78

The Who: Quadrophenia

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
The Who: Quadrophenia Tommy (MCA, 1969) brought The Who to a mainstream audience and Who's Next (MCA, 1971) solidified its position in the pantheon of 1960's-1970's artists. But it is Quadrophenia (MCA, 1973) that has grown exponentially in importance—not only in the history of the band, but in the history of rock.

Quadrophenia is the second rock opera to be authored by guitarist Pete Townshend (the third, if you count the much more abbreviated "A Quick One," from the 1966 Polydor album of the same name). The author's self-effacing essay on this Deluxe Edition radiates a clarity of mind derived from the healthy detachment of hindsight and it is from that perspective that he helped prepare this edition, as well as the larger Director's Cut (Universal, 2011), including vinyl and more demos). Quadrophenia fully deserves and tremendously benefits from the treatment it's afforded.

The remix/remastering, for one thing, reveals how tightly interwoven the arrangements are throughout the original album's seventeen tracks. The Who's performance is beyond reproach, as the basic tracks find the quartet playing with a remarkable power and precision not all that far removed from the intensity of its live performances (already the stuff of legend at the time of the album's original release as a double-LP set).

There is some downside to the audio clarity, however, in that it reduces the density of the sound. Horns (played by bassist John Entwistle) and synthesizer tracks (authored by Townshend) interweave with acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals by both lead singer Roger Daltrey and the head of The Who himself. Still it's a marvel to behold how the simplicity of the songs takes on such emotional and instrumental complexity in completed form.

The inclusion of demos recorded by Townshend in anticipation (and sometimes not) of this Who album sheds further light on the development of the material, the most overriding impression of which may be the remarkable level of energy and overall similarity of these recordings to the band's finished takes. But there's no small amount of serendipity involved here too, as Townshend describes the creative impulses that gave birth to keynote tracks within the larger piece.

"The Real Me," with its slightly dissonant antique acoustics combined with heartbeat synth, reveals the angst at the heart of this song cycle was only slightly camouflaged autobiography. "Drowned" represents a crucial dramatic point for the main character Jimmy the Mod, though it was written, according to its author, three years before the earliest gestation of the storyline that would become this song cycle. And "Love Reign O'er Me," is, put simply, the most haunting of Quadrophenia's four main melodic themes, not to mention one of Townshend's loveliest creations.

Within a double fold digipak, where the original graphics are restored and expanded through two booklets of photos and text that complement the storyline, this version of Quadrophenia can offer a heightened sensory experience quite comparable to that of its original release.


Track Listing: CD1:
 I Am The Sea
; The Real Me
; Quadrophenia
; Cut My Hair
; The Punk And The Godfather
; I’m One
; The Dirty Jobs
; Helpless Dancer
; Is It In My Head
; I’ve Had Enough
; 515
; Sea And Sand
; Drowned. CD2: Bell Boy; Doctor Jimmy
; The Rock
; Love Reign O’er Me
; The Real Me (Demo)
; Cut My Hair (Demo)
; Punk (Demo)
; Dirty Jobs (Demo; Is It In My Head (Demo)
; Anymore (Demo)
; I’ve Had Enough (Demo)
; Drowned (Demo)
; Is It Me (Demo)
; Doctor Jimmy (Demo); Love Reign O’er Me (Demo).

Personnel: John Entwistle: bass, horns, vocals; Roger Daltrey: lead vocals; Keith Moon: percussion, vocals; Pete Townshend: vocals, remainder.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Universal Music Group


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by John Sharpe
Published: August 29, 2016
Read "Gurutopia" CD/LP/Track Review Gurutopia
by James Nadal
Published: March 22, 2016
Read "#knowingishalfthebattle" CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Functioning Broke" CD/LP/Track Review Functioning Broke
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Ante Lucem for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet" CD/LP/Track Review Ante Lucem for Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quintet
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!