Pete Townshend on the subject of rock opera’s – obviously countering a previous wafer thin critique on the same by Sean O’Hagen. Rock Opera’s along with concept albums are still seen as fantastically naff ideas. How dare pop stars have these grandiose ideas. I disagree with much of what Townshend says here – though he certainly has something regarding the pretensions of the art school set. But as the man for who is responsible for much of the good and much of the bad that came out of rock operas his defence of rock operas themselves seem somewhat weak. On the other hand his justification and obvious pleasure in being involved in pop music does read rather well.

However for every three of Townshends lousy critic bating points he does manage to make the odd good one. Which is more than can be said of O’Hagen here. In a flimsy piece rife with the worst kinds of generalisations he appears to completely miss the point – both of rock operas and classical artists covering pop classics. Just as the critic is a consumer of pop music (and therefore will be occasionally hit by a song as Townshend puts it) so are musicians. They make their own music to try and satisify the search for that moment, and to cover that perfect song may be an attempt to personalise that moment. Their karaoke moment.

On balance it is certainly better to look at Tommy as an album that contains a number of good pop songs. Whilst there is certainly the defence that most classical operas have stupid plots too – the crux of the success and deification of a deaf, dumb and blind pinball player still stands up as one of the daftest stories ever written. Yet Quadrophenia while has a much better plot (for which read at least vaguely coherent), it also has the worse songs. Listening again though to some of the excesses of prog and concept albums there are still gems to be found within them. The strike rate of good track to bad is probably as good as on the non-concept albums. The bonus is that there is something for you to giggle at while you listen to those pop moments which may define your life.