The Smithereens Play Tommy

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
After releasing two albums devoted entirely to Beatles tunes in a year and a half (Meet the Smithereens! and B-Sides the Beatles), the Smithereens clearly wanted to prove that they were still a band capable of more than just coasting on the strength of another act's legacy, and with this in mind they've decided to boldly branch out -- and spend an entire album covering the Who. The Smithereens Play Tommy is, you guessed it, the Smithereens' own rather faithful interpretation of Pete Townshend's rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball champion and spiritual leader, though they have tightened it up quite a bit, editing the piece from 24 selections to a lean 13 tunes ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
After releasing two albums devoted entirely to Beatles tunes in a year and a half (Meet the Smithereens! and B-Sides the Beatles), the Smithereens clearly wanted to prove that they were still a band capable of more than just coasting on the strength of another act's legacy, and with this in mind they've decided to boldly branch out -- and spend an entire album covering the Who. The Smithereens Play Tommy is, you guessed it, the Smithereens' own rather faithful interpretation of Pete Townshend's rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball champion and spiritual leader, though they have tightened it up quite a bit, editing the piece from 24 selections to a lean 13 tunes and zipping through the work in 41 minutes. It's hard not to be baffled by the Smithereens' decision to become a cover band, but they do seem better suited to interpreting the Who than the Beatles; guitarist Jim Babjak may lack Townshend's epic vision and sense of flourish, but he gets the crunchy bash of this music right, and drummer Dennis Diken and bassist Severo Jornacion find a way to pare down the style of the most manic rhythm section in rock history while achieving some approximation of their power and musical sense. Lead vocalist Pat DiNizio's deep, moody tone doesn't match Roger Daltrey's style any more than it did Paul McCartney's or John Lennon's, but at least these songs are better suited to the dark, dramatic feel of DiNizio's instrument, and Babjak and Diken contribute lead vocals on a few tunes that demand something lighter. And while this condensed version of Tommy makes about as much narrative sense as the original (which is to say not much), from a musical standpoint the feel of the album is pretty close to the Who's version, especially the several live recordings of the opera that have appeared in recent years. So the Smithereens do better by the Who on The Smithereens Play Tommy than they did by the Beatles, but that doesn't change the fact that as long as the Who's Tommy remains readily available (and it's actually easier to find than this disc), this album is little more than an oddity for Smithereens completists and Who fans obsessive enough to want every cover version of their favorite band's work. In short, this gets an A for effort but a C- for practical utility. (The Smithereens do deserve credit for hiring William Stout to do the cover, whose witty cartoon artwork graced the sleeves of several top-notch Who bootlegs.)
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/5/2009
  • Label: Koch Records
  • UPC: 099923200321
  • Catalog Number: 2003
  • Sales rank: 81,230

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Overture (3:30)
  2. 2 It's a Boy (1:33)
  3. 3 Amazing Journey (3:15)
  4. 4 Sparks (3:31)
  5. 5 Eyesight to the Blind (2:10)
  6. 6 Christmas (3:23)
  7. 7 Acid Queen (3:29)
  8. 8 Pinball Wizard (3:02)
  9. 9 Go to the Mirror (3:30)
  10. 10 Tommy, Can You Hear Me? (1:09)
  11. 11 Sensation (2:26)
  12. 12 I'm Free (2:31)
  13. 13 We're Not Gonna Take It/See Me Feel Me (7:48)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Smithereens Primary Artist
Dennis Diken Percussion, Drums, Vocals, Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony, Group Member
Jim Babjak Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals, Vocal Harmony, Group Member
Pat DiNizio Guitar, Vocals, Group Member
Severo Jornacion Bass Guitar
Technical Credits
Pete Townshend Composer
Dennis Diken Producer, Audio Production
Kurt Reil Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Sonny Boy Williamson [II] Composer
Jim Babjak Producer, Liner Notes, Audio Production
Pat DiNizio Executive Producer, Audio Production
William Stout Illustrations, Cover Illustration
Bill Crowley Liner Notes, Marketing
Arnold Mischkulnig Mastering, Remastering
Andrew Kelley Art Direction
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