So Who's the Bass Player: The Ox Anthology
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4
Written by John Metzger
Given that The Who was largely a vehicle for Pete Townshend’s compositions, there were inherent limitations on how many songs John Entwistle could contribute to each outing that the group produced. As a result, he initially embarked upon a solo career as a means of utilizing his excess material. Not surprisingly, the selections on the 2-disc, 38-track retrospective So Who’s the Bass Player: The Ox Anthology that were culled from these initial forays hold a distinctive, Who-inflected hue. In fact, many of these tunes — My Size, Ten Little Friends, and Who Cares?, among them — would have fit quite comfortably within the repertoire of Entwistle’s primary outfit.
As his work outside The Who continued, however, the quality of Entwistle’s recordings began to decline, and because So Who’s the Bass Player: The Ox Anthology offers such a comprehensive overview of the enigmatic bass player’s varied side projects, it, too, suffers considerably as it trudges through the years. The bulk of the material that was re-worked from The Who’s canon offers little in the way of new insight; only Heaven and Hell is given a different arrangement, and it’s an inferior one, at that. Even worse, as his attention shifted from twisted ’50s parodies like Do the Dangle and Roller Skate Kate to the Phil Spector-ish pop of Mad Dog to the bland monotony of Life After Love, the compilation understandably follows the trajectory, becoming increasingly tedious in the process. Nevertheless, the final four tunes, all of which were plucked from Entwistle’s final studio effort Music from Van-Pires, are an utter resurgence, and as a result, they provide a bittersweet glimmer of the hope that was cut short by his untimely death just a few months shy of his 58th birthday.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box