07/03/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
Pete Townshend (Redline)
When he wasn't composing sublime three-minute symphonies such as "I Can't Explain," inventing the rock opera (Tommy) or wowing worshipful fans with his windmill guitar-playing, Townshend also found time to fashion a sci-fi musical epic that bears a striking resemblance to the 1999 Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix. Written when Keanu Reeves
was still in his Dr. Dentons, this rock-operatic precursor also foretells a society in which people are controlled by a fascistic computer system called the Grid. Townshend's opus, Lifehouse Chronicles, was written in 1970 for The Who but never performed. (Some of the tunes on this 11-track sampler were on 1971's Who's Next; the entire work was released as a six-CD set in the U.K. this year.) Here, on synthesizer, Townshend creates the baroque majesty of "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Won't Be Fooled Again."
Bottom Line: Highlights from a lost masterpiece