197 of 208 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2005
The Who were at the top of their game when they recorded Quadrophenia and each member showcased his abilities to the fullest. This is Pete Townshend's most concise work as a musical story teller. It also features some of the best songs he ever wrote. At least six of the pieces on this set exceed even his normal (high) standard. `Sea and Sand' contains enough melodic fibre for two songs. `The Punk and the Godfather' and `The Real Me' are as fiery a pair of hard rock songs as have ever been released. `I'm One', `The Dirty Jobs', `Is It In My Head', and `Drowned' could easily find a place in music theatre. More familiar pieces such as `5:15', `Bell Boy' and `Love Reign O'er Me' continue to shine to this day. Even some of the flawed material stands out. `Dr. Jimmy' begins brilliantly but (partially) fails because Townshend didn't seem to be able to figure out how it should end. His playing and singing is uniformly outstanding throughout the set. There's some great guitar work on `Love Reign O'er Me'.
Roger Daltrey found himself as a vocal dramatist while the group was recording `Tommy'. The full power of his vocal range came out during the tours that followed and in the subsequent recording of `Who's Next'. He made full use of both, and did so with flair, style and confidence on this record. There are points where he sings more softly, points where he roars and times when he does both. His best moments come during `The Real Me', `Love Reign O'er Me' and on `Bell Boy' when he sets the stage for Moon.
John Entwistle came up with the clinic on how to use the bass as a lead instrument. His (most obvious) great moment comes early, midway through `The Real Me' when he and Keith take up the entire melody of the song and carry it under Daltrey's vocal line. It's been done many times by a lot of people but seldom better than this. Mostly however, his work on this record is extremely subtle. He carries much of the melody (as was the norm for him) but provides an excellent platform for the layers of guitar and synth work that ride over-top. Listen closely to `Cut My Hair', `The Punk Meets the Godfather' and "Is It In My Head'. The point of note is that much of what he does only seems to be coming from the bass guitar if a listener stops and really thinks about it.
Keith Moon gave his best (and last great) studio performance on this recording. The way he and Entwistle carry the melody of `The Real Me' is astounding. The symphonic element he lends `Dr. Jimmy' is something few other drummers could pull off. The phrasing he used to mark `Sea and Sand' is unique to this day. He marked Entwistle's bass line on `The Dirty Jobs' with his feet and Daltrey's vocals with the sticks. His use of cymbals to close, open and join the song's musical phrases is nothing short of remarkable. No other drummer would have played this piece like that, not then, not now, and not ever. He was probably the most innovative player ever to sit behind a drum kit.
This album never really got the recognition it deserved. That's not surprising considering the troubles that dogged it right from the beginning. After the Lifehouse episode the group wasn't ready to swallow another magnum opus from Townshend all too easily. Inactivity had shaken Moon's confidence. The group had trouble enough finding him to bring him into the studio to play and even more trouble getting him to play once he was there. The record was released after the tour began because of an unexpected shortage of vinyl. None of the members was ever satisfied with the way it was mixed initially. Once it was released It didn't get much media exposure either, probably because there wasn't much on it that would have been suitable for radio. On stage it was too complex for the band to play without a set of backing tapes. The tapes malfunctioned on a regular basis. When they did work they locked the band into a set rendition of the pieces. Moon made things worse one night by getting into monkey tranquillizers and collapsing on-stage. He recovered but wasn't himself for the rest of the tour (he dried out in a nursing home after it ended). That couldn't have helped the shows. The group never really shook off those problems and, after a short tour the following year (for the most), left it behind them.
It's stood the test of time (though it has its share of flaws that are all the more glaring because of the quality of the material surrounding them). The two instrumental pieces can wear their welcomes out quickly. In the wrong mood they sound either pretentious, dragged out, or both. `Dr. Jimmy' spends at least three minutes rambling after it's finished. `Helpless Dancer' falls flat on its face. Those are small complaints though. There's a lot to absorb on this record and it's still well worth the effort to do so. The writing approaches volatile subject matter subject matter thoughtfully and with great insight. The delivery is powerful and original. It reaches the heart as well as the mind. With this release the problem with the mix has been corrected. The sound is excellent. And, apart from correcting the original problems, it now also comes closer than any of their other albums to bringing their stage sound to record. This may be hard to imagine given all the synthesizer tracks on the recording but it's the truth. Who's Next is a close second but playing to the time signatures of the click tracks for the first time put too many restraints on Moon for that to be the case. By the time the band recorded this album he'd had enough experience with them to work better within the limitations they imposed. The bootleg recordings from the '75 tour prove this.
This is (finally) close to being the record the Who wanted to release. It's everything a record should be.
110 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2004
Even though Quadrophenia is my favorite Who album, this remastered version pales in comparison to the original CD version released in the early 90's. It's actually muddy in spots, and as a result sounds that you're used to hearing have been quieted or lost altogether. For example, in "The Dirty Jobs," after Daltrey sings, "You men should remember how you used to fight," there used to be what sounded like seal noises (which fit in well with the ocean and water images and sounds of the album), perhaps to indicate how spineless these "men" have become. In the remastered version, these noises are gone. Later, in "Drowned," the piano is reduced to a less prominent role, particularly in the central section where the horns come in and overpower the piano, and that's a shame since the playing on the original is so inspired and thrilling. But, perhaps the greatest tragedy of this remastered version is how forced to the background Townshend's rhythm guitar is during "Love, Reign O'er Me", especially in the solo--and we're talking ferocious, adrenaline-causing strumming in the original. Find a used CD copy of the original or buy the gold CD. Anything but this mangled version. It's as if the person in charge of remastering the album didn't appreciate the finer points of the original production or wasn't even a Who fan. Maybe, in overseeing this, Townshend didn't have his hearing aid in, and Entwistle was too busy snorting coke. Either way, they goofed.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2005
It's the greatest rock album of all time. I don't think there's any higher praise I can offer it than that. I've spent my money on thousands and thousands of CDs, covered the entire spectrum of popular music from metal to ambient to folk to country to prog to pop to punk to lo-fi to you-name-it, and Quadrophenia still stands out for me as the most ambitious and fully realized project anyone's ever pulled off in the genre at large. Moreover, it does something that I think all truly profound art ought to: it deeply involves the listener emotionally. Lots of intellectually impressive music and art keeps its audience at an enforced distance (it seems to be the modern aesthetic), but Quadrophenia engages you in both your head and your heart without ever sinking to cheap or manipulative levels. There's a term for what this album evokes, and uncoincidentally it's also what Townshend and his creation Jimmy are both searching for: the experience of the sublime.
And man, that's no mean feat. Townshend was writing about the early '60s "Mod" youth culture over a decade later AND from the point of view of an outsider, and yet his lyrics (and liner notes - brilliant character writing) are miraculously free of cliches or patronization. They're not poetic in the same way as Dylan's could be, but then Townshend's not writing about psychedelic jesters and two-wheeled gypsies, rather about a lower-middle class malcontent kid. And these lyrics depict the emotionally chaotic mind of a moody, dreamy, confused adolescent with sharp and subtle strokes. ("Cut My Hair" in particular is underappreciated in this regard: it captures the poignantly real ambiguity in Jimmy's relationship with his parents; they're NOT monsters - which is how most lyricists writing the same song would portray them - and Jimmy recognizes this even as he fights with them.)
I could spend all day raving about how perfect Townshend's lyrics are on this album - he's working on levels most can only dream of attaining and many remain unaware of - but I have to pay tribute to the music as well, which expresses Townshend's tangled thematic and structural ideas brilliantly WHILE carrying the weight of the emotionally searing storyline AND also while, y'know, just totally effin' rocking. "The Real Me," "The Punk And The Godfather," "5.15," "Drowned," "Doctor Jimmy," and (the underrated) "I've Had Enough" are the true heirs of the musical breakthroughs of "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Bargain." On songs like these intelligent hard rock fuses with indelible melodies and commanding performances to form an edifice that builds logically upon the best of Who's Next and that remains unsurpassed to this day. Of the four musical themes that stand in both for aspects of Jimmy's fragmented personality and the members of The Who, only Roger's "Helpless Dancer" theme is less than perfectly suited to its placement and the album's overall mood - it's a touch too baroque - and even then, the "Helpless Dancer" motif returns to form an integral part of the instrumental finale. And that finale, "The Rock," really encapsulates for me all the ways in which this album is Townshend's triumph. To be sure, Daltrey sings brilliantly, Moon gives his final hurrah as the world's greatest rock drummer, and Entwistle plays bass as effortlessly as light plays upon the water. But "The Rock," which reprises each of the four themes and then brings them together in a fusion of four into one, is microcosm of all the emotional highpoints and climaxes of what's come before, and is a tour-de-force in terms of writing AND arranging.
When I think about how Quadrophenia comes together in so many different ways, how it simultaneously engages the listener on so many different intellectual, musical, and emotional levels, and how it manages to gracefully execute so many tricky conceits solely at the service of a larger spiritual and narrative purpose...well, it's at times like these that I begin to toss around the much-abused word "genius" with respect to Pete Townshend. He manifestly suffered for his art, both before, during, and after the recording of this album (he burned out in a major way after Quad). But not in vain. Clearly not in vain.
Because he did it! That's the most amazing thing of all, really - the way Quadrophenia vindicates all the artistic and psychological torture Townshend subjected himself to as he desperately chased down his elusive muse. He finally did it: he managed to create the musical, lyrical, conceptual, and emotional masterpiece that he had been striving to realize for nearly a decade. After years of his reach exceeding his grasp, years of falling short with spectacular "failures" like The Who Sell Out, Tommy, and Lifehouse/Who's Next (none of which, of course, are "failures" at all, save in comparison to Townshend's original vision), he finally put it all together. In a world of disposable pop music, Quadrophenia looms large as something incalculably more profound and long-lasting: as a monument to a bygone era, as a tribute to the power and glory of a great band, as a paean to the crazy contradictory emotions beating in the heart of every intelligent adolescent, and finally as proof that all-consuming artistic ambition can result in something truly inspiring. Five stars, 10/10, whatever - it's simply the most treasured thing in my entire collection.
48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2000
...and for the 17 year old male in ALL of us. Forget the specifics of mods and rockers or details of British teenage life circa 1964. This album is about that awful period between being a teenager and being a real adult. And it captures that bewildered RAGE and FRUSTRATION that goes with that whole stage of life. Songs like 'The Real Me', 'The Punk and the Godfather' and 'Dr Jimmy' boil with anger; others, such as the suicidally tinged 'Drowned' (for my money the best song on here and one of the mosgt beautiful melodies songwriter Pete Twonshend ever came up with), and 'Bell boy' the pathos. Townshend was approaching 30 at the time, but, as he observed somewhere, being in a rock band was about extending your adolescence. That's probably why he was able to convey the emotions of a teenage bloke so well. Drawbacks? Possibly not as many as there seemed at the time of release: the album was panned by critics at the time. That's only in part due to the fact that it followed the incomparable 'Who's Next' album. The fact is, Quadrophenia takes a bit of getting used to, but the effort is worth it. However....it misses a fifth star because musically it gets overblown at times - Townshend himself conceded that the songs were touch 'Wagnerian'. And the attempted plot gets clunky at some points (though not as much as with 'Tommy', the band's other, the more successful though vastly inferior rock opera). If you like The Who, it's one of their best albums - but it may pay to start with one of the others (Who's Next, maybe)
100 of 120 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2004
Was 'The Who' the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world? At the time of the release of their second double album rock opera Quadrophenia at the end of 1975, the answer would have probably been `yes'. The `Beatles' had long since gone and never played any real live concerts as we know them today. 'The Rolling Stones' had just lost their second lead guitarist in Mick Taylor, and were being led down a very disco-orientated channel by Mick Jagger. Only Keith Richards could really claim to be a true rocking Stone. 'Led Zeppelin' was still around of course, but they were almost on another plain. So we can safely say that in the early seventies `The Who' was one of the biggest rock 'n' roll bands around. Already with many landmark albums behind them, Tommy (1969), Live at Leeds (1970), and Who's Next (1972), not to mention a mass of hit singles and historic appearances at such events as Monterey Pop Festival 1967, Woodstock, and the Isle of Wight in both 1969 and 1970, were backed up by saturation touring to bigger and bigger audiences all over the world.
Of course, like all of the rock greats, 'The Who' was not only known for their recording and spectacular stage shows, but stories of their on the road excesses are now part of rock 'n' roll mythology. The release of Quadrophenia was the major rock release of late 1973. It was waited for with barely concealed restraint by their millions of fans. The album went straight into the charts at number two in the United Kingdom and the United States of America remaining in the top thirty for over six months, a phenomenon almost unheard of for a double album in those far off days.
Quadrophenia found 'The Who' at the peak of their collective powers. Peter Townshend wrote all the songs, and never before had he put together such a continuous package of solid arrangements with such strong emotions bursting through in every song. The story follows the early years of a young man, Jimmy, growing from adolescence to nearly killing himself due to his fall into the depths of depravity in the whirlwind world of the Mods and Rockers on the south coast of England in the early sixties; a gripping tale of youth culture from those heady days.
Peter Townshend's guitar playing here also finally raised him onto the same level as his peers like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Roger Daltrey is the person who puts his throat on the line to give the feeling to Townshend's words. Roger Daltrey was at the peak of his powers when he sings the final stanza's of 'Love Reigns O'er me' and brings the album to its shattering climax. One wonders if he still had a larynx left.
For the one time in the Who's career all the songs on one album were written by their principal songwriter, not leaving room for any of John Entwistle's often entertaining songs. John Entwistle shows more than ever here how essential he was to the Who with his fluid bass lines giving the songs real substance. John Entwistle's way of playing the bass was not only to nail down the theme of the songs, but also as a lead instrument. On Quadrophenia, more than any other Who album, the bass is pushed right to the front of the mix, quite deservedly so. John's fine French horn playing also adds a haunting air to some of the songs.
Then driving the band ever forward was everybody's favorite rascal Keith Moon, not only is his drumming superb and distinctive (only Keith Moon could drum like Keith Moon), but his vocal contribution to 'Bellboy' always brings a smile to your face. The fine piano playing of Chris Stainton should also be given a mention as it compliments the other players perfectly. Perhaps the Who should of added a keyboard playing then, instead of waiting till poor old Keith had shuffled off this mortal coil. It would have helped the band immensely trying to play these songs on stage instead of messing about with pre-recorded backing tapes.
The album open ups with the sound of the sea washing up on the beaches and snatches of refrains from the main themes of what is to come. The band comes crashing in with the rocker 'The Real me' and from then on you are taken on the roller coaster ride of a young impressionable wannabe Mod with plenty of highs as well as deeply disturbing lows. One of the highs is of Jimmy actually going to see his favorite band 'The Who' in concert. As Jimmy tries to emulate his heroes, his life spirals more and more out of control. With this the band's playing becomes more and more frenzied, climaxing in the nine minutes of 'Doctor Jimmy', where, if you listen carefully, you can hear Roger Daltrey's microphone being spun round the heads of all in the studio on its lead wire, and Townshend windmills his arm around his axe, building to the next frantic chorus. You can imagine the whole studio being destroyed at the song's climax.
`Doctor Jimmy', played in all it's glory on stage at Charlton Football ground in 1974 in front of 95-thousand people, was the highlight of the Who's set. The album closes out with the triumphant instrumental `The Rock', just before 'Love Reigns O'er me' brings the proceedings to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. Quadrophenia is a great rock band at the top of its game. Logically, later it turned into a movie with Phil Daniels playing Jimmy and Sting the Bellboy, which was excellent.
Modded by Mott the Dog.
Rockered by Ella Crew
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2001
What can you say about an album like Quadrophenia? Unlike the pre-fab monotone of today's modern, spoon fed, corporate, money machine music that has somehow captured the imagination of the under-20 set, this album offers integrity, passion, anger and innovation. I'm barely older than this recording, but I consider it one of the finest collections of songs ever. Pete Townshend has been praised for his work through his career, but often this work goes unnoticed and lives in the shadow of the better known "Tommy." It's a shame because this album, from start to finish is devoid of a weak note or a misplaced lyric. If anyone doubted this band's ability to rock, one listen to "Punk Meets The Godfather" or "Drowned" should serve notice that these are powerful musicians working with powerful material.
I have spent plenty of long drives in my car listening to this album at maximum volume and in the past was scolded by my mother for shaking the house with the rumbling tympani drums that kick off "Love Reign O'er Me." If you are a fan of classic rock and roll and have yet to experience this work, waste no more time. Dive in, listen carefully, this is complex and passionate music.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 1999
"Quadrophenia" is Peter Townshend's attempt to reconcile The Who with its Mod origins. It's also one of the most technically complex and musically dense recordings the band ever made. This music is made for a late summer's storm, when everything's hot, humid and charged with youthful angst. Townshend, at 28 (considered "mature" for rock & roll), could still tap into the pill-headed Mod rage and confusion of '63 and mix it with The Who's raw power. The alchemy produced one of their greatest records - right up there with "Tommy" and "Who's Next". The central figure in "Quadrophenia" is a young Mod who runs with the scooter gangs of early 1960s London. Fashion obsessed and hooked on uppers, the Mods listened to R&B, preened endlessly in front of girls, and sometimes clashed with Rockers (their greasy, motorcylce-riding opponents). Their chief band was, of course, The Who. The movement gave way to the more tumultuous and flakier psychedelic era that swept Britain in '66, but in '73 Townshend felt it was a perfect vehicle for summing up The Who's roots. Jimmy is written as four equal, distinct parts (corresponding to each of the band's personalities) all warring in one person. The confusion he feels isn't simply his schizophrenic (or, in this case, "quadrophrenic") reactions to life, but also about his Mod lifestyle, where the group conformity obscures the individual. The music has a power and a thrust that surpasses previous works, but there are some problems. In trying to create a new story, a new sound (experiments in quadrophonic sound), and also break with The Who's past, Townshend made a Herculean task for himself. There are some hard-hitting rockers ("The Real Me", "The Punk Meets the Godfather" and "5:15") as well as some stunning instrumentals. But the story - supplemented by an elaborate text inside the album's sleeve - gets lost in the washes of synthesizers and aural effects. No matter; The Who never sounded as hot and feisty. "Drowned" chugs along nicely with Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Keith Moon gets in a brave solo vocal in "Bell Boy". Townshend's more gentle tunes, "I Am One" and "Cut My Hair", still have enough oomph to rock out. And then there's the bluster of "Doctor Jimmy" and "Had Enough". The end track, "Love, Reign O'er Me" is full of passion and thunder - Jimmy the Mod struggling with his emotions as he strands himself on a rock off Brighton Beach. Moon's drums are awesome (his cymbal work is often overlooked), and Daltrey's vocals are gutsy and defiant. John Entwistle wrote and rewrote bass lines that groove like a V-twin engine (check out "The Real Me") and he adds some nice French horn. Townshend contributes mightily with his trademark power chords, playful solos and deeply personal lyrics. The most novel feature of "Quadrophenia" is the synthesizer work - although one might wonder how helpful such a new instrument was in recreating the Mod era. Still, the atmosphere of sea, wind and the lush orchestrations that infuse the record are spectacular, and the improvement of today's sound systems reveal more of this album's charms than was available in '73. A pity, then, that as a stage piece, "Quadrophenia" failed The Who due to its complexities. The pre-recorded tapes often mis-fired, causing Moon to come in off-cue. Townshend grew increasingly frustrated with the breakdowns, and more songs were dropped in favor of old faves from "Tommy". But even without a live version, you can still hear the sound and the fury of The Who on "Quadrophenia", and it's worth it.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2000
If you're suspicious of the 5-star superlatives and think they won't help a non-Who fan, I'll be objective: I listened only to classical music when I discovered them in 1975 -- and finally understood rock music. I've been a longtime fan bitterly disappointed by their failures, stumbles and seemingly endless stream of greatest-hit collections. To say the album is creative, or full of pain and rage, probably means little to younger people who can get as much or more creativity from Tool, and rage and pain from Nine Inch Nails, and without concessions to oldtime melody and song structure, or some of the failed pretensions here. To say it's the greatest recorded album of all time leaves out ... oh God ... Thomas Tallis (the only music to play the night before going out to skydive), Beethoven (creativity, rage and pain, 18th-century style), Wagner, Mahler, Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle", Alan Hovhaness, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Tom Waits, John Lennon, Stephen Sondheim, why even go on? So, non-Who fan, why bother?
Two reasons. It rocks; it hurts -- like few albums do. Much "rock" music now no longer rocks. Just like if you want to know what music swings (a lot of jazz doesn't), you try Duke Ellington or Count Basie; if you want to know what music rocks ... you try Quadrophenia. The instrumental attack, especially in the first 20 minutes, is so intense it can leave you speechless. (Play it LOUD.) I saw John Entwistle solo last year, and his version of "The Real Me" was the most exciting performance of anything I'd ever witnessed. The synthesizers get a bit heavy; some of the lines are above Daltrey's range, whereas he nails the high notes on Who Are You and the Tommy film soundtrack; the relentlessness of "Helpless Dancer" and most of "Doctor Jimmy" can get headache-inducing; the "story" is mostly confined within the hero's head. BUT: it rocks harder than anything I've ever heard; the bass and drum playing are astounding; those swelling electronics are mixed with sounds of water, Townshend's metaphor of water for love, swelling emotions with them. It is deeply felt -- more than any rock album I know -- and, when listened to closely in its entirety, can fill you with ache and yearning, or remind you of it, and stay with you a long time. It improves with age, acquiring resonance as you accumulate and take leave of sorrows. If you're open to anything of quality and like rock music, buy it. These were sincere practitioners of the idiom ...
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2002
After the incredibly successful "Tommy" and "Who's Next", people predicted that Pete Townshend and The Who would sit back on their increasingly bulky pile of royalties checks and be content to live off their previous successes. However, in 1973, they burst forth with the grand oeuvre, "Quadrophenia". Although it enjoyed little of the universal praise that greeted "Tommy", that in no way made it a lesser album. The work is overall more cohesive and hard-hitting than its predeccesor, telling the story of an average teenage Mod, rather than of the spiritually exceptional Tommy. Although the main image of Mods and Rockers went over the heads of Americans at the time, the theme of teenage dissillusionment and angst is easily accessible to all who can understand Townshend's insigtful and unique lyrical style. Standout tracks are of course the radio staples, "The Real Me", "5:15", and the enduring "Love Reign O'er Me". Each of these are prime examples of the msuical ingenuity of The Who at large, "Love Reign O'er Me" highlighting Roger Daltrey's powerful voice, especially. Other great songs are "I'm One", "The Punk and the Godfather", "Is it in My Head", "Sea and Sand", "Doctor Jimmy", and the instrumental "Quadrophenia". Personally, I think that the originality shown by The Who on this album pushes them ahead of the other British Invasion bands, including The Beatles and The Stones. Pete Townshend, in the early 70's, was at the height of his creative ability. No one will ever be able to repeat the Who's power as an album oriented band. By recording this album, The Who took a risk. Similarly, their listeners take a risk when listening to the experimental Quadrophenia, but is is one that pays off most generously.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 1999
This has to be THE criminally ignored album of the Rock N Roll era. That's a big statement, but this is a BIG album. If you think The Who are just about 'Tommy' or 'Won't Get Fooled Again' then you don't know the half of it. This is Townshends premier statment, a shining Talisman in Rocks rich canon. Quadrophenia is so REAL. No sprinkling for the May Queens here. What you get is THE Rock album about what it's like growing up trying to belong and be part of something. It's a known fact that The Who were virtually the only 'Dinosaur' band that the Punks liked. Quadrophenia is probably the reason why. Everyone can relate to it. But it's not just the concept that is genius. The Who's best songs belong here. 5:15 i the greatest song The Stones never wrote. Infact it's far better than anything Mick & Keef could ever have wrote. The instrumentals are breathtaking - goosebump city man. I can't compliment this album enough, you need to find out for yourself. Quadrophenia easily stands amongst the graetest ten albums of all time. And once you've heard the album you need to see the film.