The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” is one of the most played tracks in the entire band’s catalog, to the point were just about every fan (and non-fan’s alike) know each note and part by heart. That’s why today’s isolated track is so cool. It strips away the arpeggiated synthesizer and, in some parts, the piano, to give you a clear listen as to what’s going on deep inside the mix. Here are some things to listen for:
1. The reverb on the vocal is pretty short, unlike many Who mixes. It’s also delayed so the vocal stands out a bit more.
2. The drums are in stereo, but have an unusual balance, with the snare and most of the kit leaning right and the ride and a crash leaning left. On the tom fill at 1:33 you can hear the rack tom on the left as well. Keith Moon also rarely plays the hat during the song, instead bashing the cymbals throughout, something that a producer would no doubt change today.
3. The big guitar power chords in the verse (0:51) are doubled and maybe even tripled, which you don’t notice in the full mix.
4. The outro starting at 3:11 sounds much different without the violin. You definitely get to appreciate Moon’s prowess with his dynamics and machine gun snare roll.
As always, there’s always a lot of cool production techniques to be learned from an isolated track, and this one is no exception.