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The Who - Discography - Other:
The Who - Safety Master Tapes
These are backup "safety tapes" recorded and previously warehoused in Europe. An interesting mix of tapes, which include a stereo "Magic Bus" single (USA version) and a copy of "A Quick One" from the original Reaction label.
Circles <aka Instant Party> (alternate mix - mono, "less horn" version) (USA Decca Backup)
Substitute/Waltz For A Pig (Stereo) (EMEA Polydor Backup)
Studio Digital Transfer of the True Stereo "Substitute" (Sounds Great!)
Magic Bus/Someone's Coming (Stereo) (USA Decca Backup)
Studio Digital Transfer of the Stereo "Magic Bus" (Breathtaking!)
A Quick One <Mono> (UK Reaction Backup)
A Quick One <Stereo> (EMEA Polydor Backup)
Happy Jack <Stereo> (USA Decca Backup)
Tommy Reel 1 (EMEA Polydor Backup)
Tommy Reel 2 (EMEA Polydor Backup)
Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy (USA Decca/MCA Backup)
Quadrophenia (EMEA Polydor Backup)
Odds & Sods (EMEA Polydor Backup)
My Generation (EMEA Brunswick Backup)
A Quick One (Stereo) (EMEA Backup)
The Who Sell Out (Mono) (USA Decca/MCA Backup)
Quadrophenia (Soundtrack) Part 1 (EMEA Backup)
Quadrophenia (Soundtrack) Part 2 (EMEA Backup)
Pete Townshend - White City (EMEA Backup)
I acquired more of these tapes and at the same time thought it might make sense to purchase a reel-to-reel deck (Otari MX5050 BIII pictured above). I bought the Otari since it plays back at 15, 7.5 & 3.75 IPS as well as playing both NAB and CCIR tapes with the throw of a switch...
"Substitute" - This appears to be the only known, true stereo recording. Essentially we figured out that John Entwistle wasn't satisfied with his bass track on the single and re-recorded a new one. Leaving the existing mono tracks alone (on the right channel), he recorded a new bass line on the left channel. He then appeared to use the multi-tracks in order to create the backing vocal chorus in stereo on both channels. Not ideal, but when re-eq'd (too much bass), it sounds pretty damn good.
"Magic Bus" - This is
the true stereo version which appears on the 1968 USA "Magic Bus" LP. Absolutely
stunning. Perfect sound. During the mad rush to press CDs, I'm sure the record
labels were just grabbing master tapes and recording them as quickly as they
could. The officially released stereo versions all sound somewhat shrill -
especially noticeable on the backing vocals. I suspect that the tape was CCIR
and they were playing it back in NAB, which shifted the entire frequency
spectrum and made the recording too bright. There's nothing shrill about this
recording and the backing vocals are perfect. (Note: stereo
tapes were apparently often used to create mono singles.)
"A Quick One" (first stereo version above) - The recording captured at the studio sounded terrible. Murky, bass heavy - hard to believe it was a master tape of any kind. When I played it on the Otari, the results were the same. However, just for the curiosity of it, I changed the EQ from CCIR to NAB- BOOM! Now, it sounded proper! Huge difference. While the improvement was dramatic, it still needed some help. John Entwistle's bass dominated everything and some EQ work made it sound pretty good. During playback, I noticed "See My Way" sounded pretty damn good, so I played with it a bit to get a good sound from it. Hence, some of these tapes play back perfect "as is" and some need to be tweaked (like this one). This tape does not appear to be true stereo, but rather one of the simulated stereo versions that were released in Europe between 1966 and 1970. (Fortunately, I found another "A Quick One" master and I hope to find that version in true stereo.) Each of the tracks from this tape appeared to be spliced together from different sources (easy to tell the difference between pink and white tapes changing with the songs).
"Odds & Sods" - This album was recorded on (2) two tapes. Tape (1) played just fine. "Put The Money Down" appeared to have additional verses (I need to compare the run time vs. the released version) and "Little Billy" had "Good!" after the end of the song (sounded like Pete). Tape (2) had some problems. Apparently there were (2) two old splices which I had to work around. I haven't played with a reel deck since 1982 and this caught me by surprise (but I did have a tape repair kid handy). Other than the great sound and the (2) two notable differences above, the rest of the album seemed the same as the released version.
"My Generation" - The
cleanest, clearest mono version that I've ever heard (besides Shel Talmy's
multi-track transfers). However, interestingly enough... Like Shel Talmy's
multi-tracks, the title track is missing the guitar overdubs. Also notable,
Pete's backing vocals in the fade out are different. In the released version,
Pete sings in a high tone. In this version he sings in a low tone.)
After thinking perhaps this version "slipped out" into production into at least (1) one country, I went and pulled out the other Brunswick label LPs (i.e. France, Italy, Holland, South Africa) and a few other early pressings (Germany <Decca>, Australia <Festival>), etc. They all had the lead guitar intact. Apparently this tape was not used in production...
In "The Kids Are Alright", Pete's guitar is mixed down around ~1:15 (whereas his
guitar is noteworthy in the released version).
There may be other noteworthy differences. I will update this section after listening to these tracks again...
"A Quick One" (second stereo version above) - Not completely surprising.... "Run, Run, Run" begins in magnificent true stereo, followed by a really clean mono rest of the album! Great sounding tape - just mostly mono. hMMM... (Perhaps my "mono" Reaction tape is actually the stereo one - I will have to play that one soon.)
"A Quick One" (mono version) - Sounds just like the UK Reaction mono LP (which makes sense since the tape shares the same catalog #) . I thought the mono tracks from the tape (immediately above) sounded better.
"Happy Jack" (USA/Canada/Taiwan version of "A Quick One") - I originally brought this to a studio and wasn't crazy how it sounded. I'm not sure why, but on my own equipment it seems to sound much better. (Perhaps running the tapes through the ARC tube preamp made the difference.) The results were decent enough, but unfortunately the tape itself lacks true stereo tracks - "Run, Run, Run" and "A Quick One While He's Away" sounded good enough, but "So Sad About Us" was extremely bass heavy and would need to be re-eq'd. The rest of the tracks appear to be simulated stereo and/or mono...
"The Who Sell Out" (mono version) - An interesting collection
of sometimes separate tracks (a space between the songs) and sometimes joined
(no space). Just like the original 1967 mono LPs, the tracks have inconsistent
sound (from really good to murky <too much bass>). Here you can appreciate the
first re-released LP versions on Classic Records (and the latter CD releases)
where the tracks were remastered and all sound consistently good (which the
original LPs did not).
To be continued...
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