Then & Now 1964-2004
Then And Now 1964-2004 may be the umpteenth compilation from the Who, but there's something special that sets it apart from its predecessors: new material. Pete Townshend has taken up his guitar and pen, and written two new Who songs, the first in over 20 years. Even better (you bet) is the fact that "Real Good Looking Boy" and "Old Red Wine" are not a couple of dim-witted knock-offs thrown together to make a quick buck. They may be the most hardest hitting tunes from the band since "The Real Me." Indeed, even as John Entwistle's surly bottom lines are sorely missed, bassists Pino Palladino (who came in three days after Entwistle's untimely death in Las Vegas and rode out all the scheduled dates for the 2002 tour) and Greg Lake (as in Emerson, Lake and Palmer) pick up the slack and help drive these songs home. Both are true showcases for drummer Zak Starkey, the Beatle son whom many claim is Keith Moon reincarnated without all the pageantry. He has, quite simply, reintroduced a vibrant edge to the Who. Townshend strikes a chord and you can almost feel the breeze emanating from his windmills. And Roger Daltrey sounds every bit as commanding as he did during the band's salad days. Before you get to the new stuff, you have to skip through 17 Who classics, most of which have appeared and re-appeared in multiple forms over the years. Most Who fans won't leave home without them. But make no mistake – the new tunes are the prize. If they serve as any indication of what the band is capable of, it will be all the more interesting to see what the Who of today can do over the course of a full album.
~ Shawn Perry