Pete Townshend

The Genuine Scoop

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The apparent idea behind this five-CD, 101-song bootleg was a sound one: to gather all of Pete Townshend's best solo demos from the Who's prime era (mid-'60s to late-'70s) in one place. As Who/Townshend fans know, his demos were usually very interesting, and while not as good as the full-on band versions done by the Who, they often boasted a personal, primitive, tenderness not present in the final product. But while there's much fine, and some great, music on here (and certainly there are a lot of great songs), this really isn't the major event it might have been. First, and most importantly, a lot of this stuff actually came out on the very-above-board Scoop and Another Scoop compilations, often with better sound. Sure, those double-LPs might be a little hard to come by these days, but are they really harder to come by than five-CD bootlegs such as this one? Second, on some tracks (particularly the earlier ones), the very beginnings or very ends have been cut -- a small misgiving, but versions on Scoop, Another Scoop, and various bootlegs prove that the utmost complete takes have certainly been circulated. Some background noise, much like a tape that's been badly recorded over, mars a couple of the more interesting early demos ("Kill My Appetite" and "Do the Strip"), which again appear sans distractions on other bootlegs. And there's not a shred of annotation as to when the tracks were done, although they're sequenced in a rough chronological order. Granted, collectors aren't entitled to expect such basic courtesies from bootleggers, but there are plenty of other bootlegs with similar material that do provide such niceties.

All that said and done, if you're a devoted Who fan, there's much to enjoy here, some of which isn't easy to come by on legit releases, if not impossible. Examples would include the spooky demo of "I Can See for Miles"; the comic-'60s tunes "Kill My Appetite" and "Do the Strip"; the prototypes of "It's Not True" and "Dogs"; a super-lengthy, operatic "Rael"; the wistful late-'60s-sounding "That Motherland Feeling"; and loads of demos for Tommy, Who's Next, and Quadrophenia, as well as a good number for The Who By Numbers and Who Are You. Another catch, though, is that if you're the kind of wild-eyed Who fan who actually knows where all of this stuff came from, you probably already have all or most of it on bootleg yourself -- including all those Tommy, Who's Next, Quadrophenia, The Who By Numbers, and Who Are You demos, which have made their appearances on bootlegs of shorter length. If you're among those who only have the stuff from Scoop or Another Scoop, or don't even have those, this is certainly a treat to be savored. The frustration is that with just a little more effort in the production and packaging, this would be a downright important archival document of Townshend's creative process, as well as good-to-excellent music in its own right. But then, that's a criticism that could be levied against many such bootlegs, and not a shortfall that the hapless consumer has any opportunity to redress, in a court of law or otherwise.