It's best to completely ignore the liner notes on this album - they're just Townshend trying his hand at poetry. Why do rock stars think because they can dash off a good song lyric, that automatically makes them capable of literary writing? Even a guy as intelligent as Townshend, whose IQ is considerably higher than your typical rock star, is an embarassment when he relies solely on his pen.
As for the album's music, it's mainly still prime. An early-80's over-reliance on synthesizers hurts the overall sound, but the songwriting itself is still sharp, insightful, humanely compassionate, and occasionally brilliant.
Despite a few 'poetic' clunkers, the lyrics are among Townshend's best - first person narratives that seem to be based on real people - it's hard to imagine how Daltrey could've sang these songs with the proper subtlety and vulnerability. Perhaps that's why Townshend didn't hand them over to The Who; certainly at this point, he was saving all his best material for his solo albums.
"Uniforms" is yet another interesting study of youth subcultures (something Americans don't really have), and the rocker "Slit Skirts" novelly examines a middle-aged relationship with the kind of frank honesty only Townshend could muster.
"Exquisitely Bored" is another interestingly observed sociological treatise that contains one of Townshend's best chorus melodies, and the catchy "Stop Hurting People" (despite its strained metaphors) and "Somebody Saved Me" are also highlights.
Don't be put off by the pretentions, because there's some quite good music to be found here.Rated:
by Reviewer: Creative Noise
(blogging at Creative Noise