A Celebration: The Music Of Pete Townshend And The Who is the aural record of two concerts Roger Daltrey staged at Carnegie Hall in 1994 to pay tribute to his favorite composer. Of course, Daltrey had spent much of his life singing Townshend's songs, and he had recorded most of these more than once before. Backed by an orchestra and accompanied by various guest stars, he selected three songs each from Who's Next and Quadrophenia, one each from Tommy, The Who By Numbers, and Who Are You, and two non-Who Townshend songs, "After The Fire," twhich had appeared on his 1985 solo album, Under A Raging Moon, and "The Sea Refuses No River," which had appeared on Townshend's 1982 solo album, All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. Given the over-familiarity of the material, it is less interesting to hear "Pinball Wizard" or "Won't Get Fooled Again" (complete with an orchestration that does nothing for it) than the sometimes surprising choices: Daltrey (who sings on only nine of 12 tracks on his own album) turns the stage over to Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes, who sings "Dr. Jimmy" with obvious relish; Daltrey's reading of "The Sea Refuses No River" suggests what later Who music would have sounded like if the group hadn't broken up; and Townshend's vocal on "Who Are You," typically more nuanced if less powerful than Daltrey's original, suggests why the group did break up. But while some of the arrangements present refreshing alterations, notably The Chieftains' take on "Baba O'Riley," this remains the kind of performance that works better as a one-time live event than as a record. The Who getting together at Carnegie Hall with guests for a special show? Let's go. Another album of Who rerecordings? Who cares?
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann