Friday, 12 February 2016

"Quadrophenia" by THE WHO (2011 Universal/Polydor 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Move With The Fashion Or Be An Outcast..."

There's something about double albums. For a starter - simple 2LP logistics demands a least a gatefold sleeve - and if the band has any clout and their record label has half a sales brain – an elaborate chunky booklet can go in there too rammed to the gills with the Godlike deliberations of their hairy-bottomed creators (maybe even a poster boys and other sexy emporia). Besides if a group produces two whole LPs worth of music it suggests the juices are flowing and creativity is at a peak - "The White Album", "Trout Mask Replica", "Tommy", "Exile On Main Street", "Stephen Stills Manassas", "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" to name but a few). And so it was with The Who's second double-album – the much anticipated 'kids are alright' Mod opus "Quadrophenia". To this day my 1973 Track Records original is an object I regularly pet with alarming middle-aged fetishness. Which brings us to this natty 2012 'Deluxe Edition' 2CD Reissue...

UK and USA released November 2011 – "Quadrophenia: Deluxe Edition" by THE WHO on Universal/Polydor 2780503 (Barcode 0602527805030) is a 2CD set with Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (55:48 minutes):
1. I Am The Sea
2. The Real Me
3. Quadrophenia
4. Cut My Hair
5. The Punk And The Godfather
6. I'm One [Side 2]
7. The Dirty Jobs
8. Helpless Dancer
9. Is It In My Head
10. I've Had Enough
11. 5:15 [Side 3]
12. Sea And Sand
13. Drowned

Disc 2 (78:17 minutes):
1. Bell Boy
2. Doctor Jimmy
3. The Rock
4. Love Reign O'er Me
Tracks 1 to 13 and Tracks 1 to 4 are the 4-sides of double-album "Quadrophenia" – released November 1973 on Track Records 2657 013 and in the USA on Track/MCA Records MCA2-10004. It peaked at No. 2 in both the UK and USA. CHRIS STAINTON (of The Grease Band) plays piano on "Dirty Jobs", "5:15" and "Drowned" - all other instrumentation by the Band - Roger Daltrey (Vocals), Pete Townshend (Guitar and Keyboards), John Entwistle (Bass) and Keith Moon (Drums and Percussion).

5. The Real Me (Demo) – recorded October 1972
6. Cut My Hair (Demo) – recorded June 1972
7. Punk (Demo) – recorded November 1972
8. Dirty Jobs (Demo) – recorded July 1972
9. Is It In My Head (Demo) – recorded April 1972
10. Anymore (Demo) – recorded November 1971
11. I've Had Enough (Demo)- recorded December 1972
12. Is It Me? (Demo) – recorded March 1973
13. Doctor Jimmy (Demo) – recorded July 1972
14. Love Reign O'er Me (Demo) – recorded May 1972

A smart move is to have two booklets – the one in the left flap of the gatefold card digipak has the original 22-page booklet that was attached to the centre of the 1973 double-album. All of Ethan Russell's beautifully expressive black and white 'Mod' photography is there – but true fans will notice immediately that some of the photos are sloppily clipped on the right – The Who at The Hammersmith Odeon double-page spread has the neon details clipped out over to the right – but worse is the mods around the stage pages before it where the guy on the far right is gone entirely. The lyrics to Side 1 and 2 that followed the terraced houses and came at the end of the original vinyl booklet have been moved to CD booklet two when it might have been better to keep them as the original was. And while the 2CD digipak and its 5" booklets could never have the sheer 12" x 12" impact of the original vinyl issue – it's still nicely done - and hell even the pictures of the mods in the cafĂ© by the pinball machines seems slightly more defined for some reason. The black and white photos of the Who on the inner flap are period and the photo of the main story character 'Jimmy' on his beloved Vespa motorbike is drop-dead gorgeous. There’s handwritten lyrics, a photo of Pete in the Studio, snaps of master tape boxes beneath the see-through plastic trays. It’s all very tasteful and tactile...

The second booklet contains Pete Townshend's deliberations on the making of the record and its subsequent impact across the decades (1996 Remix CD, DVD release of the film with a Mono soundtrack) and now finally the tapes prepped once again to offset the original limitations of the 1973 vinyl original (especially Daltrey's great vocals). Very cool is the song-by-song notes by PT on the 'Demos' presented for the first time on Disc 2 and Bonus Tracks. They stretch from March 1970 for "Drowned" (done while recording the Thunderclap Newman debut LP) to March 1973 for "Is It Me?" which chronicles the Mods 'Ace Face' and 'Jimmy'.

JON ASTLEY has handled the Remaster at Close To The Edge with the involvement of Pete Townshend. Pete plays all instruments on the Demos and each has been cleaned to almost audiophile quality by a team at Woody Studios in Richmond, London. I have to say that the sonic results for the album are simply a little less bombastic than the 1996 remix of old - and that's a good thing. Overall - the punch and clarity is still up there - if not nearly as spectacular as I had hoped. Biggest improvements I'd say are in the rhythm sections - Bass and Drums - absolutely sweet as...

As the waves crash on the Brighton shore in the opening "I Am The Sea" – the Audio fills your speakers with fabulous clarity – Daltrey's vocal jabs on key lyrics acting as a sort of lead-in overture. But the remaster really takes off with "The Real Me" – Townshend's thrashing guitar to the right – Entwistle's heavy bass strings sounding like he's playing lead guitar - all of it complimented by that fantastic brass section. You're also struck by the power and clarity that surrounds Moon's amazing drumming – rattling and crashing through your speakers all of a sudden on the instrumental "Quadrophenia". And that silver-toned establishment radio announcer (John Curle) on "Cut My Hair" reporting with detachment about 'two leather clad rockers' being chased into a hotel by a gang of 1000 'yuths'.

Side 2's "The Dirty Jobs" and "Helpless Dancer" are the amongst the most politically charged songs on the record – a man who drives a local bus taking miners to work (if the pits are open). And when the stunning "Love Reign O'er Me" prelude turns up at about 1:20 in the six-minute "I've Had Enough" – it still feels extraordinarily moving and even beautiful. The catchy brass/guitar of "5:15" was a genius choice as a single and how could you not love growling-Daltrey sung lyrics like "...out of my brain on the train..." and "...gravely outrageous in my high heel shoes..." And that wonderful opening guitar melody on "Sea And Sand" is so The Who – rocking one moment – soothing the next. The piano/guitar boogie opening of "Drowned" has to be one of many fave tunes on the album – "set me free" Daltrey screams with such passion.

Townshend ornery sense of humour comes shining through on the witty and acidic "Bell Boy" – Daltrey doing his best loony Bob voice as he moans "...always running up someone's bleeding hill...” The eight and half minutes of Doctor Jimmy still test my patience a tad – but I love the end two pieces – the instrumentally adventurous "The Rock" and the sublime melody and hope contained in "Love Reign O'er Me". Mooney's drumming comes roaring through "The Rock" as those riffs build and build and that wicked "Who's Next" keyboard work unfolds (stunning remaster). The forlorn piano notes and falling rain play in the wonderful "Love Reign O'er" – a song that turns up in movies whenever a filmmaker wants to move the audience. Genius...

I have to admit that some of the 'Demos' left me cold – they're interesting for sure but feel like something I'll play once and leave there. The audio on them is awesome it has to be said. For instance his guitar and piano on "Cut My Hair" are incredible and the remaster practically makes the thing kick down your speaker stacks. For me loveliest is the "Love Reign O’er Me" demo because it hasn't got the interfering waves/rain soundtrack in the background – so you just get that gorgeous piano playing – then the song kicks in. It's here that you realise what happens when PT hands the song to the other three – Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon – they add the band magic it needs...

Niggles – the non-album song "Water" – B-side to the UK issue of "5:15" on Track 2094 115 in November 1973 could easily have been fitted onto Disc 1 (kept back for the Single Boxes no doubt) and the American 3:11 minute edit of "Love Reign O'er Me" (A-side in the USA on Track/MCA-40152) is AWOL too. Might have also been nice to feature some of those fantastic foreign picture sleeves for singles around the album on a Deluxe Edition - "Love Reign O'er Me" from Holland or "5:15" from France to name but a few. But apart from those minor gripes – I'm a happy Mod bunny.

More sprawling than the simple balls-to-the-wall brilliance of 1971's "Who's Next" but just as ambitious as 1969's Rock Opera "Tommy" – The Who's "Quadrophenia" is one of those albums you can't really be rational about. Across 4 sides there's filler on there for sure and at times all those 'waves crashing on the shore' interludes/inclusions do your head in – but would we have PT's double masterpiece any other way. I'm off to pet my original again with white gloves and consider buying a Parka at the age of 57. 

And the sight of that crashed Vespa leaning to in the water on the rear cover still gives me the willies...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 250 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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