Pete Townshend recently confessed to Rolling Stone, “I just hope that on my deathbed I don’t embarrass myself by asking someone, ‘Can you pass me my guitar? And will you run the backing tape of ‘Baba O’Riley’? I just want to do it one more time.” Yet Townshend still finds himself looking to the past even as he embraces the present and future. While on the road celebrating (for the final time?) the legacy of The Who with creative partner Roger Daltrey, Townshend will issue a new solo anthology as part of a new deal which sees his solo discography remaining at The Who’s home of Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).
Truancy: The Very Best of Pete Townshend will arrive on June 30. The 17-track album follows 1996’s first single-CD overview The Best Of; as well as the 2-CD set released in 2005 in the U.S. as Gold and internationally as Anthology which dug deeper into his oeuvre. Truancy premieres two new songs and kicks off what is promised to be “an extensive reissue program for Townshend’s solo material that will see his catalog remastered and reworked running into 2016.” To that end, Truancy was remastered at Abbey Road Studios, includes new liner notes, an introduction to the two new songs by Townshend, and highlights from albums including Who Came First (“Pure and Easy,” “Let’s See Action”), Empty Glass (“Let My Love Open the Door,” “Rough Boys”), the Ronnie Lane collaboration Rough Mix (“My Baby Gives It Away,” “Keep Me Turning”) and concept albums including White City (“Face the Face,” “White City Fighting”), The Iron Man (“I Won’t Run Anymore”) and Psychoderelict (“English Boy”).
Townshend comments in the press release, “I hope [Truancy] offers a selection that works to introduce new fans to my solo work. I am a bit of a dabbler, I’m afraid. I am as interested in building, developing and playing with recording studios as I am with making music. The Who has taken up most of my road hours, and in this year of the 50th anniversary of our first significant year in 1965, we are back on the road again.”
Truancy premieres two new Townshend compositions, “Guantanamo” and “How Can I Help You.” The composer observes of the former, “I thought this song might never see the light of day, but now President Obama has relaxed sanctions in Cuba, it is a happy sign he might go further. Technically this was created in rather a laborious way. I recorded a long organ drone using my vintage Yamaha E70 organ (used many times by me on Who and solo recordings in the past), and then cut it into something that sounded like a song using a feature unique to Digital Performer called ‘chunks.’ This creates blocks of groups of tracks that can be assembled and disassembled easily, like cutting multitrack analogue tape with a razor blade, but with less blood. The lyric grew out of the implicit angry frustration in the organ tracks.”
Of the latter song, he offers, “‘How Can I Help You’ was inspired partly by the frustrating emotional difficulties experienced by a valued colleague. He was in great physical pain and it drove him into depression. I performed an acoustic version of the song on my partner Rachel Fuller’s webcast show In the Attic. I began this recording with an acoustic guitar, added drum loops and breaks then Gretsch and Rickenbacker 12-string guitars and John Entwistle’s hybrid Thunderbird-Fender Precision bass.”
Truancy is preceded by the June 9 release from UMe/Deutsche Grammophon release of Classic Quadrophenia, a new symphonic presentation and reworking of The Who’s legendary 1973 rock opera. Classic Quadrophenia stars Townshend as The Godfather alongside Les Miserables star Alfie Boe as Jimmy, Billy Idol as Ace Face/Bell Boy and Phil Daniels (Jimmy in the original film of Quadrophenia) as Dad. Also featured on the recording are the London Oriana Choir with Choirmaster Dominic Peckham, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Robert Ziegler and orchestrations by Townshend’s life partner, Rachel Fuller. Additionally on June 30, Eagle Rock Entertainment will issue the concert film of The Who: Live at Shea Stadium 1982 on Blu-ray and DVD.
Truancy: The Very Best of Pete Townshend arrives on June 30, and can be pre-ordered below!
- Pure and Easy
- Sheraton Gibson
- Let’s See Action (Nothing Is Everything)
- My Baby Gives It Away
- A Heart To Hang On To
- Keep Me Turning
- Let My Love Open The Door
- Rough Boys
- The Sea Refuses No River
- Face Dances (Pt. 2)
- White City Fighting
- Face The Face
- I Won’t Run Anymore
- English Boy
- You Came Back
- How Can I Help You
Tracks 1-3 from Who Came First, Track DL 79189, 1972
Tracks 4-6 from Rough Mix, MCA 2295, 1977
Tracks 7-8 from Empty Glass, Atco SD 32-100, 1980
Tracks 9-10 from All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, Atco SD 38-149, 1982
Tracks 11-12 from White City: A Novel, Atco 252392-1, 1985
Track 13 from The Iron Man, Atlantic 81966, 1989
Track 14 from Psychoderelict, Atco 7-82494, 1993
Track 15 from Scoop, Atco 90063-1, 1983
Tracks 16-17 are previously unreleased