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The Who - Quadrophenia CD (album) cover


The Who



4.50 | 548 ratings

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5 stars Quadrophenia is one of the few double albums that has enough good music, great performances, and continuously interesting and relevant themes to truly be considered a progressive rock masterpiece (including Floyd's Wall, Yes' Topo, and Ayreon's Human Equation). In fact, it's probably the only double album I've heard that is a true prog masterpiece (I allow for the possibility that there are some out there that I have yet to encounter). This is a terrific band at its absolute creative, motivational, and musical peak, and the result is an album for the ages! (I can't cover each song, so I'm just hitting the highlights--though it's ALL excellent!)

Disk 1. What a great start to the album--a brief introduction of themes, followed by the all-out rock explosion of The Real Me, and then the alternatingly bombastic, intricate, and poignant title track. Few bands can hit you with a combo like that! The Who demonstrate that at this point they can do in-your-face rock and symphonic oriented pieces superbly. Special note has to be given to Townshend, both for the great melodies and some inspired playing (I didn't know he had it in him!). Then we eventually move to the power-chord dominated Punk and the Godfather, followed by Daltrey's twisted dual voiced Helpless Dancer (I swear Roger Waters borrowed from this in Run Like Hell). I've Had Enough is a fitting ending to the disk, as it moves from intense to reflective bits, and ends with the literal and figurative crash.

Disk 2. If you think the boys had gotten a little too prog at this point, they bring you back with three straight-up rockers: 5:15, Sea and Sand, and Drowned. These are great tunes, but things really pick up (and get cohesive musically) with Bell Boy through to the end. If I don't have time for the entire album, sometimes I just listen to the last four to get me where I need to be. Doctor Jimmy picks up the intensity (and angst), and leads nicely into The Rock (the "other" instrumental, but as high in quality as Quadrophenia). Then we come to the conclusion. A powerful song by itself, after the emotional roller-coaster you have been on through the album, those piano chords over a thunderstorm put you in the right mindset to be properly moved by the introduction of the main theme. And then Daltrey hits you with the chorus. For me, few musical moments can compare to this sequence.

The Who have accomplished something remarkable with Quadrophenia: great music, great playing, and a captivating story. It resonates still today, and it has a happy ending without being cheesy or overly sentimental. It has been and likely always will be one of the most important pieces of my collection.

Flucktrot | 5/5 |


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