REVIEW

THE WHO
Orchestral Tommy [Party Line 1CD]

 

Live at Rainbow Theatre, London, Dec 9 1972 with David Essex, Marsha Hunt, Elkie Brooks, Roger Chapman, Merry Clayton, Vivian Stanshall, Roy Wood and more. Vg SBD. Last track is cut.

Two performances spread over one night offered up a live rendering of the orchestral Tommy already rendered onto vinyl by producer Lou Reizner and a cast of thousands. And, it has to be said, the result was far more satisfying on stage than on record, as the album was partially recast to spotlight David Essex (who turns in a phenomenal "Amazing Journey"), Viv Stanshall (a terrifying Uncle Ernie) and more. Where it goes from there, however, depends upon how much one appreciates an orchestra and choir stepping in where the Who themselves had once roared so triumphantly - remember, it was less than two years since the band itself was playing Tommy in its entirety, meaning the memory had yet to be scarred by the manifold stagings that have since added disfigurement to the deaf, dumb and blind boy’s woes. Musically, the show is peerless. But is it rock’n’roll? - Dave Thompson




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