Sunday, December 11, 2005


Back when rock music was still finding itself, when artists were still stretching their arms and not yet touching the walls of limitation, Pete Townshend dreamed up "Tommy", a rock opera that touched on all manner of subjects but seemed most at home when it was dealing with fame, fortune, acclaim and the isolation that comes with it. Call it the original text for Pink Floyd's "The Wall", if you like.
This is an instrumental track from the album, something that sounds so unlike The Who that when you first hear it you spend an age racking your brains to work out who it could be. After a while, though, it becomes very familiar, that Who guitar sound coming to the fore and Keith Moon's loose, circular drumming driving it all along.
The opening minute, the intro, though, is where this track really does it for me - simple chords, with an echo of screeching feedback in the background: as if someone's just opened a door into a parallel universe and you can't quite take in the magnificence of what's laid before you. Anyone who remembers their first discovery of rock and roll will remember the slightly breathless feeling, the churning in the stomach and the instinctive rsponse to a new rhythm.
And that's the joy of rock's huge history - there's always a new discovery around the corner.

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