In 1983, Pete Townshend released a double-album called Scoop, the first of a trilogy (plus a best-of set) of releases featuring his home recordings.
Townshend used home recording technology beginning with the first songs he wrote for The Who in the mid-1960s. Townshend may have been one of the first musicians to actually "write" songs on multi-track recorders and present them to his band, rather than simply relying on paper and pencil, or simply strumming a guitar and singing. (Townshend can't write music, which made the recording process doubly important for him.)
The recordings on the Scoop series are notable for a number of reasons--they highlight Townshend's sheer love of music and the recording process, and they allow him to release material too different (either stylistically, or because it's too light or ephemeral) to appear on any of the Who's albums, or his regular solo albums.
As David Fricke wrote in Rolling Stone in 1983,
Scoop, of course, is more than just a chance to hear gritty pre-Who versions of "Magic Bus," "Bargain" and "Behind Blue Eyes." Like Bruce Springsteen's stark cassette-recorded Nebraska and Phil Collins' subtle integration of home demo tracks on his recent solo LPs, it is a stirring celebration of the do-it-yourself ethic, a lesson in how little (tape machine, acoustic guitar, a wobbly but intimate vocal) can achieve so much (the brief, exquisite 1966 sketch of the glowing ballad "So Sad about Us," later cut for the Who's Happy Jack).
Scoop also provides a panoramic view of Townshend's ambitions as a songwriter, from the moody, adolescent clump of the "My Generation"-era "Circles" to the epic pleading of Quadrophenia's "Love Reign O'er Me" and the 1967 moddish Motown pump of "Politician," one of the album's eighteen newly unearthed Townshend originals.
But what makes this artfully programmed collection of home demo antiques and studio curios one of the best Who-related records since Who's Next is that it presents a pure, expressive Pete Townshend free of the responsibilities of being the Pete Townshend, communing with his muse away from his image and the emotional politics of the Who. A pre-Tommy track never cut by the band, "Melancholia" captures in his solitary whine and the whirlpool sigh of his tape-phasing treatment of the guitars and drums an acute solitary sadness that the Who would have turned into an angry punch out.
Perhaps most importantly for many Who fans, they show how radically the group could transform his songs, as each musician's style was often very different than Townshend's natural tendencies. He deliberately kept the bass and drum lines very simple, and he sang his early recordings in a much higher and less macho-sounding voice than Roger Daltry. Daltry, Keith Moon and John Entwistle thus had plenty of room to crack open Townshend's songs and deconstruct them (long before that word became part of the postmodern lexicon) into music suitable for the Who. Obviously, Townshend knew his fellow musicians better than anyone, and wrote for the group's sound. But he also knew enough to give them plenty of room to make the material their own.