|Who's Next Alternate Album Cover|
There are a lot of individual things to listen to, but take note that the basic track of the song has very few production tricks. It's just guitar, bass and drums, with the only thing added is the electric guitar in the bridge.
I've also included the full album version of the song below as well, since that has a lot of things to listen for, especially after hearing the isolated tracks. Here's what to listen for in the isolated track video.
1. Listen for the intensity and dynamics of the acoustic guitar. Pete Townsend doesn't play all at one level; he's varying his playing intensity with the song.
2. On the isolated version, when the bridge kicks in with the drums, bass and electric guitar, the acoustic drops out, which doesn't happen in the final version.
3. The stereo drums that you hear on the bridge sound like just two kit mics, and the third kick or front mic is missing from the mix (engineer Glyn Johns used an interesting 3 mic setup to record the stereo drums). The drums also sound like they're out of phase in this mix.
4. Listen for the electric guitar parts on the outro that don't appear on the final version.
Now let's take a listen to the final version of the song.
1. Notice the panning. The acoustic guitar is on the right side, while the bass shades to the left with the harmony vocals. There are doubled harmony vocals on the right side on some sections, but the left side is favored to keep the mix balanced.
2. Listen to the long delayed reverb on the vocals and guitar, which also leans to the left. The verb has virtually no high end, which is also interesting.
3. The electric guitar enters on the bridge on the left side, while the acoustic stays on the right. The background vocals on the bridge switch to the right side. The drums lean just a bit to the left side, once again to keep the final mix in balance.
What a classic!
If you're interested in song analysis like this, check out my Deconstructed Hits books.