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Reviews: The Who: Tommy

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Reviews: 20

Review by FivePointOne October 31, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Wow.

I've had this on LP, cassette, CD, remastered CD, and I've even got a bootleg of Townsend's home-cooked demos. This is like a wholly different piece of music altogether.

This one goes to "11"

The redbook layer is a huge improvement over the recently remastered CD.

The 5.1 mix is revelatory. If you've heard the CD before, you know there are lots of layers of voices and instruments in that wall of sound. Now you can hear each one individually because of the depth 5.1 allows. The effects are impressive--vocals and instruments are spread among the 5.1 landscape (I could swear I even heard music coming from my 6.1 rear center) in pleasantly unexpected ways. Sometimes the "choir" will be in one area, other times the various voices will be spread about. Layers of guitars are now spread out. Drums and precussion spread out.

You get the picture?

It's like "Tommy" finally got fitted for a custom-tailored suit.

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Review by peteyspambucket December 31, 2003 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This recording is from the 60's?? I don't believe it. This album is SO GOOD.

I don't know TOMMY at all, and this is my first WHO album. Listening from this vantage, I now understand why it was turned into a major Bway musical. The performance captured on this recording is dramatic, intensely musical, and intelligent.

In terms of sound, listening only to the 2channel SACD layer, the drums sound incredibly lifelike. The piano has a wonderful live sound, and the guitars and bass sound very crisp and succinct. The vocals are very nice and clear. I like the close-up sound, since it lets you really hear the musicianship, and the mixing creates a nice balance so everything has space around it. I couldn't really tell that this is a 25 year old recording at all. The sound is as good as, and in some places better, than the Rolling Stones SACDs.

I'm impressed and loving the music. I only wish Goodbye Yellow Brick road sounded like this.

While I'm not immediately appreciative of the 2nd disk with alternate material, there is a wealth of different version of songs, and in some cases, I like the alternates better. It's great to hear the variations. These are also all in excellent sound, and there's a jam session that almost sounds like you're there.

I would easily put this album into the "must-have" category.

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Review by vonwegen January 30, 2004 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Tommy is a snapshot of the Who in transition from their loud Mod roots to the more sophisticated fare of Who's Next and Quadrophenia. It has both the bare-bones hard rock of the My Generation album and baroque touches like John Entwhistle's French horn, making this release both raw & refined at the same time.

The 5.1 mix is like having Keith Moon in your living room--this has to be the most natural-sounding rock drum sound I've ever heard on disk, with the main drums positioned in the front right and the deeper rack toms and the floor toms put in the center speaker at peak moments. The electric guitar crunches all around and dances in and out of the masses of acoustic guitars (which sound like they were recorded with dynamic mics instead of the sweeter-sounding condenser microphones, giving a rawer feel). The vocals sound excellent, as does the bass guitar, lots of punch and clarity.

Disk one is essential, disk two less so, but still interesting, especially Moon's cackling laughter during abortive takes of "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?". There are a fair amount of instrumental versions of rejected takes.

The stereo mix is of historical importance because it is the original Kit Lambert 2-track mixdown tape, released 'as-is' for the first time. As such, it's less refined than the Jon Astley remix that is featured on the 1996 CD re-issue--the drums are markedly further back in the mix, and the guitars are not as clearly seperated and tend to overwhelm the drums, especially in loud sections.

30+ years on, the overall story of Tommy has dated badly in parts, but the main attraction of this SACD is that it showcases how well the Who played together as a band--despite Townshend's multiple guitar tracks on each sone & Entwhistle's overdubbed French horn parts, this album still sounds incredibly live and raw in both surround & stereo.

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Review by drp February 23, 2004 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I gotta be honest, I was disappointed. Maybe I'm just too familiar with the original mix but it seemed so dry without even a tinge of reverb on the horn during the overture and the acoustic guitar part into Captain Walker, I understand wanting to keep it close and personal but I thought it rather unastounding. A little depth woulda been nice throughout almost the whole thing. Also, I thought Pete totally under-utilized the 5.1 mix, Keith Moon should have crashing out of every speaker, they could have utilized the full range of each channel but in my opinion he was hardly there at all. I wanted Keith in my living room, I didn't get that. Same with Entwistle's bass, it was mixed in too low. I don't know, I've heard some spectacular 5.1 SACDs and of all of them, I hate to say it but this one was the biggest disappointment. I hope they do Quadrophenia right, I know Pete doesn't hear so well.

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Review by rsbeck March 10, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Everyone knows the music, so you need to know the quality of the sonics. Excellent.

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Review by WalterM May 6, 2004 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Tommy-I can hear you! Great performance. The Who never sounded better. No hiss, no pops, no ticks. The sound is unbelievable. The mix is fun and very detailed. The Ultimate Tommy

The Multichannel mix is GREAT!

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Review by Compression Must Die May 8, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Between tapes, vinyl, original (wretch-book) CDs, and the MFSL gold release I have owned at least a dozen versions of this Pete Townshend opera. I have also heard it live through the Sony Isle Of Wight release and the most recent "complete" Live At Leeds release. I can confidentially say that I am pretty familiar with all its warts (drop-offs, poor drum mix, poor bass mix, overmixed guitars, etc.)

When Pete Townshend went into hiding to complete this re-mix, it was a labor both of love and sanity by all accounts. What he delivered to Who fans everywhere is a more complete musical package. The bass and drums are clearer, the backup vocals strong/clear, and the guitar/keyboard work steady.

By far the best rendition/re-issue of this product, geometrically enhanced by the SACD mastering technique. Of the 65+ SACDs I now own, this is one of my top 5 pop/jazz must haves.

o The Who - Tommy
o Steely Dan - Gaucho
o Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
o Miles Davis - Kind Of Blue
o Duke Ellington - Blues In Orbit

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Review by hawkfan May 22, 2004 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Tommy......you either love it or hate it, i like it,loads better than the LP no pops and crackles, a nice clear sound, must buy the film on DVD when its been remastered.

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Review by jsp January 11, 2005 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A great album now made better

pete townsend has done an excelent job on the multichannel mix.

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Review by eesau February 2, 2005 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well, this is a recording from the late 60es and you can hear it.
Nothing special there. Music is good but I still like Who's later
stuff from the 70es more.

Multi-channel mix is sometimes OK but not always. I especially dislike
how Daltrey's voice is mixed to the rear channels at the beginning.
The use of rear speakers is sometimes too loud.

My advice is to set the rear speaker level lower or simply listen to
the two channel mix, only.

Townsend should not have done the mix himself but use some professional
multi-channel expert instead.

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Review by sthebkrman February 14, 2005 (0 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is definitely one of my favorite SACD's and I am not really a Who fan. Pete Townsend must have loved remixing this in Super Audio. I enjoy starting at Pinball Wizard and listening to the end. The first part of the album gets a tad boring. Pinball Wizard sounds amazing. The second CD is also fun because it takes you into the studio and some of the songs really show off Keith Moon's skills as a drummer. You won't regreat buying this one.

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Review by CaryGrant May 30, 2005 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is a great sounding SACD, no question about it. I have no use for the second disc, but fans of historical Who stuff may.

Everything sounds so rich and full, crisp and clear. I never got into this album as a teenager - too non-mainstream for where I was at the time, but it soars on SACD. Townsend's guitar, Moon's percussion, Entwhistle's bass, Daltrey's vocals - they'll reach out and grab you.

I wish the rest of The Who catalog would come out on SACD; until then, I'll listen to it on vinyl.

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Review by mystic fred December 26, 2005 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
christmas eve 1969 (or was it 1970..?).....after spending most of the afternoon in the pub i had something left of my first christmas bonus and found myself in the local record shop. browsing through the racks i came across TOMMY and, though I was somewhat inebriated and it was something i wouldn't have normally bought as i'd never seen much publicity for the album, it was the WHO and the money was burning a hole in my pocket. double albums weren't cheap in those days and on the way home i pondered on the wisdom of my purchase. i needn't have worried, the music was fantastic... i'd never heard any thing like it before. my elder brother scorned it, saying it doesn't sound like the who, but i couldn't stop playing it for months (...years!). there seemed to be two camps of who fans (not so much nowadays), before tommy and after tommy. the who, verging on bankruptcy, came up with this work of genius which took them up into the stratosphere, leaving mod bands like the small faces, the kinks and the move far behind, filling football stadiums and setting themselves among the greats like led zeppelin and the stones. the immediacy and freshness of the original recording comes through brilliantly on stereo SACD, the original recording was great but this is like hearing it for the first time. keith's drums and cymbals come crashing through the speakers like never before, john's bass, pete's guitar parts and roger's vocals are so clear you can literally almost see them. overall a highly recommended recording, SACD is definately the way forward if they keep to this standard of remastering. can't wait to hear it on the 5.1 surround channel!

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Review by Ericvhalfabee January 22, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:    
The multichannel authoring is just superb. You don't have to crank up the volume, but this deserves it. The 'orrible ooo, were never in my favourite top ten of rock bands, but this is my best SACD so far.

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Review by Tito February 27, 2008 (2 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Tenemos que agradecer el gran trabajo de Pete, es una OBRA DE ARTE el como quedo grabado este SACD, tengo el CD original que también esta muy bien grabado aunque en 2 canciones del álbum podemos escuchar gis, pero tiene unos bajos y una separación de voces e instrumentos genial aun cuando es stereo, ahora con el SACD se elimino el gis, los sonidos provienen de los 6 canales con mucha claridad, hay instrumentos agregados, voces, sonidos, que en el Cd no están y que en conjunto hacen que este sea un gran, si no es que el mejor SACD con los que cuento. Lo recomiendo ampliamente.

P.D. No lo he escuchado en stereo así que no puedo dar opinión, pero después de escucharlo en multicanal no he pensado en ponerlo en stereo.

Tito Zenteno
México City

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Review by analogue February 26, 2009 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
There's alot of great classic rock to be had on sacd. There is also some terrible releases as well.

Tommy is one of the good ones.

When vinyl records died out and we all went to cd I felt that somethinbg was missing. Digital sound was cold, sterile and lifeless to me. My love for music really wained. I took a chance and bought this sacd out of the blue to see what sacd was all about. And I have never looked back. I was literally blown away. Simply put.......what was missing from cd was replaced by sacd. The warmth, presence and life of vinyl records came back to me. It was a great experience so this sacd by the Who is special to me. It changed my life.

As this title was going to be released on both sacd and dvd-audio, the studio decided that they would record it using 24/96 pcm instead of using dsd from the master tapes.

As such I have a complaint that the treble and top end sounds brittle and harsh at times. The digital fingerprint of pcm if you will. But that is a minor complaint. What is good about the sacd Tommy is thr presence and richness it has. Moon's drums are very bombastic and realistic at times and there is a zip and energy to the music that can shock you.

That being said I do not want you to think I don;t recommend this sacd because I do. Here are the reasons:

1) they found the original two track mix down and used these tapes instead of a secondary tape. The sound is fantastic. The music has some warmth, can be very lifelike in the vocals and drums at times and for the most part this sacd has real solid presence about it. It sounds more vinyl like that cd like.
2) This is simply a great classic rock album from the late 60's and if you are a fan of this I can assure you that you never heard it sound this good in regular cd. If you are searching for classic rock that sounds great on sacd.....you can start here. Some people question the mixing of this but others accept it. It shouldn't be a problem if you love the music.
3) it has a bonus disc of great studio tracks and Pete Townsend demo's.


Highly recommended. I know it's pricey but it's worth it if you really love Tommy.

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Review by jrsanfilippo August 25, 2009 (0 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I think this is a quality mix. I do not think this is the best of the Who. I have listened to it 5 times. It does grow on you ... I would not say that all the must is jaw dropping. I would definitely saw that this is a title that every SACD owner should have. I do agree that the extra stuff is of limited value to anyone but someone who has to have it all.

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Review by musicmatters November 23, 2009 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I own several hybrid SACD's disks, but only just recently purchased a SA-CD player. On my standard CD player this album sounded great, but oh what a revelation this CD is on an SA-CD player!

I do not have to tell anyone how wonderful this album is. It was one of my favorite's growing up, and re-discovering it on SA-CD has been almost a religious experience. The sonics are better than I have ever heard on any album, and that's saying a lot because I own over 5,000 assorted CD's and albums.

The drums sound like Keith Moon has set his kit up in your living room and is pounding the hell out of them. But it is not just that they are loud, they are incredibly musical and alive sounding. You can almost see the drum skins reverberate back and forth.

As amazing as the drums are, the vocals, especially Pete Townshend's, sound close and fresh and immediate and supple. When he sings "I have no reason to be optimistic, but somehow when you smile I can brave bad weather" I you can see the smile on his face.

Daltry's vocals and Entwistle's bass both sound better that ever before, but for me it is the drums and Townshend's vocals that stand out on this issue. I am sure that after repeated plays, I will see more and more into the genius of this album and this re-issue.

Long live rock indeed...

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Review by cordobaman February 11, 2013 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Warm, rich, full-bodied sound. I am very pleased with this release. The surround is not overdone. The bass is nice and strong. The clarity is amazing given the age of this recording. Lots of content, some are mediocre, a few are absolutely outstanding...worth every penny for the gems.

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Review by Tape to DSD128 June 4, 2014 (0 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
The notes on this disc state the 2ch layer is from the original mix
I dont think this is true, im tending to think they digitized the Multitrack master to PCM 94/24
then attempted to mixdown & recreate the original 1969 mix.

After hearing the japanese SHM-sacd it is now the only version worth listening to it uses the original stereo master mixes direct to DSD , sure the 2003 sacd has boosted high & low freq which will lead a lot of people to conclude its better, but believe me all the boosted eq etc it becomes very strident & PCM digital sounding good maybe for a quick fling with no lasting fondness.
the japan shm-sacd gets better with a fondness & loving Transcendent bond & connection just like real analog music WOW!!
i must say they are completely different & if your after the very best digital version of Tommy
You just cant beat the Japanese SHM-SACD
: /showreviews/7983#10521
this version really brings to life Tommy in a totally analog organic way
the only way they will better it is to transfer it direct again but to the higher DSD128 with a sample rate @ 5.6448MHz instead of of the standard 2.8224Mhz.

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