Album review: PETE TOWNSHEND’s DEEP END – Face The Face


Eagle Rock [Release date 16.09.16] CD/DVD

Back in 1985/86 Pete Townshend played a number of promotional/benefit gigs on the back of his 1985 solo concept album White City: A Novel – a bleak cultural observation of life on a West London housing estate – with the music for the track ‘White City Fighting’ supplied by David Gilmour.  That track may not feature on this collection of tracks from the album although Gilmour does, as does a cover of ‘Blue Light’ from his own 1984 About Face album.

Recorded for the German Rockpalast TV series, and released for the first time on either CD or DVD, the band line up, as well as Townshend and Gilmour, features Peter Hope-Evans (harmonica), Chucho Merchan (bass), Simon Phillips (drums), John Rabbit Bundrick (keyboards), and Jody Linscott (percussion) together with horns and backing vocalist sections.

Aficionados may already have the abridged Deep End Live! 1986 album containing excerpts from the band’s November 1985 Brixton Academy dates (or, indeed the never released to DVD, VHS), and/or the 2004 released Live: Brixton Academy ’85 which included the full 27 tracks played.

Whilst the Rockpalast gig – recorded in the South Of France – is culled largely from the same setlist, there are three tracks not featured on the earlier releases – ‘Slit Skirts’, ‘Hiding Out’, and ‘Rough Boy’s.  And running out at a respectable 87 minutes (even if four minutes are ‘lost’ to a drum/percussion solo amidst Gilmour’s ‘Blue Light’), the DVD manages to also squeeze in a cover of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ – a track omitted from the CD.  But otherwise the CD/DVD content and running orders are identical.

Visually, the screen format has been left at the original 4:3, and it’s scary what ravages the passing of just 30 years can have – Townshend and Gilmour are wrinkle free, have [relatively] full heads of hair and move with a long gone freedom.

The set is nicely organic – something else you don’t see much of these days – and sound wise, the use of horns (de rigueur in the mid-eighties) and backing vocalists make the project a very different beast to The Who, adding a fresh twist to favourites like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.

Contemporaneous material like ‘Give Blood’, from the White City album is vibrant and Townsend is – as he always is – suitably maniacal.  He handles lead vocals particularly well – the acoustically driven ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ is poignant, and ‘I Put A Spell On You’ suitably bluesy thanks to the playing of Gilmour and Peter Hope Evans.

All in all, a top notch display all round, and an essential purchase for Who/Townshend fans, and well worth a gander for anyone with a passing interest.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.

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