The progressive rock opera Quadrophenia has been my favorite album by The Who since I discovered it in college. This is one of those "overkill" reissues, really aimed at the true believer fan, containing not only the original double album re-mastered, but discs of demos and surround sound mixes, along with a hardcover book and other related ephemera. I didn’t have the money (or the attention span) to purchase the whole set, so I was thrilled that the most of the music (except for the surround sound) was made available on the music streaming site MOG. Even compressed to 320 kbs MP3 format, I could hear the improvement in the sound over the cassette I wore out as a student or the early edition CD that I have. Quadrophenia was a “concept album,” like the band’s Tommy or the aborted Lifehouse project, and this album is about youth alienation during the mods vs. rockers conflict in early ’60’s England. The highlights of the music for me have always been some of the stand-alone pieces like “The Real Me” which is one of the band’s most potent uptempo anthems featuring stellar bass playing from John Entwistle and powerful vocals from Roger Daltrey. The horn and piano enhanced “5:15” and the hauntingly powerful ballad “Love Reign O’er Me” are some of the groups most mighty songs. These performances and the rest of the album are strung together with a loose storyline and some instrumental filler that uses some early synthesizer technology on display. I think the original album is a classic, but the demo songs on the remaining discs/streams are really of interest only to heavy fans. It’s interesting to hear how Pete Townshend arranged the music using synths and guitar, and the way that the band would develop and flesh out the full versions of these skeletal songs. Much of the music here is akin to the Scoop and Another Scoop LP’s released by Townshend in the 1980’s. I didn’t have a change to see the extensive liner book and the other chotchkies that come with the box, but the photographs and essays are undoubtably impressive. This is quite a package and quite a pricetag, but for the die-hard fan of The Who it is probably worth the expense. There is a more wallet friendly Director’s Cut that has the remastered original album and a few of the demos at a much lower price. Quadrophenia- The Director's Cut (Super Deluxe Edition)
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