THE WHO -- Tommy (MCA)

For the last year or so, The Who have been slowly rereleasing and upgrading their entire catalog, and thanks to the production team of Andy Macpherson & Jon Astley, everything so far has sounded great. Luckily for Who fans, the job they did on Tommy is quite possibly their best to date. The sound quality is stunning.

Like the other recent Who reissues, the packaging is excellent. For the first time since its release, Michael McInnerney's cover art appears as it was originally intended - without the band's faces. The faces were added later at the insistence of the group's original US record label (Decca). The CD's artwork is taken from an early Who tour program, drawn by David Byrd. Richard Barnes (author of The Who - Maximum R&B) contributes a well-written, informative essay on the making of the album. It contains insightful comments from the three remaining members of the band as well.

Digitally remixed and remastered from the original multi-track tapes, the new CD sounds better than ever. I could tell the difference immediately - even from outside the room. You'll hear things you've never heard before on this one. One thing I noticed right away were the backing vocals on "1921". They're much more pronounced than on earlier versions. You can hear the piano in "Underture" clearly now. Keith Moon's drumming is more upfront in the mix, and John Entwistle's bass sounds great.

Overall, the sheer power and energy of the band shines through like never before. Tommy is no longer a weak sounding studio album. It's a veritable rock powerhouse, just waiting to jump out of your speakers. The CD has been reissued several times now, but none of the prior releases compare to the new one. This is the definitive Tommy.

© 1996 Steve Marshall