Reviews and Commentaries for Who’s Next
More Letters Comparing Hot Stamper Pressings to their Heavy Vinyl Counterparts
This week’s letter came from Dan, a long time customer of ours. When he ordered this album he left the following note in his order comments:
This is one of my favorite albums of all time!! One of my personal desert island discs. Can’t wait to hear it!.
I’m not sure his ears were prepared for what was about to happen though. Read on to see what Dan thought of his Very Hot Who’s Next.
Just listened to the Very Hot Stamper of “Who’s Next” and thought I’d drop a little note: Holy FUCK that was POWERFUL!!!
No record I own ever did that!
And I’m talking bone-rattling, earth-shaking, sock-you-in-the-gut POWERFUL. I’ve always known that The Who were one of the most intense bands in the history of rock n’ roll. Hell, everybody knows that and it’s part of the reason we love ’em so much. But with this record, I experienced the sheer physical force of their music like I NEVER have before. I couldn’t believe I heard bass notes hang in the air and resonate for long stretches. Bass notes never just hang like that! No record I own ever did that.
But this particular slab of vinyl offered more than just low-end power. Its grooves exploded with such energy, dynamics, and pure EXCITEMENT that I was honestly concerned my cartridge was going to jump off the record and say “Sorry, this is just too much.” Remarkably, it held up for the whole wild ride.
Anyhow, after that shockingly great experience, I (reluctantly) spun the Classic version of this album for comparison purposes. You’re right, there’s no going back. The difference is almost comical. On the track “Going Mobile”, while it certainly has well-defined bass and great detail, it sounded like a different take – a much worse take. The conviction in Townshend’s singing and guitar playing had been sucked out, as if he was bored of his own new song. I would have been sad hearing it if I didn’t know there was much better copy sitting on my shelf.
So thank you for helping me take a dozen GIANT steps closer to the true sound of this phenomenal album. Oh, and here’s a question that occurred to me as I was writing: why is it that audiophile reviewers (other than those crazy folks at Better Records) never seem to describe how much they were blown away by the LIFE and ENERGY of a Who record, whether new or old? Something’s amiss….
Dan, thanks for your letter. Something is amiss all right, that’s for damn sure. How BAD does your stereo have to be not to be able to tell what’s so good about the best originals and what’s missing from the Heavy Vinyl and other audiophile versions? Wait, don’t tell me, I know the answer — exactly as bad as mine used to be about fifteen or twenty years ago. As I wrote in one of the commentaries for this record,
A recurring theme here at Better Records has to do with the phony sound of audiophile records that we used to like, and the more natural sound of regular records, which are the ones we like now. This is yet another example of a truism here at Better Records, which goes a little something like this.
The better your equipment gets, the fewer so-called “audiophile” pressings you will want in your collection.
Pure excitement is what we live for here at Better Records. The number of Hot Stamper commentaries that focus on the LIFE and ENERGY (often in all caps, natch) of the Hottest of the Hot Stampers numbers well into the hundreds. They are all over the site, mostly on records that have sold to people like yourself who want to FEEL something when they play their favorite music on LP.
You put your finger right on it. This is the sound that is almost completely missing from the modern audiophile reissue. It reminds me of the way Michael Palin described his poorly chosen accountancy career in the Lion Tamer sketch. “It’s dull, dull, dull. My god it’s dull, it’s so deadly dull and tedious and stuffy and boring and desperately dull.”
Couldn’t have said it any better myself. Putting one of those Heavy Vinyl reissues on the table is positively sleep-inducing. The CDs of The Who that I own are the same way. I don’t know where we went wrong but I do know we can’t get there from here. We need to go back to the vintage pressings — British, German, Domestic, whatever — to know what the hell Who’s Next is supposed to sound like.
Thanks for your letter. Glad you liked our Hot Stamper!