81996-1 The Iron Man
Produced by Pete Townshend
(track 11 by Peter Wolf)
Released on June 1989
Find it at GEMM
81996-1 cover  

O kay Who fans, you’ll want to have your programs out for this one. Pete Townshend is a ten-year-old boy (Hogarth) who befriends a large robot (The Iron Man, John Lee Hooker). Hogarth has a conscience (The Vixen, played by Deborah Conway) and a cadre of friendly woodland creatures (including brother Simon Townshend as The Owl -- so much for nepotism) to guide him. The Iron Man is first pursued by angry locals (led by Hogarth’s father, Roger Daltrey) and finally challenges a giant space dragon (don’t ask) to a duel, which frees Hogarth’s beloved. The message here is... I have no idea what the message is. A Freudian might have a field day with a giant space dragon that harbors a beautiful young girl or a conscience called The Vixen. A Freudian with a lot of free time, anyway. This musical is based on Ted Hughes’ story “The Iron Man,” which I believe was adapted for an animated film here in the States. It’s wonderfully packaged, tastefully produced, intelligent, ambitious and baffling. White City excelled as an album of new music, failed as a film. Psychoderelict tried to do both in the audio format and failed at both. The Iron Man rests somewhere in the middle: the songs lack the portability of White City but are infinitely easier to excise from the story than Psychoderelict. “I Won’t Run Anymore,” “Dig” (one of two tracks to feature John Entwistle and Roger Daltrey) and “A Friend Is A Friend” are what you would expect from a new Pete Townshend album. Despite criticism to the contrary, I think the songs are strong. But hearing them sung by John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone separates them from Pete’s previous body of work. Some day, if Pete decides to tackle an “I Eat Heavy Metal” or “Over The Top” on his own, I’ll bet you it turns out pretty spiffy. On a lot of fronts, The Iron Man (The Musical) was doomed to failure before it took its first steps, but Townshend is determined to elevate the musical medium. It’s a fitting occupation for a living legend, a holy grail worthy of the grey knight. If you’ve come this far in the adventure, don’t stop now.

81996-1 back cover 81996-1 lyric booklet
81996-1 back cover 81996-1 lyric booklet


  1. I WON'T RUN ANYMORE    4:50
  2. OVER THE TOP    3:32
  3. MAN MACHINES    0:42
  4. DIG    4:08
  5. A FRIEND IS A FRIEND    4:46
  6. I EAT HEAVY METAL    3:29
  7. ALL SHALL BE WELL    4:50
  8. WAS THERE LIFE    3:19
  9. FAST FOOD    4:14
  10. A FOOL SAYS...    2:01
  11. FIRE    (Brown/Crane/Ker/Finesilver)    3:48
  12. NEW LIFE/REPRISE    4:45

    All songs written by Pete Townshend unless noted


PETE TOWNSHEND -- vocals (Hogarth), guitars, other keys, synclavier programming
CHYNA -- vocals (The Crow)
DEBORAH CONWAY -- vocals (The Vixen)
ROGER DALTREY -- vocals (Hogarth's Father)
NICOLA EMMANUEL -- vocals (The Jay)
JOHN LEE HOOKER -- vocals (The Iron Man)
CHUCHO MERCHAN -- bass, orchestral arranger
BILLY NICHOLLS -- vocals (The Frog), vocal music director
NINA SIMONE -- vocals (The Space Dragon)
SIMON TOWNSHEND -- vocals (The Owl)
CLEVELAND WATKISS -- vocals (The Badger)
John Barclay -- brass (4)
Peter Beachill -- brass (4)
John "Rabbit" Bundrick -- piano (5)
Patrick Clahar -- sax (12)
John Entwistle -- bass (4,11)
Gina Foster, Derek Green, Janice Hoyte, Ruby James, Julian Littman, Michael Nicholls, Earnestine Pearce, Raymond Simpson, The Children of St. Stevens and Orleans Schools -- chorus vocals
Pat Halling -- string leader (10)
Charlie Morgan -- drums (5,9)
Peter Wolf -- arranger (11)
Ted Hughes -- original story
Jules Bowen -- assistant producer, recording engineer, synclavier programming
Bino Espinoza -- engineer (11)
Paul Ericson -- engineer (11)
Nicola Joss -- executive producer
Bill Price -- remix engineer
Brian Malouf -- mixing (11)
Keith Grant -- strings engineer
Roger Knapp -- technical supervisor
David Bailey, Millie Strom, David Redfern, Newton Maxwell Harris, Andre Csillag -- photography
Dewynters PLC -- sleeve and booklet design

UK June 1989 Virgin LP/CD/CS V/CDV/TCV 2592 lyric booklet
US June 1989 Atlantic LP/CD/CS 81996 lyric booklet
BRA 1989 Virgin LP 427038  
GER 1989 Virgin LP 209 932 lyric booklet


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