Following the final breakup of the glorious and tumultuous band that virtually defined his adult existence, one might expect Roger Daltrey to wax more profound than "Those were free and easy times.... I sense a danger/In running out on you." But his sixth solo album contains only one song, "Don't Talk to Strangers," that clearly alludes to the Who, and whatever strong feelings Daltrey may harbor on the subject are veiled in vague, ambivalent lyrics.
Two decades of immense stardom should afford ample opportunity for individual expression, but Daltrey has managed to remain practically mute. After serving so long as the mouthpiece for one of rock's most self-obsessed auteurs that many mistook Pete Townshend's persona for his, Daltrey began making solo records in 1973, at least in part to dispel confusion. But, instead of establishing his own character, he has continued to rely on others, letting a parade of bland songwriters play Cyrano de Bergerac for him.
Daltrey's uneven choice of material has often been disconcerting, but finding him reduced to covering Bryan Adams and John Parr is downright disheartening. In his favor, Daltrey does open Under a Raging Moon with Pete Townshend's powerful "After the Fire," a new tune given a strong, familiar performance. Parr's entry is the heartfelt title track, a clunky, roaring number that mourns Keith Moon with more sentiment than clarity. A bombastic hodgepodge salvaged by a passionate vocal, "Under a Raging Moon" unabashedly quotes "Baba O'Riley" and in an old-fashioned bit of showboating employs seven drummers, including Stewart Copeland, Carl Palmer and Martin Chambers, each of whom plays a section of the elegy.
With punchy, appropriately modern sound courtesy of producer Alan Shacklock, substantial energy and a few tantalizing flashes of excitement, Under a Raging Moon provides another solidly ordinary showcase for one of rock's most distinctive voices. (RS 462)
(Posted: Dec 5, 1985)