Pete Townshend Couldn’t Save ‘Crap’ Lost ’70s Who Song
In a new interview with Mojo, the guitarist revealed plans for a graphic novel based on his overambitious Lifehouse concept but said it wasn’t possible to pursue the project that was cut down and turned into Who's Next in 1971.
Asked about plans for the never-realized work, Townshend responded: “I actually don’t have any. I mean, 2021 would have been the 50th anniversary of the Who’s Next album and a good opportunity to do a box set and to have conversations about it. But we missed it for obvious reasons. And so in 2022, there is a box set, and the box set is to some extent being perfumed by the fact that I've been working with a guy called Jeff Krelitz on a Lifehouse graphic novel, and we’re hoping that that will come out around the same time. There’s talk of a documentary, all of this stuff. It makes me want to run away!”
He added that "the record company had found a track they said was from the Lifehouse sessions,” Townshend noted. “This track, called ‘Ambition,’ had Keith Moon, John Entwistle and me playing on it. And then I found a demo that I had done at home with a vocal. So they were like, ‘Well, let’s just get Roger [Daltrey] to do a vocal on the version that the other guys in the band did, and we can add it to the record and it will be brand new.’ So I spent a week reconstituting or finishing off the demo, sent it to the record company, and they said, ‘Ahhhh, no ... maybe you could put it on a solo album?’ So I said, ‘Well, you know, there’s a reason it’s never been released before. It’s because it’s crap!’”
Townshend reflected that Lifehouse was based around “a possibility of a technological breakthrough which is part of a music album. And that’s what I still yearn to see happen, you know, whether I pull it off or whether somebody else pulls it off.” Turning to his efforts in that direction, he said: “I don’t think it’s possible now. … I think it was just the way I was thinking at the time. A lot of that was post-art school thinking.” He said he reunited with his former college lecturer, who's now teaching a concept called "telematics" - "electronic communication technology, but with the AI principle written into it. And one idea is that if machine learning grows quickly enough and elegantly enough, it will mean that love is introduced into computer machinery in such a way that much of what the human race does to destroy itself will be happily impeded!
“And in a sense, that was running behind Lifehouse, this absurdly huge idea which I wasn’t even able to get properly on paper. And, you know, for fuck’s sake, I was in a fucking rock band that used to throw televisions out of the window!”