It seems like the group was pretty solid in their opinion that “Watching and Waiting” is a very slightly weak ending to the album. I totally disagree with this. I get that you all basically like the song a lot, and you weren’t really putting it down, but the consensus seemed to be that it was tacked on when it didn’t fit due to the band’s blind adoration of the song and its inexplicable insistence that it would be a hit. I think it fits in perfectly. I’ve said this in a comment on the site, but I find it extremely similar to the way Before and After Science ends. It is this album’s “Spider and I.” It is a slow, gorgeous, introspective and achingly lonely ballad that is the perfect ending to such an outward-seeking album. Seriously, those two albums have a lot in common.
I’ve long thought that if you were to slot in another song, the only one that really works (though it wasn’t written yet!) is “You Can Never Go Home.” As much as I love “Watching and Waiting,” I think the album would be ever so slightly better with a 1969 version of “You Can Never Go Home.” What do you think? Am I the only one who has pondered this? Of course, I think most fans pretty much adore W&W and YCNGH seems to be a bit overlooked.
I do think the album’s production is a bit frustrating. On one hand, it unquestionably is the best mellotron showcase around. No doubt. 9 of the 13 songs are mellotron masterpieces (all of the ten main songs minus “Eyes of a Child Part I” which trades it for that glorious harp). You guys did a great job pointing that out. However, due to the way they recorded those bazillion mellotron lines, the reverb is simply out of control and gives the album a really murky sound. I can’t stand listening to it without quite a lot of treble boosting to brighten up the sound. Once I get it EQed the way I like, it sounds great. I still don’t really care for the sound of the drums and the bass guitar is pretty buried too. But it’s par for the course for late 60’s production in that regard. I mean, you can’t exactly appreciate John Entwistle’s bass on The Who’s studio albums until at least Who’s Next anyway. I guess it wasn’t really mixed with an effort to make it sound like a typical rock album. It sounds unique, I’ll give it that. But I do think the drums and bass should have been given a little more breathing room.
About the quadrophonic mix. It was released on the 2006 Super Audio CD version, and I have heard a stereo mixdown of that quad mix. It’s okay. The clarity is better, lead vocals are mixed higher, etc. but unfortunately there are a number of missing electric guitar lines in the songs “Beyond,” “Out and In,” and “Gypsy.” I have no idea what happened. It’s possible it was a product of however these were ripped from the Super Audio CD, but I think the original quad mix was like this. I feel like I read that somewhere but I will have to research it. I would die for a new mix of this album, done with care. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon though, even though the 50th anniversary is coming up in a few months.
I really liked your Garden of Eden analogies, I died laughing at the “Mike Pinder is a pimp” bit, the “I Never Thought I’d Live to be a Hundred/Million” being sung from the perspective of the album itself was something that never ever occurred to me.
All in all, you guys did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed your commentary. I hope more people get into this album and that its reputation as one of the best albums of 1969 (which was an amazingly good year for music) becomes more accepted. It really is that good.
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