exquisitely bored, just like all the rest

 

Pete Townshend

 

Pete. Oh, Pete. What happened? Why did you force crap like Psychoderelict and The Iron Man on us? You did good with the Who, and you started out on your solo venture well.

Note: this is probably the least complete discography on any of my pages. Aside from the five albums listed here, Pete also released some Lifehouse crap recently (six-CD box set?!), and there's a couple live albums, a couple demo albums, an album with Ronnie Lane, and technically-the-debut-album-though-nobody-really-counts-it Who Came First. Anyone wishing to donate any of those albums (or any others I'm missing elsewhere), please e-mail me. I'll make sure everyone knows of your contribution!

review index: Empty Glass / All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes / White City / The Iron Man / Psychoderelict

missing albums: Who Came First, Rough Mix, and a lot of others

apex: Empty Glass
nadir: Psychoderelict
overlooked: All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes


Empty Glass - 1980

Rating: ****
Best songs: most of them
Worst songs: some of them

 

If you feel the sudden urge to buy a Pete Townshend record, it should be this one. Though the dominating instrument is the synthesizer, and Pete's voice isn't as expressive as his old bandmate Roger Daltrey's was, he manages to inject the album with enough enthusiasm so it doesn't all fall apart as dull synthpop. I don't really know what I'm talking about. Good album!


All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes - 1982

Rating: ***1/2
Best songs: Face Dances Part Two, Exquisitely Bored, The Sea Refuses No River, Somebody Saved Me
Worst songs: Communication, Uniforms, Stardom in Action

 

Going from booze to smack, Pete's songwriting is less consistent this time around. There's really annoying songs like "Communication" and dull stuff clogging up the middle, like "Stardom and Action" and "Uniforms". However, before and after that are some of Pete's best solo compositions: wonderful pop hooks in "Face Dances Part Two" and "The Sea Refuses No River", the ballad "Somebody Saved Me" (also on the remastered Face Dances, though it's pretty similar), aaaaand an arrangement of the traditional song "North Country Bored". Buy this one if you already have Empty Glass.


White City - 1985

Rating: ***
Best songs: Give Blood, Face the Face, Brilliant Blues, Secondhand Love
Worst songs: does mediocrity count?

 

Side one of this one kicks all kinds of butt: rockin' it up with "Give Blood" and "Secondhand Love", funkin' it up with "Face the Face", and doin' that Pete Townshend ballad crap in "Brilliant Blues" and "Hiding Out". Oh yeah.

Side two, however, is rather nondescript. Nothing really bad, but nothing as good as side one's stuff.

Oh, by the way, this is supposedly a "novel". Or rather, it's a video. Whatever. Just play the songs, Pete, we don't need to see your other talents.


The Iron Man - 1989

Rating: **
Best songs: Dig, I Won't Run Any More, All Shall Be Well
Worst songs: Fast Food, I Eat Heavy Metal, New Life/Reprise, Was There Life

 

So, you've done your novel -- what do you do next?

That's right, a musical! And boy, does it stink! "I Eat Heavy Metal" and "Fast Food", in fact, are two of the WORST songs I've ever heard. There's also crappy ballads like "A Fool Says..." and "Was There Life", and a rather anti-climatic ending in "New Life/Reprise". Reprise? God, no!

Well, okay, there is something good on here: the Who show up to do the album's high point, "Dig", as well as an okay cover of Arthur Brown's "Fire". Disneyesque choirs show up in "I Won't Run Any More" and "Over the Top", but they manage to also be decent songs, and "All Shall Be Well" actually manages to rock a little bit, in the chorus.


Psychoderelict - 1993

Rating: *
Best songs: Flame, Let's Get Pretentious, I Want That Thing
Worst songs: how much time do you have?

 

So, you've done your musical -- what do you do next?

That's right, a radio play! And boy, does it stink! It--

Wow, déjà vu.

Anyway, the concept of The Iron Man was pretty stupid, but at least it didn't intrude upon the music. You can pretty much choose to ignore the story there, by not looking through the liner notes. But here? Ohhhh no, we've got people talking all over the goddamn place.

Of course, this would bother me more if the songs didn't SUCK so badly. "English Boy" is a listenable opener (though reprising it at the end was completely unneccessary), and "Flame" is probably the album's highlight (too bad there's dialogue over half of it), and there are a few other decent songs ("Let's Get Pretentious" and "I Want That Thing"). But that's about all I can praise: the rest of the album is filled with meandering instrumental snippets (with titles like "Meher Baba M3", and some of them are just bits of "Baba O'Riley" or "Who Are You"), stupid bits of dialogue, and just awful songs ("Now and Then", featuring a sickening falsetto, and also reprised! aaaaargh). This certainly wasn't worth the $4 I paid for it.


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