I started writing this piece several days ago, in which time it's just been announced that the Who studio albums are being released on vinyl, as a Boxset & individually. Whilst this is good news, It's a shame these won't be sourced from the analogue tapes. For all the latest info, visit The Who .com
Back in 2013, Little Steven had on a on air rant about the state of The Who catalogue. I wrote the following piece several years ago, and while 2013 saw a release of a mono CD version of My Generation and 2014 a mono digital version of the same, it's still worth bearing the following in mind if you are tempted by the Deluxe Version, as well as highlighting the general sad state of Who releases. :-
My Generation 1965 -
The only way to hear this album is on vinyl, and that's not an audiophile statement. Here's why:-
Producer Shel Talmy recorded this album with The Who and session pianist Nicky Hopkins at IBC Studios in London. At the time the studio used a 3 multitrack tape recorder (music could be recorded on 3 separate tracks). During the process of mixing the multitrack onto the master, some vocals and guitar where played live onto the mono master.
When The Who & Shel Talmy eventually settled their differences and released the stereo deluxe version on CD in 2002, it was taken from the original 3 track multi track tapes and whilst sounding great in stereo, was missing some key elements that were left on the mono masters. So that "La La La Lies" sounds like what it is, unfinished and several tracks use alternative lead vocals that are inferior to the originals. Quite why, like many other albums it wasn't reissued in mono & stereo is unfathomable.
While jet-washing the Sistine Chapel may be a a heavy analogy, the way one of the most exciting debut albums by one of greatest bands to have ever set foot in a recording studio has been treated, is a travesty.
Paul Moss 2012
Whilst the 2013 reissue mono CD has cleared this issue, it release was a downbeat affair, a small ceremony for close relatives. With the exception of a digitally sourced version on the 2012 box set, there was no vinyl release of this debut album, fortunately March 2015 this album will be released again, sadly from 24/96 rather than the analogue tapes and hopefully in Mono.
The follow up album has had an even shakier reissue program.
A Quick One was originally released in 1966 on the Reaction label. My first copy of this album was a track reissue double (coupled with Sell Out) which like the original was in mono. The stereo album reared its head on the 1981 Phases box set and whilst for the most part I prefer the mono, this is a great sounding version of this album. (So Sad About Us & See My Way are still mono versions on this release).
After being reissued on CD in the late eighties, a mono re-mastered version was released in 1995 followed by a stereo remastered version which used exactly the same booklet & jewel case, I used a post it note to differentiate the two. Either way, both are mastered far too loud and the hyper-compression renders them unlistenable in my opinion.
Again being released in March on vinyl, also mastered from a 24/96 digital source, will this be Mono or Stereo?
Hopefully my vinyl version of Who Hits 50 will arrive in February, it will be interesting to hear how the singles sound compared to the original singles & compilations such a Meaty BB&B etc. Also being released is a Brunswick singles box set which looks very sexy!