Pete Townshend

The Oceanic Concerts

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This is an archival release designed for the fans, and it should be treated that way. That means while there are certainly interesting variations of familiar songs, rarities, and unexpected delights for fans, it's undeniably for those fans who will realize how these versions differ from the originals, or those who will delight in the subtle stage patter from Townshend. Most of all, it's for the fans who embrace the spiritual side of Townshend, particularly his recordings for his guru, Avatar Meher Baba, since he and Raphael Rudd performed these concerts in his honor, several songs derive from Townshend's independently released albums for him, and these recordings are taken from concerts given in 1979-1980 for a select group of Meher Baba devotees. So select, in fact, that it's possible to be a Townshend fanatic and not realize the very existence of these recordings, as Rhino's A&R man, Patrick Milligan, points out in his liner notes, where he shares his thrill in hearing these tapes for the first time. And, if you're a Townshend obsessive -- not necessarily one who collects bootlegs, but certainly one who hangs on his words in his delightful interviews -- it's hard not to share his thrill, since this is fine, idiosyncratic, rare Townshend, as he performs gentle, acoustic versions of some of his greatest songs, accompanied on harp and piano by Rudd, best-known as a member of Renaissance, who also has solo instrumental pieces here. Given the presence of harp and the select-invite audience, it should be no surprise that Townshend and Rudd ignore hits, even airing "Let My Love Open the Door" and "A Little Is Enough" for one of the first times in these gentle, fairly arty performances. As such, this is pretty much something that will delight those converts waiting to hear something new from their favorite artist, but could hardly be called essential for any other artist -- even if they're lovely enough to make them essential for that selective audience.

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