- If you want to hear this music EXPLODE out of the speakers and come to life the way The Who wanted you to hear it. this record will do the trick
- The sound here is so BIG, rich, and powerful it will surely make you rethink the recording itself
- 5 stars: “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.”
- If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1973 is clearly one of their best, and one of their best sounding
- The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
We recently removed this title from our Top 100 List because it has become so difficult to get hold of clean UK copies nowadays. Who’s Next is even more difficult, but for some reason we left that one on the list, go figure.
On the best copies, the energy factor is OFF THE CHARTS. The highs are silky sweet, the bottom end is meaty, the drums are punchy and the vocals are present and tonally correct. The piano has real weight, the synths float breathily in the air, and there’s wonderful three-dimensional depth to the soundfield.
There’s a POWER to the sound that the average copy only hints at. The crashing guitar chords that are the hallmark of The Who often lack the weight of the real thing; they don’t punch you in the gut the way Townsend no doubt wanted them to.
Moon’s drums need to blast away like cannons. This is the quintessential Who sound. Everybody who’s ever seen them live knows it. I saw them back in the day when Moon was still behind his kit and it’s a sound I’ll never forget.
Most copies don’t have nearly this much Tubey Magic — you aren’t going to believe all the richness, sweetness, and warmth here. The clarity and transparency are superb in their own right, and the impressive dynamic range really allows this copy to communicate the explosive energy of The Who at their peak.
As with any Who album, this is obviously not your typical Audiophile Demo Disc. We don’t imagine you’ll be enjoying this one with wine, cigars, and polite conversation. This one is for turning up loud and rockin’ out — in other words, it’s our kind of record!
What the Best Sides of Quadrophenia Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
This very album was one of Ron Nevison’s first big engineering jobs. (They passed on Glyn Johns if you can imagine that.) He went on to do Bad Company’s debut, a Top 100 album for us, as well as Straight Shooter, which in some ways I like even better as a recording, and then the sprawling mess that turned into Physical Graffitti.
He went on to do lots of the biggest selling monster rock albums of the ’80s, but The ’80s Sound has never held much appeal for us, which is of course why you find so few recordings from that era on our site, silk purses, sow’s ears and all that.
What We’re Listening For on Quadrophenia
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
As with pretty much any double album there’s a bit of filler here and there, but we were once again impressed with this one’s consistency. This album has to rank right up there with the best rock albums of the ’70s, right behind Who’s Next and probably on a par with Tommy, good company indeed. Side one is particularly strong, rocking incredibly hard from start to finish.
Quadrophenia is the last of the truly classic Who albums that started with Tommy, continued with Live at Leeds, hit the zenith of the band with Who’s Next, and came to an end with Quadrophenia. (Who Are You and The Who By Numbers may be very good albums, but even as good as they are neither one really fits into the Classic category.)
A Must Own Who Album
It’s a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Music Collection.
This link will take you to more Members of the Prestigious “None Rocks Harder” Club
I Am The Sea
The Real Me
Cut My Hair
The Punk And The Godfather
The Dirty Jobs
Is It In My Head
I’ve Had Enough
Sea And Sand
Love, Reign O’er Me
AMG 5 Star Rave 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.