Original Cast Recording

The Who's Tommy [Original Cast Recording]

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The Broadway cast album of Tommy (called The Who's Tommy presumably to alert Who fans that this really is the stage version of the group's 1969 "rock opera" and not some unrelated Tommy) is the best recording of Peter Townshend's song cycle since the Who did the original; Beatles producer George Martin was in the recording booth, and a stellar cast led by Michael Cerveris sings fervently. That's the good news. The bad news is that Townshend has radically rethought his ideas in 24 years, and rewritten nine songs to reflect his many changes of heart. Artists rarely improve their work by changing it years later, although they frequently succumb to the temptation, and anyone familiar with the original who tries to sing along to this album is in for a rude surprise. The Broadway Tommy has been secularized and domesticated; no longer a messiah, he now longs for normality. It's too bad that Townshend didn't have the wisdom to bring Tommy to the stage intact. (The Who's Tommy tied for the 1993 Tony Award for Best Score.)

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