Top positive review
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A worthy revisit
on 20 November 2011
Touted by many as the last great Who album (I disagree - The Who By Numbers is that one for me) this really must be listened to as a whole to appreciate the amazing work of art that it is. The sheer creativity alone is worth the admission fee. I'm always amazed at how something like this can be created but if you look at the evolution of the Who up to this point you can appreciate how remarkable Pete Townshend had become not only as a songwriter but as a storyteller. Quadrophenia beats Tommy in the respect that it portrays a way of life that was recognisable. Of course, it's not necessary to know the stories behind the creation to appreciate the music. In today's climate of airbrushing, pro-tooling and autotuning it is easy to forget the ability of the musician. Alone they may not be up to much (none of the Who could ever really admit to making a classic solo album although Townshend came close) but put the parts together and you have a potent mixture that quite simply just worked.
We've been here before in terms of releases. The 1996 remaster was remixed. A subtle remix, yes, that certainly lifted elements of the mix that had perhaps been buried due to the style of production of the time. The majority of the Who's catalogue was remixed around this time and although it was done respectfully I was alarmed that they discarded the originals. I have to admit to being worried that the loudness war would strike again and hearing that Jon Astley was in charge also concerned me as he has been responsible for the destruction of several artists' repertoire over the years (Abba, Judas Priest, Boomtown Rats). However it was apparent immediately, as the waves crashed across the stereo spectrum, that the sound was pure. The fact that my volume control could be turned up considerably without having my eardrums shredded was proof that the music has been treated with the respect it needs and deserves and that the listener has been granted the right to choose their own volume level. All credit to Jon Astley for a terrific job. Maximum dynamic range equals maximum enjoyment of the music and how pleasant it is to actually get the feeling of the music instead of having to fight to hear it. Proof that CDs CAN sound good when prepared correctly.
If you're hesitant about buying this as a replacement for the 1996 version then don't be. They actually sound like different albums, both relevant. But this is the purest and best sounding issue ever and the most rewarding to listen to.