Quadrophenia – The Who

Released October 28, 1973 this double album is the band’s second rock opera and the only album entirely composed by Pete Townsend. Initially the vinyl was hard to find because of the OPEC oil embargo but eventually the album went to #2 on the charts in both the US and UK . It has sold over 1 million albums in the U.S. The album was adapted into a film of the same name.

Jason: I  wasn’t sure what to expect from The Who. No, I take that back. I was expecting a lot of loud screeching based on my limit familiarity with all of the opening credit sequences for the CSI shows.

Brad: I’ve never been a fan of The Who and I have to admit this is the first time I’ve ever listened to one of their albums all the way through.

Jason:  It’s a long album.

Brad: It is SO LONG. This one felt like a chore to me. I can’t say I hated it but I didn’t find it enjoyable either.

Jason: I actually found the opening kind of relaxing. Waves, birds, seashore. Then I kind of tuned out the entire album. I listened to it a few times and each time I just zoned out and stopped paying attention.

Brad: I made myself listen to it at least 5 times and I tried to pay attention. I know it is telling a story and I was trying to understand that story. But then I finally looked up the plot summary on Wikipedia. I find the plot summary more interesting than the actual album. But I suppose that is like when I listen to the cast recording of a Broadway show before seeing it and it makes no sense to me until I see it. 

Jason: Right. So here is the summary of the plot from wikipedia:

The narrative centers on a young working-class mod named Jimmy. He likes drugs, beach fights and romance, and becomes a fan of The Who after a concert in Brighton, but is disillusioned by his parents’ attitude towards him, by dead-end jobs and then an unsuccessful trip to see a psychiatrist. He clashes with his parents over his usage of amphetamines. He has difficulty finding regular work and doubts his own self-worth, and quits a job as a dustman after only two days. Though he is happy to be “one” of the mods, he struggles to keep up with his peers, and his girlfriend leaves him for his best friend.
After destroying his scooter and contemplating suicide, he decides to take a train to Brighton, where he had enjoyed earlier experiences with fellow mods. However, he discovers the “Ace Face” who led the gang now has a menial job as a bellboy in a hotel. He feels everything in his life has rejected him, steals a boat, and uses it to sail out to a rock overlooking the sea. On the rock and stuck in the rain, he contemplates his life. The ending is left ambiguous as to what happens to Jimmy on the rock.

Jason: I guess the album showcases that but I wasn’t paying close enough attention to follow it along.

Brad: Similar to how I feel about Pink Floyd, I think The Who are extremely talented but I just don’t enjoy their music. That being said, I do love some of Pete Townshend’s 80’s songs like “Let My Love Open The Door” and “Face the Face” but I’m sure that is something a real fan of The Who would hate to hear.

Jason: Like when I say to a Grateful Dead fan that I like “Touch of Grey”.Or someone says to me “Oh, Depeche Mode? I love “Personal Jesus”.”

Brad: Yes, I am sure Deadheads all over the world are cringing at this very moment. 

Jason: You know what song I did like though? “Drowned”. I really like the piano in it. Apparently it is a riff on an old Joe Cocker song.

Brad: I didn’t know that. It does sound like it could be a Joe Cocker song. 

Brad: I was surprised that some of this album sounds like it could be 70s-era Paul McCartney & Wings. Even Roger Daltrey’s voice sounds like Paul at times

Jason: By the way, what’s up with “Doctor Jimmy” lyrics?
What is it?/ I’ll take it
Who is she?/I’ll rape it”

Brad: I KNOW!! Those lyrics don’t age well at all. Whenever I would stop paying attention, those lyrics came on and I was jolted back. I think that is the point where I had to look up the plot summary. 

Jason: I took it not as literal but the character’s journey of depression and corruption leading towards his eventual demise. But still. Ick.

Brad: Also, it seems like many other bands cover that song. Why would you do that? Do you edit the lyrics? 

Jason: I’d change it to “What is it? I’ll take it. Your birthday cake? I’ll bake it.”

Brad: That’s better. Maybe any band that covers it must come up with their own line to replace that one?

Jason: Might as well. Does this album make you interested in watching the movie?

Brad: I’ll be honest. Not really. I just want to put this behind me. 

Jason: Ha. Fair enough. I’m with you. It was fine. I liked that it told a story since it is a rock opera and I think Pete is really talented (this was the first album where he wrote all of the songs) but I do put The Who in the same category as Pink Floyd where I’m glad they exist and I’m not annoyed by them but I also don’t have any urge to listen to them on purpose.

Brad: I agree. So what grade do you give this one?

Jason: Um… Hmmm. C+ I think. I really appreciate the work that went into it. 

Brad: I appreciate that too but I’m going to grade purely on my enjoyment this time and that would be a C. Now I’m deleting it from my Apple Music library. 

Jason: “This album? I deleted it. Quadrophenia? No need for it.”

Additional reading:
Billboard’s Ranking of each song on the album from worst to best
Billboard’s Quadrophenia track-by-track review

Click here for the complete 100 list.

Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.

One thought on “Quadrophenia – The Who

  1. Pingback: 100 Albums Bucket List | Jason S Steele

Comments are closed.