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The Who Quadrophenia album cover
4.50 | 697 ratings | 41 reviews | 60% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1 (40:16)
1. I Am the Sea (2:09)
2. The Real Me (3:21)
3. Quadrophenia (6:13)
4. Cut My Hair (3:44)
5. The Punk and the Godfather (5:11)
6. I'm One (2:38)
7. The Dirty Jobs (4:29)
8. Helpless Dancer (2:34)
9. Is It in My Head? (3:43)
10. I've Had Enough (6:14)

Disc 2 (41:23)
11. 5:15 (4:59)
12. Sea and Sand (5:01)
13. Drowned (5:27)
14. Bell Boy (4:55)
15. Doctor Jimmy (8:36)
16. The Rock (6:37)
17. Love, Reign O'er Me (5:48)

Total Time 81:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Roger Daltrey / lead vocals
- Pete Townshend / guitars, keyboards, synths, banjo, cello, sound effects, vocals (4-6,10-12)
- John Entwistle / bass, horns, vocals (9)
- Keith Moon / drums, percussion, tubular bells (17), vocals (14)

- Chris Stainton / piano (7,11,13)
- John Curle / newsreader voice
- Rod Houison / sound effects
- Ron Nevison / sound effects

Releases information

ArtWork: Ethan A. Russell with Graham Hughes (photo & design)

2xLP Track Records - 2657 013 (1973, UK)

2xCD Polydor ‎- 831 074-2 (1984, Europe)
2xCD Polydor - 531971-2 (1996, Europe) Remixed & Remastered by Bob Ludwig

Thanks to Cygnus X-2 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE WHO Quadrophenia ratings distribution

(697 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(60%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (9%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE WHO Quadrophenia reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.

Review by fuxi
5 stars Well, here's the Big One! Although not as balanced as WHO'S NEXT, QUADROPHENIA is beyond doubt the Who's most symphonic album, and for that reason alone it deserves five stars.

Heavy rock numbers like "The real me" and "The punk and the godfather" sound as triumphant as anything the Who ever recorded, while songs like "I am one" and "I've had enough" perfectly encapsulate adolescent despair.

From a progressive point of view, it's worth considering that Pete Townshend based QUADROPHENIA on four leitmotifs, each representing one of the musicians in the band. Two of these motifs are first sung by Roger Daltrey at the beginning of the album, and all four are developed instrumentally during the title track. They get their most exuberant treatment on the original 'fourth side' of the album (tracks 5 - 7 of the second disc), where they are sandwiched between the glorious (but desperate) "Dr Jimmy" (which makes superb use of John Entwistle's brass) and the exultant "Love reign o'er me", which has never been matched, as conclusion to an album, by any prog band I can think of.

Apart from his trademark guitar Pete Townshend employes synths liberally on this album, providing an appropriate orchestral feel, and some of the sounds he uses may now have dated, but that does not diminish, in my view, the sheer power of this extraordinary album. The wild crescendo on the drums at the end of "Love reign o'er me" is one of Keith Moon's best ever moments: his last truly great studio performance.

Review by 1800iareyay
5 stars here we are, the apex of The Who's illustrious career. Townshend was no stranger to writing teenage anthems, but he decided to go for broke and pen an entire album devoted to the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Every member of the band is at his peak here: Pete plays with emotion and skill. Moonie mixes his frantic style with a more melodic sensibility. John Entwistle sets his legacy in stone here. And roger displays his range, power, and emotion like never before. Synths had been present ever since Who's Next,. but Pete uses them even more here, giving Quadrophenia a more prggy quality than any other Who album.

The concept of Jimmy Cooper winds through nearly every aspect of teenage life: love, heartbreak, angst, rebellion all flow into one another in the frantic rush of youth. The album opens with some noises, but the proper opener is the killer "The Real Me." This is Entwistle's finest studio performance and one of the greatest bass workouts in music. Moon and Daltrey also give great performances. "5'15" has another great bass performance. "Quadrophenia" and "The Rock" are the two instrumental pieces of the album, and they show just how much Townshend has grown as a guitarist, from a brash Mod who smashed his guitars due to his lack of ability into a musician's musician. Highlights are impossible to pick out, but the most grandiose moment of the album comes with its end. "Love Reign O'er me" is Roger's best perfromance and it stands as one of the greatest vocal performances ever. Pete really knows how to end albums, judging from this, Tommy, and Who's Next.

Ocean imagery is used extensively on the album, particularly in "Sea and Sand" and "Drowned." I always figured this was due to Pete equating the rush of new feelings as the cascading waves of an ocean, massive and unstoppable. Who's Next is Townshend's best lyrical moment, but he comes extremely close to bettering it with the lyrics in this album. This album is as relevant now as it was in 73. No one comes close to replicating Townshend's grasp on adolescence. Not even the punk movement that Townshend laid the foundations for could ever hope to capture the genius of its forefather.

Who's Next is technically the better album, but Quadrophenia is somehow the pinnacle of The Who in terms of music and lyrical awareness. This seeming contradiction is one of the reasons I believe The Who belong here on PA. They never did follow the norms,they were too busy forging new ones.

Grade: A-

Review by Guillermo
5 stars I listened for the first time to some of the songs from this album in 1977 in a bootleg recording of a concert recorded in the U.S. in late 1973. Despite the recording of this album was of low quality, I liked some of these songs. It was until mid 1998 when I finally bought this album, in the re-mixed and remastered version released in the mid nineties.

In late 1980 I saw the "Quadrophenia" film in a cinema with some friends. I was then 15 years old and I liked the film a lot. But one year ago it was broadcasted on a TV channel in my city. I recorded it on a VHS videocassette and I saw it several times. Obviously the impact of the film wasn`t the same in my taste. The film is good, but I think that the best version of this Rock Opera is the album which was originally released in 1973. I consider this album as The Who`s Masterpiece, and the re-mixed and re-mastered version is very good in sound and the cover design includes the original booklet with explanations about the story, photos to illustrate the story and lyrics of all the songs. This version of this album is so good that it is like having the band playing in your living room!

The story of "Quadrophenia" is about a teenager Mod fan of The Who. The story relates his personal confusion and hard times with his parents, friends, employers, and also a failed love relationship.

The album, musically, is very good. Each song or instrumental piece of music is very well arranged and played. The story is realistic, in my opinion. Jimmy belongs to the real world, in comparison to the main character of "Tommy", who ends like a "Messiah".

The recording of this album was a hard time, particularly for the band. By that time, Keith Moon was becoming unreliable, and he wasn`t playing very well. But in the final product his drums playing is great most of the time, with some exceptions, like in the song called "Dr. Jimmy" on which the band elected to leave some mistakes in his playing. Pete Townshend plays synthesizers in most songs of this album, apart from piano, and his use of the synthesizers in this album is very creative, very "Progressive". Chris Stainton (formerly with "Joe Cocker and the Grease Band") played piano on three songs, but the main keyboards were played by Townshend, who also played the piano very well, acoustic and electric guitars, and even sang lead vocals on some songs. He also wrote all the songs of this album for the first time, and the album has continuity, and the story is told in a better way in comparison to the film. John Entwistle played his bass, the brass instruments and sang backing vocals. Roger Daltrey sang with energy and feeling, and Keith Moon played drums and percussion and also sang lead vocals in "Bell Boy". Each one of the members of the band had their "musical theme" in a song: "Helpless Dancer" (Daltrey), "Bell Boy" (Moon), "Dr. Jimmy" (Entwistle) and "Love Reign O`er Me" (Townshend).

The story reaches the final stages on which Jimmy is tired of everything in his life and for a brief moment considers suicide as an option. Fortunately, the story has a good ending, when Jimmy finds a new meaning to his life.

The best songs in this album are: "The Real Me", "Quadrophenia", "The Punk and the Godfather", "I`m One" , "5:15", "Sea and Sand", "Bell Boy", and particularly "Doctor Jimmy", "The Rock" and "Love Reign O`er Me" are great songs, growing in tension until the story reaches the end. These three final songs are the best, in my opinion, with great arrangements and playing by all members of the band. "Love Reign O`er Me" is the best song in this album, with Daltrey singing with feeling, Moon playing great drums and percussion, Entwistle his bass and brass instruments very well, and Townshend playing very good acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards.

"Quadrophenia" is one of those albums which I like to play from start to finish without interruptions. It is an album full of emotions and a "musical journey" with a great (and positive) finale. Maybe it is The Who`s most Progressive album.

The "Quadrophenia" tour in 1973-74 was a problematic experience, because the band tried to play the songs on stage accompanied by tapes to reproduce the keyboards, sound effects and brass instruments. Unfortunately it wasn`t easy to do that, and the band stopped using the tapes and deleting many of the songs of the album from the set-list, only playing the songs which had less additional instruments on the album.

Review by ZowieZiggy

Quadrophenia is what I would consider as the last great album from The Who. I purchased it in 1973 at the time of release and I was not disappointed. Expectations were high, but they were met.

Some might argue, another "Tommy"? Well, maybe.

But when a band is able to produce another masterpiece of ROCK music the one after the other (remember that in the meantime "Who's Next" was also released) one is really confronted to a high profile group of very talented lads (of course dominated by Pete's songwritting which is just magnificent here).

Without going into too many details, you'll get the four themes developped into the whole of "Quadrophenia" during the first track of the "opera" : "I Am The Sea" ("Helpless Dancer", "Is It me For A Moment", "Bell Boy", and "Love Reign O'er Me"). The latter being the most recurring theme and I really like it.

The whole of "Quadrophenia" flows perfectly and pleasantly during the whole of the work. The first LP or CD is really strong. There are absolutely no weak track at all. On the contrary, each piece is extremely well written and performed. "Helpless Dancer" is maybe a bit weaker. This is what is the most remarkable in this work. When you compare it with other concept albums which are filled with "transition tracks" (usually very short pieces of music but not only), you have to agree that "Quadrophenia" stands out by its unity and its regularity. In most (double) concept albums, there is also almost always one CD which is seriously weaker than the other ("The Wall", "The Lamb" to name a few).

The second CD has a rockier orientation ("5'15", "Sea And Sand" and "Drowned"). The later is one of my fave (but there are so many on this album). Fantastic drumming here again, and superb bass playing as well. The closing number of the original third side "Bell Boy" (associated with Keith Moon) features some weird vocals during the chorus. Drumming is also very strong during this number.

Side four of the original "Quadrophenia" opens brilliantly on "Doctor Jim" (Is it me for a moment?). It is a marvel of a melody and a track full of emotion (you know that I like emotions, right ?). Another (out of many) highlights of the album. Probably the more "stratospheric" number of all (whatever this may mean). "The Rock" is the second instrumental of the album and features an interesting Spanish acousitc guitar part. It is really a bombastic number. The closing number contains the recurrent theme of the whole story. A wonderful way to close this great album. I really can't tell if it's the best one. But it is a superb song in which Roger shows all his vocal talents.

The work of Keith Moon is as fantastic as in "Who's Next" throughout the whole of "Quadrophenia". RIP Keith.

The mood and the story of Quadrophenia have nothing to do with prog (being related or proto). Still, it is a masterpiece of ROCK music. I guess that any rock lover should get it. I can only recommend you to listen to this wonderful piece of music. I was lucky to see the live representation of "Quadrophenia" in the early nineties. A great moment which is now available on DVD (but not yet ready fo reviewing). Five stars.

Review by The Whistler
5 stars (Can You See the 5+?)

Okay, I’m sorry, but THIS is the greatest opera ever written period. The Wall? Hardly. That “Remembrances” from the Carmen album that no one’s ever heard of? Don’t make me laugh. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? Never even heard it. The Magic Flute? Give it a rest, Mozart!

Okay, so maybe that’s a little bit of an overestimation of my man Townshead there. I mean, we still do listen to Mozart, who’s to say we’ll still be listening to the Who three hundred years from now? Well, we should. Absolutely. And this thing? This “Quadrophenia?” Not even a real word Pete! Oh well. The first time I heard it, I just thought it was good. Then, I realized I’d heard it backwards, so I listened again, first disc first. And then it blew me away; this is the ultimate expression of romantic art rock.

This is, of course, a rock opera. Which means it has a plot. So that means you actually have to pay attention to the words. I know, but trust me, it’s totally worth it. See, it’s all about this dude named Jimmy (right?), except that he nuts, and thinks he’s four people. And he loves this girl that hates him. Which essentially means that I can TOTALLY sympathize. Anyway, every member gets to be a different Jimmy, and...hmm...maybe I’d better just get into the music.

“I Am the Sea” opens us with some ghostly atmosphere. And, if you listen real close, you can hear the four themes upon which the opera is based. Don’t listen too close though, ‘cause this spills flawlessly into “The Real Me,” a rip-roaring rocker that essentially bubbles down to a massive duel between Keith and John over who rocks harder. Not that it’s some kind of bass/drum solo, there’s symphonic backing, Roger roaring, and Pete keeping us all grounded with riffage (which is what the whole damn album’s about! YEAH!). Then we slide into “Quadrophenia” itself, which is really an overture. It’s instrumental, and we get to hear all the themes of the opera fleshed out, as well as Pete’s experimentation with synths. Not to mention a pretty cool guitar solo at the end. Amazing.

“Cut My Hair” is a really cool orchestral bit, with an opera rock chorus. There’s a nice radio/tea kettle transition into “The Punk and the Godfather,” a really brilliant piece of acoustic driven hard rock. There’s also a nice climby chorus, and this pretty midsection. Nice lyrics, going back to “My Generation” in a way... “I’m One” is a nice piece of bloozy acoustics, then Keith steps in, and it gets all heavy. Cool.

“The Dirty Jobs” is another orchestral rocker, great use of strings on that one. And the chorus part? “My karma tells me, you’ve been screwed again?” Brilliant. “Helpless Dancer” is just a piano and Roger, but it’s! It’s fantastic. Great lyrics too. Heh. Listen at the end for a snippet of the Who playing something “classic” sounding...

“Is It in My Head?” is a good, lingering, desperate hard rocker. “I’ve Had Enough” is a great amalgamation of everything in the opera so far, twisting from heavy to pretty to funny. See, everything’s been getting more and more downbeat? Well, we leave the first disc on a hopeful note. Until the sirens. Heh. Well, anyways, great tune, great use of progressive banjo.

The catchy “5:15” is probably the big ole fan favorite of the record, and it’s pretty easy to see why. Great riff on those horns, with Entwhistle matching ‘em every step of the way; opera rock at its most rhythm and bluesy. And the best imitation of a train since “Locomotive Breath,” dig the way Keith sounds like the train cars slowing down at the end. “Sea and Sand” returns us to the water motif (which is far more prominent on the second side; if the first side is the city, this is the beach). That probably symbolizes something. There’s so many themes and layers to these tunes it’s hard to really call things “verses” and “choruses,” but in parts it rocks, and in other parts (“The girl I love is a perfect dresser”), it’s gorgeous.

“Drowned” is a pretty basic hard rocker...not that musicians as virtuoso as the Who could honestly make anything “basic,” especially in one of Pete’s operas. It’s “basic” in that it’s a natural (albeit bloozy) extension of “Sea and Sand.” Although there’s a nice snatch of “5:15” locked in the middle. But the number everyone has been waiting for is “Bell Boy.” We start off with some acoustic strumming, backing with a synth...and then Keith starts singing! It’s awesome, with a great sing-along chorus. In fact, his goofy singing coupled with Roger’s roar and Pete’s desperation is a great balance. And the drums are good too, of course; Keith really swings on that one.

“Doctor Jimmy” is a hard opera rock classic, with the band handing the melody off to a pocket orchestra for the chorus. That climby part, “What is it? I’ll take it!” Probably the best use of orchestra on the whole album. And the desperate “Is it me for a moment” bit? Rog really sells it, it’s beautiful. But screw individual sections, the whole damn thing works.

“The Rock” is, quite possibly, the only throwaway track on the album. And not because it’s bad, just because it’s sort of a retread of “Quadrophenia,” just this time, with more dicking around on the synths. Of course, “Quadrophenia” rocked anyway, so why am I complaining. “Love, Reign O’er Me” starts slowly, but then we’re finally hit with that damned theme we’ve heard over and over again through the opera. And you know what? It does not disappoint. The only downside is that Pete probably (and unwittingly, I hope) created the power ballad. Oh well, power ballads suck. This does not. It’s intelligent in melody and lyrics, and the emotion is real, and we’re (literally) hit with a desperate conclusion. The end. Wow.

Now, of course, the question is, did little Jimmy off himself? Well, I think—wait, no! That’s not the real question. The real question is, what’s the best song on this thing? Well, the whole thing. Yep. I mean, I could quibble, and come up with a few good suggestions (“Dr. Jimmy,” “The Real Me,” “Quadrophenia,” “Love Reign O’er Me”), but in the long run, you just can’t. It’s all too close. The flow is immaculate. All those little transitions? Beautiful. Two discs? Ha! I’ve heard stuff less than half as long as thing that’s a thousand times as tedious.

And do I even have to describe the players? Entwhistle is the greatest bassplayer on earth; his lyrical lines are matched only by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond’s very best work. Keith Moon comes off as the most varietous drummer on the planet; the styles he cycles through here with just a drum kit, no fancy percussion, is amazing. He’s able to keep in time with the band AND the orchestra flawlessly. Roger Daltry takes the term “operatic” to the limits, playing it both for soft and heavy emotion. And Pete? Well, he was never the best guitarist in the world, but on this album he actually sounds pretty good. He also does keyboards, which somehow don’t sound as dated as you’d think. Besides, he’s the founder of the feast! We have him, and him alone, to thank for all this music and lyrics, which is an achievement unto itself.

Yep. The great Quad. I can think of few other albums that are this bombastic, this resonant, this melodic, this...good! Argh! I don’t even know what to say anymore. It rocks. It rolls. It tugs at the heartstrings. Keith Moon sings! A flawless example of progressive music. Essential.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wow, we have quite a story here!

Having only heard the Who's singles I was quite befuddled to see the kinds of reviews this album was getting, and now I know why. Let's just put it this way, the only Who album I'd heard before this was Magic Bus. Anyways! Onto the reveiw, yes?

This is a brilliantly written piece of fiction, with wonderful music to back it. Every piece of the puzzle fits, Daltry belts out some excelent vocals, Townshed rips through his guitar parts like a tornado through a trailer park, Moon flails away and Entwisle joins him to create a powerful rythem section. Not to meantion that each song works together very very well and not one song seems out of place, or, for that matter, even weak. Most of the songs are 4-6 minutes long, with little intro-outro tracks, and even the intro-outro tracks are worth listening to. Amung the very powerful pieces are the two intrumentals, the title track QUADROPHENIA, and THE ROCK, both are similar in structure, but very different, and help move the story along while still sounding great. Other very noteworthy tracks are THE REAL ME, CUT MY HAIR, THE PUNK AND THE GODFATHER, 5:15, the 8-minute DOCTOR JIMMY and LOVE REIGN O'ER ME. You're likely thinking, "Well, that's most of the tracks.", yup, they're quite good, and that's just listing the exceptional songs.

I have no complaints once or ever about this album, it's quite perfect actually. Also, the fact that there were no huge hits off this album (that I know of anyways) only helps to make this album better, as you're not looking forward to that one song. I'd definately recommend this to any people who even remotely like The Who, anyone who liked Pink Floyd's The Wall, or anyone who wants to hear a story about a guy with severe schizophenia.

5 stars man, no less.

Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by FruMp
5 stars An amazing symhonic concept album masterpiece well deserving of it's place in the archives.

THE WHO are one of the quintessential rock and roll bands that have ever formed their virtuoisic talents, amazing song writing and hard partying ways set the way above the rest of the pack and in Quadrophenia we see the distilled essence of The Who. The album is amazingly symphonic thanks to Townshends heavy reliance on synthesizers, and the instrumental title track is a perfect embodiment of everything that is great about this album.

This album is a fantastic piece of progressive music, it will surprise many prog fans to see just how progressive and well written The Who's music is. If you don't own this classic album already - now is the time to get it.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I am so grateful to all of you on Progarchives for acknowledging Quadrophenia as The Who's crown achievement. Until know I really thought that most people viewed this release as a clone of Tommy and it's wonderful to be proven wrong once in a while!

This is the album that turned the Who from being a great band to becoming the essential band for me. After hearing both Tommy and Who's Next I was eager explore more of their material and Quadrophenia was definitely the firsthand choice since I had no plans to go into the band's '60s output. The album starts off with the masterpiece of a bass-riff on The Real Me and the intensity of the music doesn't let go until the first CD ends. Although most of the second CD's highlights come towards the end it doesn't decrease the overall quality since it's the mood and theme of this record is what makes it essential for me.

There is no real need for me to go any deeper into a track-by track examination since this album is already one of the top five albums featured in the Proto-Prog category so I just like to give my warmest recommendation of it to anyone unfamiliar with this album. And on this site I'm definitely not in the minority regarding my opinion!

***** star songs: The Real Me (3:20) Quadrophenia (6:15) Cut My Hair (3:46) I'm One (2:39) Helpless Dancer (2:32) 5:15 (5:00) Doctor Jimmy (8:42) The Rock (6:37) Love, Reign O'er Me (5:48)

**** star songs: I Am The Sea (2:08) The Punk And The Godfather (5:10) The Dirty Jobs (4:30) Is It In My Head (3:46) I've Had Enough (6:14) Sea And Sand (5:01) Drowned (5:28) Bell Boy (4:56)

Total Rating: 4,55

Review by Chicapah
5 stars When this arrived in the mail several weeks ago it marked the first time I had sincerely listened to Quadrophenia as a serious work of art. That's embarrassing, being a huge Who fan, but it's the honest truth. When I bought the LP in late '73 my head wasn't much into hard rock any more so, after a few cursory spins, I shelved and eventually sold my vinyl copy. What led me to reexamine this landmark album was the adoration I found in the reviews on this site and I'm glad I did because, other than the few cuts that get played on classic rock stations, I realized that I barely knew most of the songs. Yet it's not the high-octane, energetic music that has garnered my respect as much as the subject matter and that's what I want to address in this review.

Rock & roll has been a pressure release valve for teenage angst since Bill Haley sang "Rock around the Clock," eventually evolving through punk, grunge and some forms of emo. That's no revelation. But an objective, realistic walk through the world of a young person's societal and hormone-fueled anxiety has rarely been taken on. To my knowledge (some of Pink Floyd's darker material notwithstanding) only Pete Townsend and Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) have strolled down that shadow-filled alley. One finds that, with few differences, the manic Mod of the mid-sixties and any one of a host of sunken-eyed juveniles of the late 2000s have a lot in common. Both are disenfranchised souls that can't find a purpose for being. Their type seem destined to slink around the outskirts of every new generation from now till eternity. In "Anesthetize" on "Fear of a Blank Planet" they're "lost in the mall, shuffling through the stores like zombies" while in Jimmy's world they're out of their brains on the train. In both cases their tales climax in a contemplation of suicide on one hand and baptism in water (life- redeeming, purifying faith in the unseen creator) on the other. If there's a line of demarcation between them it's that today's choice of pills makes kids apathetic, lethargic and uninvolved whereas the uppers and downers that Jimmy mindlessly ingests only make him unsatisfied, rebellious and extremely angry.

While this was initially to be a story of an almost Frankenstein-like guy, sewn together with pieces of the four different personalities in the Who, Townsend changed his mind and made Jimmy into a tragic everyman, assailed on every side by technology, mutating styles and trends and the ever-present struggle to be special. The ocean is never far away and the album starts with the sounds of waves crashing ashore as mysterious snippets of musical themes dart in and out of the wet spray. The serenity of the moment is interrupted by the frantic rhythm track of John Entwistle and Keith Moon as they lead a full horn section through the torrid "The Real Me." Here the stage is set as Jimmy asks his doctor, his mother and his priest if they can help him through the puzzle of identity crisis but none of them can because they don't know how. "Quadrophenia," an instrumental overture, follows and it effectively plots the course that lies ahead with tasteful synthesizers and a sophisticated arrangement. In "Cut My Hair" Jimmy states his general dissatisfaction with the way things are. "Why do I have to move/with a crowd of kids that hardly notice I'm around/I have to work myself to death/just to fit in," he complains. Pete's lighter vocal approach and his duet with Roger Daltrey capture Jimmy's hopeless mood as the tune flows through varying phases. At some point cock an ear to the incredible runs John is playing on his bass and you'll find out why he was so pivotal to their sound.

Roger and Pete embody opposing sides of an issue on "The Punk and the Godfather," an evocative argument between Jimmy and the leader of the band he followed. He feels they've become conceited, ungrateful jerks. "You only became what we made you" he cries. "No surprise/I told lies/I'm the punk in the gutter," the rock star shrugs, adding "and yet I live your future out/by pounding stages like a clown." (A brutal self-assessment?) Jimmy turns away in disgust and, accompanied by a simple folk- rock air on "I'm One," avers his intention to find himself and his destiny alone. However, stark reality rears its ugly head on the melodic "Dirty Jobs" in which he has to face his extremely limited career options. I love the "chirping" strings throughout and the sarcastic circus aura at the end. Nice touch. On "Helpless Dancer" Daltrey sings superbly as the tension builds steadily over a basic piano and French horn track. The protagonist's growing desperation is evident. "When a man is trying to change/but only causes further pain/you realize that all along/something in us is going wrong. you stop dancing."

Jimmy's drug-induced paranoia creeps in on the plodding "Is It In My Head?" where, unfortunately, Moon's sloppy drumming drags. Thankfully it's only a dip in the trail as it leads directly to one of the best songs on the album, the exciting and very intriguing "I've Had Enough." Once again Roger and Pete blend their unique vocals into this song that employs no less than three separate melodies and feels. Jimmy's rage is front and center. "You were under the impression/that when you were walking forwards/you'd end up further onward/but things ain't quite that simple," he snarls. "There's a millionaire above you/and you're under his suspicion" he growls. He goes on to list the many things he's given up on like living, dying, smiling, crying and, ultimately, trying to love. Jimmy's landscape is bleak, to say the least. His solution? Get high as a kite and go ride the "5:15" where "nowhere is home." Numbing, self-induced sedation is an option whether it's 1964 or 2064. Some things never change. You gotta admit, though, this hot tune's a hell of a rocker where Keith gives his drum kit a wallop and guest Chris Stainton plays a mean piano. It's one of the tightest tracks they ever recorded.

Once Jimmy crashes, however, the ocean beckons him. In "Sea and Sand" he must face the fact that he's now homeless (having been thrown out of his parent's house), the girl he was infatuated with has waltzed off with a rival and his bed is the beach. The strong, high-energy "Drowned" finds him with nothing to do but contemplate his empty life as he stares across the bay. In contrast to his sobering situation, the Who turns the song into a spirited jam of unbridled enthusiasm led once again by Stainton's hot piano licks. Jimmy takes yet another hard hit on "Bell Boy" when he runs into a former fellow nihilist that he used to look up to for being a rebel unshackled by convention, but is now nothing more than a lowly baggage humper. Moon's portrayal of the half-snockered, slobbering dolt groveling for quarter tips and "always running at someone's heel" is spot on. For Jimmy it's another illusion shattered and he reacts by falling headlong into Quadrophenia where his romantic, violent, lunatic and hypocritical natures clash together in "Doctor Jimmy." He's in a tailspin and he lashes out with unadulterated resentment.

"The Rock" is a brilliant musical wrap-up that melds all the themes into a six and a half minute prog epic. It's fantastic and drives us to the dramatic finale where Jimmy returns to the seashore to sink or swim in "Love, Reign O'er Me." Here Roger pours every drop of his blood, sweat and tears into the vocal performance and when he sings the bridge of "I can't sleep and I can't think/the nights are hot and black as ink/Oh, God, I need a drink/of cool, cool rain" we easily envision Jimmy nearing the edge of the eternal ocean. He has a choice. Survive or succumb. It's hard to name a song more emotional or more appropriate as the concluding note resounds like God's booming foghorn.

I'll be the first to admit that there's a certain "sameness" to the overall atmosphere throughout this long album that contributed heavily to my dismissing it all those years ago. The group's usual wide selection of styles that characterizes most of their previous output is scarce on Quadrophenia but I believe that Townsend was trying to emphasize the lack of variety in Jimmy's life. I'm not saying it's dull in any way, shape or form. It's not. The Who just asserts their focused, unrelenting force of will to most effectively present a musical documentary about the harsh but all-too-real teenage wasteland that we all must grow up in and out of. But, as with a great novel, you can't rely on the Cliff Notes or, in the case of Quadrophenia, my inadequate review to recognize and comprehend the genius. You have to totally immerse yourself in the lyrics and music to fathom the author's answer to "why?" and nothing less will suffice to understand what makes this a masterpiece of progressive rock.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars After the amazing "Who's Next" THE WHO became very ambitious and delivered this double concept album back in 1973. First of all I have to admit that the first time I listened to this was about 30 years after it came out. I was never a big fan of THE WHO and anyone who knows me will tell you that concept albums usually do little for me. I just find that the focus is on the lyrics, the concept, so it's rare to find incredible music with it as a result. There are some exceptions but for me this isn't one of them.To make it worse this is a double album. I applaud the band though for all the thought and ideas that went into this. It's about a teenager named Jimmy growing up in London's early 60's Mod subculture.The same place the members of the band came out of. In fact the "Quadrophenia" title represents the four personalities that this young man exhibits on the four album sides. Each personality is also related to each band member. I do like how the final track's ("Love, Reign O'er Me") chorus pops up through this album at different times both instrumentally and vocally. Not a fan of the orchestration thoughout though.

Love the sound of the waves and the rain on the opening track "I Am Sea" and when he shouts "Love, reign o'er me". "The Real Me" is a good little rocker with horns, bass and drums standing out along with Roger's vocals of course. "Quadrophenia" sounds great to open, it has a classical flavour to it later. I like when the "Love, Reign O'er Me" comes up instrumentally before 5 minutes. Waves end it. The next three songs are all about the lyrics telling the story. "The Dirty Jobs" is better. I like how this sounds, it makes me feel good. Moon is prominant. "Is It In My Head?" is my favourite of the first disc. Great chorus. "I've Had Enough" is another good one. I like Moon early on. Daltrey sings "Love, Reign O'er me" after 1 1/2 minutes.

Disc two begins with "5:15" a song I know from the radio."Why should I care ?" then it kicks in with horns and piano. "Sea And Sand" sounds good with the sound of sea gulls and waves. Very personal lyrics as well. The next three tracks are ok but "Doctor Jimmy" is one I tired of quickly. "The Rock" is an interesting instrumental with the "Love, reign O'er me" chorus before 5 minutes. It ends with rain and thunder that blends into "Love, Reign O'er me" which is one of the best closing tracks ever. The meaningful lyrics along with the passion and emotion is all simply perfect.

Clearly i'm in the minority with my feelings towards this album, but i'd pick "Live At Leeds" or "Who's Next" before this one.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Wow, I just found my old Quadrophenia album that had transported me through millions of clouds and trips. I was stuck between an old shelf and the wall, and probably spent some 30 years there, untouched, but very dusty. Once cleaned, I realised that it was still in fine shape and that I hadn't heard the whole concept album in one shot for much longer than it had spent being forgotten about. So I forgot about my house transformation and sat down to descend down memory lane. Sure I'd re-heard bits and parts of the album throughout the years, but had not really sought to completely revisit, even when I wrote my other The Who reviews when the band got its PA entry visa a few years back. OK, the very sober b&w artwork was an all-too discreet showcase for this excellent work, unlike their previous double-album concept "rock-opera" (hate the word) Tommy with that stupendous gatefold. In short, the storyline is about an hyperactive working-class early to mid-60's teenager and his rebellion due to an unbalanced and uncontrolled upper consumption and his Mod adventures. To a certain point, this story sounds somewhat autobiographical of the band's collective youth history, and the main character portrayed in the movie a few years later bears a certain physical resemblance to the three dark-haired band members.

If memory serves, one of the first ideas of this then-nascent project that came to sole composer Townsend was the lengthy instrumental sections that would later evolve into Love Reign Over Me and The Rock, and he immediately knew this would be the grand finale of the story. So when Pete started writing, constructing and recording the music, he obviously but predictably previewed many of the middle and end contents into the intro and the first two songs, so you'll discover some of the album's most ecstatic moments splattered a bit all over the story's duration. Of course past the I Am The Sea intro (which kind of ruins the re-surprise in repeated listenings of this opus), the band launches in a powerful Real Me anthem, where Keith's unrelenting torture of his drum skins accounts for much of the energy, but Entwistle's brass lines are enhancing the depth of the band's soundscape. The 6-mins+ Quadrophenia title track features one of the two dramatic instrumental themes that you'll find in great part in the last two closing pieces The Rock and Reign. So far, the band is just as (if not more) grandiose, and somewhat more mature, than in Tommy. The rather weaker but storyline?important Cut My Hair piece follows, with a few sound-tape effects to wrap it up. The side-A closing Punk and Godfather is often hailed as a classic, but this writer fails to see any genius to it.

Opening the B-side is a short I'm One that starts acoustic, but develops a certain country-rock pace behind the typical Who power chords. Another classic Quad piece is The Dirty Joke, but like it's preceding tracks, the soundscapes are sounding 60-ish and pre-Tommy, rather than much in the line of their recent Who's Next album. I seem to detect some un-credited violin (and think it might have been Rick Grech's then ex-Family and Traffic) in that Joke track. Incidentally, the only instrument played by a guest is Stainton on piano (outside Townsend's own note-ticklings), mainly on this track and on two more on the C-side. One of the teaching in this album is that Townsend's guitar playing offers a different facet to his usual windmill-poser power chords, with some brilliantly-written lead guitar lines and some acoustic arpeggios at one point. Again we are presented with the two final themes on this side as a "fil conducteur", but I can't help wondering if their over-exploitations is not compensating a lack of ideas in an all-too long and ambitious project that Peter attacked alone (Tommy was more of a group involvement, IMHO)

Opening the second disc is one of the most over-rated Who tunes ever, the brass-laden 5:15 (lasting less than that), though the album version is better than the single version. After a better than average Sea And Sand (with a cool guitar solo), the following Drowned is an impressive romp though, where Stainton's piano enhances brilliantly the rest of the band's instrumental prowess with Moon's relentless skin-pounding, Entwistle's excellent bass and brass arrangements. Easily side B & C's highlight. The sometimes goofy Bell Boy starts as a remake of Going Mobile, but goes grotesque and overstays its welcome already halfway though.

Contrary to many double disc concept albums, who are generally running out of steam by the start of side D, Quad really starts to soar over the South England cliffs, with the almost 9-mins Doctor Jimmy, where the song-proper is over quickly, but the middle and end sections are really taking off and there is no stopping the band until the needle finally lifts from the black wax. Indeed between Entwistle's brass and Grech's violin (still guessing), the band just wails wildly, but allowing some calmer spine-tingling moments for Daltrey's superb vocals. As the track slowly segues into the awesome and ever-changing instrumental The Rock, one realizes that The Who was never better than now, and Townsend's superb guitar lines (hardly flawlessly played, though) are elevating the debate sky-high. Moon's ever-intuitive drumming with his never-ending tom rolls is simply awesome. And just when you think it can't get better, the piano reappears (probably not Townsend's though) and opens one of the grandest finale ever played in centuries of western music. The hypnotising synth lines that have been haunting the album since its start are now reigning supreme, and Daltrey's wild wails are blood-curdling. Of course it does help that this track's music is indelibly engraved in my brains with the movie's fantastic but terrifying end scene over the chalk cliffs.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Townsend was somewhat depressed during the making of this album (well the subject is not exactly an ode to joy and happiness), after his Lifehouse project had fallen apart. Apparently, the band was bordering implosion as well, and in that light, it's a miracle that this album is so successful, and might have given more impetus to the band for a few more years, even though Moon's descent into an infernal spiral of substance abuse and self-destruction (that ultimately provoked the band's slow death in successive steps) had probably begun already. One of the major technical production feat of the album is that it was recorded in quad sound hence the title), and one could indeed make the full extent of this "performance" are in the sound montage bits that occur in intros and outros of songs. So whether Quad is superior to Tommy is rather subjective, since the many of the average songs written for the later opus are purposely sounding pre-Tommy, and the fantastic two instrumental themes are a bit over-exploited throughout the duration of the two vinyl slabs. Of yeah, outside these two extraordinary instrumental themes, Quad does not feature any ultra-huge hits ala Pinball Wizzard that could've attracted it a much bigger mainstream recognition.

BTW, I learned that there is a recent boxset about this album, but apparently, it's mostly in-progress works, alternate takes (nothing exciting as you can see, though I suppose there are surprises) and a few 5.1 remix track versions, but since the original album was quad, is enhancement gain really worthy? Too bad it doesn't contain the movie that came a few years later and that an indispensable complement to the original concept album, instead of the few "copies or original memorabilia" that such sets usually shower you with. Soooo, in all likelihood, unless an über-fan of Quadrophenia, you'd better stick with the "standard set" or in my case, I'll just keep the vinyl.

Keith's last moments of sublime and The Who's last glory

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An emotional journey through the adolescent years. The Who pulled off a true masterpiece when they mixed the rock opera-ambitions of Tommy with the more musically advanced Who's Next with Quadrophenia. A rock opera telling the story of Jimmy, a struggling member of the mod movement.

I Am the Sea is the soft and relaxing first track. Gentle waves on the beach interspersed with each of Jimmy's personalities. "Loooveeee rain on meeeee..." "Bell-boy" A track that really sets the mood.

Then it bursts into the heavy rocker The Real Me which sounds like a lot of other Who tracks but fits this album perfectly. It tells how Jimmy has been trying to deal with his mental condition, Quadrophenia, through the years. Numerous attempts have failed so he just deals with it.

The instrumental title track is our introduction to all of Jimmy's personalities, sort of a overture. It is real moody and does a perfect job of displaying each personality (Tough guy, raging lunatic, romantic, and a beggar & hypocrite).

Cut My Hair is the mod cry, Jimmy's feeling of being an outcast, a slow melodic piano- driven track. "Why should I care?"

The Punk and the Godfather to me displays the tough guy side of Jimmy, him remembering a fight he had a concert. It is a very thrashing track in which Daultry spits out the vocals in perfect form.

I'm One is Jimmy finally feeling confident about himself, but he is still unsure. A nice little acoustic track. Pretty folky sounding the whole time.

The Dirty Jobs is about Jimmy's job as a chimney sweep and how he was abused by his co-workers. This sends his confidence downward. The track is pretty rock filled but there is a sense of a sort of sadness about it. Pretty catchy chorus too.

Helpless Dancer is the tough guy coming out again. Jimmy's angst-filled song about his view of the world right now. Just simple piano chords the whole song but there is a certain power about it that may be the product of Daltrey's vocals.

Is It In My Head is Jimmy wondering if all his anger is just in his head (since he believes himself crazy). It is a very uneasy sounding tune that fits the mood. It is a pretty catchy one again, a real upside of The Who, complex and catchy music.

Jimmy is kicked out of his house because his parent's found a box of blues. I've Had Enough is Jimmy setting out for the train station to go to the beach. He believes he's had enough of life and is going to see the mods because that is the only thing he has left in life. The track itself is a really moody one (the four personalities sort of battling) and interspersed with his anger-filled lyrics are soft renditions of "love reign o'er me". One of my favorite tracks on the album.

The second side starts off with a quick intro that recalls Cut My Hair, "Why should I care? Why should I care?" But eventually turns into some powerful brass music. One of the greatest tracks ever made, 5:15 is a perfect start to the second side of the album. Jimmy is reflecting all that has happend in the past few days during his train ride and decides (he is high of course, "out of my brain on a train") that he is making the right choice. This is another catchy yet complex number and is a true great of rock music.

Sea and Sand is Jimmy's thoughts and feelings when he sees the girl he thought he loved with another boy. The track is sort of sad but has bursts of anger and passion. Rocky at times and slow and melodic at others. You can really tell his personalities are starting to become out-of-whack.

Drowned is a rock number that is a very catchy track, Jimmy is contemplating drowning but decides against it because he still has the mod lifestyle to give him something to live for. A very longing track.

Bell Boy is Jimmy once again feeling betrayed. The leader of the mods is but a lowly bellboy at a hotel. Now Jimmy feels he has nothing to live for. The raving lunatic personality shows up in this track (Keith Moon does vocals, of course) and it is a very humorous track at times.

Doctor Jimmy is the personalities finally colliding. He takes an insane number of drugs and steals a boat and takes it out to the middle of the ocean. His anger is well represented in the track with some powerful vocals by Daltrey, but Daltrey also displays the romantic personality well. "Is it me? For a moment?" The violin is a highlight on this track, excellent playing by whoever plays.

The Rock is sort of a second overture, an emotion filled instrumental that is symbolic of all of the personalities. Jimmy is in the middle of the ocean feeling without a friend. The track is a very powerful one.

Love Reign O'er Me is Jimmy coming off his high. He has realization on a rock in the middle of the ocean and sort of a spiritual rebirth. This track is an emotional ballad with perfect vocals and some powerful guitar playing. A truly perfect ending to a perfect album.

I love it with all my heart. Ever since first listen. It's an album any adolescent teen can relate to. 5 beautiful stars.

(This is actually more full blown prog than proto-prog but I can understand why the band has that label.)

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Coming of age and Quadrophenia

"But I'm one! I am one!"

I've never had a great first hand idea of what the Mod thing was about in England, but as I began to immerse into Quadrophenia I found it didn't really matter. What we have here is a classic coming-of-age story with only the time and place different from any other. Pain, confusion, lonliness, craziness, violence, isolation, dread, exhilaration. All of the various emotions we deal with during this period of life put to music, and in the music comes the joy to counter the narrative of the story. It brought back some memories of some of the lowest moments in my own life, moments when I scanned the room looking for something to break to quell pain, or a few times where I had to go out into the night just to run, to exhaustion, to try to quiet my mind. I don't remember those moments fondly or idolize them, but I can't forget them, and something within the songwriting of Quadrophenia brings them to the fore, perhaps letting us know it's OK to examine them. And letting us know that they are not unique to us as individuals. The album also looks at split personalities, those of the character and those of the band members. ("He carries four people in his head -- the Who. They carry him in theirs. He feels he should count more when compared to the Ace Face, but he doesn't.")

"I was a mod. No question about it. The other three guys in The Who were not. My best friend at art college Nick Bartlett and his older brother Tim were the sharpest mods I came across, I hung out with them as much as I could. The thing is that anyone could be a mod. You didn't need to be working class. I once hung out with a group of mods in Brighton with a girl, and we slept under the pier and chased rockers. The rest of the band had gone home. I wanted to feel a part of something, I always have. The mods allowed me that." -all quotes Pete Townshend.

As a work of art Quadrophenia is near flawless. Yeah, as some folks will attest, there are certain sections which drag on a bit long, but for the most part this is Townshend at the top of his game. He combines the fresh storytelling of "Sell Out" with the grand scope of "Tommy" and the rock and roll of "Who's Next," attempting to unify the vision in one great work. With the performance skills of the Who members at the top of their creative game, the turmoil in their personal lives could not derail this-they rise to the level of Townshend's writing to create a rock statement of the age, and one which I believe influenced many to follow. As much as I enjoy "The Wall" and even "American Idiot", it has to be said that Townshend beat them both by many years in creating a symphony for the disillusioned.

"When I was a nipper I felt that the guitar was all I had. I wasn't tough enough to be in a gang, I wasn't good looking enough to be in with the birds, not clever enough to make it at school, not good enough on my feet to be good football player, I was a [%*!#]ing loser. I think everyone feels that way at some point. And somehow being a Mod - even though I was too old to be a Mod really - I wrote this song with that in mind. Jimmy, the hero of the story, is kinda thinking he hasn't got much going for him but at least he's one."

"Quadrophenia" is not someone's life story, and if you try to turn it into that I think the music suffers. The music is everything, it works as the backdrop to a thousand different lives rather than just being the backdrop to a kid called Jimmy."

The songs of Quadrophenia are naked in terms of raw emotion, perfectly designed to express our collective male distress at the world around us. Sometimes it may express a desire for conformity, a repulsion of our weirdness, or a desire to lash out. Pete finds bits and pieces that express these individual tendencies, but then builds them up, and strings them together to create something much more elaborate. The addition of orchestration, character dialogue exchanges, repeating motifs, sound effects, and most importantly, inspired personal performance take the basic naked songs to something quite profound. There is no guarantee that such an approach will ever work, it could just as easily be a god-awful mess. But the band pulls together for perhaps the last time in a way that suggests they still care enough to shoot for something beyond "their next album." The band was really at odds with Pete about the mission of The Who. He was into stuff like this, they wanted a return to a more straightforward approach which could be pulled off better live. This album would be the last of the "big vision" albums.

"'Dr. Jimmy' was meant to be a song which somehow gets across the explosive, abandoned wildness side of his character. Like a bull run amok in a china shop. He's damaging himself so badly that he can get to the point where he's so desperate that he'll take a closer look at himself. The part where he says, 'What is it, I'll take it. Who is she, I'll rape it.' That's really the way I see Keith Moon in his most bravado sort of states of mind."

For God's sake just listen to what Entwistle does on "The Real Me." Both he and Moon are just on fire throughout the album, playing at their highest levels creatively. Pete's lead work is beautiful as well, melodic and gorgeous, my favorite being those simple notes adorning the title song. And with "Love Reign O'er Me" it seems that Townshend serves up Daltrey the high fastball he puts into the parking lot with ease. It's a vocal perfectly suited for Roger's every-man meets rock-anthem release track, highly memorable on all fronts. I also really appreciate the historical and personal nature of where the album takes us. We have this uniquely British snapshot of a moment in their collective youth, a history which also including the memories of the band members. The combination of fine lyrics about themes we can all relate to, great melodies, and the quality of the performance make Quadrophenia an album that still holds up well today. The CD booklet in my reissue features perfect artwork. The black and white stills are stark, bleak, and convey the story-points very successfully. Complete lyrics are also included. The sound quality of the album and remixes have always been controversial, but to my ears it sounds fine, maybe a bit muffled.

"'Love Reign O'er Me' is similar to 'Drowned' in meaning. This refers to....rain was a blessing from God; that thunder was God's Voice. It's another plea to drown, only this time in the rain. Jimmy goes through a suicide crisis. He surrenders to the inevitable, and you know, when it's over and he goes back to town he'll be going through the same [&*!#], being in the same terrible family situation and so on, but he's moved up a level. He's weak still, but there's a strength in that weakness. He's in danger of maturing."

One of rock's signature titles.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Quadrophenia' - The Who (9/10)

Generally speaking, The Who have been met with some very supportive critical acclaim from those who look back on their illustrious career. Over the course of their career, they went from spearheading the British Invasion sound of rock, to becoming one of the dominant forces in rock in the early '70s, to music that could be safely labelled as progressive rock. However, possibly the most notable thing that The Who contributed to music was the development of the rock opera; a concept album that told a narrative story through rock music. While this was innovated with the classic 'Tommy', it could be said that The Who finally mastered this with 'Quadrophenia', their sixth album, and without a doubt, the greatest thing that this band have ever released. While each of The Who's albums receive some sort of respect from listeners, it is only fair that 'Quadrophenia' receives the crown; it is an engaging, involving story told through music that features alot more depth to it than I would typically expect from The Who. Suffice to say, 'Quadrophenia' is considered a masterpiece, and rightfully so.

The story of 'Quadrophenia' revolves around the trials and tribulations of Jimmy Cooper, an everyman adolescent of the early '60s, wrapped up in a petty struggle between subcultures, as well as his own recurring doubts. The album's refers to the character's split personality disorder; four personalities that each are meant to represent each of the band's members. All of this is very ambitious for an album to tackle, but (admittedly with a little help from the booklet at first) the story is easy to follow, and lets the music take the listener on a nearly- cinematic experience, ranging from angry hard rock to the subtle beauty of the album's symphonic moments. There is no full-fledged orchestra at work with The Who here, but the symphonic undertones still add a great deal of depth to the sound, especially coming from a band that was very used to giving an in-your-face approach to rock music.

The album flows almost perfectly, as if they were scenes from a film. The obvious highlights here are when the band takes that cinematic feeling and runs with it, culminating in the gorgeous closer 'Love Reign O'er Me'. The title track features some incredible ideas that firmly placed the band in the realm of prog rock, and while The Who has been more of a band that I would put on when I want some powerful hard rock and nothing more, the lyrics here really strike a chord with me. As someone with many of the same insecurities that Jimmy Cooper voices in the album, it really makes parts of this album really blossom into heartfelt things. Pete Townshend meant to write this album to be the soundtrack to a thousand different lives, and at times, it almost feels as if the album was partially written about my life. Although that's obviously not true, the fact that the feeling can get across like that is powerful, suffice to say.

The more rock-based tracks here are more along the lines of what I would expect from The Who, and while the less subtle and melodic moments on 'Quadrophenia' do not shine to me as brightly as the times where The Who breaks out of the rock convention, they are as good as anything that one would hear on 'Who's Next'. In other words, the harder tracks here still rocker harder than ever, and they do well to underline the main character's anger in parts. Of course, the band's performance here is unquestioned; I do not believe I have ever heard The Who in such tight form as they are here. Roger Daltrey's voice in particular in incredible, and manages to hit even the most trying notes with ease. The writing here was already excellent, but with such a great performance to go along with it, 'Quadrophenia' shines even brighter.

The album is truly fantastic, and while The Who may have had an excellent career, this certainly takes the cake in terms of the music they have made. Here, they take all of their best aspects and emphasize them, as well as introducing the listener to other amazing sounds that sadly would not be heard again from them. A proud masterpiece of rock music, and to anyone back then or even now who doubted what could be done with the rock medium, look no further than this.

Review by Warthur
3 stars The Who's second great rock opera at points blows Tommy out of the water, but its double album format means that it's a less lean and compact prospect than its predecessor. Incorporating the muscular hard rock approach and synthesiser experiments of Who's Next into a narrative structure based around a confused teenage Mod trying to integrate the different aspects of his personality (each of whom is based on a member of the Who), I found the album both more musically rewarding than Tommy, where occasionally the musical quality took a back seat to the demands of the narrative, as well as simply telling a better story - though one which relies a little too much on mythologising and hyping up the mod scene in question.

Quite simply, on a lyrical and narrative level Quadrophenia makes Tommy look like juvenile, shallow hippy nonsense. Taking a universal human dilemma - trying to work out which of the differing personas we present to the world best reflects our real selves - and weaving it into a semi-autobiographical story looking back on the Who's Mod roots, Townshend creates a story with more depth and genuine literary merit than Tommy or Tommy's many imitators, whilst the other band members give their all to this performance. The use of synthesisers are carefully and tastefully judged, and together with Who's Next this album contains some of the band's most powerful rock anthems.

In the wake of this album, it is difficult to see Tommy as anything other than an experimental prototype, a cobbled-together blueprint that was more successful in pointing the way to Quadrophenia than as a musical piece in its own right. It's on this album that the Who reached their peak in terms of producers of rock opera. At the same time, there's strands of filler here and there - particularly on the second disc, which is significantly less tight than the first disc - and the emphasis on telling a more coherent story does sometimes overpower the music.

Review by lazland
5 stars Ask most lay people about their favourite Who moment, or record, and it's a fair bet that they will respond with Tommy (specifically Pinball Wizard), or Who's Next, or maybe a single such as Who Are You. However, to this, and I suspect other, long term Who fans, this wonderful album is the absolute pinnacle of an incredible band, but, more to the point I think, that of a hugely important and influential songwriter, one Pete Townsend.

On the face of it, this double album is a tribute to the young Mods who followed the band in the pill popping, bright lighted, halcyon days of the mid 1960's. The band were the very embodiment of cool then, and in these recession soaked days, it is easy to forget that in my lifetime, Britain, and London in particular, were seen as the cultural and social centre of the Western world.

In fact, this is the ultimate expression of the lyrical obsession Townsend had - that of youth, its traumas, its journey, and, very importantly, its end and the passage into death. It is split into four themes, with each band member identifying with that theme: Helpless Dancer (Roger's theme), Is It Me (John's theme), Bell Boy (Keith's theme), and Love, Reign O'er Me (Pete's theme). The narrative tells the story of Jimmy, a young mod utterly bonkers about Mod culture, and The Who in particular, and his descent into rebellion, and, ultimately, a quadrophonic split personality leading to his untimely demise.

It is, in my opinion, utterly essential for anyone wishing to explore, or in my case re-visit, the distinct and difficult adolescent passage for young men in our utterly dystopian modern culture. For the passages Townsend writes about in the 1960's (but actually written in the mid 1970's) are as relevant now as they were then, and that is the true genius of the man and his writing. The fact that one's parents either don't listen, or don't care, mates are not true mates, you have to "fit in" to be a "part of the crowd", and any failure is punished bleakly in life by accepting having to literally clean the [&*!#] off the streets in a no hope, no opportunity, dead end job/life, the way that many of us get sucked into "the system", when there is an innate and keen intelligence or talent just bursting to break out. Jimmy broke down under these pressures - to me, the real message that Townsend puts across is that the wonder is that any of us get out the other side, and huge kudos to those of us that do.

Musically, the band simply never sounded better. Just as I have described the poetical wonder of Townsend's lyrics, he, more than anyone else, realised the true value of the band that supported him in this journey. Entwistle simply never sounded better, on either his incredible bass, or on brass on 5:15. Moon, caught here just before his own sad descent into alcoholic and drug ridden torture/death, gives us a lesson in just how a rock drummer should sound. And, we must never, ever, forget just what an incredible voice that Daltrey possessed. On the aforementioned 5:15 and the album closer, Love Reign O'er Me, he comes about as close to vocal perfection as it is possible to get.

There are so many highlights, it does seem rather churlish to list them, because the album is never anything less than superb all the way through. However, Townsend's beautiful paeon to the the dreams of youth, I'm One, the walkout I've Had Enough, the pill popping, nightmare, journey of 5:15 which features the most incredible combination of hard rock and brass laid to record, the betrayal bitterness of Bell Boy, and the final act of the play and a life, Love Reign O'er Me, stand out.

Elsewhere, for more "traditional" prog fans, the superb title track features some distinctly proggy effects, to which could also be added the lengthy The Rock.

This, however, is a rock album, pure and simple. It is a hugely important rock album, and should, if there were any justice, be essential curriculum listening for all schoolboys over the age of twelve.

Five stars. Listening to it now, as I always do, I get a true sense of what songwriting and performing genius really means.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars On this album, The Who's Pete Townhend perfected the rock opera. While "Tommy" was groundbreaking and different from everything else released at the time, "Quadrophenia" exceeds that in every way (except maybe hit singles). Brilliant in both concept and in execution, it was one of the "must have' albums of the seventies, for prog fans and rock fans of all types.

The story is well known. It's a tale of teenage angst, that, while set in 1960's England, resonated with people every where. But it's not the story that makes this album so great. Townshend wrote four themes, one to represent each member of the band. And these themes pop up throughout the album, swirling in and out, tying all of the music together into one cohesive piece (Townhend did this a bit in "Tommy", but mastered the form here).

The band peaked, performancewise on this album as well. Roger Daltrey, rocks greatest primal screamer, belts out every song as if his life depended on it. Keith Moon, was, well, Keith Moon. His drums are furious throughout. And John Entwistle shines as well, playing some of his most eceptional bass lines (The Real Me and The Punk Meets The Godfather are my favorites, but he rocks from start to finish).

After the amazing "Who's Next", The Who could have sat back and lived on the success of one of the greatest rock albums of all time. But they went right back and created another.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Though I do not consider myself a fan of The Who, their music has definitely enriched my life. Reviewing 2012's Death Defying Unicorn by MOTORPSYCHO I was reminded frequently of Quadrophenia--which has prompted this review. I actually became a fan of this album after the film came out. This and the irrepressible pull of my favorite Who/Roger Daltry song, the heavily-played "Love, Reign O'er Me," led me to finally buy a copy of the original album from a cut-out bin in the early 80s. I have to admit, I fell in love. A brand new, never before-felt appreciation for the song-writing, story-telling and guitar playing of Pete Townsend was born. (Pete was never much of a soloist; I had never tuned into him because I was all about guitar soli, speed and technique--Howe, Akkerman, McLaughlin, DiMeola--it took me a while--some jazz training--to appreciate the skill of strumming, chord construction, and the art of accompaniment.) This was an album in which the overbearing frenetic drumming of Keith Moon did not distract or deter me from enjoying the highly skilled musicianship of the other band members. But the songs, the story, also felt 'different' to me. There was coherence and follow through, masterful melodies and amazing performances. And then there was something about Side 3--"5:15," "Sea and Sand," "Drowned," and "Bell Boy"-- that sucked me in for weeks of repeated play. My memories of discovery of Quadrophenia remain very positive--more than any other Who or "classic rock" album (except for perhaps Boston's debut album). To me this is the pinnacle of The Who's discography--and certainly the closest they came to what we now call "progressive rock."

5 stars for a classic masterpiece.

Review by friso
3 stars The Who - Quadrophenia (1973)

I really wanted to like this one, a double vinyl concept album with an extra photobooklet and one of the highest rated albums on the archives. Yet, even The Who, who did an excellent job on the 2lp 'Tommy' (1969) in my opinion, couldn't help but loose themselves in their second 2lp.

Now the songwriting of this album is pretty strong and on par with other strong records. The band chose to continue the art-rock/heavy-rock style of 'Who's next' (1971) stylisticly, whilst rejuvinating the conceptual songstyle of their first rockopera 'Tommy'. A golden marriage, or so it seems. The catchiness of some parts is beyond what most progressive rock groups can achieve and the riffs and rhythm-sections are all well written. Still I can't help getting the feeling the band just doesn't reach the momentum of earlier effort Tommy, which sometimes makes Quadrophenia sound like a poor rendition.

The production. When the music starts, after some sea noises and musical promises of what's to come, one can't help but getting the impression the producer of the album wanted to create rocked fuel; such loudness, fullness and directionless intervening sound- spectrums. Like every musician is giving a solo at the same time. This I can accept for a short album, but I just can't listen to this kind of production for long. The opening-track turns into halve song and halve bass-solo by John Entwistle, the meaning of it all is a riddle to me. The album continues to have extremely overenhanced sounding arrangements, though the synths sound pretty good indeed. During many moments The Who actually sounds like a symphonic prog group. During supposed to be quieter moments the production still attacks the listener its eardrums with ugly loud piano passages (recorded way out of pace by the way). Other pace and rhythm-anomolies continue to down-grade the band's perfect reputation and what for? Just clumsiness in a studio. A band not having its mind on the matter, which is of course the great risk of the ambitious progressive undertaking. The concept of the album gave rise to the idea to have each member sing vocals on different tracks, which again results in amateurism that could have easily been avoided with such a talanted lead-singer (and his brothers who joined in on Tommy). After the second side I'm so tired of the sound of this album, I just can't get myself to put on side three most of the time. Now I don't want to get all negative here, but I can understand that albums like this one have contributed to the downfall of prog.

Conclusion. Though I'm in minority here, I must admit I think this is yet another one of progressive rock's misguided double lp concept albums. A pitty, because the album has a big 'what could have been' feel to it. It might have been quite good had it been given a more delicate and subtle recording by a producer who can stand up against a band that is most certainly on fire here. Two and a halve stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Being their proggiest release, it should be no surprise that Quadrophenia is the most popular Who album on ProgArchives. The symphonic structure of many tracks obviously does the trick, and indeed Quadrophenia is a very well constructed suite, at least from a solely musical point of view. The album ... (read more)

Report this review (#2948085) | Posted by The Anders | Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 4.75: A masterpiece by Who, it is the history of young man that is looking by his real identity, and rely in some persons and ideals that ultimately disappoint him. Lyrically it is excellent, it maintain you entertained, and although the lyrics are not so deep, it has a coherent history, but mainl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2117175) | Posted by mariorockprog | Friday, January 11, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #11 Pete Townshend is a Genius, this album is a Giant Masterpiece and the Mighty Who rule(d) Global Appraisal You want to know when I do get the maximum pleasure a human being can receive exclusively from music? Being alone at home, pushing the volume on the stereo and ... (read more)

Report this review (#1490275) | Posted by Quinino | Friday, November 20, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A very underrated album by the general public, but thankfully not on here. "Quadrophenia" is one of my all-time favourite albums, and my favourite Who album by quite a long shot. I've never really been a fan of The Who and I'm still not, but this is just incredible. It maintains the powerful heavy r ... (read more)

Report this review (#1020837) | Posted by Xonty | Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After the safe, but very successful Who's Next, The Who return again with yet another bold concept album in Quadrophenia. Like Tommy, Quadrophenia has the same dramatic, theatric, and adventurous music and lyrical delivery, but still has all the energy and heaviness The Who is known for. The musi ... (read more)

Report this review (#771429) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Quadrophenia marks a point in The Who's catalouge where high ideals and talent combined to form one of the great concept albums of our time. The story is based on a young troubled Mod called Jimmy - only existing in post-war England, trying to find his identity. His personality has become spli ... (read more)

Report this review (#335987) | Posted by Tychovski | Friday, November 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The Concept Album Part 2 Ok, I'm quite confused. I have seen alot of incredibly positive reviews on this album, and I'm pondering because I didn't really find anything very special about this album. Compared to Tommy, this album doesn't really meet the mark. This album isn't bad, but it's ... (read more)

Report this review (#291228) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars He only comes out when i drink my gin. Quadrophenia, masterpieceaphenia. This one competes easily in my top 10 of all time rock albums. It starts off with a nice intro that sets the tune to the album. Then it kicks off with "The Real Me" and Roger Daltrey shows off his amazing vocals. The whole ... (read more)

Report this review (#247374) | Posted by paragraph7 | Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I consider this to be The Who's best album; sonically it is not nearly as progressive as 'Who's Next' which was groundbreaking in its sonic explorations, especially for a rock band of such popularity as The Who. Compostion-wise this album transcends the aforementioned 'Who's Next with layered pian ... (read more)

Report this review (#205699) | Posted by mr.cub | Saturday, March 7, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This second rock opera by The Who is definitely their best and most progressive album in my opinion. However, I can not bring myself to call it a masterpiece of progressive music though I certainly consider it a masterpiece. This album has great lyrics which tell the story of (I believe) a teen ... (read more)

Report this review (#202464) | Posted by rpe9p | Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First I really loved it, but now, I feel a little bored with it (I've had enough with some tracks - Bell Boy, Drowned, The dirty Jobs). Anyway, the best Who rock opera, better than Tommy (which is pretty good). Maybe too long by moments, maybe too many horns, too many synthetizers, and Keith M ... (read more)

Report this review (#163550) | Posted by Zardoz | Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of those albums that forever and always be the album that got me into music. It's one of very few albums that has it all. Townshend's brilliant writing; Entwistle's unbelievable bass performances; Keith Moon's bombastic drumming; Dahltry's epic screams; and a chilling story that just ... (read more)

Report this review (#161782) | Posted by AresolKid | Thursday, February 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

1 stars After hearing people talk about The Who almost as much as The Beatles i figured I'd give them a shot. Thought there must be more to them than the pop garbage that was My Generation so i gave their Rock Opera(s) a listen. And i am frankly not impressed. Despite its unwarranted inclusion on Pro ... (read more)

Report this review (#160340) | Posted by shentile | Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 10/10 Masterpiece This album came pretty late to me in my fiendish musical interests. I had always listened to The Who ever since childhood, and loved everything I heard but never really paid enough attention. Well, now, I can truly see the masterwork that is Quadrophenia for myself. The W ... (read more)

Report this review (#152060) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is possibly my favorite of all time, matched only by selling england by the pound. This is the culmination of the Who's progression through different styles of music. Their masterpiece, it took elements of their past two albums, Tommy and Who's next, and made an incredibly moving, power ... (read more)

Report this review (#150420) | Posted by The Ace Face | Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I would have to say that this is The Who's Second best album. Only behind Who's Next. Overall I would say that this is a great album but I gets a little boring in some parts. Some of the parts are a little too light. Others are just long rambling instrumentals. But the good out weighs the bad. 5:1 ... (read more)

Report this review (#141818) | Posted by TheMadCap | Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's a wonderful disc!! The band was perfect in construction in this album!! this opera-rock is a fusion of hard-rock, prog and other rythms. The songs produced by Townshend explain all problems of a humam pass by!! Because this 5 stars from this Rock and Roll Classic Album ... (read more)

Report this review (#139191) | Posted by Cléder Santa-Fé | Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I can safely say that this is one album that has changed my life, and it has been ever since I first heard it at the age of 5 (or maybe even earlier). I think it's just rediculous when the term 'rock opera' shows up, and nobody ever mentions Quadrophenia. Most people will say that Tommy is the sup ... (read more)

Report this review (#137462) | Posted by smokey | Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is definately THE BEST WHO ALBUM!!! It is also one of the best concept albums the world has ever seen. Pete Townsend really shines on this absolute masterpiece. After the quiet opening I Am The Sea, we get hit full force by the very first track. The Real Me is a perfect example of The Who ... (read more)

Report this review (#130018) | Posted by proghairfunk | Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My favorite album of all time. It seems impossible that an album can get much better than this. Just about everything is perfect on this album- the musicianship, the songwriting, the concept, the lyrics, everything is about as good as it gets. After a couple of minutes of ocean noises and dis ... (read more)

Report this review (#129853) | Posted by Endless Wire | Sunday, July 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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