24 Songs, 1 Hour 15 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Originally released in 1969, Tommy is a thrilling and ambitious double album that revolves around a boy who, after witnessing a traumatic event at home, becomes “deaf, dumb, and blind,” develops a hypersensitivity to musical vibrations (not to mention killer pinball skills), and embarks on a spiritual journey that turns him into a guru. The story is complicated and some details are not immediately obvious (and are further obscured by some key plot point changes for the 1975 film adaptation of the work), but one need not follow every plot twist to enjoy the music. Composed almost entirely by Pete Townshend (the norm for The Who), the band does a marvelous job of bringing the concept to life, supplying dynamic and sensitive performances on the instrumental passages as well as the surging lyrical numbers. The album contains several classic Who songs that stand up on their own – “Pinball Wizard,” “I’m Free,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – but the overall continuity and flow of Tommy is what’s most impressive. Keith Moon’s drumming is particularly inspired throughout and there’s a wealth of excellent keyboard work by both Townshend and John Entwistle. More than a quarter century after its release, it’s easy to downplay (or mock) the idea of a “rock opera,” but Tommy helped expand the parameters of rock music. And, more importantly, it still sounds amazing.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Originally released in 1969, Tommy is a thrilling and ambitious double album that revolves around a boy who, after witnessing a traumatic event at home, becomes “deaf, dumb, and blind,” develops a hypersensitivity to musical vibrations (not to mention killer pinball skills), and embarks on a spiritual journey that turns him into a guru. The story is complicated and some details are not immediately obvious (and are further obscured by some key plot point changes for the 1975 film adaptation of the work), but one need not follow every plot twist to enjoy the music. Composed almost entirely by Pete Townshend (the norm for The Who), the band does a marvelous job of bringing the concept to life, supplying dynamic and sensitive performances on the instrumental passages as well as the surging lyrical numbers. The album contains several classic Who songs that stand up on their own – “Pinball Wizard,” “I’m Free,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It” – but the overall continuity and flow of Tommy is what’s most impressive. Keith Moon’s drumming is particularly inspired throughout and there’s a wealth of excellent keyboard work by both Townshend and John Entwistle. More than a quarter century after its release, it’s easy to downplay (or mock) the idea of a “rock opera,” but Tommy helped expand the parameters of rock music. And, more importantly, it still sounds amazing.

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