Daily Nebraskan on Quadrophenia album

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 23 06:26:37 CDT 2004

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Who's 'Quadrophenia' lacks deserved legacy 
By Alex Miller / Daily Nebraskan
October 22, 2004 

The signature lyric and attitude of The Who in the
1960s was the lyric, “Hope I die before I get old.”

Later in their career, The Who developed into a more
talented and socially critical band. In 1969 they
tried taking their earlier rock opera concept songs
(“I’m a Boy” and “A Quick One While He’s Away”) a step
further with “Tommy” and again another step in 1973
with the release of the album “Quadrophenia.”

The album, set in late-’60s England, tells the story
of a teenager, Jimmy, struggling to discover his true
identity and define his life as a Mod rocker. Along
the way he experiments with alcohol, drugs, sex and
even belongs to a British gang.

Jimmy struggles with the idea of having a normal job
and family and wanting to avoid feeling dead inside.
Essentially, he wants to die before he gets old and
not be just another face in the crowd.

The album begins with the sound of waves crashing on a
beach while Roger Daltry sings quietly in the
background – a theme that runs throughout

Overall, the album is well rounded and offers a
variety of musical and lyrical themes. The second
track, “The Real Me,” jump-starts the album with a
gritty yet refined sound and, as always with The Who,
a strong and distinct bass line.

Jimmy soon tries to get involved in the rock movement
and sees The Who live. During the show, he realizes
rock is dead and begins his infatuation with Mod.

The last track on disc one of the double album, “I’ve
Had Enough,” displays The Who’s ability to play with
raw power and slip into softer, more personal music.
With Keith Moon going nuts on drums, this song
explores the loneliness of trying to fit in and the
feeling of, as Pete Townshend put it, being a loser.

The final four tracks of the album are incredible.
Jimmy meets an old friend working as a “Bell Boy,” and
Jimmy starts to think that Mod is deader inside than
the bellboy. This track, co-written by Moon, is Keith
at his best.

“Dr. Jimmy,” the real climax of the story, though not
the final track, expresses all the anger, hate and
disgust Jimmy feels toward the world, doctors and
meaningless relationships. Not a radio friendly song,
Jimmy says, “You say she’s a virgin? Well I’m gonna be
the first in.” He also claims he rapes whomever he
wants and steals whatever he wants.

The last two tracks are considerably less
controversial. “The Rock,” an instrumental, melds
seamlessly into the final track, “Love Reign O’er Me.”
Jimmy finally lets go of his anger and hate and
succumbs to the basic human need of love and

The Who have always stood as one of the greatest rock
bands of all time, but this album took their career to
a whole other level. John Entwistle’s bass lines are
the distinct and powerful backbone of the music, and
his horn adds softer undertones throughout the album.

Pete Townshend’s writing abilities peak in the album,
and although he gets a little synthesizer-happy at
times, his guitars and pianos make this a deeply
layered album, musically and lyrically. Townshend took
the idea for “Quadrophenia” from another Who album
that remains unfinished: “Lifehouse.”

Daltry and Moon show their respective developments as
musicians throughout the album. Daltry sings with soft
passion at times and with grit and determination at
others. Moon’s drumming, less crazy than in other
albums, still maintains a frenzied feel while being
much more calculated and precise.

The band takes the raw power and “hope I die before I
get old” attitude and refines them into something
higher than just an average or even great album.

The three singles of the album, “The Real Me,” “5.15”
and “Love Reign O’er Me,” never once broke into the
Top 50 on the Billboard charts. This under-appreciated
and almost forgotten album stands as the pinnacle of
The Who’s career. It’s quite simply the best albums by
one of the best bands in rock.

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

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