on July 21, 2002
10. It's more concise than the 4-CD boxed set.
9. The inferior 2-CD "Hooligans" compilation is out of print.
8. It has informative liner notes, listing the date each song was recorded.
7. The booklet includes pictures of all the Who album covers, and has some great photos of the band in action.
6. The remastered songs sound great, even on a moderately priced stereo system.
5. The song selection is superb, without a single weak track.
4. The recently deceased John Entwistle plays the greatest bass guitar licks of all time on "My Generation." This has never sounded clearer than the version on this compilation.
3. Roger Daltrey's vocals and Pete Townshend's songwriting are perfectly showcased on this great collection.
2. The first CD clocks in around 67 minutes. The second CD clocks in at nearly 69 minutes. Add in the bonus disc, and you have nearly two and a half hours of great Who music!
1. The bonus disc of 4 songs feature noticeably different versions of well known Who songs. Particularly outstanding is the acoustic version of "Happy Jack." Because it's a limited edition, you shouldn't wait too long to buy the aptly named Ultimate Collection.
I'd like to start by saying that a best of, or greatest hits compilation, always leaves some fan's favorite song off. A compilation should really be judged by its inclusiveness of all the top 40 hits, as well as key album tracks. A compilation is not procured for fans who have all the artist's cds. It designed to make money and to appeal to window shopping fans who want all the hits, plus a little extra. Does this two disc compilation of The Who satisfy that kind of buyer? Yes. The Who have 16 top 40 hits to their credit, and they're all here except "The Relay" and "Athena". So in that sense, this compilation gets a thumbs up. Does this compilation have many non-top 40 classics? Yes. Too many to just list here, but as a compilation, this is the first to encapsule such a dearth of music from The Who. Unless you want to get The Who's box set. For those who don't want to buy all 10 studio recordings, this two disc pit stop has everything you'd want. It's about time someone realized that The Who deserves a two disc compilation instead of one. "Eminence Front", though not a hit, has been absent from Who compilations until now. All the tracks are digitally remastered, another plus when shopping for a compilation. The liner notes are alright, tracing the band's history, but it doesn't offer an exciting read. In my opinion, aside from The Who's box set, this is the best compilation of The Who thus far. A testament of a great rock and roll band. There's plenty more positive things to say about The Who, but I'll keep my critique to just this compilation.
on November 6, 2003
I am a big fan of The Who, I have all their albums (twice because of the remasters) and several Best-Ofs and rarities collections. So I love the music here. The track selection on this 2 CD set is quite good and promising. The only hits missing are The Relay and Athena.
But the sound is really bad here. This is not because they used the original mixes. Actually, they used the original mixes on "Who's Better Who's Best" and "Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy", two Best-Of CDs from the 1980s, and those sound great. (Get those two instead of this!)
The reasons for the harsh, bright, one-dimensional, distorted, lifeless sound is an unhealthy combination of noise reduction, compression and volume maximization. Noise reduction is supposed to take away the tape hiss, but it also affects the music, the vocals sound shrill, the drums tinny, the bass artificial, the lead guitar unreal, and the whole sound image flat and dull. The breath of life is sucked out of the music. Compression is used to make the low passages louder and to make it more "in-your-face" sounder, but if overused, tape defects are brought up to the front and the dynamic range of the recording is destroyed. Volume maximization will cause digital clipping on the loud passages and therefore also reduce the dynamic range.
In addition, Happy Jack and Call Me Lightning are presented in fake stereo here, probably the worst CD versions of these songs ever.
on June 14, 2002
I love The Who. And I traded in "The Very Best of" from 1996 as I bought "The Ultimate Collection," excited that MCA had finally brought most of the best tracks together in one package. Problem is, they remastered these tracks again and, as a long-time listener, I find them unbearable to listen to.
The problem is that they are bright and edgy without enough of the lower sounds to balance it. So the snare drums go "splat" and Roger's voice sounds shrill and, worst of all, the basic bass drum is hardly audible. What you have is a very crisp, hard-edged sound that just doesn't sound like previous releases.
I'm NOT talking about vinyl, I'm talking about the remasters that came out in the mid-1990s. When I first listened to "Won't Get Fooled Again" on "Ultimate" I went running for the "Who's Next" CD to make sure I wasn't making this up. Immediately you hear a smoother high end and Daltrey's voice sounding natural and the drums sounding like Keith Moon.
Sorry to be a party-pooper, but I rushed back to see if I could retrieve the "Very Best of" that I'd sold back. Fortunately, I can buy it back. For those of you who haven't plunked down the money yet, if you care about the difference in sound I'm describing, be sure you can give "The Ultimate" a listen before you buy it!
on June 22, 2004
This is aimed at two types of people who may be looking at this album: people who have heard nothing of The Who and want to see what all the fuss is about, and people who have tried some of The Who and enjoyed what they heard.
For the first type of person:
The Who are known for having an unusual amount of 'best of' albums. Personally, I reccomend this one. It's a great introduction to a great band. All the members are considered some of the greatest musicians in their respective fields, particularly Entwistle (bass) and Moon (drums). All hits (and a few misses from the post-Moon era) are accounted for. Some fan favorites are missing, but this is not a fan-album. It's a good overview of the Who's eclectic catalogue. I also like that it is chronological, it's interesting to hear the sound progress.
For the second type of person (the one i'm more interested in) who likes what they know of the 'orrible 'oo so far, please don't buy this album. It's a waste of your money.
The Who have five masterpieces: "Tommy", "Quadrophenia", "The Who Sell Out", "Live at Leed's" and "Who's Next".
The first three are all concept albums. They have a story (or in the case of Sell Out a theme) that is lost when only the hits are plucked out. It's impossible to understand the cathartic power and energy of "See me, Feel Me" and "Love Reign O'er Me" without listening to the albums as a whole. They are the final moments of two stories (Tommy and Quadrophenia, respectively). On these albums Townshend was able to combine art and rock without sacrificing any of the music's raw power. After you have listened to these albums you'll understand, it's impossible to pick a favorite song from them because all the songs belong together, as one entity. They stand on their own, to be sure, but are not as impressive. Only one song from Sell Out was included here and none from Leed's, the definitive live Rock album. I would reccomend starting with "Tommy" or Who's Next", their most commercialy succesful and influential albums. Honestly it doesn't matter which of the five you start with, because you'll want to own them all. After "Tommy" The Who became an 'album' band rather than a 'singles' band, and a collection of singles really doesn't do them justice, especially in the case of the aforementioned concept albums.
I don't write a lot of reviews, but only one more was needed to kick Infadel off the page...
Don't diss my boys unless you're willing to back it up with a valid opinion.
on October 18, 2011
I bought this compilation to give my teenage daughter an introduction to The Who. Huge mistake, as the remastered sound is atrocious. The remastered songs sounded as if they had hired a Chimpanzee as the sound engineer. I know what happened as I use to work in the music industry. What likely happened is that the person mastering it has damaged hearing from working in the music business their whole life. Somebody like Pete Townsend who has serious hearing problems - as do many record producers and engineers. Without getting too technical, they keep turning up the recording level until they can hear the highs. They also overcompress the tracks to help them hear the subtle and quieter parts of the songs. It sounds right to them, but drives music fans with good hearing to near suicide. Alot of people gave this compilation a 5 star rating. I am not suggesting that all of those people have serious hearing problems. Though, anybody who thinks this album sounds good does have one of the following problems(IMO): 1)has serious hearing problems as mentioned 2)they are listening to the CD on a boombox, cheap home system or standard car CD player 3)is completely delusional. At first I thought there was something seriously wrong with my system. I then played 3 tracks in 3 different players. In my system worth around $25,000.00, it was completely unlistenable. It only got worse as I turned the volume up. I love The Who and was actually upset to hear these songs messed up so badly. I then put the CD into my harman/kardon IPOD dock - (worth around $400). It sounded alot better at lower levels. The more I turned it up, the more shrill and distorted it got. Then I played it in my 1999 Toyota Corolla's stock CD player. This is where it sounded the best. I dare say it even sounded good. It makes total sense as the cheaper the system, the less ability to play the highs and the bass as originally recorded. By having the remastered CD levels so high, coupled with the over compression makes up for the cheap factory deck's shortfalls. I have all of the Who's catalogue on CD. None have been remastered. So I listened to the same three songs on the same players. The results were the exact opposite. They sounded good on my home stereo. They sounded quite good on low and higher volumes on the harman/kardan dock. The Toyota Corolla's cheap factory deck made it sound under recorded and lifeless. Without question, the remastered version sounded better on the cheap deck. My conclusion: Great compilation for a road trip in a vehicle with a cheap CD player. Otherwise, as per my solution, the shredder has never sounded better.
Okay, Okay, I know that The Who have been the most anthologized band in the history of rock music. After all, how many other bands have more "best of" compilations in their catalog than they have studio albums? But this time MCA got it right. Thirty-five songs from 1964 to 1982 provide ample evidence why The Who should wear the mantle of "The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World." Sure, one could quarrel that the Top 40 hits "The Relay" (No. 39, 1973) and "Athena" (No. 28, 1982) should have been included just to make this a complete collection of The Who's U.K. and U.S. hits, but this collection is stronger for including such album tracks as "I'm a Boy," "Baba O'Riley" and "Bargain" instead. And as a bonus, the initial pressing include a 4-song bonus disc, which contains the rare U.S. single version of "Substitute," an early version of "I'm a Boy," a previoulsy unreleased acoustic version of "Happy Jack" and the U.K. single version of "Magic Bus." Even if you already have all of The Who's studio albums (like me), it's great to have all of these songs together in one collection. The 28-page booklet is also very informative with lots of great pics! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
on June 13, 2002
Those of us who were unhappy with the "Remix" part of the '90s Who CDs will find The Ultimate Collection to be a real treat. While slightly flawed, this set packs some bona fide gems that haven't been available on CD for years. "I'm A Boy" is the true stereo version with the horn and drum section restored, along with the backing vocal harmony. "Boris The Spider" is also in true stereo. "Join Together" doesn't have the annoying flute at the end. "Eminence Front" has the botched mix in the first chorus restored, as well as the original bassline. Finally, I'd like to applaud the compiler who saw fit to put "Pure And Easy" in it's rightful place alongside The Who's greatest tracks.
The biggest flaws are the omission of "Dogs", "Relay" and "When I Was A Boy"... especially considering the inclusion of "Sister Disco", "See Me Feel Me", and "Let's See Action", all unimportant fluff tracks. For some reason, "Call Me Lightning" has been sped up, making Daltrey sound like he's halfway to Chipmunkland. "Happy Jack" is some odd fake stereo version, but since this song was never mixed in true stereo and is readily available in mono on CD, it's an interesting inclusion.
The bonus disc is good, but has nothing great to offer if you're a hardcore collector (especially if you have the Instant Party set, which has a breathtakingly clean-sounding version of the US "Substitute" single). I would've liked to have seen some of the most elusive Who tracks get the remaster treatment: the 7 minute "Magic Bus", the version of "Call Me Lightning" without the lead guitar line, "Waspman", or, as a real treat, the UK version of "Doctor Jekyll & Mr. Hyde". But since this is a bonus disc, one can't complain! This only shows how generous The Who are to their fans.
Overall, the good far outweighs the bad, making this a very worthwhile collection. To get remastered tracks in their original mixes is a treat to even the most diehard Who collectors.
EDITED 6/29/02 - RIP John Entwistle. He was my fav Who songwriter, and will be sorely missed. Thank you, John, for writing the soundtrack of my life.
This is the collection all "Who" fans have been waiting for and it's just in time for their Summer Tour. The two CD's contain 35 tracks from 1964's, "I Can't Explain" classic to the show-stopping 1982 cut, "Eminence Front". All the best cuts are represented here including, "My Generation", "I Can See For Miles", "Magic Bus", four cuts from "Tommy", five cuts from the fantastic "Who's Next" and all the under-rated hits from the late seventies and early, early eighties. It's not just good, it is all remastered and even the older remastered cuts sound better.
To beat it all, a bonus CD of four tracks is included with "Substitute" (rare U.S. version), "I'm A Boy" (early version), "Happy Jack" (previously unreleased "acoustic" version) and a U.K. single version of "Magic Bus"! All remastered. It sounds like it was just recorded!
The booklet is great as well. Twenty seven pages of photos, history, album covers and trivia - it satisfies everything. Grab it and go see them this summer.
on June 12, 2002
The new greatest hits album by The Who really is, as its name suggests, the Ultimate Collection of the band's best songs. It contains all of their best songs. Previously, a person in the market for a greatest hits album had to find a compromise between sparse collections of songs that either omitted significant material or arranged tracks in an order that didn't quite make sense. This one's got their best 35 songs on two discs, remastered, and in chronological order.
Disc one kicks off with the band's very first single "I Can't Explain", which the band often uses to start their live shows. Included on the disc are some lesser-celebrated, but equally worthy songs like "The Kids Are Alright", regarded as one of the first "power pop" songs, and Tommy's "I'm Free" and "See Me Feel Me". The disc ends with "My Wife", "Baba O'Reilly" and "Bargain" from the epic "Who's Next", making for a good transition into disc two, which begins with "Behind Blue Eyes" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". Incorporated on disc two are "Long live Rock" and "Pure and Easy", a song that was left off of "Who's Next" but, as the liner notes explain, is a significant song because it sums up Pete Townshend's view on the importance of rock music relating with the audience.
Name your favorite song and it's on here, from "My Generation" to "Pinball Wizard" to "Who Are You". It's all good, as they say. The Ultimate Collection is by far the most fulfilling greatest hits collection by The Who. With over 130 minutes of remastered music, and a 28-page booklet with extensive liner notes and photos, this album shouldn't be missed.