In Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe’s tale of a ’70s rock journalist’s coming of age, the young hero inherits his older sister’s copy of Tommy, with a note that reads, “Listen with a candle burning and you will see your entire future”. It’s easy to see why The Who’s 1969 concept album could have inspired such reverence. Pete Townshend’s story about a sensory-deprived boy messiah contained some of The Who’s best work but also sounded like it meant something; even if that something was inspired by an odd mish-mash of Indian mysticism, Marshall McLuhan’s theory of communication and childhood sexual abuse. This new multiple-format edition accessorises the original album with a 5.1 mix, an epic essay by Who historian Richard Barnes and missing-presumed-burnt live recordings from the Tommy tour. Best of the lot, though, are Townshend’s remarkable and highly revealing original demos – worth lighting several candles for.
Watch the BBC’s documentary The Making of Tommy here:
And stream the Tommy demos, via Spotify, here: