THE WHO -- Who's Next (MCA)

The Who's classic 1971 album, "Who's Next" was recently reissued - complete with seven bonus tracks from the infamous "Lifehouse" era. Three of these tracks came from discarded master tapes. Recovered from a dumpster outside the studio, the multi-track tapes eventually became the source for the now legendary bootleg, "From Lifehouse to Leeds". In May of 1995, Chris Charlesworth (executive producer of the Who reissues) comandeered the return of the tapes for use on the new CD.

As for the album's original nine songs, what more can be said? The sound quality on the new CD is superb. When compared to the recently released 24K gold version, the reissue (generally) has better sound. The background vocals on "Behind Blue Eyes" are more distinct on the gold CD, and Pete Townshend's acoustic guitar is pushed forward in the mix on a few of the songs. Aside from that, pretty much everything else sounds better on the reissue.

For collectors, the highlights on the new CD are the bonus tracks, new liner notes, & rare photos. Live versions of "Naked Eye" and "Water" were taken from the 1971 concert at London's Young Vic Theatre. Also included is an edited studio version of "Baby, Don't You Do It" (about three minutes shorter than originally recorded), and the slightly faster, original version of "Pure and Easy".

Townshend and John Atkins (the editor of the Who fanzine "Generations") contribute new liner notes to the individual tracks, as well as essays detailing the creation of the "Lifehouse" project. Underneath the CD tray is a photo of Keith Moon (complete with leather corset and whip) from the photo shoot for the aborted original "Who's Next" cover.

The only negative thing to be said about the new CD (and this really isn't bad) is the editing of the two live tracks from the Young Vic show. "Naked Eye" segued into "Bonie Maronie" when originally performed. "Water" was played earlier in the set. The good thing about the live tracks, though, is that they sound great. There have been rumors circulating of MCA releasing the entire Young Vic show. If there is any truth to the rumors, Who fans are in for a real treat.

"Who's Next" is a required part of any Who fan's collection. Producer Jon Astley and engineer Andy Macpherson (who have worked together on the entire series of Who reissues) have taken an exceptional album and made it even better.

© 1996 Steve Marshall