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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, March 12, 1996
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Tommy, The Who's defining, breakthrough concept album - a full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy that launched the band to international superstardom, was originally released in May 1969. The Who were at a career crossroads. They were known mainly as a singles band, but this project launched them as a serious 'albums band' and has now sold tens of millions of copies and regularly turns up in lists of the most influential albums of all time.
This new Deluxe version of the album includes the original album newly re-mastered plus a wealth of previously unheard material in the form of a full live performance of Tommy from 1969 taken from tapes that infamously Townshend asked the band's sound engineer to burn! 18 of the previously unheard and thought to be long lost live tracks are taken from a live show at the Capital Theatre, Ottowa, Canada on October the 15th 1969. Three others, 'I'm Free,' 'Tommy's Holiday Camp,' and 'We're Not Gonna Take It' were lost due to tape reels being changed during the show so are taken from later shows of the same era. As discussed at length in Pete Townshend's autobiography the tapes were all supposed to be destroyed but were kept by long time Who soundman Bob Pridden despite Pete's instructions.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language: : English
- Product Dimensions : 7.09 x 4.88 x 0.59 inches; 4.73 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Universal Music
- Item model number : MSE1216618
- Date First Available : August 29, 2013
- Label : Universal Music
- ASIN : B00ELAMR60
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #131,858 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I opened the brand new LP and played it on my VPI prime with a Clearaudio essence cartridge. The first thing I heard: pops and scratches. Absolutely unacceptable for a new pressing. Actually the pops and scratches on this brand new pressing are greater than my 45 year old pressing of the SAME album. This particular rendition also has been equalized resulting in harsher highs and lower dynamic range compared to the original pressing.
These US pressings are very disappointing; including the latest pressings from hollywood records which are perhaps even worse.
Amazon needs to have a different listing for this bogus CD. SO disappointed.
Top reviews from other countries
But which one do you splash the cash on? Well from my itsy-bitsy seagull perch in sunny but pooped upon Margate, I'd argue that although the 2CD Deluxe Edition has that fab live set on Disc 2 as a genuine bonus (recorded in Canada but thought lost) - if you're on a budget and still want uncompromising quality - then this humble 2013 Single CD Remaster for under six quid is the proverbial dogs dangly bits. Here are the acid queens and pinball wizards...
UK released Friday, 11 November 2013 - "Tommy: The Original Album 2013 Remaster" by THE WHO on Polydor/Universal/Track Records 3747403 (Barcode 602537474035) is the original 1969 double-album reissued and remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (74:58 minutes):
1. Overture [Side 1]
2. It's A Boy
4. Amazing Journey
6. Eyesight For The Blind (The Hawker)
7. Christmas [Side 2]
8. Cousin Kevin
9. The Acid Queen
11. Do You Think It's Alright? [Side 3]
12. Fiddle About
13. Pinball Wizard
14. There's A Doctor
15. Go To The Mirror!
16. Tommy Can You Hear Me?
17. Smash The Mirror
19. Miracle Cure [Side 4]
20. Sally Simpson
21. I'm Free
23. Tommy's Holiday Camp
24. We're Not Gonna Take It
Tracks 1 to 24 are the double-album "Tommy" - released 17 May 1969 in the USA on Decca DSXW 7205 and 23 May 1969 in the UK on Track Records 613 013/4. Original copies came with a 'libretto' booklet featuring lyrics and drawings pertinent to the 'Rock Opera' – all of it is reproduced in the 24-page CD booklet with added reissue credits. Pete Townshend wrote all the songs except "Cousin Kevin" and "Fiddle About" by John Entwistle, "Tommy's Holiday Camp” by Keith Moon and "Eyesight To The Blind" aka "The Hawker" which is a cover of a Sonny Boy Williamson song. It peaked at No. 2 and No. 4 respectively on the UK and US albums charts.
THE WHO was:
ROGER DALTREY – Lead Vocals and Harmonica
PETE TOWNSHEND – Guitars, Keyboards, Lead and Backing Vocals
JOHN ENTWISTLE – Bass, French Horn, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Lead and Backing Vocals
KEITH MOON – Drums, Tympani, Gong, Tambourine, Lead and Backing Vocals
Two things jump to mind – the fabulous new 2013 sound that feels like a real improvement on the overly loud 1996 initial effort and the underwhelming 2003 SACD effort. This latest audio restoration return to the original tapes by JON ASTLEY and MYLES CLARKE now sports a rather beautifully balanced feel between poise and power – much like the music itself. The acoustic guitar strings rattle and the riffs punch like they have been unleashed and on faves like the five-minutes of "Amazing Journey", the gorgeously rich acoustic/drums ten minutes of "Underture" and the gloriously bombastic finisher "We're Not Going to Take It" – you want to press replay to go back to the start - take me away once again baby (surely the best compliment a Remaster can be given).
The other thing that jumps to mind once you've settled in with the reissue is that while the booklet at 24-pages is aesthetically pleasing to look at – it's a damn shame that an essay on the double-album's history and impact wasn't included – especially given Tommy's astonishing 50-year legacy. I can remember as a kid pouring over every nuance of this beasty and every time it felt like you discovered something new. There is no sense of that impact on this singular CD version which is a shame...still to the good bits...
The opening strums of "Overture" leap out of the speakers, as does that familiar acoustic/electric guitar melody - horns too. "It's A Boy Mrs. Walker..." Townshend sings and the clarity is fabulous as is that segue into "1921" which as I recall dipped a little on the SACD version I've had. Entwistle's Bass notes threaten your living room on "Sparks" while their cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight To The Blind" (changed over the years to "The Hawker" from the original label name) hears Daltrey and Moon right up in yer face. Side 2 opens with "Christmas" where children wake up 'excited' but Tommy doesn't know what day it is - silent and unaware of anything. The deeply sinister "Cousin Kevin" is the first of two Entwistle compositions - the other is "Fiddle About" - both featuring abuse of the deaf, dumb and blind kid. I remember I had the picture sleeve single of "Acid Queen" when Merry Clayton covered it for the 1973 double-remake of Tommy - it was issued as a 45 in the UK on Ode Records with "Underture" as its flipside (ODS 66301). Here the Who original remaster feels huge, as does "Underture" in all its instrumental glory. By the time we get to "Pinball Wizard" (the obvious single) - I'm sold on this 2013 version - fantastic song that stills packs a whack (sure plays a mean pinball for sure). And on it goes to forgotten album gems like the ego-trip song "Sensation", the blue Rolls Royce tune "Sally Simpson" and the unexpectedly pretty "Welcome" - finally stomping its legend status with "I'm Free" and that massive finisher "We're Not Going To Take It" where Tommy is aware and advising you to put in your earplugs...
For sure in 2020, "Tommy" is of its '1969 time' and truth be told, I probably return more to their 1973 double "Quadrophenia" because the music in my mind is even better. But what a great urge-splurge this early studio double-album was and still is. Re-visiting "Tommy" has been a joy and revelation.
See me, feel me, touch me - well I think this latest variant allows a punter to do just that and with genuinely improved audio too and for not a lot of wedge either. And The Who truly did have an amazing journey ahead...
This recording never seems to soar and does not compare to the original vinyl which feels far more dynamic and alive. These issues are probably a reflection of the technology used on the original recording.
I initially felt that I may have been too harsh on this recording. However listening to some remasters of Eric Clapton from the early 1970’s (Crossroads 2 live in the 70’s 1996 CD remaster) disabused me of that notion. The recording is flat and slightly lifeless. If a live recording remastered in the 1990’s can sparkle and shine why not a carefully produced studio album which has been extensively remastered?
I have not set out to write reviews of the music content as “beauty is in the ears of the listener”. These reviews are about the quality (or not) of the recorded sound. To read about how the reviews are done please see my profile.
• Clarity - OK
• Channel separation - Good
• Channel balance – Good very traditional, left, right, centre
• Sound Stage – reasonable given the age of the recording. It is limited on the pure instrumental sections. Strangely it is much better when vocals are present
• Distortion – Some on cymbals
• Compression – Some as music becomes more energetic
• Atmosphere – Only seems to come alive when vocals are present otherwise feels a little “flat”
• Bass – low frequencies – OK feels flat and compressed especially the drums which are “soft” and lacklustre
• Treble – high frequencies – OK but some distortion on the cymbals. The guitars are good
• Vocals – Very good clear and distinct
As a general rule of thumb recordings from the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s are nearly always better on the original vinyl. Remasters often fail to please as it’s just not possible to make a silk purse from a sows ear, i.e. the original recording lacks the necessary detail to be processed digitally and show an audible improvement. Indeed such processing can make the sound worse.
Modern recordings which have been processed digitally from start to finish can be as good as vinyl. CD’s are often unfairly criticised for being poor quality. This is not the case, it is the original recording or the process which is to blame. Modern “remasters” can both enhance and degrade a recording. The statement GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) is the limiting factor. Ignore this at your cost.
I consider this package represents good value for money even if you only want disc 2
Finally! a major record company gets why we buy bootlegs!
no overdubs, no studio fixes, no remastering, no pointless editing. just 2 sound board shows welded together to make a complete "tommy" performance
I forget which 1969 show makes up the bulk of the disc but the last few tracks are from Swansea '76
the 1969 show is incomplete because it was recorded for a planned live album that wouldn't include songs from Tommy.
the tracks from Swansea are a fine substitute
quality Is like a very good fm sourced bootleg