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Roger Daltrey | The Who’s Tommy Orchestral

The Who frontman gives the band's classic rock opera the classical treatment.


WHO IS HE? Who indeed. The leather-lunged frontman of British rock legends The Who, Roger Daltrey can still huff and puff and blow the house down at age 75.

WHAT IS THIS? A complete live rendering of Tommy, the band’s iconic rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind pinball wizard, recorded in 2018 with members of The Who‘s touring band (except guitarist Pete Townshend, of course) and an orchestra.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The soundtrack to a PBS pledge-drive spectacular.

WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Classic Rock Gets the Classical Treatment.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While sipping good wine and wearing nice clothes — and definitely not while smoking pot (unless you want Daltrey to show up at your house and hector you about it).

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Grand, bombastic, faithful, reverent, thundering, muscular, majestic, powerful, sophisticated, extravagant.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The biggest hits — Pinball Wizard, I’m Free, We’re Not Going to Take It — are obviously the most enjoyable. But great as Daltrey sounds throughout — and full-blooded as his performance is — there’s undeniably something missing without Townshend in the mix.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘Wouldn’t you rather listen to the original version?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? About as often as you spin Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia live album from 2015.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE CLOTHING, WHAT KIND OF CLOTHING WOULD IT BE? A very expensive but still ill-fitting tuxedo designed to look like leather.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? Stream it — or just wait for the PBS special.