The following was written in the early 2000s. Some additional commentary has been added.
Who’s Next has been remastered for audiophiles many, many times, more often than not quite badly in our opinion.
To be fair, we should point out that our opinion has changed quite a few times over the course of the last twenty years.
This then is our story.
Back in the days when I was foolishly in the thrall of half-speed mastered audiophile pressings, I thought that the MCA Masterphile was king. That was probably the mid to late ’80s.
BRITISH TRACK LABEL ORIGINALS
By the early ’90s I had discovered how good the Black Label Original British Track pressings could be and started preferring those. A bit murky but Tubey Magical, full and rich, precisely the way a good British Rock recording (Faces, Jethro Tull) should be.
JAPANESE AND GERMAN
Of course by then I had played numerous Japanese and German pressings, none of which sounded right to my ears, then or now. The Japanese did what they like to do to most of the records they master, from whatever dub tapes are sent to them: they brighten up the sound.
When I had much darker, less-revealing system, the Japanese pressing did better than most of the other pressings I played.
But it was wrong, and the better my stereo got the more wrong it sounded. This process comes under the general heading of Audio Progress
MCA HEAVY VINYL
In 1995 the MCA Heavy Vinyl version came out, mastered by Kevin Gray. I quite liked it at the time but no longer do; it’s brightened up, opaque, airless and much of the fine detail of the recording is missing, all due to the crude cutting system Kevin employed at the time. It’s also notoriously badly pressed, resulting in stitches in the vinyl that are audible on practically every copy. (more…)