Tommy [3 CD/Blu-ray][Super Deluxe Edition]
Deluxe Edition, Super Deluxe Edition
Blu-ray + Audio CD | 3 CD
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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, March 12, 1996
Audio DVD, Original recording remastered, Extra tracks, April 27, 2004
Audio, Cassette, Original recording remastered, March 12, 1996
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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, written almost entirely by Pete Townshend is now available as a new LIMITED EDITION Super Deluxe version that that includes 4 audio discs, an 80 page hardback book and a poster.
The audio features the original album re-mastered along with a wealth of previously unheard material in the form of 20 demos from Pete Townshend's archive and also 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 sound man Bob Pridden despite Pete's instructions.
The Super Deluxe box also features a 5.1 mix featuring the complete album remixed in surround sound on new Hi Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray format.
The hardback 80-page full-colour book features rare period photos, memorabilia, a 20,000-word essay by legendary Who aficionado Richard Barnes and a rare facsimile Tommy poster housed in a hard-back deluxe slip-case.
(Disc 1) The original album digitally re-matsered in HD.
(Disc 2) The demos and out-takes. Features 25 tracks (20 previously-unreleased) from Pete Townshend's archive. Tracks 1-23 - Pete Townshend original demos.
All previously unreleased except 2, 11 and 12 - released in 2003.
Track 24 - The Who studio demo/out-take.
Track 25 - The Who studio recording. (NOTE: This version was previously only available on 'The House That Track Built' vinyl sampler).
(Disc 3) The 5.1 album mix - Hi Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray.
(Disc 4) The live 'bootleg' album - Features 21 previously-unreleased tracks from various live shows from 1969.
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Top Customer Reviews
One complaint I have is that this is allegedly the definitive "Tommy" but you will have to hold onto your 2003 "Deluxe" version as it includes a few outtakes not included here.
This record (the surround mix) is one of the most amazing rock music collections I have heard. It is stunning in a lot of ways, but if you think Keith Moon is a great drummer, the surround mix makes you realize he's even better than that. For those of you who think he's sloppy and thrashy, you must listen to this. The spaciousness of the surround mix allows the details of the playing and singing to "breathe", you are there with the band as the music literally fills the room, as it would if you were there.
Some complain that the surround mix goes too far in this way, and changes the character of the music of the "Tommy" we grew up with. I agree that the "character" is changed, but I feel it's different in a great way, as if you are hearing Tommy for the first time. No doubt that the excellence of the songwriting and playing allowed Townshend to create two different interpretations of the same material.
BY the way, Pete Townshend did the surround mix, and there is a 30 minute feature in this set where he tells you how he did it. You also get the original mix remastered at 96khz/24 hi res audio. Thunderous through a nice playback system
The Story: Interestingly, the author, Pete Townsend, admits that he was unsure exactly what the story was until the movie was made of the "opera!" The basic story is of "Tommy," who was born while his father, "Captain Walker," is away at sea. Captain Walker returns home after several years absence and discovers Tommy's mother with her new lover. Tommy's mother and her lover kill Tommy's father in front of the young Tommy. Although left vague, Tommy may have been beaten to keep him quiet. At a minimum, he was forcefully admonished not to let anyone know about the killing. The mother and lover sing "You never heard it! You never saw it! You'll never tell a soul what you know is the truth!" At the same time, Tommy sings at a nearly inaudible level, "I heard it, I saw it ..." but complies by adding, "I'll never tell a soul what I know is the truth." The psychological trauma from the incident caused Tommy to comply by becomming deaf, dumb and blind so he could never reveal what he knew, or anything else, leaving him alone with his thoughts and feelings. The only contact he is able to have with the world is with a pinball machine.
Thereafter, Tommy is put through physical, sexual and psychological abuse by his family. (His uncle rapes him, his cousin tortures him, and his family take him to the Acid Queen in a failed attempt to break Tommy out of his sightless and soundless state.) Because he is cut off from sight, sound and communication, he is able to have some sort of spiritual contact with the universe which others are unable to experience. -- "Strange as it seems, his musical dreams ain't quite so bad." "Simpleness will surely take the mind where minds can't usually go."
But, despite his lack of sight and hearing, he becomes a pinball wizzard and a celebrity. When his senses are returned, he is hailed as a messiah. But, as with all messiahs, the masses eventually rejected him because his path to spiritual enlightenment is too difficult to follow. In the end, he was as alone as he had been without his sight, hearing and speech.
The work is on several levels, the first of which is described above. On a second level, Tommy is representative of the entire post World War II baby boomer generation, and how the "younger generation" (rightfully) felt it was being raped by the older generation. This was one of the great themes of the "younger generation" in the mid to late '60s, as they were being shipped off to an unpopular and nearly endless war in Viet Nam to protect the United States' oil interests. Those heros who served in the war came home physically and psychologically maimed, and in many instances addicted to heroine, alcohol and marijuana, marching to a differnt music than when they left, to a world where they were not given a hero's welcome, but, like Tommy, were rejected, mistreated and alone.
The Music: Tommy was the first "rock opera." (OK, Pete Townsend will tell you that "Tommy" it is a song cycle, whatever that is! -- and a later reviewer corrected me that Pretty Thing's operatic "S. F. Sorrow" came a year earlier.) It is complete with an overture and an underture. The Who wanted to be able to perform it live, so an orchestra was not brought into the studio. Townsend and producer Kit Lambert added in all kinds of queues from classical music, such as the occasional use of a French Horn, trumpet and flugelhorn, and extended instrumental passages. Producer Kit Lambert worked hard to make a four piece rock band sound like an orchestra! But, this album is not one of the middle of the road pop rock operas which were to follow such as Jesus Christ Superstar or Evita. This was the Who. At the time, they were the loudest rock band around with something like 125,000 watts of power. This is still the Who which performed Live at Leeds, The Who Sell Out, and Who's Next.
Many of the songs became hits, including "Pinball Wizzard," "See Me, Feel Me," and "The Acid Queen." Personally, I prefer the extended musical sections as they are more challenging and satisfying passages.
And Keith (how the hell did he do it!?!) Moon was brilliant on drums.
If you have an SACD or DVD Audio player, I highly recommend buying this album in those formats. If not, and you have any sort of decent sound system, Pioneer makes a cheap unit which plays both.