Tommy Arrives Again On Vinyl From Universal

Given a choice of great mastering and pressing or packaging true to the original, which would you choose? Yes, I know, why not produce a definitive reissue that offers great mastering and pressing and the original triple gatefold jacket and the original limited edition booklet? But clearly that wasn't in the cards for whoever was in charge in order to bring this project to market within budget so it could be sold at a particular price point, which in this case is $39.00 for the double LP set.

Had historical accuracy, not price point been paramount, this would have been a triple-gatefold, triptych-style folded panel package that paid homage to Pete Townshend's friend Mike McInnerney's spectacular cover art.

Unfold an original American Decca or U.K. Track, turn it over and you see not the flat latticework cover but the full curvature of a lattice globe floating dramatically in space. Buyers of this reissue won't be able to appreciate the artwork and its induced sensation of floating, which is something the music too produces, because part of it's been tossed to fit it into a double gatefold. Maybe the reissue producer doesn't like sconces.

On the other hand, even Track cheaped out early on, eliminating the original's sumptuous, glossy cover lamination for a far less dramatic opaque paper.

When Classic Records reissued Tommy, label owner Mike Hobson went to fanatical lengths to recreate the original U.K. Track cover art and he succeeded completely down to the cloth-like paper used on the right hand most panel under which both LPs slid, one accessible from a left opening pocket and one from the right. It was a complex construction but Classic reproduced it.

Universal chose not to. But Universal, like Classic, did reproduce the limited edition booklet. And Universal had Kevin Gray, not "A. Nonymous" cut lacquers and this was very well pressed at QRP. So I'm willing to cut Universal some packaging slack to get QRP quality pressings.

So now we get to source. There's been so much confusion around Tommy right from the start. The photo at the top is one I took at Bernie Grundman's when Classic reissued Tommy (Chris Bellman did the actual cutting). Near the top you'll find U.S. Decca catalog numbers not UK Track numbers. That's odd.

More unusual actually is that the tape actually exists at all. The story went that producer Kit Lambert brought the tapes to America, had Decca master them and then he set them on fire or destroyed them in some kind of nihilistic rage. Maybe he just destroyed the tape box?

In any case, the tape existed in fine condition back in 2006. One interesting fact discovered playing the tape against the original pressing was that the tape had been purposely sped up during mastering for at least one tune, to add excitement or make it flow better. For whatever reason or reason, that was the case and when Chris Bellman cut lacquers for the Classic reissue he did likewise, so the reissue would faithfully duplicate the original. Do I now remember the track or tracks on which this occurred? No I don't. Do I know if the original Decca followed suit? No I don't.

This reissue was cut by Kevin Gray from 96/24 files source from? No one is talking so the only way to find out was to listen. Apparently a 2003 stereo reissue was sourced from an alternative master long thought to have been lost that had less echo and fewer vocal overdubs. That's what I've heard but I haven't heard it. This reissue was not cut from that source. If this is a new stereo remix it was done with fanatic attention to the original—at least based upon the tracks I auditioned.

What? I didn't listen to the entire thing? Well, here's what I compared: two U.S. Decca originals, a Track original, and a Track second pressing, Classic's reissue, this new one and the HDTracks 96/24 version, which I'm sure was sourced from the same files used here.

That's seven copies so I hope you'll cut me some slack for not listening completely to all of them. I also have Track volumes 1 and 2 which were sold separately and which makes no sense considering that this is a fully integrated work unless you realize how expensive the double LP set must have been for the average poor kid in the U.K. at the time. What also didn't make sense was the alternate version of "Eyesight to the Blind" that appeared on the separate Volume 1. It also was the one on the Mobile Fidelity gold CD version of Tommy. Are you yet thoroughly confused? if not, read on!

I started by listening to this new pressing. I listened to the "Overture", "It's a Boy" and then "Sally Simpson," "I'm Free" and "Welcome" (because once I start with "Sally Simpson" I can't stop listening—and that's after 45 years of listening!).

I'd played the 96/24 download when it first arrived and didn't care for the drum sound, particularly the cymbals, which sounded more like air brakes than metal being bashed by Mr. Moon. That original Track is locked into my brain. However, I came away from these LPs thinking that you'd have to be a complete knucklehead to not like how this Tommy sounded. Yes, it was a bit "overextended" on top, but the cymbals shimmered and the skins had the texture and elasticity that you crave from well-recorded drums.

I paid particular attention to "Welcome", which has that ethereal background vocal falsetto and a fine mix of acoustic instruments as well as some of Moon's more delicate playing on the record. The instrumental and vocal three-dimensionality was impressive. When I played the same tracks on the HDTracks download, not so much! Was my DAC not as good as Kevin Gray's? No doubt that's part of it but perhaps part of it is also the lacquer cutting process and/or what he did to the raw decoded files in his final mastering.

Whatever it was, the vinyl cut from the same files was more sonically satisfying and by a wide margin.

Then it was on to the U.S. Decca, which I'd not played in years. Sometimes as your system changes your assessment of various pressings changes. Not this time. The original Decca has no bass. Well not "no" bass, but not much of a foundation and the mids and upper mids had been boosted too, producing an unlistenable swill of hard and bright. The second copy was as bad as the first. The bass cut is not surprising. Decca did the same thing to Elton John's eponymously titled album. The Dick James Music (DJM) original has thunderous bass. The UNI original, none below around 80Hz.

On to the Track original pressing. It was every bit as good, even magical, as I always though it was, particularly in terms of three-dimensionality. On "Welcome", the falsetto voice floated eerily untethered in three-dimensional space, as did all of the other elements in the mix. It's as if the original Track achieves phase and time perfection. Not on every track, but on most. And w'ere talking about an original pressing I've played dozens if not a hundred times. The magic in those grooves was also in grooves of the Track second pressing only, slightly diminished.

Then it was on to the Classic reissue cut from that pictured tape and plated and pressed at RTI. Now this was a big surprise! Even though the Classic cut referenced an original I brought with me, it was warmer and richer sounding than the original almost in ways that made it less sonically appealing than the original and the 96/24 sourced cut by Kevin Gray.

The Classic reissue was smooth and suave sounding, with very good resolution of inner detail, but it was flat-sounding and was lacking individual image three- dimensionality compared to the original Track. That was the biggest surprise. Then I went back and forth between the original Track pressing and this new one, which is advertised as having been "re-mastered" but not "re-mixed".

My conclusion is that this new reissue is sourced from the original mix used for the Track original and for Classic's reissue too. It's from the tape you see at the top of this page. So why does the Classic sound so different? I don't know. Perhaps somehow, when this tape was remastered from that tape they were able to restore and enhance in the digital domain some of what age had destroyed? Again, I don't know.

But comparing the original and this reissue back to back was the most interesting. They were more similar than they were different, tonally, dynamically and spatially but one was "organic" and effortlessly transparent while the other had a feel that was "reconstructed" or "reconstituted" even as its overall contours were nearly identical.

Would I have liked to hear what Kevin Gray could have done with the tape? Would I really like to hear what Kevin and Chris Bellman each could do with the tape now that BG's chain has been rebuilt (as has Kevin's)? You betcha! Maybe we could Kickstarter fund it. But it's also possible that only in the digital domain could the restorative efforts have been made that produced a result so close the original LP. Just speculating.

Back in the real world, despite the mediocre packaging, sonically this is a very good vinyl reissue of Tommy. I'd have to be a knucklehead to write otherwise.

Music Direct Buy It Now

COMMENTS
Brother John's picture

Thanks for the great review Mikey!

I had a lot of trouble with defective pressings from Classic Records and Tommy was the worst of my experiences. Years ago I ordered a copy from Acoustic, (best customer service in the world), Sounds and my first copy arrived horribly warped.  One week later the replacement pressing was full of noisy pops even after a good cleaning on a VPI 61.5!

Acoustic Sounds gave me a refund. Thank goodness all the Led Zeppelin Classics I purchased sound fantastic especially after reading what wrote yesterday!

I'm definitely picking this QRP pressed Tommy up after reading your review today.

tlat.com's picture

Wow, thanks for a fantastic journey of a review. I know it's a labor of love but don't know how you do it.  I was always impressed with the sonics from the Decca domestic pressing I have but now will listen for the bass or lack of. I also thought the soundstage was excellent as well. An amazing achievment. I've never heard an English pressing or at least I don't remember. Anyway based on your assessment I'll be ordering this version of Tommy. My partner in vinyl Ed and I spoke to you at the Soundstage Direct/VPI event a few weeks ago. Always a plesure, Tony

Michael Fremer's picture

Let us know how it sounds to you on your system!

jazz and cocktails's picture

great review, but if i buy online, how do i know which is this pressing?

this Tommy:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Who/dp/B00AY0JDW2/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1...

 

says Track on the Back cover.  is it the version under discussion?

Michael Fremer's picture

This is the big problem in a confused market made more confusing by a big corporation where one hand doesn't know what the other is doing! That pressing, if you look carefully, says "Polydor" not "Geffen" and it says "Made in EU". This one is manufacturing in the USA. 

Thanks for pointing this out. Now everyone has been warned. I have no idea who cut that one or from what.

jazz and cocktails's picture

which is what your review says,  seems to be a new release/pressing.

is there more than one?  how the hell would anyone know based on what one can devine from any online store.

and your review offers no pointers to a legit example.

sorry, fascinating review, but ultimately, just more confusion.

gubarenko's picture

Michael is wrong in here, yes this release mentioned and even though it has the wrong back cover uploaded. 

I've ordered it myself. Back cover is from last years european polydor reissue. And BTW they both have same barcode and 3715749 on upper left corner.

I don't know how to assure you more that this release is correct, but you'd have to trust me :)

http://

jazz and cocktails's picture

i ordered it, should be here in the next day.  i'm sure it will sound fine on my upgraded RP1, my only other reference being a CD rip at 16/44.

but ultimately i found this review more confounding than helpful.  interesting story, and i appreciate the comparions, but in instances where multiple pressings might be available through legitimate sources, i think Michael would do us all a favor by pointing to the one under discussion.

gubarenko's picture

Michael usually points only to MusicDirect, which is unacceptable for me as international customer (i'm from russia, and shipping costs a lot to russia). And amazon gives me nice shipping price.

Michael Fremer's picture

I'm confounded too  "jazz and cocktails". It is confusing. However Mr. gubarenko claims that the one Amazon is selling is the correct one even though the image they've uploaded is the wrong one. 

Soundstagedirect.com has the correct one. Last time I looked musicdirect.com had only the Polydor one, which is the wrong one...

I hope that helps!

gubarenko's picture

http://www.gubarenko.me/tommy.jpg

Guys, just for safety and trust - here's a photo of amazon.com (we are talking only about lp that sold from amazon.com and not from merchants) page with the back cover that suggest polydor and it marked that i've ordered it on March 24 (i've preordered). Also on the same photo my physical copy of correct Geffen/UMe edition that i've received.

Michael Fremer's picture

Okay folks, you can trust gubarenko. I was going by the best available information.

Michael Fremer's picture

This new one has the Track Records logo on the rear left bottom corner. Next to that is the Geffen log and next to that the new UMe logo under which in TINY letters it says "A Universal Music Company"

I hope that helps...

Bigrasshopper's picture

Amazon is is my last resort for Vinyl.  My copy of Beck's Morning Phase arrived looking like it had been handled by a fork lift.  Comically, bearring the banner "Frustration Free Packaging".  The replacement arrived with the same flimsy box placed in big box.

Waiting to take my Tommy and Classic Led Zeps and Simon's albums up to give em a listen at Listen Up.  It's my home away from home listening room.  Always gracious.

Indespensible, timely reveiws.  I'm intrigued by your crowd source vinyl funding dream.  I'll sign up for that dream.  You pick the tape and the place and I'll back you up,  in the real world!

Michael Fremer's picture

I'll be at Listen Up Denver April 16th and 17th......

jazz and cocktails's picture

so, what arrived today from Amazon says "Geffen" on the back, not "Polydor" as is implied fromt the rear cover image on the Amazon product page.

 

have not listened yet tho.

gubarenko's picture

glad you've trusted me :)

always here to help.

AnalogJ's picture

I have the Porky cut UK reissue. A long while back you had praised it. Every time I play it for people, their jaw drops.

sanchezj4's picture

Do you think it is worth buying if you have the Classic version? Also, have you listened to the current reissue of Quadrophenia? Do you know if it is worth buying?

Michael Fremer's picture

Haven't heard that one... I was surprised by the space and depth of this "Tommy" compared to the Classic, but whether or not its worth buying if you have the Classic is something only you can determine. The Classic is still very good. You can't go wrong with an original "Quadrophenia" cut by Doug Sax (TML) for the U.S. and U.K. originals..

mmarston's picture

OK, you made me go look (I just moved, and some records are less blocked than others.). My Quadrophenia has tan MCA labels and TML in the deadwax.  The box set copy comes close, and lacks the old one's few battle scars, but I seem to grab the MCA when I need to feel it. 

 

Mike27

arsenal6397's picture

The Tommy package in last years vinyl box set is faithful to the original UK Track issue including the triple fold and booklet. The barcode and cat # are the same 3715749 quoted in the other posts. This is pressed in the Czech Republic by GZ Vinyl as are many of Universal's Euro pressings. The runout groove also quotes 102555E and the 1/A, 2/A, 3/A and 4/A suffix depending on the side but interestingly this issue sticks to the original Side 1 and Side 4 on disc 1 and Sides 2 and 3 on the 2nd disc of the original issue. Each runout groove is signed by "Miles" which is Miles Showell and also has his 'M' in a circle scratching for Metropolis Studios in London showing he cut the laquers. I have not listened as yet as I have been too busy with the blu ray Pure Audio version so I can't comment on how it compares to an original Track issue. I doubt it's quite as good but Miles does good work. His Slowhand reissue of 2 years ago was done at 1/2 speed. Tommy however is not.

Michael Fremer's picture

Has its pluses and minuses like everyone else. Wow sticking to record changer protocol. Now that's hardcore. Of course what Miles used to cut lacquers we don't know.....

arsenal6397's picture

I agree. The runout groove on Slowhand says, "A Metropolis Paradigm Process 1/2 Speed Mastered Cut" by Miles which makes me think Metropolis were attempting to market / revive it as a mastering initiative. The intersting thing is that the label chose not to mention it in their marketing or cover sticker. Also interesting is that Miles cuts on Layla or Tommy were not 1/2 speed. I haven't got the latest Clapton vinyl box yet to see what they've done there.

Paul Boudreau's picture

"I also have Track volumes 1 and 2 which were sold separately..."

The same was done for Electric Ladyland.  Here's a copy of Vol. 1:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JIMI-HENDRIX-EXPERIENCE-ELECTRIC-LADYLAND-PT-1-O...

sunderwood's picture

I have the 2003 2 disc hybrid version. I don't have an SACD player, but in my opinion the cd layer sounds pretty clean and enjoyable to listen to. I have no doubt that the vinyl version would be a step up in sound quality, but Tommy is a recording that I would rather have in this version for the continuity. That said, I am always open to having my mind changed if the difference is great enough.

 Does anyone have both the version I have and this new vinyl release? I would be interested in your conclusions on the sound differences.

Michael Fremer's picture

Well I went back and found in my library that 2003 set you have. And the notes indicate that the "sweetened" version that I wrote about was considered the only surviving master and was used apparently for the original LP.

But a non-sweetened version with fewer overdubs and less reverb that's the REAL master tape was not destroyed and was discovered in the vaults and used for the 2003 SACD reissue. See page 13 for photos of the tape boxes. Now THAT looks like a real tape box.

But that one wasn't used for the original Track release (I think it wasn't) so it wasn't used by Classic for its reissue.

I'm going to find time to listen to this one (how? don't ask). Meanwhile, I also found ANOTHER "Tommy" CD, this one from 1996 remixed from the multitrack by Andy Macpherson and Jon Astley and mastered by Bob Ludwig.

So if I can stomach another listen (I love the record, don't get me wrong), I'll listen to that one too....

sunderwood's picture

I think the 1996 version was the first one of Tommy I had. When the 2003 one came out I bought it because of the reported better sound and it has an extra disc of alternative tracks. I was not disappointed. I gave my first version to my brother who has been the happy recipient of several of my cds since I got back into listening to records again a few years back and I wanted to clear out some of my duplicates. He enjoys them on his hour long commute to work. By the way, I think the worst sounding cd I ever bought was the original cd release of  Inna Gadda Da Vida. I think that has to be the worst sounding crap I have ever had on my stereo. I like the album, but whoever okayed the release of that version must have  some serious hearing problems or just didn't care.

jesuswept's picture

I'm 50 and I loved Tommy when I was a kid as much as anyone, so I guess I'm the ideal target demo both for this release and Analog Planet. 

But for god's sake give it a rest.  Reviews of the same tired warhorses over and over again.  It's wearying.  There's hundreds of new vinyl releases out there; try reviewing one or two of them. 

Or stick to reviewing the latest Pines of Rome re-release and wonder why nobody goes to your site anymore.

Michael Fremer's picture

 "Nobody goes to (my) site anymore"? You are clueless. I know you find this wearying but I know from the traffic that people are interested. Not everyone's 50 Jee. There are some younger people who don't know this album and are interested in buying it if it's good. You don't have to read the review. There will be others.... or you can simply spend your webtime elsewhere. Your choice.  

sanchezj4's picture

Please don't listen to Jesus. Your reviews are always on stuff I am thinking about. 

arsenal6397's picture

I thought the review was passionate. That's what I'm here for. Passion for music new and old is sadly lacking in 2014. Embrace it!

audiof001's picture

They keep reissuing the same old warhorses... someone's gotta keep 'em on their toes.

Zardoz's picture

Always great to see your revues Mikey.

I have a Simply Vinyl reissue, made in England, that has a 1969/1998 copyright on it, and no letters other than SVLP and ICI in the runout. It only says Polydor on the back. This isn't the Classic Records copy that you are talking about is it? If not, do you or anyone have any info on this one? It sounds pretty good to me but I have nothing to compare it to other han an old MCA reissue (no idea what year) that says made in England too. At least it is a tri-fold jacket.

Z

Michael Fremer's picture

They don't divulge their source material or who masters or anything. It's hit and miss. In my experience their EMI licensed titles tend to sound best. As for their "Tommy", who knows? That date probably means it was reissued in 1998. No that is not the Classic reissue, which has "CB" (Chris Bellman) on the lead out groove area...

StonedBeatles1's picture

Reading the comments here are just as entertaining as the reviews in itself!  :)

Hey Gubarenko,  Как дела? 

gubarenko's picture

It's fun in here )

elliotdrum's picture

I listened to Tommy back in the late 60's early 70's on acid several times.

For me this was great recreational fun also a GIANT upgrade to my stereo!

I will have to say there are great sounding records and great sounding cd's.

Also very poor sounding vinyl records and poor sounding cd's.

How good or great the master that's being used is the most important reason

that a record or cd sounds sounds great and of course the quality of the vinyl

being used for the pressing.

I just don't feel because it's on vinyl it will sound great.

The SACD of Tommy is really fantastic and I would be nuts to buy another

copy just because it's on vinyl. I do have a very good TT (VPI Classic 1)

and  the music is more important to me than packaging although great

packaging is a plus but it's the music.

The sound of Moonie's drums on SACD is scary.

My CD player is a Modwright modded Sony XA5400 tube player and it's not the

new DCS stack but it's really darn great.

Rock on!

Michael Fremer's picture

I first saw The Who do "Tommy" at The Boston Tea Party in 1969 in front of a few hundred fans. Until "Tommy" hit, The Who were not all that popular in America, probably because Decca didn't have a rock publicity infrastructure and they weren't exactly a singles band.

I was not on acid but stood right now to where they played and might as well have been on acid. 

They returned a few months later and played the B.U. Armory. I was dating a girl on the social committee and so had front row seats. This time I was on acid! It was a great performance too, probably somewhat tighter but also a bit lower in energy though who was I at the time to judge anything?

All I remember is leaving the concert on such a body high there was no going to sleep or even the possiblity of "scoring" (as we used to charmingly say) with my date, so we got in my car and drove all the way from Boston to Ithaca, arriving in the A.M. in time to wake my old roommates who had stayed for another year of graduate school.....

hi-fivinyljunkie's picture

I am now wondering if the version under review is USA only and that the EU version from the box set is being released seperately in UK and elsewhere. For what it's worth Miles and Metropolis mastering do a very good job when given a proper source. Some of those EU Who box set titles are supposed to use DSD remasters while some may be analogue according to information I have read. I haven't heard them and so am clueless if the EU Tommy source - it's likely DSD if not analogue. 

Clapton box reissues mentioned by Rationale (Give Me strength). All 3 albums appear to be GZ in house cuts which means from files. In this case surprisingly good sounding though originals are preferable or the amazingly close to original sounding Simply Vinyl 461 Ocean Boulevard.

Gardo's picture

First time commenter, long-time lurker. Great review, Mikey, and I always learn a lot from you. Thanks.

I bought the new vinyl edition last night (KG in the deadwax) and gave side 1 a spin today, then compared it to side 1 of the Classic 200g issue mastered by Chris Bellman. I prefer the Classic version. 

The new Keven Gray remaster sounds very good: quiet vinyl, dynamic, good soundstage, good clarity. What it lacks is majesty and depth. It sounds to me as if the "cloud" Steve talks about that lives down around 100-400hz has been shaved off. It also sounds kind of 'bleached" in the upper mids and lower treble, with a boost in the area where the snare drum, the cymbal attack, and the click of the pick on the guitar string live. The result (to my ears on my system) is less room tone around the instruments, less spooky-real vocals (where the Classic really shines--just listen to Daltrey on "Amazing Journey"), less bronze on the gong at the end of "Overture," less tone and more click on the guitars, especially the acoustic guitars. It's an exciting listen at times, but ultimately fatiguing and "tick-y" sounding. Again, my system and my ears.

The Classic mastering by Chris Bellman has a softer high end and a richer, sometimes woolier bass. But it also has a dream-like quality that's very important to this music, at least for me. And it sounds closer to the sound I associate with master tapes and live music, a sound in which no matter how loud or soft, every instrument has all the room it needs to be a full contributor to the total effect. Nothing sounds squeezed, or obscured, or too prominent, or crowded out by other instruments when things get busy. The mix can sound a little "flat" unless you turn the level up, at which point it just fills the room side-to-side and front-to-back. The vinyl isn't as quiet--I've got some of the legendary Classic 200g non-fill on this lp, alas, though not distractingly so, and the surface noise is a little more prominent. And you can't hear Keith's snare work quite as cleanly on the Classic as you can on the new Kevin Gray mastering. But the Classic has a sound I much prefer, and I suspect it's a little more like what the master sounds like, especially because the MFSL gold redbook has a similar sound as I recall.

My .02. I don't regret the purchase of the new Kevin Gray, but the Classic remains my go-to vinyl copy.

Michael Fremer's picture

For such a thoughtful and useful post!

Omnivore's picture

"Majesty," "depth" and "dreamlike" are very Tommy words. Haven't heard that pressing but would expect to like it from your description.

jazz and cocktails's picture

now that i've given it a listen:

sonically this is a very good vinyl reissue of Tommy. I'd have to be a knucklehead to write otherwise.

 

I don't have another viynl version to compare it to, but i'm thrilled with this purchase.

Thanks Michael for highlighting it.

Omnivore's picture

Hi Mikey, it's Michael McGill. You said this in your excellent review:

In any case, the tape existed in fine condition back in 2006. One interesting fact discovered playing the tape against the original pressing was that the tape had been purposely sped up during mastering for at least one tune, to add excitement or make it flow better. For whatever reason or reason, that was the case and when Chris Bellman cut lacquers for the Classic reissue he did likewise, so the reissue would faithfully duplicate the original. Do I now remember the track or tracks on which this occurred? No I don't. Do I know if the original Decca followed suit? No I don't.

-- and this intrigued me, so now I'm gonna solve this mystery. I've got my original Track pressing and my acoustic guitar out, and I'm gonna play along with every song briefly untli I find the one where the guitar sounds noticeably flat (since "sped-up" equals "higher-pitched" in pre-digital times). Report to follow.

MM

Omnivore's picture

At least on this earlyish Track pressing, there's no glaringly-obvious song that's, say, a quarter-tone high. There seem to be some very slight pitch inconsistencies from song to song, suggesting that they weren't averse to using the speeding up of tape as a creative tool. But at least on this version of "Tommy," there is no obvious "fast song."

"Beggars Banquet," "Kind of Blue"... the funny-speed puzzles continue!

MM

Michael Fremer's picture

Well that should be interesting...

Omnivore's picture

As stated below, no clearly-fast song, at least on my Track pressing.

Martin's picture

Great stuff, really interesting reading both the review and the comments. 

The review is great, a good guide as always. On this one I will be sticking with my two original Track pressings. I must give Tommy a spin, haven't had this on the turntable in a long long time. 

For reissues, as a general rule, if they better or add something to the original in some way, I'll go for them. If they are basically inferior, nope. 
The Rolling Stones DSD reissues were well worth getting for example. The Beatles - no point. Led Zeppelin, nope. 

What I do find great is the reissues are a great way for people who didn't grow up with this stuff to discover it on vinyl. CDs suck, there is no getting away from that. Done properly, I find 96/24 digital (usually) very good. A good way to get stuff out at a payable price. 

Dpoggenburg's picture

I decided to compare the Classic reissue with the EU version (from the Studio Albums box set and also available individually) and the new Geffen reissue. I focused on the three tracks on side 4 that Michael used.

The EU version is DEFINITELY a different animal. Initially it sounds pretty good, though much shallower in sound stage depth than the other two, with a lot of top end excitement which gets to be headache-inducing by the time you get to the first chorus of Sally Simpson ("she knew from the start," etc). It basically sounds like a lot of SACDs I have -- detailed, but just too damn bright/etched/analytical/use your own audio adjective.

Between the Geffen and the Classic reissue, I still prefer the Classic, but they are also VERY different from each other. Vocals on the Classic are not nearly as forward, so you might regard it as a little too laid back, but you still get tons of detail (the acoustic strums throughout Sally Simpson, the terrific acoustic solo on I'm Free, etc), and on my system a deeper and wider soundstage than either the Geffen or EU versions. What intrigues me is Michael's suggestion that the Geffen reissue bears a closer resemblance to his original Track copy than Classic's. 

I did note that my EU pressing was DEAD quiet, which was NOT the case with my QRP-pressed Geffen copy (can't win 'em all - though it's still excellent by almost any measure). I also suffered many frustrations with Classic's pressing quality, including having to buy four copies of Who's Next before I finally got an acceptably quiet copy. My Classic pressing of Tommy is excellent (pre-ordered so I got one of the "guaranteed from the first stamper" copies).

So if the goldilocks spectrum runs from Classic to Geffen to EU, I just pray the upcoming Zep titles land in the Classic/Geffen part of the spectrum -- though I'm fortunate enough to own the roadcase 45 rpm issue as a reference. 

 

 

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