Tommy (Original Soundtrack Recording)

Not Rated

Will I ever succeed in figuring out my all-time number-one rock hero?

Here Pete Townshend plays some stunning synthesizer stuff and then allows most of it to be obscured by the singing of people who haven't any business in a recording studio.

However effusively film critics may acclaim her for allowing herself to be photographed looking middle-aged and haggard (if not for her actual acting), Ann-Margret simply doesn't sing appealingly and it's hardly any pushover imagining wanting to endure repeated exposure to her rather unnerving supper-club vibrato regardless of the often amazing stuff Townshend has going on in the background. Likewise, however effectively sinister and perverse Oliver Reed may have seemed on the screen, the tuneless croak in which he attempts to sing the major role of her lover seems the sort of thing only a shameless pervert would long to listen to in the privacy of his home.

Why, when they had him around for an all-too-brief appearance as the Priest, did no one think to make use of the delectably blood-curdling voice of Arthur Brown, God of Hellfire, ret.? Even if Ken Russell were dead set on Reed doing his own singing, think of how stupendous Art probably would have been as Cousin Kevin.

Considering that it's the work of the very flower of British rock, the instrumental accompaniment is surprisingly untogether in several places. Who, for instance, would have dreamed that the exemplary likes of Eric Clapton (in one of his least impressive recorded performances), John Entwistle and Face Kenny Jones would have had such difficulty concurring on the tempo at which to perform "Eyesight to the Blind"?

Just for the record, the four tunes that were written especially for this version scarcely justify its purchase, largely because of the extent to which they feature Ann-Margret.

If you somehow managed to adore the movie (which this once devout Who fan and great admirer of their original did not), you'd be lots better off seeing it a few more times than buying this soundtrack, which, without the visuals, doesn't make it.

From The Archives Issue 188: June 5, 1975