The Who's Tommy
, released in May 1969, was not the first rock opera, as that title corresponds to S.F. Sorrow
by the Pretty Things. But Tommy
clearly defined the bases of what a rock opera is, expanding the concept not only on the lyrics but also on the music. As other famous albums it's subjected to mixed opinions, and I'm on the side of those who love the record.Overture.
A great, albeit obvious way to start the rock opera. I'm not a big fan of long instrumentals, but I don't mind if it's as fun as this. John's French horns are catchy and the frequent acoustic guitars by Pete (present along the whole album) are marvelous, but I especially love Keith's drumming with his patented unprofessional style.It's A Boy.
And his name is Tommy.1921.
I've always liked this tune and it sounds as it could have been part of an actual classical opera. The best part is the chorus with the counter-vocals.Amazing Journey.
I also like this one, telling us about the complicated simplicity of being deaf, dumb and blind. The strange sound effects remind me to a pinball game, don't know if they were included with that purpose. Amazing drumming too.Sparks.
Another enjoyable instrumental. I especially like the guitar-bass dialogue that starts at 1:02.Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker).
A good version of this blues song. I like the harmonies.Christmas.
How could someone dislike this catchy tune? I love the backing vocals sounding like Christmas bells. I think the hidden message of this track is that salvation doesn't come from intellectual knowledge but from inner spirituality.Cousin Kevin.
As Ovi explained, Tommy is being abused by his cousin. This is a good track written by John, and the chorus sounds a lot like another song he wrote: "Doctor, Doctor", that had been released as the B-side of "Pictures Of Lily" in early-1967.The Acid Queen.
This is certainly a highlight, catchy from start to finish. The drumming is just awesome, it drives the song. I also love the short instrumental middle with that ascending guitar and marching drums. Great track.Underture.
The obligatory over-long instrumental that fills double-album rock operas. It has some good moments but it's predictably tedious and repetitive.Do You Think It's Alright?.
An enjoyable little tune, even being so brief.Fiddle About.
John and his black humor again, it's not a coincidence that he wrote the two songs where Tommy gets abused. Quite entertaining tune.Pinball Wizard.
This is an absolute classic and has always been one of my favorite songs. The whole band shines here. The powerful guitar that can be heard after each "sure plays a mean pinball!" is mind-blowing. I remember seeing the video of this song on TV about 12 years ago; it was the first time I've ever listened to the song and it had such an effect on me that I immediately bought my first album of the Who (The Very Best Of The Who
There's A Doctor.
He can cure the boy.Go To The Mirror!.
Nice suite including different parts that are repeated through the album. I'm not a big fan of the track but it's still fine.Tommy Can You Hear Me?.
Not a great song but I've always loved this moment of the album. Maybe because the boys are not taking themselves so seriously and the way John plays the bass.Smash The Mirror.
I like the intro of this song, so bluesy. After that it's a bit messy, including a mirror crash at the end.Sensation.
I really like this tune. The horn parts are very suitable.Miracle Cure.
Extra texture (read all about it).Sally Simpson.
This song is very funny, but after several listenings I find it to be quite silly.I'm Free.
Another peak of the album. The harmonies are superb; the Who were not the Beach Boys, of course, but they were underrated in this aspect. A great performance.Welcome.
A pleasant ballad. It would have been very monotonous if it wasn't for the middle. I've always liked the "there's more at the door" part.Tommy's Holiday Camp.
A kind of joke-song written and (I think) sung by Keith; it's driven by a weird organ.We're Not Gonna Take It.
Another demonstration of Pete's geniality. The first part of this suite is very enjoyable, with great harmonies once again. The "see me, feel me" part prepares the ambient for the glorious ending, that I'd bet it was inspired by the coda of "Hey Jude". An amazing closer for an amazing album.
It's not hard to see why this album had such a big impact in rock music. It's often said that this record doesn't stand to repeated listenings, but similar criticism is received by other great albums like Sgt. Pepper's
and Pet Sounds
, and nothing can remove the "masterpiece" label from them.