For awhile there, ol' Pete had a pretty nifty solo career going. Who Came First, his 1972 solo debut, sidestepped comparisons to the Who by tackling spiritual themes with low-key charm, qualities that resurfaced on Rough M... more »ix, his wonderful 1977 duo record with Ronnie Lane. Then came Empty Glass, which was both grand and successful, like peak Who. From then on, Townshend's been mostly grandiose and unsuccessful. Meaning this solo overview ain't half bad and is mostly very good. --Steven Stolder« less
For awhile there, ol' Pete had a pretty nifty solo career going. Who Came First, his 1972 solo debut, sidestepped comparisons to the Who by tackling spiritual themes with low-key charm, qualities that resurfaced on Rough Mix, his wonderful 1977 duo record with Ronnie Lane. Then came Empty Glass, which was both grand and successful, like peak Who. From then on, Townshend's been mostly grandiose and unsuccessful. Meaning this solo overview ain't half bad and is mostly very good. --Steven Stolder
Adam B. (Cavemanmusic) from NORTHAMPTON, MA Reviewed on 6/30/2011...
I've always found Mr Townshend's solo ventures to be a mixed bag of results at est so a compliation record seemed like a no brainer. Well, some obsucure gems were missed while a couple tracks should have been left off. It is the best of and not greatest hits so I think there may have been a little more room for creativity. That said, this is quite an enjoyable listen and a worthy investment if you like some stuff but are not a dedicated fan (although I guess if you are dedicated enough, you'll own this just to have it).
Great Collection of Pete Townshend's Solo Career
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 09/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can't say I have been the biggest Who or Peter Townshend fan, but lately more and more I find myself really getting into his music. One thing that really brings a great appeal to his music are two things: 1) The Concept/Theme Album - nobody does this better than Townshend; 2) Townshend has never felt he has had to follow the "formula" in the music business. As for the Concept/Theme albums, I think Pete's work really proves he is more han a songwriter and a performer, but a true musician. A Pete Townshend album can prove to be a viable piece of entertainment like any movie or program. As for not following the "formula", Pete isn't afraid to try new things and new directions. This is something that more people in the music industry need to do. This particular CD "The Best of Pete Townshend: coolwalkingsmoothtalkingstraightsmokingfirestoking" isn't going to provide a theme. To get a theme, you are going to need to explore Pete's individual works. However, you are going to get a good taste for how Pete Townshend has shown he can do things his own way. As you listen to his songs, you will really see how each of Pete's songs is basically a soundtrack for their corresponding album.
The collection includes 13 songs from previous Pete Townshend albums. There is also an unreleased song called "Uneasy Street" as well as new remixed version As for the previous works, "The Best of Pete Townshend" does a nice job at spreading the wealth among Pete's solo albums. "Empty Glass" leads the way with three songs ("Rough Boys", "Let My Love Open the Door" -original version, and "A Little is Enough"). "Rough Mix" has two songs ("Misunderstood", "Street In the City"), "White City - A Novel" has two songs ("Give Blood", "Face the Face"). "The Iron Man" has one song ("A Friend is a Friend"). "Who Came First" has two songs ("Sheraton Gibson", "Pure and Easy"), "All The Best Cowboys" have two songs ("Slit Skirts", "The Sea Refuses No River"). "Psychoderelict" has one song ("English Boy"). I was disappointed that "White City" and "Psychoderelict" were not better represented on this collection. I was also disappointed that some of the work done from Townshend's "Scoop" album series were not included on this collection either.
This collection does not chronicle Pete's work in chronological order. From looking at how the songs are arranged on the album, there doesn't appear to be any theme or logic to how they were ordered on the collection. The only logic is that the unreleased tracks are saved for the end. Although it doesn't seem like a big deal to satisfy my preference for chronlogical ordering, I would expect Pete to try to assemble some theme or logic to this collection.
The selections on this collection speak for themselves. My all time favorite solo Pete Townshend track is "Face the Face". This is as good of a song as any. If I can say something good about the ordering is that "A Little Is Not Enough" precedes "Face the Face". "A Little is Not Enough" is a terrific song . Although it is from a different album and has a vastly different feel than "Face the Face", the ending of "A Little is Not Enough" has perfect segue into "Face the Face". "Face the Face" is the full unedited version. I look at this song having one of the greatest introductions of any song ever. It starts out with some soft bass and piano play, then you hear a horse galloping slowly down a city street. Then a drum beat follows picking up the tempo. Following those parts, the pace switches again and the drum beat gets louder. You hear the "Face the Face" backing vocals, then Pete then launches into his vocals "You must have heard the cautionary tales..." The rest of the song is just a terrific ensemble with horns and guitar with give this song the theatrical, beyond-music feel that so much of Pete's work has.
I'll give mixed reviews to the new material. "Uneasy Street" is a very well written and crafted song by Pete. This was a song that was supposed to be on the "Psychoderelict" album, but never made it on there. I can see how this song could have fit into the story of Ray High (the character in "Psychoderelict"). It isn't a bad song and does have a storytelling element to it. In the liner notes, Townshend explains why he left this song off of "Psychoderelict". The worst song in this collection is the remixed version of "Let My Love Open the Door". The collection also includes the original version and that is the only one I listen to. The remix of the song brings a softer, calmer element to the song. However, I thought what made "Let My Love Open the Door" such a great song was a combination of a great beat, tempo, and instrumentation. The remix of this song takes a lot of the life out of the song.
There are no lyrics included in the liner notes. I would have liked to see lyrics included because Townshend is such a great songwriter. I would have especially liked to get lyrics for "Uneasy Street" - the new song. However as mentioned above, Pete doesn't follow a "formula" - and this collection is no different. What you do get is a writeup in which Pete Townshend describes in conversation (to someone named John Pidgeon) each of the tracks on this album. I find this extremely valuable and you will get some terrific insights into Pete's music.
All in all, this is a very good collection. This does a great job at providing Pete's work. For the new Townshend fan - start here and then move to his concept albums. The seasoned Who and Townshend fan may find this overkill."
A legendary guitarist and his mixed bag of solo mateial
R. Gorham | 02/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE BAND: Pete Townshend (guitar, lead vocals)... and an assortment of players over the decades including - John "Rabbit" Bundrick (keyboards), Simon Townshend (guitar), Jon Carin (guitar, keyboards), Pino Palladino (bass), Kenney Jones (drums), Simon Phillips (drums), Doug Sandom (drums), and Zak Starkey (drums).
THE DISC: (1996) 15 tracks clocking in at just over 70 minutes. Included with the disc is a 5-page foldout containing song titles/credits/times, a brief paragraph from Townshend about each song, several photos of Townshend over the decades, what song came from which album and the year released. This compilation covers his solo career from 1972-95. Digitally remastered sound. Label - Atlantic.
ALBUM REPRESENTATION: Who Came First (2 songs), Rough Mix (2), Empty Glass (3), All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (2), White City (2), Iron Man/Musical (1), Psychoderelict (1), Unreleased (2).
COMMENTS: Pete Townshend's solo career is a total mixed bag of hits and misses. Outside of "Empty Glass" (1980) and perhaps "White City" (1985)... not one album stands out as a must have. Townshend has a few compilations out there - most notably "Definitive" (17 tracks in chronological order) released in 2007, and the extensive 2-disc "Gold" (with 34 songs) released in 2005. This "Coolwalkingsmoothtalking..." is very close in track selection to "Definitive", but the songs on this mix are not in order of year released... which in my opinion hurts it. THE GOOD: All the staples (though in reality, not many) of Townshend's solo career are here - "Rough Boys", "Give Blood", "Face The Face", "Slit Skirts", "Let My Love Open The Door", "Sheraton Gibson", etc. The minor hits are covered well - including "Misunderstood", "Pure And Easy" and "Street In The City". Townshend's acoustic guitar work on "Pure And Easy" and "Sheraton Gibson" really stands out... not to mention the piano at the end of "Friend Of A Friend", and the orchestra in "Street In The City". The remastered sound is top notch - sounds like all the songs were recorded within the last year... not decades ago. The words written in the liner notes from Townshend are great insights to the songs (including things going on during the recording, stories and intentions of each). THE NOT SO GOOD: As mentioned previously, Townshend's solo material is hit and miss... up and down... fast and slow... good and bad. The songs on this compilation are for the most part slow and safe and unlike anything he did with The Who. I loved the rebel, the windmill guitar antics, the shredding solos, the blazing energy. Outside of only a few rocking songs ("Rough Boys" and Face The Face" being the best upbeat tunes of the lot) you won't find many power chords here. In fact, many of the songs here are closer to Fleetwood Mac's catalog of music, than The Who's. The lyrics on some of Townshend's solo material are downright weird... "Give Blood" (I can see this working if he was writing this for the Red Cross), "A Friend Is A Friend", and "The Sea Refuses No River" to name a few. History has shown it's extremely hard for an musician to go out on his own and sustain a career as a solo artist after so many years belonging to a most famous and powerful rock band. The key word here is 'sustain'. There are a few exceptions (i.e. - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Phil Collins, Ozzy, and Sting to name a few), but for every solo artist that's made it, you could name twice as many that simply couldn't hold onto the success they had outside of their main band (i.e. - Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Paul Rodgers, Slash, Ian Anderson, Jerry Garcia, David Gilmour, Ian Gillan, Keith Richards, Jerry Cantrell, etc). I must put Pete Townshend in the latter of the two groups... he's had a taste of success over the decades as a solo artist, but the hits are/were simply too few and far between. His solo material simply is not on par with anything ever written and performed by The Who... Townshend and Roger Daltry had a chemistry together that has since been unmatched. OVERALL: Some very good songs here all presented in their remastered glory. Great for those interested in the better songs and not wanting to invest in the individual releases. There is one studio album that stands above the rest... "Empty Glass" - look for the remastered edition with bonus tracks. This "Coolwalkingsmoothtalking..." is a nice introduction... dandy to have a taste of Townshend's solo material all in one place even if it is hit and miss (4 stars)."
A must have
Guylaine Le Ber | St-Hubert, Qc | 11/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is the cheapiest new CD I ever bought (5.99 $cad). Nobody can't afford not to have it.I don't know, I always been fascinated by the guy, I like his dynamism, he seems to have so much fun in doing what he does in his work with The who and in his solo carreer.His best song are on there "Face the face", "Give blood", "Let my love open the door", "Rough boys" and the rest is not to be neglected."
A man I would love to meet
R. Gorham | 04/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Pete Townshend to me has always been one of the most interesting people in the entertainment (let alone Rock-n-Roll) business. His lyrics are usually great, and his musical horizons are constantly expanding. I have never liked the label "Best of.." because that is subjective to each and every listener. I have all of Petes solo work and STILL bought this CD. I would replace a couple songs with choices that reflect my taste, but this collection is a fabulous overview of a legendary and brilliant musician/songwriter!"