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Tommy (2013 Deluxe Edition)

4.6 out of 5 stars 512 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 11, 2013)
  • Deluxe Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Universal Music
  • ASIN: B00ELAMR60
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (512 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,480 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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').
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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