Monday, March 2, 2020

For The Record #2: Who's Next

In 2003, Universal released a deluxe edition of "Who's Next," both as a 2-CD set and a 3-LP edition. The package boasts remastering from the original tapes by both Andy Macpherson and Jon Astley. This is not the selling point for me, as I believe the original U.S. pressing on Decca, those with matrices ending in "W1-2 and W1 X" remain the strongest sounding versions of this classic. (For those who are still reading after that obnoxious bit of record dorkity, I thank you.)

The selling point of this set is what has been added as bonus tracks. You get both the alternate and unreleased tracks from the New York Record Plant sessions, which include the blistering 8 minute "Baby Don't You Do It," a real showcase for Mr. Moon, as well as the live set from "The Young Vic" in '71, which is not only a killer set to rival any Who performance, but one of the greatest set lists the band has ever put together.

Sounds great, no?

Well, here's the thing:

For reasons that are not quite clear, some manoeuvering has been done, like slapping "Getting In Tune" at the end of Side One. Now, "Song Is Over" does not close out the first side and "Going Mobile" begins Side Two. I guess that isn't so terrible if your plan is to listen to "Who's Next" in its entirety. You will now have five extra minutes before having to flip the record over. BUT...the label slapped "Baby Don't You Do It" at the end of Side Two so "Won't Get Fooled Again" is no longer the last track on "Who's Next" and THAT I find offensive.

I realize that all of this may seem like a complete waste of time to the many who have long given up on physical product. But I believe in sequencing. I think it could make or break a record.

I love having this package, but I also feel in some ways, it could have been a homerun, and is instead a bloop single. The casual Who fan will not be buying an umpteenth version of "Who's Next." The diehard and vinyl guy, will be, and that should have been the target for this set.

The sound on the album proper is fine. Maybe a bit too fine. The Decca original has balls, while this new master is a bit too sterile. But as I said above, you want this for Discs Two & Three, and the live mix from The Vic is superb. It's just that the sequencing seems very slapdash. It is not an expensive set, considering it's a three-LP set from the U.K..I know I would have shelled out the $35 for just the bonus studio tracks and live set. I just don't get going through this trouble without having one person in The Who camp questioning the sequencing. I am sure the labels have an answer. They always do.

Packaging- 6/10 (No frills, three LPs in one double gatefold)
Audio Quality- "Who's Next"- 7/10, Bonus Material- 9/10
Content- 10/10


Anonymous said...

That live at the Vic is fantastic

Anonymous said...

I had no idea this was released on vinyl. That is truly bizarre about the sequencing. In looking at the label images on Discogs, it's also a bit strange that the album proper + Record Plant songs are on the Track label while the Young Vic songs are on Decca.

I've never heard a U.S. first press but have a 2012 Music On Vinyl that I absolutely love.

Since you recommend the Young Vic audio so highly, I would imagine I'll have to pick this up. Thanks for the heads up!


Bombshelter Slim said...

I concur, Sal. A similar situation occurred with the deluxe version(s) of Live At Leeds: although the "bonus material" was interesting and sometimes excellent, the impact of the original sequencing was lost.

Anonymous said...

the original Who's Next even sounded massive coming out of my FM clock radio.

FD13NYC said...

The Young Vic stuff is excellent! Haven't listened for a long while, have to revisit. Keith is a monster!

neal t said...

Sounds like they "fixed" the sound.

cmealha said...

Not having "Won't Get Fooled Again" finish the album might have by itself made me stay away but the rest of it sounds enticing. Thanks for the info. Now I just have to find it.