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Various Artists

Who Are You - An All-Star Tribute to the Who

Review by Gary Hill

I like The Who quite a bit. I mean, they aren’t one of my favorite bands, but I do really like them. So, I would have liked this album, anyway. But, when you look at the cast of characters here, that gives me another reason to enjoy it. There are members of some of my all time favorite bands playing here. And some of the combinations are amazing. It all adds up to an enjoyable release that brings new angles to familiar Who songs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Eminence Front – John Wetton, K.K. Downing and Derek Sherinian

Derek Sherinian’s keyboards open this and K. K. Downing starts weaving trademark lines of guitar in the mix. There’s almost a Pink Floyd vibe to this extended introduction. Then Wetton’s vocals enter and the song has a bit of a mellow groove that’s tasty. That Floyd reference is still valid. It just feels a little slow to me.

Baba O'Riley – Nektar and Jerry Goodman

This rocks out pretty hard. There are some trademark Nektar bits at times. Again, the whole thing feels a bit slower than the original, but I could be wrong.

I Can See For Miles - Mark Lindsay and Wayne Kramer

With a member of MC5 on hand, one shouldn’t be surprised that this rocks. It surely does. It’s a hard edged take that really seems to capture the magic of the song while also lending some new touches to it.

Love Reign O'er Me - Joe Elliot, Rick Wakeman, Huw Lloyd-Langton and Carmine Appice

First off, who would have ever thought that current or former members of Def Leppard, Yes, Hawkwind and Vanilla Fudge would all work together? My hand is clearly not raised. Keyboards start this in tasty, mellow prog fashion as other sounds are tentatively added to the mix. As the rest of the instruments are added and the vocals join somehow that prog element is reinforced. I’d have to say that I like this more than the original rendition, and I liked that one a lot. Wakeman gets a bit of solo later in the piece and the outro here is great.

My Generation – Knox, Dave Davies, Rat Scabies

With that lineup (Knox is from The Vibrators and Rat Scabies is from the Damned), one would expect a punky take. Add in the Kinks vibe from Davies and you’ve got a good idea of what this version is like. I really like the driving bass line on this.

The Kids Are Alright - The Raveonettes

There’s an echoey, distant kind of texture to this. The track really feels like some kind of bubble gum music. This is okay, but not one of the highlights.

Won't Get Fooled Again – Sweet

Wow! Sweet sounds a lot like The Who on this take. I like this one a lot. It’s got energy, style and charm. The guitar solo on this is quite tasty. There’s a killer instrumental segment later that has some new ideas flowing in it.

Anyway Anyhow Anywhere - Todd Rundgren and Carmine Appice

Raw and energized, this one rocks like crazy.

I Can't Explain - Iggy Pop

When I saw that Iggy Pop was doing this tune, I figured it would be a modern punky take. It’s actually a really retro sounding number and it’s quite cool.

Behind Blue Eyes - Pat Travers

The name Pat Travers conjures up 1970s guitar hero rock. Well, that’s what you get on this take. It’s a good one that strikes out in a bit of a different approach from the original. As one might expect, it features some great guitar work.

Magic Bus - Peter Noone, Peter Banks and Ginger Baker

Considering the pedigree of this lineup (Noone was in Herman s Hermits, Banks the original guitarist for Yes and Ginger Baker, of course, from Cream) one might expect  a retro take. We sort of get that. It does have a retro vibe, but brings some newer sounds and feelings to the table, too.

Who Are You - Gretchen Wilson and Randy Bachman

Here’s another one of those team ups I never would have expected. This hard rocking, rather bluesy take works really well, though. It’s actually one of my favorites on the set. The instrumental section is also quite cool and I really like Bachman’s musical insights and interpretations.

Pinball Wizard - Terry Reid, Mike Pinera and Brad Gillis

This hard rocking take is quite a cool one. I like it a lot.

Squeeze Box - John Wesley and David Cross

With these two guys coming from Porcupine Tree and King Crimson, one would expect a progressive rock angle here. That’s delivered on, while still maintaining a lot of the charm of the original. It’s one of the songs that stretches the most. It’s also quite cool.

Bargain - 38 Special, Ted Turner and Ian Paice

I’ve never been a big fan 38 Special, but this version is quite a cool one. At times it’s very faithful, yet at other points it stretches a bit. There’s a cool instrumental jam later in the track.

The Seeker - Joe Lynn Turner, Leslie West

Joe Lynn Turner is best known for his work in Rainbow and Leslie West for Mountain. The two of them produce a suitably hard rocking version of this Who classic to end the set in style.  

 
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