The Who: Quadrophenia
A stunning Director’s Cut of the landmark 1973 album produced, authorised and overseen by Pete Townshend. After the 1971 album Who ’s Next, Pete Townshend returned to the rock-opera concept, so dramatically realised through Tommy, with another ambitious double-album masterpiece. Based around the story of Jimmy, Quadrophenia tells the tale of a young mod and his struggle to come of age in the mid-1960s.The story also takes its influence from the band’s early fans from the original mod era, and its themes of teenage angst and disaffection still resonate strongly today. The project was intended to reflect the four characters of The Who and features some of Townshend’s most inspired, personal song-writing.
Quadrophenia is one of the most widely recognised albums of The Who’s career because of its classic depiction of mod culture, its renowned imagery and the magnificent music and powerful performances. The album is hugely significant in popular culture, influencing many other artists, musicians and film-makers, inspiring the classic 1979 British film by Franc Roddam and the UK ‘mod revival’ of the 1970s.
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Review by Rick Kosmick - October 22, 2014
Quadrophenia was originally released in 1973 during the era of quadraphonic recordings but this album never received a 4.0 mix to my knowledge (or at least a mix good enough for a quadraphonic release). It was not until the 2011 Director's Cut Box Set of 5 discs that surround sound made an appearance in the form of a DVD Audio for only 8 songs (out of 17) mixed in 5.1. Now in 2014 a Blu-ray version is released of all 17 recordings from Quadrophenia which contains a 5.1 mix (2013); a stereo remix (2011); and the original 1973 stereo mix. It has been a long time coming to hear all these songs in surround sound that, from my perspective, were destined to be heard this way.
I have listened to the Blu-ray at least six times in the format of 5.1 DTS HD MA 96k 24Bit. The reason for listening so often was the Wow factor of the gorgeous 5.1 mix..... I was literally addicted to the sound. I can say this Blu-ray version is a sheer revelation of what high audio quality can be and it captures the full embodiment of a special aural experience. But the most important factor for me was hearing the songs on Quadrophenia take on a whole new meaning through the glorious high resolution 5.1 sound that made me change my opinion of this great Who album: this is a masterpiece from the Who ranking alongside of "Who's Next".
I have listened to Quadrophenia over the years from LP to CD versions including the SHM SACD. In my opinion, none of these versions come close to matching the dynamic sound of the 5.1 mix. Yes the sound has a bright tone but it just seems so vibrant and rich. A "wall to wall" sound is created that is quite airy and seems so light yet covered in heavy textures. It can be sublime or sensitive then hit you like a hammer. And don't forget the special effects that rise to a new level of excellence. It is truly stunning.
The members of the Who are extraordinary musicians. In the 5.1 mix of Quadrophenia, you hear Roger Daltry's strong vocals as well centred and fully encircled by the music. John Entwhistle's bass is firm and integrated in full detail with the other instruments. Of special note is Pete Townshend's effective use of synthesizers and crisp sound of the guitars. But the real star in this surround mix is Keith Moon; the powerhouse drumming is just amazing as he virtually propels the band and plays drums like a lead instrument.
Pete Townshend produced the 5.1 Surround Sound Edition according to the liner notes. The 5.1 mixes were done by Bob Pridden and Richard Whittaker. The mastering was by John Astley. Suffice it to say, it was a marvelous effort by all for perfection. I cannot imagine it being any better.
If you want a demonstration of what great audio quality in 5.1 can do for a great recording, the Blu-ray release of Quadrophenia meets this high standard.
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