Revisiting a mini-classic

I’ve been listening to a remastered version of Pete Townshend’s Empty Glass the past couple of days. I still have this album on vinyl but just picked it up on CD. It’s not a new reissue; it’s been around since 2006. But Townshend’s second solo effort from 1980 and probably his best is worth a listen.

emptyglass1Containing two of his most familiar tracks, Rough Boys and Let My Love Open The Door, both successful singles, the album is more pop-rock oriented than anything in his repertoire since the early days of the Who. But there is more than those signature tunes.

Jools And Jim and Cat’s In The Cradle join Rough Boys as the album’s hardest rocking tracks, while I Am An Animal and And I Moved are emblematic of the rest of the album’s more pop sensitivities, featuring Townshend’s capable yet fragile vocals. He often contrasts his hardest, grinding songs with softer, floating sections similar to Who compositions.

The record is somewhat reminiscent of Todd Rundgren, who Townshend appears to appreciate,  not similar in song composition or production but in Townshend’s instrumental contributions, which dominate the album with limited help from other musicians. It also has that pop flavor that Rundgren’s best efforts possess and a commitment to melody, the essence of all of Townshend’s song writing.

Interesting that it was apparently created during a particularly dark period for Townshend, in the wake of Keith Moon’s death and his own heavy reliance on alcohol.


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