Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pete Townshend 7: Deep End Live!

During the promotion for White City, Pete put together a fairly stellar band dubbed the Deep End for a pair of charity shows at London’s Brixton Academy. A full-length video that’s pretty entertaining was released in early 1986, while a promotional EP was extended into a sparsely packaged official album by year’s end. It’s an odd grabbag of songs and covers, such as “Barefootin’”, “I Put A Spell On You”, and The English Beat’s “Save It For Later”. The crowd goes nuts for the Who songs, but his own version of “After The Fire” (a hit that year for Roger Daltrey) made it essential.
Nearly two decades later Pete released an official bootleg of the complete second show on CD as part of an ongoing series via his website, and it’s worth the bucks if you can still find it. For starters, the album’s original ten tracks work much better in this context. There are a few more trad jazz and R&B covers—including “Harlem Shuffle”, before the Stones got their mitts on it—and Pete even turns the microphone over for two songs to special guest David Gilmour, who sings his own “Blue Light” and “Love On The Air”, which Pete co-wrote. (Granted, he also lets Rabbit Bundrick do a song of his own, but you can always skip that one.) Gilmour’s on fire for duration of the show, making this essential for Floydheads too.
The Deep End performed on just one more occasion—the MIDEM music conference in the south of France a few months after the Brixton shows, and originally broadcast on the German Rockpalast TV show. The Eagle Rock label put out Face The Face, a combination CD and DVD set of the performance some three decades later, with a shorter setlist including three songs not performed at Brixton. Unfortunately, “Hiding Out” is driven by a primitive computer, “Rough Boys” is missing the electric fire of the studio version, and he forgets several words in “Slit Skirts”. The band doesn’t seem as tight, and Pete even seems like he’d less than thrilled to be on the stage. But when it gels, it gels well, and more so with the video counterpart.
Way back then, however, the ten songs on the mini-album were something of a tease, and some of us were saving our pennies in hope that Pete would do a larger-scale tour. At this rate, it seemed, he had a lot more music in him. But looking back, the shows can be seen as something of a peak, since his career was about to plateau, as we shall soon see.

Pete Townshend’s Deep End Live! (1986)—3
2006 remaster: same as 1986, plus 2 extra tracks
Pete Townshend Live > Brixton Academy ‘85 (2004)—4
Pete Townshend’s Deep End Face The Face (2016)—3

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