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Image Entertainment presents
Pete Townshend: Music From Lifehouse (2002)

"Now might be the time to tell you what this is about. This is the music, just the music, from various parts and stages of the evolution of this story I've been carrying for thirty years called Lifehouse."
- Pete Townshend

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 26, 2002

Stars: Pete Townshend
Other Stars: John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Peter Hope-Evans, Jody Linscott, Chucho Merchan, Phil Palmer, Billy Nicholls, Chyna, Cleveland Watkins
Director: Hugo Currie and Toby Leslie

Manufacturer: Ritek
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:40m:09s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 014381117226
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-BB B-

DVD Review

There is no disputing Pete Townshend's place as a rock icon. He has an intensity that has diminished little since his early days with The Who over thirty years ago. Penning elaborate rock spectacles like Tommy and Quadrophenia is where Townshend has excelled, and he offered more dramatic depth in his music than that of a typical rock star. Even as Townshend aged, and his songwriting style matured, he drifted into well-received solo projects where he was still able to generate the same type of fire he did in the early days of The Who.One of Townshend's pet projects, which began in 1970, was something he called Lifehouse, which is chronicled here on this concert disc from Image. It was originally planned as a film that would be a mixture of science fiction, spirituality, eastern mysticism, rebellion and domination. The story of Lifehouse had thematic links to the then unknown concepts of virtual reality, webcasts and the Internet. As with many creative types, Lifehouse languished in development over the years, switching it from becoming a film to a theater experience, even as Townshend continued to write music for it, many of which are staples of The Who's songbook. Lifehouse, however, never became whole, and Townshend eventually suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of it.In 1996, the BBC produced a documentary on Lifehouse, and in 1999 a radio version was developed. With a renewed public interest in Townshend's tale, a concert, admittedly incomplete, was finally staged after thirty years in development. This disc was recorded in London on February 25th and 26th, 2000 at Sadler's Wells, and features the London Chamber Orchestra and a seven-piece band that includes longtime keyboardist for The Who, John "Rabbit" Bundrick.With this performance, Townshend does not try to come across as a young rocker, ala Mick Jagger. He is what he is, a well past middle-age man, albeit a rock elder, with a passion for music. While it might be disconcerting and more than a bit ironic for some to see an aged Townshend singing Won't Get Fooled Again, the song presentations are reworked and are revitalized by the inclusion of orchestral backing, as well as a surprising use of backing vocalist Chyna (not the wrestler) to carry the lead vocal chores at times. Love Ain't For Keeping uses all three backing vocalists on the lead, while Townshend remains silent.Townshend's voice has lost a little of it's edge and shows some strain when he tries to sing some of the faster rock tracks, as in Baba O'Riley. Yet during the more acoustic numbers, which are the majority here, his unique voice sounds as good as it did during The Who's finest hours. The one-two acoustic punch of Greyhound Girl and Mary will reinforce this easily. His work on Song Is Over is especially bittersweet, when one considers how important the entire Lifehouse project was and is to Townshend. Track List:Fantasia Upon One NoteTeenage WastelandTime Is PassingLove Ain't For KeepingGreyhound GirlMaryI Don't Know MyselfBargainPure And EasyBehind Blue EyesBaba O'RileyLet's See ActionGetting In TuneRelayJoin TogetherWon't Get Fooled AgainSong Is OverCan You Help The One You Really Love?

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, Image has come up with a clean, blemish-free transfer. Black levels are decent, but don't offer exceptionally deep shadow delineation. This is most notable on the backing musicians. The concert itself does not feature much in the way of dramatic stage lighting, but colors and fleshtones are natural, though the palette is limited. Minimal color bleed, which often occurs when concert lighting is captured on film.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Townshend's music is showcased on this disc by a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. The presentation is clean, but separation is not as pronounced as I would have hoped. At times the mix doesn't have as much depth as one would expect, especially when the full orchestra is backing Townshend. I really expected the percussion of Jody Linscott to provide more of a punch, but instead it doesn't match what I imagine it sounded like live. It's only during the quieter pieces, that feature one or two players, that this mix excels. An uncompressed PCM 2.0 track is also provided.A nice sounding disc. Just not perfect.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Production Notes
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The only extra is a six-page insert booklet that chronicles the history of Townshend's Lifehouse project. It provides a simple explanation of the background, and traces how even a big rock star like Townshend can have trouble getting an idea fully realized.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Familiar songs are given new life by a rock music legend. Presentation is simple, with minimal stage talk, and this disc does its best to relay the emotional impact Townshend's Lifehouse project.This is heartily recommended for fans of Townshend and The Who.


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