KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Thirty Year Thursday – PETE TOWNSHEND “DEEP END LIVE!”

[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]

Artist: PETE TOWNSHEND
Album: DEEP END LIVE!

Pete Townshend - Deep End LiveFor many fans like myself, Pete Townshend’s solo career is almost as thrilling & fascinating as his work with The Who. Although he had released a few albums in the ‘70s, many people from my generation first discovered his solo work via 1980’s brilliant Empty Glass, which we assumed was his debut. By the time he released his first live album he was concentrating on his own music following The Who’s 1982 breakup, with one Platinum & two Gold albums under his belt. Deep End Live! was recorded at London’s Brixton Academy in November 1985, with a band that consisted of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, brilliant drummer Simon Phillips (who would later play with The Who), long-time Who keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick, percussionist Jody Linscott as well as backing vocalists, a horn section and a harmonica player. With so many people on stage this could have been billed as “The Pete Townshend Revue.” The full concert was edited down to a 10-song album that clocks in at less than 40 minutes and features four Who songs, two solo tracks, a few covers & a song recorded earlier that year by his Who compadre Roger Daltrey. The VHS video release featured an additional eight tracks, including three from his most recent solo album, White City: A Novel, so that’s my preferred way to hear this material but, much like The Who’s classic Live At Leeds, he probably thought a shorter album would have more impact.

Album opener “Barefootin’” is an infectious uptempo horn-drenched blues tune originally by Robert Parker. Other covers include Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ oft-recorded “I Put A Spell On You” (which features a dynamic arrangement with passionate vocals & searing lead guitar), “Eyesight To The Blind” (a traditional blues shuffle take on the Sonny Boy Williamson song that The Who pete-townshend-band-live-1985previously recorded…with the subtitle “The Hawker”…on Tommy) and the more contemporary “Save It For Later” (released three years earlier by The Beat, aka The English Beat). The Who is also represented by a solid version of “Behind Blue Eyes,” a powerful solo performance of the key Quadrophenia track “I’m One” and Townshend’s obligatory…but never unwelcome…performance of “Pinball Wizard.” Both “A Little Is Enough” and “Stop Hurting People” were standout tracks on his first two ‘80s solo records. The versions here are similar to their studio counterparts, with the horn section complementing the songs instead of overwhelming them. “After The Fire” was written by Townshend for The Who to perform at the Live Aid concert in ‘85, but when that didn’t happen he gave it to Daltrey for his Under A Raging Moon album. I really enjoy Townshend’s version, with its loping rhythm, Linscott’s tasteful percussion accents and that smooth, melodic guitar solo. Deep End Live! may not appear on many best-live-albums lists, but it’s a noteworthy document of one of the greatest singers/songwriters/guitarists of the last 50 years (and counting) still in his prime more than 20 years into his career. The full concert video is even more enjoyable, and somewhere I have a cassette I recorded from that VHS tape, but that doesn’t diminish the strength of this more concise album.

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37 comments on “Thirty Year Thursday – PETE TOWNSHEND “DEEP END LIVE!”

  1. wardo68
    September 29, 2016

    Another great overlooked album from that busy year. In this century Pete sold a two-disc expansion of the full show via his website, which featured even more music than the VHS, including more solo music and jazz covers. He even gave Rabbit a solo spot and let Gilmour do Blue Light.

    Like

    • I never got the expanded version and I recently read that a lot of fans hated the sound of that release. Not sure how bad it could have been.

      I’m a huge Gilmour fan and love his solo albums, especially his debut and About Face. I’m glad Townshend gave him the spotlight on two songs during those shows.

      Like

      • wardo68
        September 29, 2016

        Certain Who fanatics on certain message boards have complained about the sound on every Who related CD, particularly if Jon Astley’s name is in the credits. As for me, if the tunes are good, my crappy ears are happy.

        Like

      • I feel the same way. My biggest issue with some Who reissues has been when Townshend used different versions of songs. I remember this being a particular issue with Who Are You. I believe at least one track had a completely different guitar solo than the original album.

        Like

  2. jcbradleyjr
    September 29, 2016

    This is indeed a very, very good live album. I can’t estimate how many albums, cassettes, cd’s I’ve bought over the years – if I had to guess I would say maybe 1500 pieces of music in some form or another. While I often look at an album and have no idea when or where I purchased it, this is a record that really stands out – probably because I bought it in a time where I was switching music purchases away from vinyl. I distinctly remember going to a local record store to “hang out” and see what was new (obviously pre internet days) and seeing this on the shelves and buying it. When I later bought a car with a cassette player and started listening to most of my music that way (my first job out of school required a lot of driving), I taped a copy to have in the car.

    I got interested in Townsends solo career when a friend in college loaned me the first “Scoop” album. I’ve always enjoyed his live records – at one time he was selling them on his website and I bought a couple of cd’s that way. His re-workings and reimaginings of both songs he wrote for The Who and for his solo career are always worth a listen. He is a truly fascinating artist and performer.

    Like

    • I love having those distinct memories of where/when I bought a particular album, so I appreciate your story about this album. The Scoop albums are a really good entry point into Townshend’s solo career, but I’m still glad I was the right age for Empty Glass to make a huge impact on me. I have an affinity for the two albums that followed, especially All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, but there’s always a lot of great material on all of his solo albums…even The Iron Man. 😀

      Like

  3. mikeladano
    September 29, 2016

    Never seen nor heard of this. The only live Pete I own is a CD DVD combo set called In the Attic, with lots of his buddies.

    I’ll keep an eye peeled for this in Taranna!

    Like

    • This is a nice teaser but since I know you like to have as complete a version as possible, I suggest you seek out the expanded version that was sold through his website…even though a lot of fans have complained about the sound quality of that CD. But really you should get the live video. I have the VHS but I imagine it’s been upgraded to CD at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jcbradleyjr
    September 29, 2016

    Just checked his website and see that this is getting an expanded re-release. Perfect timing for this article!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought it was already expanded and sold through his website. I wonder if this is a new reissue. Will keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the heads-up.

      Like

  5. Kevin
    September 29, 2016

    I liked Empty Glass a lot, but I loved All The Best Cowboys… even more. I suspect it might be my favorite solo album by any artist. I even vividly remember going to the record store to buy it after hearing “Face Dances pt2” on the radio in the summer of ’82. I also remember some critics panning it for being “pretentious at an unprecedented level of difficulty” or as an “ambitious failure.” Whatever. I would have liked to hear a few more Chinese Eyes tracks on this very fun live album. I always loved his version of “Save It For Later.”

    You mentioned the Who Are You reissue. Maddening! Remastering is fine but why did it have to be Re-mixed!? The song with the different guitar solo is “Music Must Change” – one of my favorite Who songs. The horns in “Had Enough” are mixed way down. “Guitar And Pen” is actually slower (I believe they sped up the master slightly on the original). There are lots of subtle differences throughout, making it not the album I grew up with – and being my first Who album, I am very attached to it. I’d like a word or two with Jon Astley (Mr. “Jane’s Getting Serious” – do you remember that song?).

    Like

    • Hi Kevin. I had the same reaction when I heard “Face Dances Part 2” on the radio. The first couple of listens to the album left me perplexed, but once I “got it” I was a fan for life. It was also an early appearance of one of my all-time favorite rhythm sections, Tony Butler and Mark Brzezicki, who went on to Big Country a year later.

      I completely agree about re-mixing unless it’s an additional version. Don’t replace the original. Who Are You was a huge disappointment. I thought I still had the original album but I must have sold the vinyl and original CD pressing years ago. I’ll need to pick it up again at some point.

      And yes, I do remember that Jon Astley song. Didn’t he end up in Townshend’s orbit via marriage, to Pete’s sister perhaps? Letting him handle the mixing/mastering was a bad decision.

      Like

      • Kevin
        September 29, 2016

        I think he was Pete’s brother-in-law, so, a bit of nepotism there. Amazing that a band of that stature could have their remastering project botched so badly, at least with Who Are You. Did Pete even care? Have you ever heard the Who Are You demos?

        Like

      • I’ve heard the Tommy and Quadrophenia demos but I don’t think I’ve come across the Who Are You demos. Are they worth seeking out?

        Like

      • Kevin
        September 30, 2016

        If you’re a big fan of Who Are You, I would say that the demos are worth checking out, depending on your level of interest. Pete’s demos are always cool to listen to.

        Like

      • I love Who Are You so I will definitely seek out those demos. Are they acoustic sketches of more fleshed-out arrangements? Pete’s great at both.

        Like

  6. Jeff Kempin
    September 29, 2016

    I bought this album recently (for cheap),the original vinyl release not the expanded edition. I liked it well enough. I bought his White City album back when it was new and that was my first Townshend solo album. I’ve since filled in my collection with Chinese Eyes and Empty Glass. Deep End Live is a worthy addition. Townshend has always been a great live performer. But after Live at Leeds, really any live Who/Townshend album will pale in comparison.
    Another good post Rich! Have a good week!

    Like

    • Thanks, Jeff. I love that trio of albums he released between ’80 & ’85, and that’s not even counting the original Scoop collection of demos or the two ’80s Who albums (which aren’t great but were very important for me at the time). Good point about his/their live albums paling in comparison to Live At Leeds. The only thing that exceeded that record was…the expanded version of Live At Leeds. Haha.

      Like

  7. Phillip Helbig
    September 29, 2016

    “Although he had released a few albums in the ‘70s, many people from my generation first discovered his solo work via 1980’s brilliant Empty Glass, which we assumed was his debut.”

    Pun intended?

    I saw The Who (or what is left of them) on 10 September in Oberhausen. The band included Simon Townshend, Pino Palladino, and Zak Starkey. Zak managed to emulate Keith Moon quite well. I had a first-row seat in the balcony, looking in from the side at about the front of the stage. This allowed me to see more of the drummer than is usually the case.

    Trivia: Townshend has been playing the same guitar—a red “Eric Clapton” Stratocaster (modified somewhat—there is an extra knob) for something like 30 years now. The guitar smashing was something I could never get into, and I’m glad he has stopped. Now if Maiden could just get rid of Eddie. 🙂 I still think a Les Paul is the best sound for The Who’s music (or, for the really early, pre-perm days, a Rickenbacker).

    A good show. Even the opening act, Slydigs, weren’t bad.

    I have a few Who albums. A good friend was (still is?) a huge Who fan and has them all (in a box set called Phases). Some good music, and I like Townshend’s idea of being a guitar hero but almost never playing a solo.

    I’m glad that I was too late to buy a front-row (or at least somewhere near the front) ticket on the floor, since everyone stood up as soon as they came on. What a bummer if one had, say, a third-row ticket and expected to be able to comfortably enjoy the show. (At a recent Gilmour concert, security got the people who had stood up to sit down.) It seems to me that if numbered seats are sold, then it should be a requirement that security keep people seated.

    During “My Generation”, the big screen showed the audience. Appropriate, but that is not how the song was intended. Which reminds me:

    Like

    • Phillip Helbig
      September 29, 2016

      By the way, fans of hard rock should check out Axel Rudi Pell. Saw him on 13 September. Like Rainbow and that sort of thing? Check him out. He’s had Johnny Gioeli on vocals for a while, whom I found perfect for the music, despite not looking the part (which Axel definitely does). Bobby Rondinelli is now on drums. He has aged gracefully, still has the gong, and is still a good player.

      Last night a three-act power metal show. First band, Hammerschmitt (apparently big Kiss fans, though this isn’t that noticeable in their show), were OK, but a bit generic. The next, SinBreed, were technically better, but a bit too speed-metal for my taste. The third, Serious Black (not sure if this is a nod to Harry Potter) is a sort of supergroup of various people who have played or still play in similar bands. Quite good if you like that sort of thing. Check them out.

      Like

      • Thanks for the musical recommendations, Phillip. I already have a long list of artists to check out, as well as a huge pile of recently purchased albums that are waiting to be played when my house renovations are complete and I have a music room again, but I take your suggestions into account. For example, I enjoyed Maiden UniteD on Spotify last week.

        Like

    • Hi Phillip. That was an unintended pun so thanks for pointing it out. I usually try to come up with puns so I love when they come out like that.

      I’m glad you enjoyed your recent Who show. I saw them in ’82, ’89, ’96 and around 2000, prior to John Entwistle’s death. That last show was by far the best. Townshend played like a man possessed, and it was the closest I came to seeing the original Who lineup since Starkey did such a great Moon impression.

      Thanks for the guitar info. Very interesting. The guitar smashing made sense at the time, since it was all about aggression, but I’m glad they stopped doing it eventually.

      I’m all for sitting down at shows, and it has nothing to do with my age (I’m 50 now). I’ve hated standing at concerts since I was young. Sure, certain shows will get you on your feet at times, but it shouldn’t involve blocking other people’s view.

      That performance of “My Generation” is awesome. So glad you shared it.

      Like

  8. Alvaro Almeida
    September 29, 2016

    Great vinyl. I bought it at a used record shop in New Orleans. Saved it for Later and After the Fire are my favorites.

    Like

    • Hi Alvaro. I also had this on vinyl. Bought it the week it was released. Years later I replaced it with the CD version. I agree that those two songs are really special. Thanks for stopping by.
      Rich

      Like

  9. 80smetalman
    September 29, 2016

    I overlooked this album and also now regret never seeing The Who or Pete Townsend live. “Barefootin'” I remember that song as a kid growing up in the 60s. Now I feel old.

    Like

  10. I’m not quite sold on Pete as an R’n’B frontman but Simon Phillips sounds fantastic on this material. Have long wanted to hear this project so thanks for jolting my memory.

    Like

    • Matt, other than the first song, “Barefootin’,” Pete’s not really an R’n’B frontman here. Most of the songs are either Pete solo or killer full-band versions. With Gilmour on lead guitar and the ambidextrous Simon Phillips on drums, the musicianship is amazing. I hope you love it if/when you check it out.

      Like

  11. David H
    October 5, 2016

    Live albums in the late 70s & early 80s were my gateway into a few of my favorite bands. Live Rust, Live at Budokan, One For the Road got me into Neil Young, Cheap Trick & The Kinks. Can’t believe I’ve never heard of this Pete Townshend live album! All the Best Cowboys got me through high school (that & Quadrophenia & London Calling.) Hey, I only recently found out that North Country Girl is basically Bob Dylan’s Girl From the North Country.

    But I digress. Google Music has Deep End Live. I’ll give it a listen while my old bones are exercising today. Thanks.

    Like

    • Hi David. I had similar experiences with those live albums in the ’70s & ’80s. They were gateways to a lot of artists’ catalogs. Glad we agree about All The Best Cowboys. That album still impresses me all these years later. I hadn’t made the connection between “North Country Girl” and that Dylan song other than the titular similarities, but will listen more carefully next time to see if the lyrics connect the two.

      I hope you enjoy Deep End Live. As I mentioned in the post, the album will likely just whet your appetite for the full show, which is on the live video and an expanded CD released through Pete’s website.

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Rich

      Like

  12. Hank
    October 27, 2016

    For what it’s worth:

    I believe that this album is now officially out of print. The recent CD/DVD release “Face The Face” is of a compltely different show from this era, recorded at Cannes and featuring the same band as in the original Brixton concert heard on “Deep End Live” and released to VHS back in the ’80’s.

    The issue with the Brixton show extends to the fact that the master tapes were owned by King Biscuit, which sold all of its holdings to Wolfgang’s Vault back in the late 2000’s. Therefore, I believe that the Brixton show can currently be seen and heard via streaming over at the Concert Vault website, but a disagreement over licensing has apparently prompted Pete to allow “Deep End Live”, as well as the Eel Pie expanded 2-disc release of the show sold on his website, to go out of print, and to substitute the the new “Face The Face” CD/DVD in its place.

    As to the negative reputation regarding the 2-disc Eel Pie release (the official title is “Live: Brixton Academy ’85”), I, frankly, don’t understand the griping. It’s a shame that the Eel Pie release is all but impossible to find these days, but I managed to acquire a copy and am extremely grateful to have been able to do so–it may well be the rarest Townshend CD out there, rarer than the 3″ CD single from 1989 for “I Won’t Run Any More” (with Pete’s demo for “Dig”) and the CD included with the 1993 book about the “Tommy” broadway show containing Pete’s solo version of “I Believe My Own Eyes”. The “White City” album and the “Deep End” shows were truly a career high point for Pete.

    Like

    • Thanks for the info, Hank. It’s a shame that the original album AND the 2-disc Eel Pie edition are both out of print. I’m glad I still have my VHS copy of the show, and I think I even have an audio version copied to a cassette. I just listened to the Face The Face CD again earlier this week. It’s very good but doesn’t have quite the same punch as the Brixton show. Not sure if it’s due to the performance or just the sound of the recording. Haven’t had a chance to watch the DVD yet. I wonder if I’ll like it more than the audio version.

      I agree that this era was one of the high points of his career, solo & with The Who.

      Like

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