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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Damn the Tinnitus:
The Who breathe new life into old rock

WATCHING THE THREE remaining Who members perform Quadrophenia at the San Jose Arena Sunday was like watching an exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame spring to life. Unlike the Rolling Stones, the Who has maintained its dignity, focusing on bringing the past to perfection instead of rehashing it. Pete Townshend performed acoustic duties, sans earplugs. Roger Daltrey, packed in a Body by Jake, whipped his microphone in huge windmills. John Entwistle was the rock, extending "5:15" to 6:15 with an amazing bass solo. Phil Daniels revived his role as Jimmy from the movie with pill-popping authenticity. Billy Idol did his best to revive the Ace Face, the mod king, though his recent career turmoils would make him perfect for the Gary Glitter role, the washed-up Godfather.

The main task fulfilled, the Who followed Quadrophenia with an impromptu run through Tommy, Lisztomania and McVicker. Just kidding. They did reform for some hits: an acoustic "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Who Are You?" Townshend strapped on a Stratocaster and peeled off a plucky solo. The man has already lost 75 percent of his hearing, what's another 25 percent?

On a historical note, Townshend poured his heart into Quadrophenia, but the public initially dismissed it. Townshend took the rebuff personally. To Americans in the '70s, the references were too British, the themes too cerebral, the music too schizophrenic--or quadrophenic--to comprehend. The 1996 full-stage recreation of Quadrophenia redeems the piece as a thrilling excoriation of life and self. The tour fulfills Townshend's dream of seeing it performed live, in its entirety, with full accompaniment. He can die happy now, and so can the crowds who saw the performance.

From the Local Bin

I went into a nearby music emporium recently to check the local-music selection and shuddered from embarrassment. No names, but why is it that the most market-savvy bands make the least interesting music? Here are some hits and misses from the latest mailbag.

10Bass T/"10Bass Hit"/San Jose Sound Recording
Three DJs re-interpret the first single from Do You Know the Way?. Shuffle Inc. (Julius Papp and DJ Jay J) turns the number into an instrumental ass-jazz joint with warm organs and trumpet. New vocals space out Selector G's ambient touches. Bad Boy Jess and Selector G donate a redundant house mix. "Some Say We're Spanish" and "Hip-hop Culture" fill out the rest. I'm glad to see it, but already I'm fiending for new material.

Mystik Journeymen/Escape Forever/Outhouse Records
"Escape Forever"--three tracks recorded during a recent tour of Japan--offers another twist on the Mystik landscape of low-level boom and scrape. The title track presents itself in the manner of an X-Files scenario, with BFAP and PSC as Mulder and Scully trying to discover the secrets to life, extraterrestrial and others. "L.I.E." is a scathing indictment of a soulless major-label music industry. Extra vocal assistance is provided by Rino, an adept rapper from the Lampeye crew in Japan.

Sunfur/Another Reflection/Ritual
Sunfur sings of reaching higher plains, but maybe I wasn't concentrating hard enough. The spirit of the '60s blows through this six-song CD like a thick waft of patchouli. "Weed" steals a page from Sly's soul and funk and relocates it to Santa Cruz. "Bees & Butterflies" is heavy on earnestness and percussion, as is "Letters." It took the bonus track, a guitar-based groove called "On High," to get me remotely interested. On the surface, Sunfur is a group of talented guys who can sing a hearty tune and play their instruments. But like President Clinton, I hit it a couple times and didn't feel anything.

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From the October 24-30, 1996 issue of Metro

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