Quadrophenia is the sixth studio album by the English rock band The Who. Released on 19 October 1973, by Track, Polydor in the United Kingdom and Track and MCA in the United States, Quadrophenia is a double album, and the group's second rock opera. Its story involves social, musical, and psychological happenings from an English teenage perspective, set in London and Brighton in 1964 and 1965.
The name is a variation on the popular usage of the medical diagnostic term schizophrenia as dissociative identity disorder to reflect the four distinct personalities of Jimmy, the opera's protagonist—each said to represent the personality of one member of The Who.
Quadrophenia was originally released as a two-LP set with a butterfly jacket and a thick booklet containing lyrics, a text version of the story, and photographs illustrating the tale. MCA Records re-released it as a two-CD set in 1985 with the lyrics and text story line on a thin fold-up sheet but none of the photographs. The original Polydor CD issue included the complete booklet in miniature, as did the remastered MCA and Polydor CD reissues of 1996.
Quadrophenia was originally released in the U.K. as Track 2657 013 on October 26, 1973. However, it appears that due to a vinyl shortage caused by the OPEC oil embargo, only a limited number of copies got to stores before production had to be halted. Most British Who fans failed to find a copy until after The Who's U.K. tour. In the U.K., Quadrophenia reached the #2 position being held out of the top spot by David Bowie's Pinups.
In the liner notes to the remastered Odds and Sods Townshend revealed that Quadrophenia evolved from an idea for a self-indulgent autobiography of the band (which was allegedly to have been titled Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock!). Two of the opera's tracks date from 1972 ("Is It In My Head?" and "Love Reign O'er Me"), a year that also produced The Who's singles "Join Together", "Relay" and "Long Live Rock" (the latter not actually released until 1974). However, by the time Quadrophenia was released, the band's role in the story was only symbolic, via Jimmy's four personalities.
The 8-track tape version of this album has the distinction of being one of the few 8-tracks that is arranged exactly like the album, with no song breaks.
Quadrophenia reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard album chart (kept from #1 by then-labelmate Elton John with his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album) and was the highest position of any Who album in the US as they would never hit #1 on the US album charts.
The band viewed the tour in support of the album as disastrous. Due to extensive use of synthesizers and sound effects on the record, the group elected to employ taped backing tracks for live performance, as they had already done for "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". Initial performances were plagued by malfunctioning tapes. Once the tapes started, the band had to play to them. The band felt constrained in playing to these recordings, preferring a more free-form attitude.
On the first night of the U.S. leg at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California, drummer Keith Moon collapsed onstage. Scot Halpin, an audience member, was brought on to finish the show.
Pete Townshend now looks back on the album with great praise. "The music is the best music that I've ever written, I think, and it's the best album that I will ever write."
* "I Am the Sea/The Real Me" – The opera opens with Jimmy Cooper's introduction with his four personalities. We then get a quick look at his visits to a psychiatrist, his mother and even the local vicar. Mental security is unfortunately not obtained by the protagonist.
* "Quadrophenia/Cut My Hair" – Jimmy recalls an argument with his folks that culminated in his leaving home. We also hear a news broadcast mentioning riots in Brighton between the Mods and the Rockers, events at which he was present the previous week.
* "The Punk and the Godfather" – Jimmy goes to a rock concert (The Who themselves, as shown as a clip of "The Kids Are Alright" is played). He queues up, pays his money and then decides he is going to see the band backstage as they come out the stage door. Sadly, the group is rude to him. He realises that there's nothing really happening in rock & roll; it's just another thing in his life which has let him down.
* "I'm One" – Jimmy contemplates how he hasn't really got much going for him, but at least he has the Mod lifestyle.
* "The Dirty Jobs" – Suitably disenchanted with his former "religion", he gets a job as a dustman. Unfortunately, his extremely left-wing views are not appreciated by his work mates and he is forced to pass on to greater things.
* "Helpless Dancer/Is It in My Head?" – We get a real look at where Jimmy's aggression comes from, as he switches into one of his multiple personalities (The Tough Guy). Jimmy has a conscience that bites fairly deep. His frustration with the world only makes him angrier than he already is. We see that he also possesses self doubt; he worries about his own part, and feels that his outlook is clouded by pessimism.
* "I've Had Enough" – Jimmy finally snaps when he sees the girl he likes with one of his friends. In a desperately self-destructive state, he smashes up his scooter and decides to go to Brighton where he had such a good time with his friends chasing Rockers the week before (as recited through the news broadcast earlier in the story).
* "5:15" – This song recites Jimmy's train journey down to Brighton, sandwiched between two city gents and notable for the rather absurd number of amphetamines he consumes in order to pass the time. He goes through a not entirely pleasant series of ups and downs as he contemplates the gaudier side of life as a teenager.
* "Sea and Sand/Drowned" – Arriving at Brighton, Jimmy's mood heightens. He talks about the rows at home and is a little sarcastic as he recalls the evening on the beach with his former girlfriend. The Mod scene is already falling apart and all he can do is stay in Brighton just to remember the days when the Mods came to Brighton; it was only three weeks ago, but he's already living in the past. It is here that Jimmy contemplates killing himself by drowning in the water.
* "Bell Boy" – He meets a former Ace Face who now holds the position as a bell boy at the very hotel the Mods tore up. He looks on Jimmy with a mixture of pity and contempt. The two argue, as Jimmy feels the Ace Face has "sold out". Jimmy is now feeling that everything—even the Mod lifestyle—has let him down.
* "Doctor Jimmy" – Jimmy begins to damage himself so badly on drugs and alcohol that he gets to the point where he's so desperate that he'll take a closer look at himself. This part of the story shows the lunatic within him. The chorus line "Doctor Jimmy and Mr. Jim" is an ambiguous reference to "Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", which closely links to the multiple personality theme running through the story.
* "The Rock/Love, Reign O'er Me" – Jimmy steals a boat and takes it to a rock in the middle of the sea. Here, when he comes down off his high, he finds the boat has drifted away and that he is now stranded, alone and forgotten. As a storm rages around him, Jimmy finally finds spiritual peace.
Townshend noted in 2009 that, rather than Jimmy’s personalities representing a Who member, he chose the personalities of each member to illustrate each of Jimmy’s four personalities, or “personality extremes” or mood swings.
The liner notes illustrate this concept as follows (names added):
* A tough guy, a helpless dancer. ("Helpless Dancer" - Roger Daltrey)
* A romantic, is it me for a moment? ("Is It Me?" - John Entwistle)
* A bloody lunatic, I'll even carry your bags. ("Bell Boy" - Keith Moon)
* A beggar, a hypocrite, love reign o'er me. ("Love Reign O'er Me" - Pete Townshend)
In addition to describing a personality/band member, the four descriptions refer to four musical themes that portray Jimmy's personalities in the opera: "Helpless Dancer", "Is It Me?", "Bell Boy", and "Love Reign O'er Me". The four themes (or "leitmotifs" as described by Townshend) are mixed together in both the title track (bridging "The Real Me" and "Cut My Hair"), and the penultimate track, "The Rock" (bridging "Doctor Jimmy" and "Love, Reign O'er Me"). The two pieces were the most musically complex pieces that Townshend ever wrote for The Who, combining all four themes into two six-minute instrumental medleys. The two pieces have neither a definite beginning or end, as they begin with a fade-in from the previous track, starting with the theme of "Bell Boy" (Moon's theme). This is followed by the themes of "Is It Me" (Entwistle's theme), "Helpless Dancer" (Daltrey's theme), and "Love, Reign O'er Me" (Townshend's theme). "Quadrophenia" fades into rain sound effects after the "Love Reign O'er Me" theme. "The Rock" however ends with a combination of the four different themes, using the "Bell Boy" theme as the chord sequence, the "Helpless Dancer" theme as the melody, the "Is It Me?" theme as a lead (played on guitar and synthesizer), and the keyboard part to "Love Reign O'er Me" as a countermelody. The whole song abruptly ends on a downbeat layered with the sound of thunder and descends into "Love Reign O'er Me" proper.
The four themes also surface on many other songs throughout the album; the most subtle example being when the "Helpless Dancer" theme appears on "Bell Boy" (the main song) played on synthesizer as a brief interlude. Some themes from other songs also make "surprise" reappearances here and there. These leitmotifs help give the work an impression of a cohesive unity.
In 2000 Q magazine placed Quadrophenia at number 56 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 86th greatest album of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 266 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. IGN placed Quadrophenia at number 1 in their list of the greatest classic rock albums of all time.
In 1979 the film Quadrophenia was released, with three additional songs written by Pete Townshend (see Quadrophenia (soundtrack)). While the film was an accurate visual interpretation of Townshend's vision of Jimmy and his surroundings, the inspired casting of a young Sting as the Ace Face remains one of the most memorable moments of the film. In the film, the music was largely relegated to the background, and was not performed by the cast as if a rock opera.
In 1995, popular rock group Phish performed Quadrophenia in its entirety as their second Halloween 'musical costume' at the Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, Illinois. The recording was later released as Live Phish Volume 14. The jam band also covered the track "Drowned" on their live album New Year's Eve 1995 - Live at Madison Square Garden.
In summer 1996, The Who, with a large backing group featuring among others Zak Starkey on drums (his first appearance as The Who's drummer), Geoff Whitehorn and Simon Townshend on electric guitar (the former played lead guitar on almost all of the songs) and keyboardists Jon Carin and John "Rabbit" Bundrick, performed Quadrophenia in its entirety for the first time in many years in London's Hyde Park, with guest performers Phil Daniels as the Narrator/Jimmy, Gary Glitter as The Rocker, Adrian Edmonson as the Ace Face/Bellboy, Stephen Fry as the hotel manager (screaming, "Bellboy!"), Trevor McDonald as the newsreader and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour as the bus driver. Gilmour also played additional lead guitar for that first performance – he sang and played lead guitar on The Dirty Jobs, plus performed lead guitar on Sea and Sand, Dr. Jimmy, The Rock, Love, Reign O'er Me and 5:15 (Reprise). For the subsequent extensive tour of the UK and the U.S., Daniels was replaced and Gilmour's role was taken over by Simon Townshend. Gary Glitter and P.J. Proby (subsequently) made guest appearances as The Godfather, and Billy Idol (William Michael Albert Broad) also guested as the Ace Face/Bellboy, also subsequently being replaced.
In 2005, a live performance of Quadrophenia from The Who's 1996/1997 tour was included in a 3-disc DVD box set released by Rhino Entertainment, also featuring a live performance of Tommy from 1989 as well as other hit songs performed live. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey provided special commentary, and an interview with Billy Idol was also included.
In November 2005, Luna C Productions staged a theatrical version of Quadrophenia in Los Angeles, starring Stephen Shareaux as Jimmy. Additional performances occurred in March and November 2006.
In February 2007, students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama staged "the first independent theatrical production (of Quadrophenia) blessed by Pete Townshend" at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, Wales.
This production has been reworked, recast and expanded by Director Tom Critchley and writer Jeff Young into a full scale UK Tour starting at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in May 2009.
During the Behind The Laughter episode of The Simpsons, the cover of the Krustophenia record is a parody of Quadrophenia.
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