107 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2003
okay... i normally don't review too many albums on amazon, but was i amazed to read all these reviews from people who chat about the album but then go on to say "but i haven't heard it on SACD yet." so i thought someone might benefit from reading about the surround mix in SACD...
well, it is simply amazing, especially for having been mixed by the near-deaf townsend (surely its a joke!).
the most amazing thing about the 5.1 surround mix is how present and powerful keith moon's drumming is. i have always pointed to "quadrophenia" as the shining example of his frenetic hammering of the drums. but now i can more fully appreciate his drumming on "tommy." the drums sound amazing on this SACD surround mix. no other words can describe it.
one of the reasons for the drums being more powerful is the ability to follow keith's "live in the studio" drumming more closely. you see, all the "accentuating" drum parts (tympani, gongs, cymbal splashes) are all separated from keith's drums in the mix... it wasn't as clear in the stereo mix which drums keith is playing, and which drums are over-dubbed elements.... but here, they are coming at you from different sides of the room. this makes for some amazing parts, particularly during "sparks" and "overture", where keiths keeps pounding out a rhythm, then the tympani drums build up to a crescendo.
also, pete and roger's vocals are sometimes separated in the mix. pete's first words on the alubm came as a shock. he sings, "captain walker didn't come home. his unborn child will never know him." and he's coming from the rear right speaker (mostly) and roger and all come in later, together chanting "a son, a son, a son" from the front speakers. its pretty powerful stuff from the get-go.
i could go on and on. but the most amazing thing truly is the fidelity... i hear things i've never heard before, and i thought i was prety intimately familiar with the album. subtle touches now are given such depth and prominence... and the separation that is achieved with surround sound allows the listener to follow a particular part or a particular instrument...
you can hear pete breathe in before singing... you can hear the sound of his pick against the acoustic guitar. you can hear a few of keith's dud hits on the snare (thought they are few, and always charming to hear).
another reviewer said, "reason alone to buy a SACD player."
thanks for reading.
222 of 253 people found the following review helpful
Pete Townshend possibly feels a lot like David O. Selznick, the producer of the movie `Gone With The Wind' in fearing that he will only be remembered in his obituary by his creating that one work, as Townshend, like Selznick, seems to have been spending his time after completing their most important work in trying to top it.
To my mind, Townshend should have no regrets about not topping `Tommy', as it is easily one of the two or three most important albums and works in the entire Rock canon, similar in importance and possibly superior in quality to `Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' and `Blond on Blond', to name just two others high in the ranks of great Rock albums.
One thing which surprises me about writing on `Tommy' is how little deep analysis has been essayed about the story behind the songs. In a nutshell, the story is this:
Tommy Walker is born while his father is off on some journey (`It's a boy') from which he becomes several years late in returning. Tommy's mother takes up with a lover, father returns, mother and father kill lover with Tommy as a witness, and mother and father tell Tommy he saw and heard nothing (`You didn't hear it'). (If all you have to go on is the recorded performance on the original album, it is not very clear whether it is the lover or the father who is killed. But, printed copies of the libretto say the lover is the victim.) Tommy becomes functionally blind, deaf, and dumb to all outside appearances, however, it is evident that within his own head, he can see and hear everything (`There's a doctor I've found'). He is tormented by various malicious relatives (`Cousin Kevin' and `Fiddle About') and `treated' by various attempts, including hallucinogens (`Acid Queen'). As he grows up, the only outside experience to which he responds is a pinball machine, at which he becomes expert (`Pinball Wizard'). Tommy is finally cured by watching his image in a mirror smashed by, I believe, his mother's lover (`Smash the Mirror'). Being released from his isolation for Tommy is like being released from a practically lifelong mystical experience heightened by pinball. The charisma with which Tommy is imbued by this experience leads him to become a `New Messiah' (`Sally Simpson') creating a movement which expands beyond local resources (`Welcome') and becomes institutionalized into a ritual modeled after playing pinball while deaf dumb and blind (`Tommy's holiday camp'). The story ends with a revolt of Tommy's disciples against his new religion (`We're not gonna take it').
The theme of being oppressed runs throughout practically all of Townshend's work, although in `Tommy', it takes a back seat to mysticism. The people who dote on the philosophical background of `The Matrix' should sink their teeth into the `Tommy' story and ruminate on that a while. The major musical theme of the work seems to be Townsend's search for a magical chord. And, anyone who, like myself, has seen `Tommy' performed live by the original Who will have no trouble believing Townsend has found his chord as he hits that first great whirlwind chord in `Pinball Wizard'. Talk about a rush! In general, a lot of the music echoes earlier Who works. Townshend seems to constantly cut and paste phrasings from one work to another and I have no problem with this except in the most tedious of the three instrumental pieces (`Underture') in the album.
Some writers have said that 'Tommy' is more like an Oratorio or a Song Cycle than it is an Opera, but I disagree. Neither of these other two genres requires a plot, and an Opera does, and Tommy has a plot. I prefer to think of it as a selection of arias and instrumental passages from which some bridging dialogue has been left out. My biggest problem with this plot is that the actual event that triggers Tommy's autism is only hinted at in the most vague of terms. It is easy to believe that it was a murder, but the lyrics of `You Didn't Hear It' never come even close to saying exactly what the event was. On the other side of the coin, the great majority of the songs on the album `Tommy' directly support carrying the story forward. Practically the only exception is the Sonny Boy Williamson classic `Eyesight to the Blind'. It is probably symptomatic that only `Pinball Wizard', `I'm Free', and `Sensation' out of the 24 cuts in `Tommy' really work for the Who outside the context of the whole work. That's why I'm especially happy to have seen The Who perform virtually the whole album live, four days after it was initially released. It is also interesting to see that the two cuts describing episodes of sadism were written by Entwistle and not Townshend.
This CD contains exactly what was on my original vinyl two record album bought in 1969, suitably enhanced with modern electronics. My greatest respect for Townshend is for creating a classic musical form, the Opera, using an entirely ROCK instrument, with the slightest classical leavening from John Entwistle's French horn on a few early numbers. So many `rock' versions of traditional forms simply overlay rock performances on classical arrangements or make classical arrangements of rock melodies. Aside from `Quadrophenia', the only other work which succeeds at doing this is Spooky Tooth/Pierre Henry work `Ceremony An Electronic Mass'.
Listening to this album and every other early Who album reminds one just how much their performances were a collaborative effort between the original four, and how much we miss Keith Moon and John Entwistle today. We can only say that with `Tommy' and numerous other works and recorded performances, the memory of The Who will live forever.
Seminal work in the history of Rock.
69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2003
Just get it. I have been enjoying DVD-Audio for the last year yet there were many titles I wanted in the SACD catalog so I recently purchased the Pioneer DV-563AS, a DVD player that will play back both DVD-Audio and SACD yet costs under 200.00. The Deluxe edition of Tommy simply sounds fantastic when playing the SACD 5.1 mix, the difference between it and the regular layer using a normal CD player is quite significant. Although I will admit to being prejudiced as Tommy is one of my all time favotite albums, this new version is simply superb, I am such a believer in the new high bit rate/sampling rate and 5.1 formats. It is amazing how good a near 35 year old recording can sound. Even if you don't have an SACD player this disc is very much worth getting, the stereo mix is excellent, you get a bonus disc with 17 additional tracks and the packaging is excellent, very high quality.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2004
This was not my first SACD purchase, but it's the one I'm most satisfied with to date. I'll assume you're familiar with the original recording, agree with me that it is one of the most significant rock albums of all time and give you the reasons why I think should you pick this up in addition to your vinyl or '96 CD remaster. First and foremost, there's the superb 5.1 surround mix. (Some performances were just meant to be heard in surround sound, and probably would have been mixed that way had the technology been available.) Done by Pete Townshend himself using the original 8-track master, this new mix has startling clarity and definition, and presents most of the vocals without reverb or echo. Listening to it, I felt as if I were sitting on the studio floor while the band was recording around me. The wealth of additional material on the second disc includes a studio version of "Young Man Blues" as well as songs left off the original release, alternate takes and instrumental only tracks. Also included are several of Townshend's laboriously made home demos, which give greater insight into the creative process behind the Who's repetoire and the development of this milestone album. The booklet provided features an informative essay and candid snapshots of the band and producer Kit Lambert taken during the recording sessions.
Something I learned reading the essay that might be of interest to those of you who don't own a SACD capable system is that the original master of "Tommy" had been missing and presumed destroyed, and that previous CDs had been mastered from an alternate 'sweetened' by Kit Lambert. While remixing this project, Townshend discovered the original master tape, and used it for the stereo SACD and CD mixes included here, so for the first time on CD, you can now hear the mix the band signed off on back in 1969.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Forget the soundtrack from the movie, this is the version of "Tommy" to own. The surprising thing is that it has aged very well (unlike a lot of its contemporaries) and sounds just as fresh today as it did thirty years ago. Guitarist Pete Townshend's songwriting genius is featured here in full display. The long instrumental sections have an almost classical music feel about them. And of course, there those hit singles like "Pinball Wizzard" and "We're Not Gonna Take It." A rock masterpiece.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2012
BEWARE! Amazon shares product reviews for the recording across all formats (CD, Vinyl, download, SACD). You will see several reviewers talk about how good the SACD is, and it may well be, but those reviews are not applicable to non-SACD formats.
I was careless and ended up purchasing the 1996 remaster thinking it was or included the SACD. It of course was not the multi-channel SACD I was hoping to get when I read the reviews. My own fault, just hoping to save a few others from making the same mistake.
Amazon, this needs to be addressed. Reviews are speaking not only to the quality of the music but also the packaging, remastering and other attributes that just are not pertinent to all editions/formats. You get the track listings correct for each format, can we not have at least a filter to see only reviews for the selected format?
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2006
One of the most important, groundbreaking amd influential albums in the history of rock and roll, The Who's 1969 magnum opus "Tommy", a rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure plays a mean pinball, is now better than ever thanks to the brilliance of SACD and DSD remastering techniques.
Every song on the cd sounds like it was recorded just yesterday. It is 100 % crystal clear, perfectly remixed and remastered. It gives you a clearer view of the story as well as a more pleasurable than ever listening experience. Pete Townshend and the people involved in this truly put their hearts into making "Tommy" better than ever.
The bonus disc is also worth it. A lot of awesome raritis. The liner notes are an interesting read, and the album itself is of course a masterpiece nobody should be without.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2011
This review is only for those interested in sound quality and/or collecting Japan mini-sleeves. For reviews regarding content, please see other posts in this forum, or go to All Music Guide (dot com). Also, due to Amazon's unfortunate programming policy of cross-pollinating reviews across different versions of the same CD title, this review may appear elsewhere: It was posted only on the 2011 Japan mini-sleeve set of this album.
Well, this is going to be a convoluted affair to review, as there are 4 separate versions of this fabulous album in existence, two of which are long OOP. Then there's the audio aspect of each release, and finally, the graphics. So, let's start with a little background for the uninitiated: The 1972 LP release.
The LSO "Tommy" was the original "album box set": No record company had ever attempted such an elaborate and ornate release in the rock genre. The box came with a beautiful 12X12 lavish "coffee table" book and a fold-out card of a pinball machine. The Tommy box truly set the bar for all such sets to come.
In 1989 and 1996, Tommy was released by different catalogue houses on CD (Rhino & Castle, respectively). However, both came in standard jewel cases and no attempt was made to replicate the original box or book. Both of these releases subsequently went OOP and fetch high prices to this day in the used after-market.
In 2009, U.K. Repertoire Records took a crack at finally reproducing the entire original set, and did the graphics part exceptionally well. However, the mastering was TERRIBLE (see my review on that page), so it was a real heartbreaker.
Now, in 2011, the Japanese have swung for the fences with a "Blu-Spec" remastered release in a mini-sleeve replication of the original set.
So, in comparing these four editions, you have to consider the mastering, Blu-Spec, the graphics and the closeness of the replication to the original release.
Let's start with the audio.
First, the 1989, 1996 and 2009 editions are single disc sets. The 2011 is a 2-disc affair. There's no reason for this as the 71-minute recording would have fit on one disc, and has the downsides of increasing the cost of the set, and making you change discs to hear the entire performance.
The new mastering from the 2011 is slightly better than the Rhino releases: Obviously, from the original engineering/miking/recording of the performances, there is not much real improvement to be had.
"Blu-Spec" joins a list of Japan-only implementations of substrate material derived from LCD manufacturing (the others being "SHM" and "HQCD"); all these schemes are fronted by different Japanese companies, and each was delivered with identical promises that the LCD material would deliver better optical read performance, and subsequently, supposedly better sound.
Unfortunately, there is no discernable audible benefit from the implementation of each LCD scheme, and even more unfortunately, prices for these releases are much higher than regular CD editions. As I have written about extensively in reviews concerning these releases, I have never been able to hear a wit of difference between an LCD-implemented CD, and a regular-substrate CD, of the same master (please note those last four words). As far as I am concerned, "Blu-Spec" is fittingly denoted by its initials, and I am consistently annoyed by the hiked prices for these LCD-material titles.
So, that leaves the graphics of the 2009 and 2011 releases.
I give a VERY slight edge in my preference to the Repertoire. Their rendering of the book is not-as-accurate, as the original had the lyrics printed on the same page as the wonderful illustrations. Repertoire cleverly chose to print the lyrics separately in the rear of the book, and in doing so, isolated the artwork, which makes them even more appreciable.
Repertoire also included a separate booklet with detailed info of the original 2 performances, and the challenges presented in bringing the concerts to a live audience (now, if only they had done a better job on the audio!). The Japanese have also apparently provided some text along the same lines, but unless you can read Kanji, you're SOL.
Where Repertoire provided a fold-out photo copy of the pinball machine graphic, the Japanese have turned that into a 2CD digipak with the design front and back in raised graphics, just totally super-kewl. Both sets come in slipcovers, but as the Repertoire disc resides in a plastic tray inside a digipak sleeve, it is thicker than the Japan edition.
So, there you have it for this 2011 release vs. the previous three editions: The best remastering, fagetaboudit on Blue-Spec, and take your pick on the graphics, where the Japanese, as they do in virtually all mini-sleeve releases, strove for accuracy to the original LP set, but where Repertoire imaginatively produced the slightly-better booklet of the two. There's no longer any reason to pay big bucks for a used copy of the original two LSO Tommy releases, just buy the Japan set.
A final note: I'm not sure why the Amazon info above reads "Indie Europe/Zoom" for the releasing label, and the number of discs is wrong. The Japan releasing company for this set is Archive, and I double-checked the UPC on the obi on the Amazon Seller system, and it links to this page. I have submitted corrections, and hopefully, Amazon will correct them.
Whew. I now retire to recover from elephantitis of the keyboard. Whichever version you choose, happy listening! It's a fabulous, landmark performance, and your Who collection is not complete without it.
WHAT IS A JAPAN "MINI-LP-SLEEVE" CD?
Have you ever lamented the loss of one of the 20th Century's great art forms, the 12" vinyl LP jacket? Then "mini-LP-sleeve" CD's may be for you.
Mini-sleeve CDs are manufactured in Japan under license. The disc is packaged inside a 135MM X 135MM cardboard precision-miniature replica of the original classic vinyl-LP album. Also, anything contained in the original LP, such as gatefolds, booklets, lyric sheets, posters, printed LP sleeves, stickers, embosses, special LP cover paper/inks/textures and/or die cuts, are precisely replicated and included. An English-language lyric sheet is always included, even if the original LP did not have printed lyrics.
Then, there's the sonic quality: Often (but not always), mini-sleeves have dedicated remastering (20-Bit, 24-Bit, DSD, K2/K2HD, and/or HDCD), and can often (but not always) be superior to the audio on the same title anywhere else in the world. There also may be bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere.
Each Japan mini-sleeve has an "obi" ("oh-bee"), a removable Japan-language promotional strip. The obi lists the Japan street date of that particular release, the catalog number, the mastering info, and often the original album's release date. Bonus tracks are only listed on the obi, maintaining the integrity of the original LP artwork. The obi's are collectable, and should not be discarded.
All mini-sleeve releases are limited edition, but re-pressings/re-issues are becoming more common (again, not always). The enthusiasm of mini-sleeve collecting must be tempered, however, with avoiding fake mini-sleeves manufactured in Russia and distributed throughout the world, primarily on eBay. They are inferior in quality, worthless in collectable value, a total waste of money, and should be avoided at all costs.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Who had previously released a concept album with 1967's Who Sell Out and Pete Townshend had written the mini-opera "A Quick One (While He's Away)", but neither of those could have predicted the masterpiece that Tommy would be. Townshend created the story of a deaf & dumb blind kid who would inspire a messiah-like following in true operatic-style. It had a book & libretto, but instead of classical music, it used rock. The music was a departure from the Who's typical hard rock style as they employed horns and strings for the first time. While some of the songs can stand on their own like "Pinball Wizard", "I'm Free" & "Acid Queen", most are best listened to in the context of the album. Many have derided the album as pompous and overblown, but few can criticize it earnestness and ambition. The Who upped the ante in rock music with this album.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2013
I am one of those people who are quite happy to buy these 'Deluxe Editions' for the extras each one contains, even thought I already have the main disc (sometimes several times). It would be nice if the record companies sold these extra discs separately, but they don't. They like to make money by making you pay for 2 CDs. That's life.
Anyway, this one caught my eye before release as it was advertised as containing an extra CD of live 1969 recordings, so I ordered it before release.. On receiving the CD, it says on the back, for the second disc 'All tracks recorded live at various shows during the autumn of 1969'. Upon listening, a few tracks stood out with completely different sound and vocals. Stumbling across the Who official website the other day, they now tell us that three tracks are actually recorded in Swansea in 1976. Sorry, that's disgraceful. The package of the CD clearly states 'ALL recorded during 1969', and the booklet has no mention whatsoever of the extra live CD. That for me is blatant misrepresentation. Even the Amazon site lists all tracks as live 1969 in Ottawa.
Anyway, the live tracks (those that are from 1969) are great. Goes nicely with the live versions they released from Hull, Leeds and the Isle of Wight. I just wish this was all 1969. (Not 1976 disguised as 1969)
The main disc 'Tommy' sounds pretty much like the other versions I have on CD, released in 1996 and 2003.
5 stars for the music. 0 stars for honesty with their fans.
Oh, and the Who are now letting us download two 'newly found' tracks from 1969 from their website to replace two of the 1976 tracks. But they are mp3 format. Kind of defeats the purpose of 'remastered', in my opinion.