December 25, 1989 12:00 PM

Pete Townshend

With Iron Man: The Musical, we had a record that was ugly and tragic just about any way you looked at it. As the esteemed leader of The Who, Townshend has had more success at creating concept albums than just about anyone in rock (with the possible exception of his coeval, Ray Davies of the Kinks). He even brought in guest vocalists John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone to help on this song cycle, which was inspired by Ted Hughes’s children’s book of the same name. Never mind Townshend’s expertise in the field. Never mind the source of inspiration or the hired help. This album is as dreary as it is pretentiously obtuse.

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