Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pete Townshend 12: Scoop 3

Pete was really getting into the whole online retail/direct marketing thing, putting out occasional live recordings from the late ‘90s along with other merchandise. He also used his website to post occasional audio and video files, sometimes as premieres and other times just there. In late 2001 he began posting a song-from-the-vaults a week that would be sold as a standalone CD called Twenty, but in the final week he abruptly reneged, and told us to enjoy them while we could. The site was soon shuttered for six months while he planned a Who tour and wrote a book. (Also, the behavior in the chat room bugged him.) But his Eel Pie site continued to distribute his music, eventually following through with the long-awaited appearance of the third official Scoop collection.
With nearly two hours of material—and twenty years of experiments to choose from—Scoop 3 has much more of an emphasis on his post-Who work than the earlier installments, though there are a couple of exceptions. “Can You See The Real Me” had been bootlegged for years, but his demo of “Sea & Sand” (also from Quadrophenia) is revelatory. “How Can You Do It Alone” is pretty close to the final version on Face Dances, but there’s absolutely no need to have the sketch of “Did You Steal My Money”. “It’s In Ya”, “Teresa” and an early version of “However Much I Booze” will interest Who fans, while his early-‘80s solo period is nicely complemented by a song still called “Tough Boys” and a pretty syrupy attempt at “All Lovers Are Deranged” that proves David Gilmour had the right idea about rocking it out.
The experiments from the White City period, such as “Commonwealth Boys” and the radio-friendly “Lonely Words”, are much more satisfying than the ideas from The Iron Man, and demonstrate that while he had an ear for commercialism, he ran from it. Many of the keyboard pieces unfortunately sound alike, though such acoustic guitar snippets as “Collings”, “Wistful” and “Marty Robbins” are all very satisfying. Other nice highlights include the orchestral heartbreaker “I Like It The Way It Is”, “I Am Afraid” on banjo that sounds identical to “This Land Is Your Land”, and an absolutely charming song for his son, “Squirm Squirm”.
Ultimately, Scoop 3 is for fanatics only. With so much music there’s a lot to get through, and a shame that it’s not all great. Also, the Twenty songs made for a more listenable set. Soon buried, they emerged on various bootlegs, and finally turned up back on the site for easy download in 2005. But by that time he had gotten repeatedly burned by putting himself so nakedly on display, proving again that the future he envisioned in Lifehouse wasn’t a rosy one. (A double-disc set called Scooped was released to mainstream retail around the same time, compiled various tracks from all three Scoop sets, along with a multimedia portion featuring an unreleased video for “Ask Yourself”, probably filmed in 1985.)

Pete Townshend Scoop 3 (2001)—3

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