Pete Townshend & Raphael Rudd
The Oceanic Concerts (Rhino Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Pianist/harpist Raphael Rudd and singer/songwriter/Who front man Pete Townshend played two Christmas shows for the Avatar Meher Baba community (Rudd & Townshend's spiritual leader) in 1979 and 1980. The results of these two shows, dubbed The Oceanic Concerts, have been brought to live, more than two decades after being lost in the vaults, for fans to finally indulge in.
Restored in 2000 by producer Jeremy Wilson, Raphael Rudd and Townshend quickly found a home for the album at Rhino.
Who fanatics will remember Rudd's name from arranger credits on Quadrophenia (he did the string arrangements for portions of the soundtrack) and horn arrangements on "Rough Boys" (from Townshend's debut solo album, "Empty Glass").
Stripping away the mod-rock that made Townshend a musical genius, and adding Rudd's majestic harp and piano wizardry, The Oceanic Concerts stand out as a bold piece of history. A must-have for Townshend/Who fans, as well as anyone familiar with Avatar Meher Baba, as his memory and good spirit lives in the instrumentation and words of the songs.
Hear Townshend belt out sweet acoustic Who classics such as "Drowned", "The Seeker", and "Bargain", three songs that never sounded more genuine and emotional. Or the first performance of "Let My Love Open The Door," a song that would later impress Townshend fans on his debut solo album.
Rudd is no slouch, either, keeping up with Townshend's poignant numbers with equally moving instrumentals such as the harp piece "Magic Grace" or the piano piece "Who Is Meher Baba?" The album closer, "O'Parvardigar", a song Townshend wrote based on a Meher Baba poem. Rudd and Townshend collaborate on this song, bringing to life a soon-to-be masterpiece. I'll give this an A.