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Quadrophenia

The Who

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Album Review

Pete Townshend revisited the rock opera concept with another double-album opus, this time built around the story of a young mod's struggle to come of age in the mid-'60s. If anything, this was a more ambitious project than Tommy, given added weight by the fact that the Who weren't devising some fantasy but were re-examining the roots of their own birth in mod culture. In the end, there may have been too much weight, as Townshend tried to combine the story of a mixed-up mod named Jimmy with the examination of a four-way split personality (hence the title Quadrophenia), in turn meant to reflect the four conflicting personas at work within the Who itself. The concept might have ultimately been too obscure and confusing for a mass audience. But there's plenty of great music anyway, especially on "The Real Me," "The Punk Meets the Godfather," "I'm One," "Bell Boy," and "Love, Reign o'er Me." Some of Townshend's most direct, heartfelt writing is contained here, and production-wise it's a tour de force, with some of the most imaginative use of synthesizers on a rock record. Various members of the band griped endlessly about flaws in the mix, but really these will bug very few listeners, who in general will find this to be one of the Who's most powerful statements.

Biography

Formed: 1964 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Few rock & roll bands were riddled with as many contradictions as the Who. All four members had wildly different personalities, as their notorious live performances demonstrated: Keith Moon fell over his drum kit while Pete Townshend leaped into the air with his guitar, spinning his right hand in exaggerated windmills. Vocalist Roger Daltrey prowled the stage as bassist John Entwistle stood silent, the eye of the hurricane. They clashed frequently, but these frictions resulted in a decade's...
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Quadrophenia, The Who
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