Pete Townshend - Psychoderelict

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Posted on Wed, 11/04/2015 - 2:48pm
by Ron Wallace

Member since: Sat, 01/24/2015

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Studio Album

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Album Overview

Psychoderelict is a concept album written, produced and engineered by Pete Townshend. Some characters and issues presented in this work were continued in Townshend's later opus The Boy Who Heard Music, first presented on The Who's album Endless Wire and then adapted as a rock musical.

This is Townshend's last solo album to date.


1English Boy5:08
2Meher Baba M33:31
3Let's Get Pretentious3:37
4Meher Baba M4 (Signal Box)2:23
5Early Morning Dreams3:55
6I Want That Thing3:58
7Dialogue Introduction To "Outlive The Dinosaur"0:33
8Outlive The Dinosaur3:25
9Flame (Demo)1:08
10Now And Then4:25
11I Am Afraid4:35
12Don't Try To Make Me Real3:00
13Dialogue Introduction To "Predictable"0:34

Written-By: Gavin Lewis
Written-By: Jaz Lochrie
Written-By: Josh Phillips-Gorse
Written-By: Mark Brzezicki
Written-By: Simon Townshend

16Meher Baba M5 (Vivaldi)2:36
17Fake It3:30

Written-By: Billy Nicholls
Written-By: Jon Astley
Written-By: Jon Lind

18Dialogue Introduction To "Now And Then (Reprise)"0:33
19Now And Then (Reprise)2:58
20Baba O'Riley (Demo)1:21
21English Boy (Reprise)7:04


Released in 1993, Psychoderelict is a rock opera conceived by Townshend in 1991 as the follow-up to The Iron Man, but despite having recorded several demos, a bicycle accident in September 1991 forced him to delay work on the album until his wrist was able to heal properly. It is structured more like a radio play than the more "traditional" rock operas Townshend had recorded both with The Who (TommyQuadrophenia and the unreleased Lifehouse album) and as a solo artist (White City and The Iron Man).

The album's central character is Ray High (real name Raymond Highsmith), a 60s rock star who has dwindled and turned into an alcoholic recluse. Ray's manager, Rastus Knight, worried at the rocker's dwindling bank account, attempts unsuccessfully to talk him into recording new material. Rastus complains about it to radio pop-music reporter Ruth Streeting, an outspoken critic of Ray's. Ruth says she has an idea "fire him up" and Rastus offers her a cut off the profits if she can do it.

Ruth sends Ray a letter posing as a fifteen-year-old girl named Rosalyn Nathan, who dreams of being a star. She includes in her letter an erotic polaroid of herself lying naked on her mother's grave when she was twelve. Ray responds to her immediately, calling the photograph "stunning" and telling her that they both "share complicated problems." He offers to help her if she will keep it a secret. He and "Rosalyn" exchange several letters, where Ray opens his heart about his insecurity, his life's past tragedies, and his insights into the relationships between the performers, the public, and the press. He sends her a tape of "Flame," a song he wrote for his secret "Gridlife" project. In his last letter he talks about Ruth Streeting, calling her "symbolic of the entire establishment" and saying "her disgust is the greatest motivator of the artist in me." He confesses that he has fallen in love with her. Ruth, now sleeping with Rastus, laughs about it while being spanked.

Ruth publishes the photograph in a her "porno pen-pal story," calling Ray a slime ball who took advantage of a young fan's innocence to solicit the photograph and "test out his weird theories." The resulting controversy drives the re-release of Ray's records to huge sales. Rastus is delighted. "Rosalyn's" version of "Flame," off of her new Ruth Streeting-produced album, becomes a huge hit. Ruth promotes Rosalyn as a "brilliant songwriter" while keeping the real writer of the song a secret, even from Rastus.

Ruth receives her cut of the profits, and Rastus is on seventh heaven, once again rolling in money. Ray, upset about Ruth's expose, confronts them both. Ruth accuses Ray of "manipulating" Rosalyn. Rastus says it all worked out for the best, they're back in calculator country. Ray insists that he was helping Rosalyn deal with a problem. Ruth insists Rosalyn never had a problem and all Ray did was "help her become a fucking star."

In a meeting with Ruth at a bar, Raymond springs the surprise that he has known all along that Ruth and Rosalyn are one in the same. It is heavily implied that Ruth fakes being attracted to Ray so that she can manoeuvre him into writing new material. Ruth, littering her language with endearments, is now producing "Gridlife" album, which contains a sample of the Who's famous "Baba O'Riley."

At the end of the play, Ray says that "Gridlife" was a vision, not a fiction, and that the apocalypse it foresaw is near. He wonders what happened to peace, love, and "all that hippie shit."


The album is a critical, perhaps satirical look at Townshend's own life: the dedication of his music to Meher Baba's teachings, and his Lifehouse project, which closely resembles the Gridlife project the Ray High character is working on. The album also makes use of Townshend's earlier song "Who Are You" which is sampled on the track "Meher Baba M4 (Signal Box)".

Only one single proper was released from the album: "English Boy", both non-dialogue and dialogue versions, was released with a variety of B-sides and non-album songs, including "Psycho Montage" (a collection of dialogue from the album) and "Electronic Wizardry" (written and recorded in 1970 as a potential track for The Who's unreleased Lifehouse album), as well as demos for "Flame" and "Early Morning Dreams". "Don't Try to Make Me Real", "Outlive the Dinosaur" and "Now and Then" were all issued to radio stations with dialogue excised. A previously unreleased track, "Uneasy Street", was later released on the 1996 Pete Townshend compilation The Best of Pete Townshend: Coolwalkingsmoothtalkingstraightsmokingfirestoking.

After slow sales of the initial dialogue intense release, a "music only" version was issued, though sales and reviews were still disappointing. Fan reception was divided: some felt that Townshend's ideas were too pretentious even for him, while others have embraced it as the first worthy concept since Who's Next. To date, it remains the final Pete Townshend solo album of all-original material, although further compilations have surfaced.

The Ray High character would resurface in 2005 as the central character in The Boy Who Heard Music, a novella written by Townshend for his Web site; and again the following year in Townshend's mini rock opera adaptation of that story, Wire & Glass. That mini-opera would become the centrepiece of The Who's comeback album Endless Wire.

Meher Baba instrumentals

There are four instrumental tracks which originated from Townshend's 1970–1971 synthesizer demos for The Who's album Who's Next. Some of these experiments were released as "Baba O'Riley" that year and as "Who Are You" in 1978. On Psychoderelict, the Meher Baba instrumentals appear in this order:

  • "Meher Baba M3": features a hypnotic synthesizer backing that may have been created specifically for this album. During this song, Ray High can be heard on a tape machine, listening through songs he had demoed as early as 1970 (an obvious allusion to Townshend trawling through his archives for Psychoderelict).
  • "Meher Baba M4 (Signal Box)": a heavier track that sounds similar to "Who Are You", though this song undoubtedly features overdubs recorded by the musicians Townshend employed for Psychoderelict.
  • "Meher Baba M5 (Vivaldi)": an upbeat arrangement with draws its inspiration from classical composer Vivaldi.
  • "Baba O'Riley (demo)": a demo recording of the classic Who track, this time with the "Irish jig" finale that would later feature a violin solo.


Psychoderelict family: Jeremy Allom, Jon Astley, Richard Barnes, Paul Bonnick, Ian Broudie, Mark Brzezicki, John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Chyna, Allan Corduner, Bruce Davies, Barry Diament Audio, Julie Duff of Anne Henderson Casting, Andrew Eccles, Nick Goderson, Linal Haft, Deirdre Harrison, Steve Hill, Peter Hope-Evans, Icon Communications, Nicola Joss, Kick Horns, Roger Knapp, John Labanowski, Jamie Lane, Dee Lewis, Gavin Lewis, Jody Linscott, Jaz Lochrie, Andy Macpherson, Billy Nicholls, Michael Nicholls, Tessa Niles, Phil Palmer, Josh Phillips-Gorse, Bob Pridden, Jan Ravens, Simon Rogers, Adam Seymour, Paul Stevens, Paul Townshend, Simon Townshend, Nigel Walker, Cleveland Watkiss, Suzy Webb, Lee Whitlock, Paul "Tubbs" Williams, Ian Wilson.


Art Direction: Melanie Nissen
Design [Booklet Design]: Frank Gargiulo
Design [Cover Design]: Tom Bouman
Mastered By: Barry Diament
Photography: Andrew Eccles
Written-By: Pete Townshend


Psychoderelict - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from -