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The Who - Live At The Royal Albert Hall:

Germany - 2003 Steamhammer CD

Germany - 2003 Steamhammer CD (Promo)

2 CD in Jewel Case

Germany - 2003 Steamhammer CD (Promo)

3 CD, no artwork (CD 1 of 3 pictured)

Japan - 2003 Nippon Crown SACD/CD (Hybrid)

Album: Live At The Royal Albert Hall

LPs (vinyl) Sampled: n/a

CD(s) Sampled: Steamhammer (Germany), Nippon Crown (Japan)

LP Comments: n/a

CD/SACD Comments: Comparing the Nippon Crown (Japan) to the Steamhammer (Germany) CDs, I'd have to give a slight edge to the Japan SACD/CD. The best way I can describe it, is that it is "slightly less annoying to listen to" (see comments below).

I spent some time A/B'ing the SACD tracks vs. the CD tracks on the Japan CD and while they sound a little different from each other, neither could be described as "better" than the other, just "different". An example of that would be... while listening to "Pinball Wizard", the SACD track sounded smoother, but the CD track sounded slightly more dynamic. Both of these are tradeoffs, since if the change was smoother and more dynamic, there would be an improvement. This was not the case.

Summary and Other Comments: Great performances by the band, unfortunately spoiled by a weak mix (the drums are mixed way too low) and bad mastering. The mastering uses so much compression that it muffles most of the instruments from the midrange down (the lead vocals sound pretty good throughout). At several points while listening, it sounded as if someone was fiddling with the compression levels, making the perceived volume go up and down in the middle of a song! Compare with the DVD's soundtrack (of the same concert) and you'll notice it is not muffled and sounds just fine. The 2002 <bonus> tracks are mixed better than the 2000 tracks (louder drums), but the compression levels seem even higher.

Note: Discs 1 & 2 are from November 27, 2000, Disc 3 is from February 8, 2002

About: The Who - Live At The Royal Albert Hall

I was a bit reluctant to review this...

This really isn't a good CD at all. It has some "good moments" - where the performances "poke through" in spite of some of the post-production issues...

I even thought to myself, does Pete hate live performances so much that he sabotages his own CDs so that fans don't ask for more (which they would do anyway)?

Being more specific, it's as if the master tapes were handed to someone or someone's who have no idea what The Who sound like live (from any era).

It's as if the guy (or group) mixing it, said, "Hey let's make this sound like an MP3, so I can listen to it on my iPod (or whatever they were using back in 2003).

Instead of being a "larger than life", big, "wide-mix" presentation (i.e. like "Live At Leeds"), you have what's almost a "mono ball", that occasionally "sprouts out" some of Pete's guitar in the right channel and some of John's bass in the left channel. Was someone really paid to do this? Or (in my imaginary theory of the day) did Pete say to these folks - "DON'T make this sound good!" :) (I'm sure he didn't do that... but it makes you wonder.)

After listening to "I Can't Explain" and "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "Pinball Wizard" (the 3rd track) seems to be mixed a bit better. It was as if someone started mixing the concert and someone else came along and said, "I can do better than that!" and proceeded to make a
 better mix, but...

Frustrating...

This was one of those concerts with "guest singers"...

After listening to a nice
Pete rendition of "Heart To Hang Onto" (I'd actually like to hear a version with him swapping vocals with Roger), Paul Weller comes on to sing "So Sad About Us" with Pete.

Paul's cover of "Disguises" (with The Jam) was probably my first ever Who cover - and I thought he did a great job with it.

However, given the choice of hearing "So Sad About Us" with lead vocals from Pete, Roger or Paul, I'd much prefer to hear Roger or Pete (or even Roger AND Pete) than Paul.

I realize the audience at a Who concert is comprised of "hard core" Who fans as well as "Rock fans who like The Who" - I think these guest singer things appeal more to the latter group than the former. For someone like myself, I have to ask, "Why do I want to hear Paul Weller sing a Who song instead of Roger or Pete???" (I don't!)

I would recommend that this concert be remixed and remastered - but I am sure there would be almost no interest (or money) to do this.

My 3 favorite performances from this concert are:

The Kids Are Alright, Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand, So Sad About Us

So Sad About Us?... indeed...

Track Listing:

DISC 1: I Can't Explain, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, Pinball Wizard, Relay, My Wife, The Kids Are Alright, Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand, Bargain, Magic Bus, Who Are You, Baba O'Riley

DISC 2: Drowned, Heart To Hang Onto, So Sad About Us, I'm One, Getting In Tune, Behind Blue Eyes, You Better You Bet, The Real Me,  5:15, Won't Get Fooled Again, Substitute, Let's See Action, My Generation, See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You

DISC 3: I'm Free, I Don't Even Know Myself, Summertime Blues, Young Man Blues

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