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Template:Album infobox For the film based on this album, see Quadrophenia (film)

Quadrophenia was a double album released by The Who on October 19, 1973 (see 1973 in music), one of the group's two full-scale rock operas. The name is a modification of the unscientific notion of schizophrenia as a multiple personality disorder; the opera's protagonist has a quadruple personality, each supposed to be associated with one of the four musicians in The Who. The liner notes give it thus (names added):

In addition to describing a personality/band member, the four comments refer to the four theme songs that portray Jimmy's personalities in the opera: "Helpless Dancer", "Doctor Jimmy", "Bell Boy", and "Love Reign O'er Me". The four musical themes are mixed together in the penultimate track on the recording, an elaborate instrumental piece called "The Rock". (The intermixing requires an unusual superposition of music in 3/4 time on top of music in 4/4 time, with the measures of both parts being the same length in time.)

The story covers about two days of the life of a certain Jimmy, a participant in the early 1960s Mod lifestyle in England. "The story is set on a rock!" announced the composer, Peter Townshend, at one live performance. That remark seems to indicate that the opera represents Jimmy's looking back at the events of the previous day or two that led him into the gloomy situation where he finds himself at the end of the story. The narrative is difficult to derive from the lyrics, but is given along with Jimmy's commentary on various matters in a booklet included with the album.

To the extent that Quadrophenia can be said to tell a story at all, it tells it in the first person. The first half of the opera treats us to the frustrations and insecurities that govern Jimmy's life, including brief glimpses of his home life, his job, his psychoanalyst, and his unfruitful attempts to have a social life. Halfway through the opera he sings "I've Had Enough", finds himself kicked out of his home when his parents find his dope, gets pilled up and takes a train ride to the coast, steals a boat and takes it out to a barren rock protruding from the sea, and crashes psychologically. With nothing left to live for he finds redemption in the pouring rain (a manifestation of Townshend's spiritual fixation on water).

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 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 remastered CDs of 1996 include the full original booklet in miniature.

In the liner notes to the remastered Odds and Sods Townshend reveals that Quadrophenia evolved from an idea for a self-indulgent autobiography of the band. Two of the opera's tracks date from 1972, a year that also produced The Who's self-centered singles "Join Together" 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 text story in the liner notes also suggests that Jimmy knew one of the band members before they were stars, and the band member callously shrugs him off when he bumps into the band at the hotel where he works as a bell boy.)

The lyrics to the song "The Punk and the Godfather" leave the impression that Townshend was aware of a musical rebellion called punk as early as 1973, with a dual interpretation of Townshend as the punk and his record company's executives as the godfather and/or younger musicians working in new styles as the punks and Townshend as the godfather.

Quadrophenia was later made into a movie, with several additional songs done by Peter Townshend for the soundtrack.

In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Quadrophenia the 86th greatest album of all time.


Track listing

All songs written by Peter Townshend.

This track list is for the LP version. In the CD versions, the break between the two discs is at the same point, between "I've Had Enough" and "5:15".

Disc one

Side one

  1. "I am the Sea" - 2:08
  2. "The Real Me" - 3:22
  3. "Quadrophenia" - 6:15
  4. "Cut my Hair" - 3:46
  5. "The Punk and the Godfather" - 5:10

Side two

  1. "I'm the One" - 2:39
  2. "The Dirty Jobs" - 4:30
  3. "Helpless Dancer" - 2:32
  4. "Is it in my Head" - 3:46
  5. "I've Had Enough" - 6:14

Disc two

Side one

  1. "5:15" - 5:00
  2. "Sea and Sand" - 5:01
  3. "Drowned" - 5:28
  4. "Bell Boy" - 4:56

Side two

  1. "Doctor Jimmy" - 8:42
  2. "The Rock" - 6:37
  3. "Love, Reign O'er Me" - 5:48

External Links

fr:Quadrophenia sv:Quadrophenia


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