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Who’s Next – Indivisible

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I believe song sequencing is a critical – and sometimes THE critical – aspect of putting an “album” (what exactly does that mean now?) together.

In this next mix-and-match phase of music consumership, sequencing will be strictly personal. Is this progress? Sure it is, but something is always lost in the great march forward. When there is no “official” sequencing of an album, we have lost another common experience.

Coincidentally, I just received the new, lavishly expanded Deluxe Edition of Who’s Next , and with thoughts of seminal albums past swimming in my head, spent last night checking it out – LOUD. It’s still nothing less than classic.

As a critic, collector and historian, the bonus tracks, alternate takes, and especially the live material on disc 2 from The Young Vic are edifying and fascinating, but my prejudice was also confirmed: there is magic in the nine songs in the original order, flowing, commenting upon one another, the succession of tracks building a cathedral, an indivisible structure most certainly NOT granular in its holistic majesty.

I can (and do, too often) hear “Baba O’Riley” “Bargain” “Love Ain’t For Keeping” “My Wife” “The Song Is Over” “Getting In Tune” “Going Mobile” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in all their anthemic glory on classic rock radio, but each is diminished in the absence of the other.

Taken separately, out of order, in alternate versions, the songs are a series of comfortable, upscale bungalows: taken together they unitarily reach and soar above the clouds, an edifice against entropy.

Keith and John: we miss you more than you’ll ever know, but we’ll never miss you as much as Pete and Roger do – without you, The Who are just a shadow.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Tim Hall

    So I’m not the only person that finds the additional bonus tracks that tend to be added to just about any classic 70s CD sometimes diminish the album rather than add to it.

    The remasters of the first four Blue Oyster Cult albums being a case in point; the original eight songs on Secret Treaties were perfect, the dodgy outtakes added to the remaster just seem to spoil it.

    On the other hand, the bonus tracks on some of the Uriah Heep remasters include songs far better than some of the weaker numbers on the original albums, which makes me wonder what Gerry Bron was thinking.

  • Eric Olsen

    The bonus tracks CAN be interesting and worth having – on this one the live show on disc 2 is well worth having, but Iwish they would put ALL bonus tracks on a separate disc some can still take in the original as it was created. iagree about BOC – tha one was about perfect he way it was. Haven’t heard the Heeps, but I did interview Gerry for The Encyclopedia, nice guy.

  • Hazy Dave

    For my money, the most annoying bonus material prize has to go to Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. Got no problem with a few extra songs added to the record, but why would I want to listen to a 15 minute interview with Ian Anderson more than once? Not gonna press the “Random” button with that CD in the player…

  • Tim Hall

    Hazy Dave, the worst example of that is probably the remaster of Jon Lord’s 1984 solo album “Before I forget” (Not a bad album, although it sank without trace when originally released). There’s a 15 minute interview which was originally interspersed with tracks from the album, but appears with just the bits of the interview spliced together.

  • Tom Johnson

    Now THAT is a bizarre comment. I must admit, I actually would kind of like to have a T-shirt printed with the phrase “rolling luggage. It didn’t have to be sublime – it was fun.”