The Smithereens – The Smithereens Play Tommy (2009)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 45:12 minutes | 937 MB | Genre: Alternative
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Digital Booklet | © eOne Music
The Smithereens decided to make a proper, all-out studio version of one of the albums that inspired their rock dreams of becoming a band in the first place for this 40th anniversary tribute. The Who’s unique sound will never be duplicated, but then again neither will The Smithereens’ sound that has made them enduring rock icons over the past 25 plus years. The result is part Who, part Smithereens. Part totally familiar, and part unexpectedly unique… and 100% tour de force. The Smithereens’ “musical dreams ain’t quite what they seem” – the result is more than a loving tribute and much more like an inspired re-imagining. After listening to this album a few times, you may never hear any of The Who’s versions of Tommy the same way again.
After releasing two albums devoted entirely to Beatles tunes in a year and a half (Meet the Smithereens! and B-Sides the Beatles), the Smithereens clearly wanted to prove that they were still a band capable of more than just coasting on the strength of another act’s legacy, and with this in mind they’ve decided to boldly branch out — and spend an entire album covering the Who. The Smithereens Play Tommy is, you guessed it, the Smithereens’ own rather faithful interpretation of Pete Townshend’s rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball champion and spiritual leader, though they have tightened it up quite a bit, editing the piece from 24 selections to a lean 13 tunes and zipping through the work in 41 minutes. It’s hard not to be baffled by the Smithereens’ decision to become a cover band, but they do seem better suited to interpreting the Who than the Beatles; guitarist Jim Babjak may lack Townshend’s epic vision and sense of flourish, but he gets the crunchy bash of this music right, and drummer Dennis Diken and bassist Severo Jornacion find a way to pare down the style of the most manic rhythm section in rock history while achieving some approximation of their power and musical sense. Lead vocalist Pat Dinizio’s deep, moody tone doesn’t match Roger Daltrey’s style any more than it did Paul McCartney’s or John Lennon’s, but at least these songs are better suited to the dark, dramatic feel of Dinizio’s instrument, and Babjak and Diken contribute lead vocals on a few tunes that demand something lighter. And while this condensed version of Tommy makes about as much narrative sense as the original (which is to say not much), from a musical standpoint the feel of the album is pretty close to the Who’s version, especially the several live recordings of the opera that have appeared in recent years. So the Smithereens do better by the Who on The Smithereens Play Tommy than they did by the Beatles, but that doesn’t change the fact that as long as the Who’s Tommy remains readily available (and it’s actually easier to find than this disc), this album is little more than an oddity for Smithereens completists and Who fans obsessive enough to want every cover version of their favorite band’s work. In short, this gets an A for effort but a C- for practical utility. (the Smithereens do deserve credit for hiring William Stout to do the cover, whose witty cartoon artwork graced the sleeves of several top-notch Who bootlegs).
01 – Overture
02 – It’s A Boy
03 – Amazing Journey
04 – Sparks
05 – Eyesight To The Blind
06 – Christmas
07 – Acid Queen
08 – Pinball Wizard
09 – Go To The Mirror
10 – Tommy Can You Hear Me?
11 – Sensation
12 – I’m Free
13 – We’re Not Gonna Take It / See Me Feel Me