Top critical review
24 people found this helpful
Remixed and expanded, but is it improved?
on 11 March 2010
PLEASE NOTE: This review is for the "25th Anniversary Issue" CD (14 tracks, Polydor 527 1692), but for some reason Amazon has now also included it amongst the reviews for the Deluxe edition. For that reason you will find my thoughts about the Deluxe edition tagged to the end of this review.
This 25th Anniversary version of Live At Leeds is remixed and expanded. But does that make it better than the original 6 track CD release?
I would argue, no. Allow me to explain.
The first thing I noticed with this remix in comparison to the original 6 track CD is how it sounds a little softer, politer.
For the remix the drums have been made more promiment, which at times seems to have the effect of muting or diluting the power of the guitar. On some of the newly added songs, where Townshend's chords should be exploding out of the speaker, my ears had to work to hear them because of the drums. Also, despite being pushed up in the mix for this 1996 version, the drums lack a bit of extra "gut punch" slam found on the original 6 track CD.
Similarly, Entwistle's bass seems to be more "buried" in the remix than on the original CD. And when on the newly added songs he plays little occasional trebly riffs on the higher strings, the difference is so much louder and clearer from his regular low-end playing that it has a tendency to sound like an overdub.
I think the producer made a mistake with this release by forgetting what The Who were REALLY about on the live stage. Some of the newly added tracks suffer from being mixed in a style which seems intended to push the band's vocal talents to the fore. I Can't Explain is a good example of this, with the combination of Daltrey's lead vocal and loud backing vocals distracting the listener from the driving riff.
The simplest way I can think to put it is that with the original 6 track CD the sound is one of 4 guys in a room playing at maximum power, but on equal terms. With the remix the drums and vocals are often pushed forward at the expense of the other two instruments. It's a very different listening experience.
If you can live without the bonus tracks, I would recommend seeking out the original 6 track version before the 1996 remix.
Don't get me wrong, the 1996 remix doesn't sound BAD, it just sounds DIFFERENT. And if you've never heard the original album you'll probably be very happy with this expanded version. It's certainly the best of the modern remasters available of this album, sonically better than the Deluxe edition. Buy it and play it loud and you'll be in hog heaven.
But if you do ever get the chance to grab the original 6 track version, don't be afraid to give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised at the difference!
And now, The Deluxe Edition.
Quite simply, the Deluxe edition gets a ZERO star rating from me.
Because The Deluxe Edition is a travesty. Yes, you get the complete concert, but what the heck happened with the mastering?
The second disc of this set has been so digitally tampered with that the sound is *noticeably* worse than the first disc, to the extent that one could be forgiven for thinking each disc was taken from a completely different source. The mastering of the second disc is also far inferior to the previous CD issue, the 25th Anniversary edition.
For any CD release such a state of affairs would be questionable at best. For a "Deluxe" edition it is unacceptable. This title should have been remastered a second time to give a consistant quality of sound across the two discs, and free replacements offered to all who purchased the initial flawed release.
But that didn't happen. So we're now left with a substandard Deluxe issue. One which is not only inferior in sound quality to previous releases, but also to the bootleg alternative.
That's not right.