Saturday, November 15, 2008

John Entwistle 4: Mad Dog

While Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey remained occupied with the Tommy film, John Entwistle gathered most of the band known as Rigor Mortis, renamed them John Entwistle’s Ox, and recorded another album, this time with the intention of touring behind it. Mad Dog has its moments, but falls back on the parodic ‘50s influence from the last album, and the jokes, albeit clever, don’t bear up to repetition. If you like horn sections, buckle in, because there’s plenty of them.
The album starts mostly strong with “I Fall To Pieces”, while “Cell Number Seven” is an amusing recount of the night the Who and their entire road crew were arrested in the wake of damage Pete and Keith Moon had done to a hapless hotel room in Montreal. “You Could Be So Mean” is a little too literal in terms of the power of sticks and stones, and succeeds only because it comes before “Lady Killer” and its unrestrained bullfight trumpet. Just to mix things up, “Who In The Hell?” is delivered in a jokey hoedown arrangement with Eddie Jobson’s violins taking the place of the horns.
The title track is possibly the most daring, its Spector-girl group sound topped off by the vocals, delivered in their entirety by the female backup singers, for a result that predicts Bananarama crossed with Tracey Ullman. A mildly Shaft-style instrumental with clavinet and strings is titled “Jungle Bunny”, and we really hope that wasn’t meant to be a joke. “I’m So Scared” and “Drowning” repeat the formula of the other twisted love songs on side one, but at least the latter has an excellent melody.
Obviously John had plenty to offer, so the novelty of hearing him perform music not written by Pete Townshend was enough to get some people to listen. But when it came down to it, as long as the Who were still around and Pete was still creating, audiences didn’t pay as much attention to his solo work. Mad Dog was a mild improvement, but didn’t help his case any.

John Entwistle’s Ox Mad Dog (1975)—

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