Tox Tunes #58: Acid Queen (The Who)

April 29, 2012, 9:00 pm

I never really was a fan of The Who’s rock opera Tommy. Part of the problem was that the very term “rock opera” reeked of pretension. Another big impediment was the story, the beginning of which is summarized in Wikipedia as follows:

British Army Captain Walker is reported missing, and is believed dead. His widow, Mrs. Walker, gives birth to their son, Tommy. Years later, Captain Walker returns home and discovers that his wife has found a new lover. Captain Walker confronts the two, and the lover is subsequently killed in the struggle. To cover up the incident, Tommy’s parents tell him that he didn’t see or hear it, and that he will never tell anyone about the incident. Traumatised, Tommy subsequently becomes blind, deaf and mute. Now in a semi-catatonic state, Tommy’s subconscious manifests as a figure dressed in silvery robes who guides him on a journey of enlightenment. Years pass, and Tommy becomes a young man, now interpreting physical sensations as music.
During Christmas, Tommy’s parents worry that his soul is at risk of damnation, since he is unaware of Jesus or prayer. One day, Tommy is left alone with his cousin Kevin, who bullies and tortures him for his own amusement. A pimp referred to as “the Hawker” is introduced and peddles his prostitute’s sexual prowess, reputed to heal the blind, the deaf and the mute. Tommy is ultimately taken to this woman, who calls herself the Acid Queen, and she tries to coax Tommy into full consciousness with hallucinogenic drugs and sex. When this does not work, Tommy’s parents reluctantly leave him temporarily in the care of his Uncle Ernie, an alcoholic child molester. He takes this opportunity to abuse Tommy without fear of being caught. Eventually, Tommy is discovered to have a talent for pinball, and quickly defeats the local champion of the game.

Still, the double album had some undeniably great rock songs, including “Pinball Wizard” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.

Tina Turner also has a wickedly good version of “Acid Queen”:

 

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