September 25, 2020

2000-03-17 – Honolulu Star Bulletin

2000 03 17 Honolulu_Star_Bulletin_Fri__Mar_17__2000_

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E) The Lilehouse Chronicles: By Pete
- T ownsnend (www.aelpla.com)

BY MARK BROWN
Scnpps Human! News Service

.' EW albums are rich enough in
; texture, inspiration, endurance
and influence to hold up under
-box~set scrutiny. Brian Wilson’s
1“Pet Sounds“ box and Eric Clap-
‘ton‘s ”Layla" sessions are looks at
not just songs, but at an era of cre-
iative peak for their creators —
fibursts of inspiration that couldn't
:be contained in just one record.

But while “Tommy“ gets the ac-
.colades (and the Broadway adap-
tation). it‘s really Pete Town-
shend‘s “Lifehouse” sessions that
.‘formed the core of the Who‘s lat-
'*ter-day work, as well as producing
-some of the classic songs in all of
.rock: “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Won‘t
fGet Fooled Again,” “Bargain,"
“Going Mobile.” “Join Together"
.' and “Who Are. You.”
“ It was an unfinished album/dra-
jma/rock opera that dribbled out
over two decades. In an interview
Ia few years back, Townshend
jtalked about how he kept dipping
back into his “Lifehouse” tapes for
'inspiration. Thus some of the
'fWho’s best and most durable songs
.came out of this 1970-71 burst
I' Townshend even returned to
‘those sessions for his underrated
.‘1993 album “Psychoderelict,”
which contains several Town-
‘shend classics, including “Now
and Then" and “English Boy.")

In “The Lifehouse Chronicles”

(available through www.eelple.
com), Townshend lays it all out in
six pricey CDs (about $85 includ-
ing shipping; prices are given in
pounds). Fans will likely cherish
only two of the discs.

“Demos" is a misnomer; these
are polished studio tracks, and in
some cases (“Slip Kid,” “Baba
O’Riley") are clearly the basic
tracks the band later built on for
the finished albums. You get a
look at Townshend’s greatest
works from 100 different angles, be
it the demo for “Pure and Easy” or
the live, near-rap 1998 version of
“Who Are You.”

However, how many of those an-
gles you want to explore depends
on your obsessiveness. Townshend
deconstructs the “Baba O’Riley"
samples and programming via a
10-minute instrumental demo and
also a nine-minute string baroque
version. It’s striking how easily
one of the quirkiest synth-pop
songs in all of rock transforms it-
self into a gorgeous, nuanced clas-
sical piece. But it’s also something
that won’t stand up to repeated lis-
tening.

Bottom line: there are two more
discs you're forced to buy if you
want to hear the best stuff, though
Townshend is reportedly prepar-
ing a single-CD best-of “Lifehouse”
set to go out through record stores
later this year.