.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/097e166161cc1609391df5be28fe0cdb5e09d9bb.jpg Quadrophenia: The Director's Cut (Reissue)

The Who

Quadrophenia: The Director's Cut (Reissue)

Universal
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4.5 0
November 24, 2011

Tommy was first. The Who's 1969 opera legitimized the improbable union of rock abandon and extended narrative, and marked guitarist Pete Townshend's great leap forward as a composer and as his band's conceptual general. But Quadrophenia, released in 1973, was a superior tale with more-taut songwriting; it was grounded in Townshend's memories of growing up angry, anguished and mod in the early Sixties, and produced with the panoramic tension of Who's Next. Tommy was precedent; Quadrophenia was coherent spectacle. At the time, Roger Daltrey claimed his vocals were too low in the mix. In this remastered edition, when he hits the "Out of my brain" chorus over Keith Moon's runaway drum rolls and John Entwistle's thunderclap bass in "5:15," you clearly hear the singer - and his lyricist - going off the rails.  

Quadrophenia was the redemption of Townshend's long-form dreams after the collapse of his intended Tommy follow-up, the multimedia beast Lifehouse. Like his deaf, dumb and blind kid in Tommy, Townshend's scooter boy Jimmy (a composite of the four personalities in the Who) finds identity, then disappointment in cult life: the top-dog mod reduced to carrying tourists' bags in "Bell Boy."

There is rebirth, too: the final, magisterial cleansing of "Love Reign O'er Me." But where Townshend wrote parts of Tommy in too-literal operatic form, he edited Quadrophenia with a film director's hand, evident in the two CDs of his original demos included in this box set. The tapes are fascinating for their detailed home-studio arrangements; the band replicated most of them with the appropriate fury. The demos also reveal what Townshend left out on the way to the '73 double LP, such as the ill-fitting verse about rock-star anxiety in "The Real Me" and a run of numbers in the first half - the teen-crush waltz "You Came Back" and an early character sketch, "Joker James" – that would have slowed down the action. Instead, on the LP, Townshend cut right from the kitchen-table revolt of "Cut My Hair" to the real generations' warfare in "The Punk and the Godfather."

It still sounds like the right decision. Like the subtitle here says, you get the work's birth in full, including an epic prose account by Townshend. But Quadrophenia, as delivered the first time, is still one of his, and the Who's, greatest albums – and the better opera.

Related
The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: The Who, 'Quadrophenia'
Liam Gallagher's Clothing Line Designs 'Quadrophenia' Parka for Rerelease of Who Album

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Madame George”

    Van Morrison | 1968

    One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com