Throwback Thursday – The Who’s Quadrophenia


In late 1973 the Who released their second rock opera, a two LP album set titled Quadrophenia. It is about the four personalities of a kid named Jimmy who is caught up int he turbulence of Britain’s youth wars of Mods vs Rockers which happened around the original of The Who as a band. Although he album was successful and received critical praise from most reviewers. it was perhaps the most difficult and ambitious project the band had ever undertaken.

Following on the tails of success for the rock opera Tommy and Who’s Next the band struggled to find a music direction. For Quadrophenia they constructed a new studio and went about creating the album in a quite different way. Of the album, Pete Townsend, lead guitarist for the band, said that it was the last great album the band did. It epitomizes what The Who was and could be up to that point. It featured two hits 5:15 and Love Reign O’er Me, both of which charted in the UK but only the later was released in the US. The album was certified Gold based on over a million copies sold upon release and it peaked at #2 both int he UK and in the US, suffering from competition from David Bowie and Elton John.

This was one of my favorite albums during my senior year of high school. I listened to it on my headphones, dubbed it onto a reel to reel so that I could listen to the album in its entirety without having to pause to flip sides of the discs. At the time I felt it was perhaps the best performance for Pete Townsend, Keith Moon, John Entwhistle and Roger Daltry who began as a band in the 60’s and became one of the most influential British Rock bands with hits spanning decades. It even bothered learning the bass lines, which was quite an accomplishment for me because mimicking Entwistle’s style was a challenge required me to develop both speed and dexterity in playing. The percussion and bass on the album were tight. Townsend was, well. as always, Townsend. And Daltry’s lyrics were delivered with power.

One historical note that is often missed from any reviews of the album is what was going on in the music industry and the world at the time. There were vinyl shortages due to the OPEC oil embargo, so a double LP album was pretty rare and there were shortages of the Album here and there. Also Quadrophic sound was being heavily marketed and many people wrongly assumed the album was recorded in wither SQ/QS or CD4 Quad sound – which it was not – the title confusing them.

#TheWho #PeteTownsend #KeithMoon #RogerDaltry #JohnEntwhistle 70sMusic

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