As we approach the second quarter of 2002, rock music fans have learned that this year is shaping up to be a banner year for ancient rock and roll acts, most notably the Who, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.  (We won’t count Bob Dylan since he’s always on tour anyway). 


I thought it would be fun and worthwhile to speculate about what we might expect from these old geezers as they trudge out again to prove that you can rock and roll into your sixties…     Let’s take them one at a time:


The Who -  Bless that pointed little head of Pete Townshend.  As he continues to amass millions of dollars in commercial residuals for whoring out one of his greatest songs (“Bargain”) to a Japanese car company, the man with the windmill arm has decided to continue his charitable activity as tour master to one of the greatest rock bands that ever hit the stage.  Charitable?  Well, it’s a charity to his fellow band mates who don’t have Townshend’s publishing income of the Who’s extraordinary material.  Plus, Pete has had success on Broadway, solo efforts and other smart business dealings.  Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle, on the other hand, were rumored to be pawning their ‘Who’s Next’ and ‘Tommy’ Gold Records to pay their children’s college tuition.  To the rescue came Brother Pete who agreed two summers ago to hit the road with the band again.   What set that tour apart from all the other Who reunions since the early eighties was that Townshend decided to play electric guitar again and  -  despite his age  - brought back the power and passion of the best Who performances from the early seventies.  Can they pull it off again like they did in 2000?  One can only hope.  There was talk in 2000 about the band entering into the studio to produce some new material before hitting the road again, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  From reading his journal entries on the last tour at his website (an exercise I hope he will continue through this tour as well), the mercurial Townshend was clearly conflicted about his involvement with this monster he created called the Who.  Perhaps there’s too many jobs and too many signed contracts at risk for him to up and quit mid-tour, but nothing would surprise me.  


Paul McCartney -  Sir Paul is hitting the road on the heels of a mediocre album, but he’s exploiting a moment in time where he has drawn even more attention than usual simply by being a former member of the Beatles.  A follow-up to the smash hit “1” is sure to come soon, and Beatle songs are everywhere, from soundtracks (“I Am Sam”) to commercials (H&R Block using George Harrison’s “Taxman”).  But the death of Harrison in November reminded all of us (as if we needed to be reminded) that the Beatles made timeless music that continues to provide the soundtrack to our collective memories and experience.  The point of all that attention, however, was that George Harrison was the underdog architect of much of the music, constantly overshadowed by the stronger personalities of the mighty Lennon and McCartney.  Yeah yeah yeah, Paul wrote some of the best songs from the Beatle arsenal, but his overall image has suffered greatly in the past decade.  Paul was the one that didn’t show up at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of the Beatles in the late 80’s, claiming that his business dealings with the other two and Yoko Ono were unresolved.  A more recent mis-step of Paul’s was sending fans an email professing praise and condolences about Harrison’s death just a week or two after his passing.  Then, in one of the most audacious moves I’ve ever seen, reminded his fans in the very next paragraph to pick up his new album!   In addition, I recently heard that Paul performed at an event in Liverpool honoring Harrison. What did he play?  “Yesterday”, a song associated exclusively to McCartney himself, in which Harrison had absolutely nothing to do with!  Couldn’t he learn the chords to “Here Comes the Sun”  “Long Long Long”, or another composition by his fallen comrade?  


Anyway, I’m sure Paul will put together a great band and put on a wonderful show in the spirit of his nostalgic-dripping tours he has embarked on in the not-too-distant past.   Let’s hope that this time out he pays appropriate props to George and John by playing some of their songs as well. 



The Rolling Stones -  OK, it’s their 40th anniversary..They’ve been a band since 1962.  Following in the footsteps of their Blues and R&B heroes, the Stones are still doing it in their sixth and seventh decades of life.  And, why not?  It’s only rock and roll, and they like the money.  Since 1989’s Steel Wheels show, their concert formula has been the same (reaching it’s peak in 1994 with Voodoo Lounge, and then expertly re-visited with 1997/98’s Bridges to Babylon and No Security outings). I can only hope that after all the touring they’ve done, they will finally be compelled to get rid of  7 or 8 songs from their war chest that have been driven to the ground after so many outings on the road.  Frankly, “Start Me Up”, “Tumbling Dice”, “Satisfaction”, “Honky Tonk Women” “Brown Sugar”, “Jumping Jack Flash”, and a handful of others should be permanently retired from the stage and the band can concentrate on other numbers from their gigantic catalog.  How nice it would be to hear Keith and Mick do some acoustic numbers; to hear some Blues and some of their more obscure material.  Hell, even some songs from Keith and Mick’s solo albums would be a bonus.  I doubt that will happen, but expect some surprises when the boys hit the road this Fall. 



 - - Benjamin Krepack