Townshend, Pete, et al., The Iron Man (Twelve Songs from the Musical)

From Clockworks2
Jump to navigationJump to search

Townshend, Pete, et al. The Iron Man (Twelve Songs from the Musical by Pete Townshend). © Heavy Metabolics, 1989. Atlantic 81996-2. "All tracks written and produced by Pete Townshend, published by Heavy Metabolics Limited, except for 'Fire' . . . ." Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, Deborah Conway, featured. "Dig" and "Fire" by The Who, as "Special Guests." Based on the book by Ted Hughes (q.v. under Fiction).

Liner notes included opening chapter of Hughes's Iron Man. PT expands the story, adding characters and plot elements, including Woodland Creatures, soldiers. Changes include identifying the Iron Man explicitly as a "self-maintaining robot programmed to destroy any machinery or system that ultimately threatens man" (liner notes, list of Characters)—perhaps coming to mean all machinery (note Owl's song, "Man Machines"); the threat of a nuclear attack on the Iron Man; having the dragon threatening Earth female rather than male; the young hero's (Hogarth's) falling in love with the vision of a beautiful girl in the star that brings the dragon to Earth; stress on the dragon's desire for "living flesh" to eat; helping Hogarth get his beloved as a primary motivation for the Iron Man's challenge to the dragon; the bursting of the dragon's skin after the last test by fire, releasing "the souls of millions of children all crying for liberation," including the soul of the girl Hogarth loves. Conclusion of the play has the Iron Man asking the dragon "why she threatened the earth and what she can do. She explains that she used to fly around [s]pace singing the beautiful music of the spheres, but the awful things that men were doing on earth distracted her, and she wanted to join in. The Iron Man tells her she must go to the dark side of the moon so that she can make her music without frightening people. This will ensure that the earth remains a peaceful place where the screams of children are never heard" (liner notes, inside of back cover). NB: PT's changes pits on one side the boy-hero (his father and people generally), "Woodland Creatures" led by (a) Vixen, and a male-gendered robot against, on the other side, a flesh-eating female dragon that contains children, including the girl the boy-hero falls in love with; changes also expand the warfare threat of Hughes's story to all "the awful things that men were doing on earth," esp. to children. Significant songs: again, Owl, "Man Machines"; Soldiers/Iron Man"; Over the Top," Iron Man (with Hogath and Woodland Creatures), "I Eat Heavy Metal"; Dragon, "Fast Food." See in this Category, Kraftwerk's Die Mensch·Maschine.

(RDE, 16/VI/98)