SUMMING UP “THE EMOTIONAL TRIALS AND TRAUMAS THAT YOU HAVE BY THE TIME YOU GET TO MY AGE,” ROGER DALTREY’S NINTH DISC IS PERHAPS HIS MOST PERSONAL, AND SURELY THE MOST SOULFUL

BY TIA KIM

It has been an astonishing 58 years since the West London skiffle band The Detours brought together Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Pete Townshend, with Daltrey actually making his own guitar in order to qualify for audition candidacy. In 1964, not long after Keith Moon joined the band, a move was made for a name change (disputably at Daltrey’s insistence), and the Who was born. Little needs to be said for the groundbreaking, genre establishing genius at work thereafter except perhaps that the group’s worldwide album sales total has recently crested 100 million, despite suffering the loss of Moon in 1978 and Entwistle in 2002.What’s often forgotten, however, is the steady solo presence of Daltrey, whose own hits over the course of eight studio albums include “Giving It All Away,” “Written on the Wind,” “Free Me,” “Without Your Love,” “After the Fire,” and “Under a Raging Moon.”

Due out on June 1, the 74 year old rocker’s ninth disk, As Long As I Have You, is, as he explained, “a return to the very beginning, to the time before Pete [Townshend] started writing our songs, to a time when we were a teenage band playing soul music to small crowds in church halls. That’s what we were…a soul band.”

Album Cover

Produced by Dave Eringa (famed for production for the Manic Street Preachers and on Roger and Wilko Johnson’s album, Going Back Home), the 11 track disc features Townshend guitar licks on seven songs, along with guest performances from Mick Talbot (Dexys, The Style Council) on keyboards and Sean Genockey (Suede, The Proclaimers) on lead guitar, and Townshend observed that it “shows Roger at the height of his powers as a vocalist.”

“I’ve always sung from the heart, but when you’re 19, you haven’t had the life experience, with all its trials and traumas, that you have by the time you get to my age,” Daltrey explained. “You carry all the emotional bruises of life, and when you sing these songs, those emotions are in your voice. You feel the pain of a lost love and you sing it…and that’s soul. For a long time, I’ve wanted to return to the simplicity of these songs, to show people my voice, a voice they won’t have heard before. It felt like the right time. It’s where I am, looking back to that time, looking across all those years, but also being here, now, in the soulful moment.”

The Who fans, meanwhile, won’t have long to wait for their own dose of the action, as Townshend, Daltrey, and backup musicians will perform a stage version of the band’s ground breaking album, Tommy, at Philadelphia’s Mann Center on June 19, and Daltrey’s as yet untitled memoir is scheduled to come out in the fall.

Mann Center for the Performing Arts
5201 Parkside Avenue, Philadelphia
manncenter.org