Pete Townshend

Scoop 3

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As Townshend points out in his liner notes, Scoop 3 isn't quite the same as its two predecessors, since it has a healthy dose of recent material instead of being devoted to songs entirely from his large archive of demos and home recordings. As he notes, this new material is almost entirely instrumental because, "(W)ithout a 'commission' from the Who (or for my own solo career), I simply write less songs." This does give Scoop 3 a different feel -- as the songs and song sketches intertwine and twist with the instrumentals, the collection gets a meditative, reflective feel, creating a bit of an aural self-portrait, which ironically enough means that it flows better as an album than any of his projects since White City. However, it may mean that those legions of die-hard fans looking for a collection overflowing with unheard songs, starkly revelatory early demos, and covers -- like on the first two Scoop releases -- may be a little disappointed, because there simply aren't as many. But they are here, in the form of previously unheard songs like "Commonwealth Boys" and "I Like It the Way It Is" as well as early versions of "Rough Boys" (called "Tough Boys"), "However Much I Booze" (called "No Way Out"), and -- most remarkably -- "Eminence Front" and "Athena" (called "Teresa"), in slower renditions that reveal the heart of the songs. Actually, that's true for most of the material here, as the selections from Who By Numbers, Quadrophenia, Face Dances, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, and Iron Man -- even songs that worked brilliantly on the albums -- sound more of a piece when delivered in these delicate, passionate, synth-heavy but warm homemade versions, especially when they're bridged by Townshend's evocative instrumentals. It does wind up sounding like a musical diary, and if that isn't enough to satisfy listeners who have eagerly awaited a third Scoop for over a decade, they're simply ungrateful, since few musicians would have the guts or the inclination (or the material, for that matter) to release something as raggedly lovely and personal as this.

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