townshend’s ‘Scoop” is a real
find for devotees of the Who, of
course, but what is its value for
{hirest of the record-buying pub-
1c.

Certain] , the rock world
doesn’t nee yet another version
of “Magic Bus,” which even
Townshend characterizes as “a
nothing song.” Still, he includes
one on “Scoop,” and it sounds hol-
low and confused. In general, the
better-known Townshend compo-
sitions are considerably less daz-
zlin§ on his demo tapes than when
fina 1y perfected by the quartet
' —— “Bargain,” “So Sad About Us,”
“Behind Blue Eyes” and bits of
“Quadro henia” are here in early
forms. hey all sound thin. One
exception is “Squeezebox,” which
has a certain shy charm in the
solo version that was lost in Rog-
er Daltrey’s bombastic singing.

On most of the cuts, Townshend
plays all the instruments and
sings in his earnest but un-
schooled voice. Technical limita-
tions mean that the earliest ta es
feature his singing and guitar, ut
not much else; as the years go by,
he is able to add piano, bass,
drums and synthesizers, and to
get into tape editing. (A couple of
the tracks have another musician
playing, and the difference is im-
mediatel apparent: Check out
Kenny ones’s drumming on
“Dirty Water.”)

Fans can trace Townshend’s
techniques and see how his ideas
developed. The flashy guitar
work on “Circles” (1965) didn’t
reach the Who’s commercial re-
cordings until later; the greater

art of a song called “( I Want To

e) Pcpular” ended up, incredi-
bly, as the title track of the
group’s last album “It’s Hard.”

Overall, though, “Scoop” must
be regarded as a collection of ‘
limited appeal, except to the real
Townshend aficionado. There ex-
ist a dozen Who albums; two extra
versions of “Tommy”; com ila-
tions galore; three Towns end
solo LPs, and one collaboration
with Ronnie Lane. Surely the di-
rection both Townshend and the
Who now need to go is forward,
not backward.

This “Sc00p” from his past has
value as a curio, but not as an
enduring part of Townshend’s
contribution to rock.

HENRY McNULTY