Tommy, The Who
Since last week I wrote about "A Night at the Opera," this week's album is about an actual opera, the first of its kind. With the prior albums, The Who was a straightforward British rock band seeking the next hit. Tommy is another one of those albums that changed everything, including the band itself. Tommy is a milestone in rocky history.
It is enough to listen to the "Overture" to know what is coming; this first song is full of genius and musicianship as the rest of the album. Keith Moon was by then already a well-known drummer, but it is in this song that we can hear for the first time what he could do and what would become a part of The Who's signature sound and would make him the best drummer of his generation. No wonder he inspired some of the greatest, like Neil Peart and Dave Grohl.
The opera is about a boy, Tommy, who becomes deaf, dumb, and blind after witnessing his father-in-law killing his birth father, who was presumed dead but came back from the war without previous notice—listening to the album while paying attention to the lyrics doubles the enjoyment. According to Pete Townshend, it is with this album that Roger Daltrey transformed from a relatively shy figure to a mega frontman, taking attention from him and allowing him to focus on the music.
The album was already famous and revered, and a few years later, a movie with some of the best actors of the time was filmed with Roger Daltrey as Tommy. The movie also has some great rock stars like Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, and Elton John, making the OST worth a listen as well.
Tommy had a third run when Townshend agreed to create a Broadway play that ran successfully in the early 2000s for over ten years.
There are few albums in the history of rock with such an impact, and after 50 years, listening to Tommy never gets old.