Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Roger Daltrey 1: Daltrey

Just as bandmate John Entwistle needed something to do while waiting for Pete Townshend to write the next Who album, Roger Daltrey had time on his hands, as well as a studio in his house. He took an interest in a young songwriter named Leo Sayer, and with the idea to give the kid a boost into the business, said he’d record an album of his songs. That became Daltrey, sporting folk-pop tunes that are much less bombastic than the typical Who album, yet still introspective. Acoustic guitars and pianos abound.
“One Man Band” has a jaunty music-hall quality, and even retains that busker aspect after the band kicks in. “The Way Of The World” fits very much into the country squire quality of early Elton John, or even Bowie’s Hunky Dory. (Who-spotters will notice Dave Arbus, famous from “Baba O’Riley”, on violin.) Speaking of piano men, we wonder if 1973 Billy Joel heard the sweeping “You Are Yourself”. “Thinking” picks up the pace with a nice fuzzy steel guitar solo before “You And Me” ends side one on a sigh, just a verse and an orchestral swoon.
It’s daring to have an epic on an album this low-key, but “Hard Life” and “Giving It All Away” form a strong suite together, with sweetly sweeping strings. Unfortunately, the next two tracks derail the trajectory, somewhat; “The Story So Far” descends from Broadway camp into an unwise calypso rhythm, and “When The Music Stops” is just too twee. “Reasons” redeems the proceedings to the quality of side one just in time, and the last sound we hear is a reprise of “One Man Band”, performed on the roof of the Beatles’ Apple building, where the album was mixed.
Daltrey isn’t just a nice change of pace. It showcases Roger as an excellent interpreter of songs, and what makes it work is that it pointedly doesn’t sound like The Who. Sometimes it even sounds like something Rod Stewart might have done had success not gone to his head; the only thing that rubs us the wrong way is the ultra-swoony cover shot. It’s one of those albums we throw on only rarely yet still marvel at just how nice it is, and that’s why it gets the rating it has. Good on him. (A barely hyped reissue in this century added “There Is Love”, the B-side to “Thinking”, and wisely left off the album due to its over-the-top gospel attempt, though it does feature Jimmy Page on guitar.)

Roger Daltrey Daltrey (1973)—
2006 reissue: same as 1973, plus 1 extra track

1 comment:

  1. I'm not "up" on anything recent, but Entwistle is ONE HELL of a bass player.