LIKE BOB MONDELLO, I saw The Who do Tommy a quarter-century ago—the first time at (if you can believe it) McDonough Gym at Georgetown U. Mondello’s review of the Broadway incarnation (Theater, 1/6) points out what’s so damned irritating about it: the title. Tommy: 1995, perhaps, or Pete Townshend’s Midlife Tommy might fit, but never The Who’s Tommy. Call me a stuck-in-the-’60s purist, but that last title belongs only on the Daltrey, Entwistle, Moon, and Townshend performance.
Imagine if Paul McCartney came up with a stage version of The Beat les’ Sgt. Pepper, and you’ll get the idea. Just as we wouldn’t have John Lennon to put a stop to that nightmare, we don’t have Keith Moon to render judgment on this spectacle, however spectacular it may be.
The travesty is that the Who never released The Who’s Tommy. Compared to the tidbits from Live at Leeds and the first Woodstock soundtrack, the studio version sounds like a demo tape.
My only complaint with Mondello’s review was its title, “The Who Sells Out.” It wasn’t The Who that sold out. Pete Townshend is, was, and will be one of rock’s few true heroes, but even heroes aren’t perfect.
Silver Spring, via the Internet