Remixed Who Classic Sounds Great in Stereo

Perhaps, in a perfect audiophile world, Shel Talmy would have arranged to remix these three-track originals to analog for the LP release and to digital for the CD. But this isn't a perfect world. However, compared to my original American Decca "stereo" pressing of The Who Sings My Generation (Decca DL 74664), this is perfection. The original stereo edition was an electronically reprocessed, boxy-sounding compressed mess. While purists may have preferred it in mono, the stereo remix found in My Generation (Deluxe Edition) is respectful and keeps most of the action centered, avoiding hard-left and -right separation. I did get a chance to hear an original UK Brunswick mono pressing, and this reissue has nothing to be ashamed of.

If you thought these were crappy-sounding recordings to begin with, you're in for a shock. Primitive? Yes, but direct and ballsy as you could hope for--and surprisingly transparent. Full-sized reproductions of tape boxes on the LP's inner sleeves show that the uncredited engineer on these early sessions was in fact the great Glyn Johns. Had we known that originally, it would have been easy to deduce that the crappy sound was a result of the mastering, not the actual recordings.

Having the original session producer Talmy around to supervise the remixes ensured that the final result wouldn't stray too far from what was originally intended, and it doesn't. Track to track, the sound varies, but much of it is wideband, dynamic, and in-your-face big. A bit bright overall? Yes, but countered by deep, well-textured bass and dynamics that don't quit.

As for the material, the two LPs consist of the original UK edition of My Generation (Brunswick LAT 8616) issued on December 3, 1965, plus the exquisite "Can't Explain" (recorded in 1964), as well as an entire album's worth of unreleased alternate takes and other interesting stuff, most of which shows us what Pete Townshend was listening to at the time.

What's most impressive listening to this material today is how effective this quintessential rock quartet was at covering soul music like James Brown's "I "Don't Mind" and, even more improbably, "Please, Please, Please." The boys make Holland/Dozier/Holland's "Leaving Here" (recorded when they were called The High Numbers) their own, sounding more like The White Stripes than do The White Stripes! Topping the covers, of course, are Townshend originals like "My Generation" and "The Kids Are Alright," which points directly toward what would come later--especially Tommy.

Overall, this is a nice presentation, too, with great photos and shots of singles sprinkled throughout. So don't let the digital remastering get you down. This is a great package musically and sonically. Who fans will not be disappointed.