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The Who - Quadrophenia CD (album) cover


The Who



4.50 | 571 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Everyone goes through adolescence. It's to some the best years of life, because there are no worries or responsibilities of the real world and you're under the care of providers and nurturers in parents. However, at a certain age, we all begin to experience angst and insecurity about our identities. In 1973, Pete Townshend decided to devote an entire album of The Who to the story of an adolescent youth who goes through the trials and tribulations of everyday life. This story would eventually be fleshed out into an entire conceptual piece titled Quadrophenia. In my opinion, Quadrophenia is the best piece of music to ever be released (so let that be an indication of my bias of this album, it isn't without merit that I give this album that title).

The story of Jimmy Cooper is one that almost everyone can identify with. The struggle in fit in amongst friends and co-eds of your own age at school, finding love and then getting your heart broken, rebellion against the society that you feel is caging you, and even problems with drugs and alcohol. All of these themes are perfectly expressed through the vivid imagery and the excellent lyrics that Townshend prepared for this album. Songs like Cut My Hair express the discontent of trying to fit in with people who are indifferent to your situation, and no matter what you do they'll never really try to connect with you. Later songs like 5'15 and Drowned utilize great metaphor and capture the listener's imagination when combined with the stylish and creative musical ideas of the album. In all, this album lyrically expresses the discontentment of youth and the struggles of trying to find your place in society.

Musically, this album is also an incredible achievement for the band. Pete Townshend becomes more than just a great rhythm guitarist on this album and provides many great lead moments, especially in the two instrumental pieces (Quadrophenia and The Rock). John Entwistle is at his creative best bass-wise, offering many incredibly tricky and unforgettably catchy basslines (and for those who've gotten the treat to see the live bass solo that's always been included in 5'15, you get to see the Ox really cut loose). Keith Moon at this point in time was starting his decline into drug and alcohol abuse, but behind the kit he's still a powerhouse and his barrage of the skins is one of his most cohesive, complicated, and powerful accomplishments throughout his entire life. And if that weren't enough, Roger Daltrey also gives some of his best vocal performances on this album (listen to Love Reign O'er Me and you'll fully realize why he's hailed as one of the greatest vocalists in rock).

Townshend's use of synthesizers on this album is also one of the main features, as they are much more prevalent than on previous albums. His sensitivity and touch at adding them at the right moments in the sound also help create the right mood for the right song. The accompaniments of strings and brass (all brass was played by Entwistle) also help add tension and relief at critical moments of the album.

The main focus musically of this album is placed on four themes that Townshend created. The two instrumental pieces of this album explore those four themes and they recur throughout the entire album in different pieces as well (the most prevalent one is the main theme of Love Reign O'er Me, which recurs around four times throughout the album before the actual song is even played). Townshend's ability to seamlessly weave these four different themes shows his prowess in the field of songwriting.

Quadrophenia is one of those albums that does not come around every once in awhile. At least not for me. This album changed my life. I identify with nearly everything this album tries to say and musically I couldn't ask for more. The Who have always been one of my favorite groups, and this album cemented their position in my mind as one of the greatest bands to grace rock music. I hope my review didn't come off as too fanboyish, but it's really hard to write objectively about something you love so much. This album is a complete and utter masterpiece in my eyes, Townshend's concept comes through with flying colors and hits me on so many levels. There are no weak songs, nothing that I can consider filler, and 100% ingenuity and creativity. It's a shame that the band had so many problems recreating the experience live around the time it was released. But that's not very relevant to the review at hand. There is no album better than this one in my eyes, and it is essential to anybody who considers themselves a fan of rock music.

Masterliness in every sense of the word.

Cygnus X-2 | 5/5 |


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