By Ken Clarke
Lesser known as a solo artist than for his days of windmilling The Who to super stardom, Pete Townshend does indeed possess an impressive catalogue of his own work. Although he composed The Who’s material, not every song was appropriate or even intended for the band. Nowhere is this more evident than the new retrospective, Pete Townshend Gold, is a two-disc compilation representing some of the finest moments in Townshend’s solo career. The 34 chosen tracks range from his first solo outing, 1972’s Who Came First, to 1993’s Psychoderelict, his most recent official studio recording.
While two discs is a rather skimpy example of what Townshend created during those years, Gold does stand on its own as an amazing recording. The songs weave from tenderly constructed ballads to eccentric rockers, exploring the depths of frustration and despair alongside the heights of spirituality and optimism. Townshend offers his perspective through unique arrangements and of course, first class musicianship.
Although the tunes are not set in chronological order, Gold works as a cohesive whole, which is a testament to the timelessness of each piece. This unity is aided by each selection being newly remastered, lending a fresh perspective to each track.
Gold may not be essential to Townshend fans who own the original albums but it is highly recommended to curious listeners that only know him through The Who.