Join Together is the inevitable live-album curtain call designed to squeeze the last dollar out of the Who‘s twenty-fifth-anniversary tour. The package, which includes a handy order form for T-shirts and posters, could have been called The Who Sell Out, but, of course, the group has already used that title.
Join Together is not the work of a seminal rock quartet: Instead, it’s a meticulously rendered performance of the rock opera Tommy plus selections from the Who song book played by a fifteen-piece group that just so happens to include three of the band’s original members. Call it the Who Revue, featuring the durable voice of Roger Daltrey, the dour throb of bassist John Entwistle and the deaf-defying antics of Pete Townshend.
While preparing for the tour, Townshend promised a set list featuring some oddball oldies, but “Eminence Front” and “You Better You Bet” aren’t exactly “A Quick One While He’s Away.” In fact, the only songs unfamiliar to classic-rock radio listeners are selections from the guitarist’s solo work, including “Dig,” a Daltrey-sung highlight of Townshend’s recent release The Iron Man.
On purely musical grounds, Join Together cannot be faulted: The recorded sound is exquisite. It’s a highly professional rock & roll record of a kind that was inconceivable when a far angrier Who defined itself by bashing its rebellious way through “My Generation” all those years ago. It’s also thoroughly redundant and as predictable as the answer that Pete Townshend himself would no doubt give if asked to name the Who’s best concert album: Live at Leeds.