Face The Face

Pete Townshend's Deep End

Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2016


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Pete Townshend started off the 1980s in strong fashion with Empty Glass and "Let My Love Open The Door," both signs that he had left his Who career behind as the decade began anew (sans one final album, the dull It's Hard). The rest of his solo output didn't quite fare as well as that one shiny pop single, but those who have never dug into the man's post-Who output are advised to do so if they appreciate Townshend's ambition, storytelling, and pulse-racing guitar work.

Granted, that call to arty story-based albums had fallen flat on All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyesmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , but in 1985, Townshend recovered mightily with White City: A Novel, and this CD/DVD combo is taken from that album's tour. Townshend's band from that album accompanies him on this show, including Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour (this was during Floyd's hiatus), studio drummer Simon Phillips, and Who touring keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick.

The 14 songs are split pretty evenly between Townshend's three '80s solo albums, with a couple of old Who chestnuts thrown in to mollify the crowd and an ill-advised cover of "I Put A Spell On You," which is absent from the CD. "Let My Love" is missing, but serious Who/Townshend fans probably won't much care about that...and it wouldn't have fit the theme of the show anyway.

Perhaps free from Who-sized expectations and at a rare moment of peace in his life, Townshend is relaxed and loose throughout the show, steaming through amped-up rockers like "Give Blood" (with Gilmour), "Rough Boys," and the title track, an overlooked classic that reduces the electronics for a more organic approach and wins because of it. It's the high point of the show, likely the reason the disc is named for it.

The Who songs are fine, perfunctory versions of songs Townshend has played hundreds of times, and while he does no disservice to "Pinball Wizard" or "Won't Get Fooled Again," it's clear his heart is in his newer songs like "Slit Skirts," "The Sea Refuses No River," the Daltrey song "After The Fire" (which he wrote for the singer), "Secondhand Love," and "A Little Is Enough." Not every song is on the level of these, but many are just as good, if not better, in a live setting than their studio counterparts.

Your mileage will vary based on how much you enjoy Townshend solo, of course, but casual fans may want to at least check this out, as it documents an interesting period and a run of solid solo albums in Townshend's career...not to mention a happy, dancing David Gilmour on the DVD of the show.

Rating: B

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