A Guide To “Tommy” by The Who
The Who Live at the Isle Of Wight - Extazid / Youtube
Pete Townshend’s ambitious vision to produce his very own rock opera gave The Who the landmark double album, Tommy. The album’s cohesiveness in both storytelling and musicality is one of the relatively tightest records around, especially when considering the few years of experience under their belt.
Sticking to the whole operatic theme, the album starts with “Overture”, a simple but symphonic rocker that greets the listener adequately. “It’s A Boy” is the start of Tommy’s story, and is literally his birth’s declaration, while “1921” has a whimsical quality to it while the child Tommy is being kept away from snooping ears due to a murder he witnessed. “Christmas” is a perfect replication of the typical Yuletide experience for kids but is also a turning point for Tommy’s parents when they realize he has no faith in Christianity whatsoever.
“Cousin Kevin”, “Fiddle About”, and “Acid Queen” show Tommy’s negative life experiences, and has some of the most disturbing imagery in the album. “Pinball Wizard” jolts you right up your seat with an in-your-face arrangement, while “Go To The Mirror” is a refreshing cut on the album, especially with the physical and mental abuse from the previous selections. “Sally Simpson” does well enough to be a standalone track on the album, with the perspective being used that of a girl who is infatuated with Tommy.
Overall, Tommy’s flow is impeccable and smooth, to say the least, with Townshend being able to paint the picture of the main character’s dysfunctional reality with such precision as if he really existed in real life.