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The Who - Quadrophenia CD (album) cover


The Who



4.50 | 550 ratings

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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.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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