I thought I’d bring you something this week in which you might soak your ears.
A while back, I was taking myself a a stroll through a recently discovered Discogs store on-line, and grabbed a bunch of interesting looking (and best of all, CHEAP) stuff.
One of the discs I procured you see before you today, the throbbing Moog-fest known as ‘Electric Tommy’.
If the title isn’t self-explanatory enough for you, it should suffice to say that what you have here is a synthesized take on the tunes from the Who’s ‘Tommy’.
Brought to you by well-known Philly composer/arranger/guitarist Joe Renzetti, and keyboardist Tony Luisi, ‘Electric Tommy’ was recorded and released in 1971 on Snuff Garrett’s Viva label.
As mentioned in this space before, while I’m not a Moog fanatic, I am always on the lookout for records like this, since when they are done well they are quite groovy, and when they are done not-so-well, they are still worth listening to, if only for comic relief.
Fortunately, ‘Electric Tommy’ is actually pretty cool.
The two tracks I bring you today are synthesizer versions of my two favorite tunes from ‘Tommy’, ‘Amazing Journey’ and ‘Sparks’, which also happen to run together on the original LP.
Though I dig the Who very much, I still have a hard time grappling with any rock musician willing calling anything they’ve done an “opera”.
Call it a suite, a song cycle, even a musical, but going from ‘I hope I die before I get old’ to “here’s my opera” in the space of a few short years is a little much.
That said, there were a lot good songs (some great) in ‘Tommy’, and for a variety of reasons – foremost their melodies – these two songs hold up quite well to this kind of treatment.
Some of the success has to do with the way the syths are used, i.e. more musically and less as a novelty, and Renzetti and Luisi were up to the task.
This is “head” music, in all senses of the word.
It should fit well should you become intoxicated and wish to feed something through your earholes into your cranium. There are enough swoops and swishes, wrapped in and around Townshend’s melodies to take your brain for a ride.
I would suggest listening to these tracks, especially ‘Sparks’ at fairly high volume to get the full effect. Renzetti and Luisi manage to approximate the power and texture of the rhythm guitar as well as finding some musicality in the sythesizers that many of their contemporaries could not.
Nothing earthshaking, but an interesting listen nonetheless.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you all next week with a new episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show.