Archival rock ’n’ roll releases tend to bring out the cynics in listeners, especially if we’re talking yet another re-release of a hoary classic that you’ve probably already owned two or three times, or a companion volume to some live set. In the former category, we have yet another airing of the Who’s “Tommy,” this time souped up with Pete Townshend demos and a live rendering of the most famous — but far from first — rock opera. And in the what-the-hey-let’s-issue-a-follow-up-live set, we have the Beatles’ “On Air — Live at the BBC Volume 2,” following a mere 19 years after the original came out. Both offerings will be released Monday.
Bootleg collectors will already own the Townshend demos that are part of this whopper of a “Tommy” package. But if you’ve not heard these pre-productions, get ready to be fascinated by the degree to which Townshend had already worked out the Who’s sound well before drummer Keith Moon, vocalist Roger Daltrey, and bassist John Entwistle were pressed into service.