Finally picked up the reissue last week (I'm saving the good ones for the winter). This could truly be called a "transitional" record, in that it got Pete from the Who-ish Empty Glass to the visionary White City at the occasional expense of the listener. We get four truly great songs out of the deal, along with a few other decent cuts and some real clunkers.
Right from the start something smells funny with Chinese Eyes. "Stop Hurting People" is one of those songs that makes classic rockers uncomfortably glance around the room like somebody farted. Then Pete barrels us over with the too-long "Sea Refuses No River" for almost six minutes, complete with corny harmonica and over-intellectual phrasing. I always thought this song could have worked on Quadrophenia, but only with The Who's muscle behind it. The Butler/Phillips rhythm section is tight here (as always), but tight like an asshole instead of a left hook.
Just as you start walking over to put on the new Van Halen record (pretend it's 1982), "Prelude" brightens things for just long enough to make you sit back down. Then we're rewarded with "Face Dances Part Two"-- one of the great singles of the 80's. Pete nails it to the wall here (and in 5/4) for all time (I mean, when was the last time you actually danced to a song in 5/4? Don't gimme that Brubeck b.s.-- that's not really dancing.). Here's the marriage of 70's rock and 80's new wave that "Let My Love Open the Door" heralded two years back (try dancing to King Crimson and you'll sprain your damn ankle).
"Exquisitely Bored" is great, but then things return to the art-swamp. "Communication" pales in comparison to its future father "Face the Face", so don't even bother with it. In fact, check out "North Country Girl" and then skip to the end. No, not the crappy bonus tracks, the real last track.
"Slit Skirts" is easily one of Pete's top 20 moments (that's saying a lot). It's Who's Next for post-punk and post-everything. You can't fucking deny it. OK, there's at least one clunker of a line in there, but who cares? I sure don't.
Rating: 3 out of 5