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Rock CEO's "You gotta hear this!" #5 : Quadrophenia

December 22,2011

At long last, we have the band I love to death, The Who.
Our band plays tons of The Who covers, and I even have their sticker on my favorite Gibson SG. Their work has had a huge influence on me.
While their popularity in Japan is laughably low, for the rest of the world they make up one of the three top rock bands of all time, along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (though some in America might put the Beach Boys in there as well). Undoubtedly a divine band.

The group debuted in 1964 under the name "High Numbers," but immediately went back to their original name "The Who" and started over with the song "I Can't Explain." Their third single, "My Generation," became a huge hit, with the lyrics "I hope I die before I get old" and a hard hitting beat stirring up the souls of the young generation, and establishing their position in the rock scene. Afterwards, they continued to release now legendary titles, such as the gold standard of rock operas, "Tommy," and what many call their best, "Who's Next."

Quadrophenia
The Who
Geffen Records (November 15, 2011)

Over the long history of rock, it is impossible to say just how much of an impact they had.
For one, they opened up the beat rock genre. That is, they established the foundation of the current punk rock and hard rock genres, with their style becoming the base for the music scene that followed them. Their style heavily influenced overseas bands such as Oasis, KISS, Pearl Jam, Sex Pistols, Crush, Jam, etc., as well as Japanese bands like BOØWY, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant, The Blue Hearts and many more.

Also, they really put the rock opera genre on the map.
First released in 1969, their two-disc total concept album, "Tommy", is an amazing combination of story and music, and together with "Quadrophenia" reign as rock opera masterpieces.
Movies were made of both albums, but if you plan on watching the movie versions, I personally prefer Tommy, directed by the phenomenal Ken Russell.

And one more! They were the beginning of the "Mod" culture among the young generation. They were the group dressing up in flashy suits and Mod parkas (like the parka Oda Yuji wore in the drama/film Odoru Daisousa-sen: Bayside Shakedown) riding customized Vespas.
The Who and Small Faces, led by Steve Marriott, were two of the premiere figures of Mod culture at the time.

Finally, and most important of all, has to be their destructive force of their live performances.
Roger Daltrey, vocals, would raise his hand and twirl the microphone. Pete Townshend, guitar, would spin his arm, playing the guitar in huge sweeping windmill motions. John Entwistle was stoic and unmoving on bass. And Keith Moon on drums... what can you say? The rowdiest kid in the world. From destroying his drum sets at each live performance to destroying the hotel room they stayed in, and even driving a car into a pool, he led a very destructive lifestyle.
Many other artists after them would attempt to imitate their intense, destructive performances, but they were the first, making it a staple of their shows even in the 60s.
I definitely want you to watch their performances at Woodstock and Monterrey.

After that long introduction (actually, if I start talking about The Who, I could go on about 100 times as long), the piece I want to introduce to you today debuted in 1973, "Quadrophenia."
Starting with the sounds of a wild, crashing sea on the first track, then a quiet moment followed by "Real Me." As soon as I start listening to this song, it feels like my brain is going to explode: the hard drums, a bass line that fits the phrase "making it sing" so perfectly, the guitar that's cutting sharp rhythms, and the powerful vocals. As soon as I put the needle on, everything in my head goes blank, and that sense of (good) tension stays at max all the way until the last song, "Love Reign O'er Me."
The songs themselves are incredible, but the concept encompassing two discs is also amazing. It drew a perfect picture describing the situation of the youth at the time, cutting directly to the point like a perfectly sharpened knife.
Quadrophenia was also made into a movie, released in Japan under the name "Saraba Seishun no Hikari" (Farewell, Light of Youth), so if anyone is interested, please check it out (though you should watch Tommy first!).
Also, the photo shoot that comes with the record is itself an amazing piece of work.
An amazing and unpredictable accomplishment from a band that debuted violent and destructive, Quadrophenia is an innovative, well thought-out masterpiece of an album.

Quadrophenia is an absolute must when speaking of rock history. You gotta hear this!