Classic Review: Tommy by The Who

Aidan McFarland

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Tommy is the fifth studio album by The Who, which includes members Roger Daltrey as vocals, Pete Townshend on guitar, Keith Moon on drums, and John Entwistle on bass. Tommy was released in 1969 and was a more experimental album compared to The Who’s previous music. Of the album, the most famous track is “Pinball Wizard,” and is one of The Who’s more popular songs. This is not a traditional album, as can seen by the length of the tracks, which are nearly all either more than 4 minutes long or shorter than a single minute. The lyrics are unconventional, and can be compared to a film script or a book with its dialogue. This album can be compared to reading a book or seeing a film if you focus on the lyrics.

The album is about a boy, Tommy, who is born “deaf, dumb, and blind,” as said multiple times through the album, and the album is about his journey through his youth. The album starts out with “Overture.” Parts of the track that stood out to me was the great guitar and these fanfare sounds that felt very fitting with starting out the album. “Overture” goes right into “It’s A Boy!” which is some brief dialogue over some music. The next track is then “1921,” which is a bit weak compared to the rest of the tracks on the album and it does not really stand out.

The album continues to “Amazing Journey,” which is one of the best tracks on the album due to the drums, which carry so much fantastic energy. The next track is “Sparks,” which sounds like an action movie of the 1960’s or 1970’s, more specifically a James Bond film. “Christmas” has a fun energy to it and has a catchy chorus. The album continues to “Cousin Kevin,” which lyrics are glum since the song is about Tommy being bullied by his Cousin Kevin, and joy being brought out of Cousin Kevin when victimizing Tommy. The lyrics really make this song stand out and make the song. “Do You Think It’s Alright!” is an introduction to “Fiddle About,” which feels commanding.

“Pinball Wizard” is a great song, one of the best off the album, if not the best. It is catchy, has some very iconic guitar riffs. “Smash In The Mirror” is a bit funky compared to the rest of album and is a nice contrast. “I’m Free” is another song that really capture the sixties era. “We’re Not Gonna Take it!” takes the same riff from the earlier song “Sparks,” and changes it up a bit to conclude the album.

I really enjoyed this album. The first listen I was not super impressed, but when I sat down with the lyrics in front of me, just listening to the music, it was a great experience. I recommend you give this album a listen, but I recommend you follow along with the lyrics to enhance your listening experience.

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