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The Who: Quadrophenia

Another LP From the Closet


I am a Tommy infidel. I don't consider it a great album. I don't even really like it all that much. Or at least these things were true many years ago, when I last heard it. It has a lot of brilliant music, and obviously the Who at their best were among the most accomplished artists in rock. But I never could take its story very seriously, much less the "rock opera" pretensions, though I don't know that the Who were to blame for the term. (It's an oratorio, maybe.) The songs are so closely tied to the story that their individual appeal is lessened for me. 

I guess Tommy fans were probably disappointed by Quadrophenia. I heard it a few times when it came out, and I remember thinking that although it wasn't as immediately appealing as Tommy it might be pretty good if you gave it a close listen. Who knows, it might even be better? But I wasn't interested enough to pursue it. (Also I thought the title was sort of dumb, seeming at the time to be an attempt to capitalize on the fad for quadrophonic sound, which was supposed to be the Next Phase after stereo.) 

And yet I have a copy. I don't have any idea how I came by it. In fact I'd forgotten I had it till I noticed it on my last troll through the closet, the results of which I'm still working my way through. It's pretty beat-up so I can only suppose that I picked it up cheaply on a whim, from a used-record store or possibly from Goodwill. 

Well, my 1973 suspicion was right. This is really quite a good album--a double album, like Tommy, and another "rock opera." But this one is a lot more down to earth, a sort of day in the life of a British teenager right at that point in the '60s where ordinary juvenile rebellion and delinquency were about to turn into the cultural revolution. For me at any rate that's a much more engaging subject than the freaky and largely unbelievable Tommy story. I grant that few of the songs are as musically brilliant as the best of Tommy. But the whole thing hangs together more effectively. And more affectingly. According to Wikipedia, the LP package should include a printed booklet that fills in the narrative links among the songs. It's missing from my copy, and I actually considered getting another used copy just to get the booklet. But I resisted. If not a story, the songs do form a coherent picture.

And one song merits a paragraph to itself. I think "Love Reign O'er Me" is as good as anything the Who ever did. It's one of those songs-worth-the-whole-album, which is saying a lot for a double LP.

It occurred to me to wonder: "quadrophenia" is meant to be a play on "schizophrenia." So why isn't it "quadrophrenia"?


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Never liked Tommy.

Mac recently (;)) had a piece on Shoegaze music. I skipped it since I had never heard of it. Then I heard the term again yesterday on NPR, All Songs Considered. They were talking - I think - about a group called Long Beard. The group Were good enough for me to look on Amazon to see if I could get anything. With predictable results! Pages of false beards and thats it. I still don’t know what the term refers to

Looks like Long Beard has only one album out, 2016's 'Sleepwalker." Oddly, there's no CD release showing other than a promo, of which there are no copies on Amazon. Discogs, however, has one (and only one) for $4.88 + shipping.

Maybe they have a new one coming out, which is why they were being talked about on NPR.

Yep -- new album "Means to Me" out Aug. 30.

She's on Pandora:

"Long Beard is the curious stage name of New Brunswick, New Jersey singer/songwriter (and female) Leslie Bear, who fashions intimate, electric guitar dream pop. With the aid of a looping pedal, she began performing locally under the moniker in 2009 while attending Rutgers University, eventually self-releasing a subdued homemade EP, Holy Crow, in early 2014. Ghost Graduation, a split EP with New Paltz, New York’s Fraternal Twin, followed that summer. Recorded partly in bedrooms and partly at Salvation Recording Co. in New Paltz, she brought in Chris Daly to produce and engineer her debut long-player, the hazy, introspective Sleepwalker, released in October 2015 by Team Love Records."

I think that text is licensed from AllMusic. I really recommend Pandora Premium as a streaming service, btw. For $10 a month you get access to a really, really extensive catalog of music with a nice interface on both web browser and smart phone, usually some information like the above, reviews from the same source, and even lyrics for a surprising number of pop songs.

Anyway, I just sampled Long Beard and she does sound good.

good! When I was in NYC, my nephew put free Pandora on my phone (it was my first excursion into music without a CD player). Do you think Pandora Premium is better than the Amazon music app?

What does Shoegaze mean?

I haven't used Amazon Music so I can't compare. Haven't used Apple Music either. Or Google Play. I'm sure they are very good but I prefer not to deal with those giants if I have an alternative. Pandora Premium does include the same "play more music like this" feature that free Pandora does. I don't use it that often but it's handy occasionally. I guess by now all the big ones have something like that but Pandora's is remarkably "smart."

The term "shoegaze" comes from somebody's remark, maybe a complaint or snark, that certain bands just stood still looking down while they played. Either because that was their personality or because they were constantly fiddling with their effects pedals. The term became attached to the style, which tends to combine a sort of dreamy melodic quality with a wall of guitar-based noise.

On the basis of two songs, btw, I wouldn't have called Long Beard shoegaze.

Listened to a few songs too -- good stuff, but not really "noisy" enough to be shoegaze. If I had to pick a style I'd put her in the dream pop category.

She reminds a bit of Snail Mail (similar voice and chord progressions), but slower and dreamier.

Thanks! I had no idea!

Im cleaning up my office a little bit a time, one day one little space. Today I found a CD which I have no memory of buying. Its by a group called 'Elephant Revival.' I took it to the car and it has a nice song called 'The Grace of a Woman.' Did Mac or Rob G recommend this group? The CD seems to come from 2013 - it is called These Changing Skies.

I don't think it was me -- doesn't ring a bell at all.

Nor with me. Which only suggests, does not prove, that I didn't recommend it.

I have a feeling I will never find out how I came to buy that record in 2013.

As I’ll never know how I came by my copy of Quadrophenia.

On Tommy versus Quodrophenia: a good deal of what makes one album go big is fashion.

True but Tommy is also a lot more catchy on first hearing. Also 1969 was a good moment for a loopy story about a deaf, dumb, and blind pinball champion. Who eventually takes LSD and becomes a messiah figure.

"Ain't got no distractions, can't hear no buzzers and bells
Don't see no lights flashing, plays by sense of smell."

I mean really. And it's not like it was just supposed to be funny. It was Very Deep.

I feel like I need to say something since I own both CDs but I haven't gone through a WHO faze for while. Need to revisit them. I do agree with your assessment of Tommy, Mac. The entire thing is just so odd, and the movie too, of course. Back when I was a teen-ager I think I liked Quadrophenia a bit more. Roger Daltrey had a great voice and rock god persona, that's for sure.

I just put it on. Keith Moon was an outstanding drummer! You forget until you listen to them again. Daltrey's voice and Moon's drumming just jump out in the first song with vocals, "The Real Me".

I never saw the movie. Even back then I was pretty sure I would hate it. Yes, Moon was amazing. Daltrey was kind of unusual in being *only* a singer, as far as I know never a writer or lyricist. He sure made a big splash, visual as well as auditory, in the Woodstock movie.

Yes Tommy fit the times. I would want to say two quite contradictory things. On the one hand, an album going big is often just a matter of fashion, and good artists and albums get ignored because some trendy manipulator of taste decrees it. But on the other hand, the good stuff in popular culture really is the popular stuff. That obscure bootleg album or record that never took off really is less good than Blond on Blond, Astral Weeks or Sargent Pepper.

I don't know how both can be true but they are.

This Elephant Revival CD is really good. I have no idea how I could have selected it using my own lights.

Are you trolling me? :-) Actually I can sort of agree with each of those, if we take a somewhat long view--long in pop culture being ten years or so. There's always the stuff that is hugely popular for a short time. But the stuff that stays popular is the good stuff. The top-selling single in 1969 was "Sugar, Sugar" (I looked it up). But, you know, it's catchy. It's "good" at least to that extent. No amount of promotion and manipulation can make people like something. But sometimes lack of promotion can mean few people ever hear it, until maybe much later. And the sad stories of the albums that didn't get released till years later, because the record company went out of business, and stuff like that.

I've always liked Sugar, Sugar.

"But sometimes lack of promotion can mean few people ever hear it, until maybe much later. And the sad stories of the albums that didn't get released till years later, because the record company went out of business, and stuff like that."

Yes, this. It's amazing how so much good stuff really never gets a hearing. On the other hand, the stuff that rises to the top is not always cream. I think it's generally true that the "good" music stands the test of time, but even that is only a rule of thumb.

Speaking of 'Sugar, Sugar,' I recently discovered that the band The Vogues, who had a few big hits in the mid-to-late 60's ("Five a Clock World" is probably their best known), were from here in Pittsburgh. I always liked that song, but had no idea who sang it. A friend recently found one of their old LP's at a thrift store -- it's surprisingly good. I think it was a "best of" collection.

I went ahead and ordered the Long Beard CD by the way. Report will follow in due course.

O good. Let us know what you think.

Follow-up on the Long Beard CD: It didn't do much for me at first, as I said on the other thread, but I've listened to it a few more times since then and it's grown on me considerably. I think it may have been that the first time I heard it I was driving, and it's the sort of record that might be a bit too subtle for car listening. Anyways, I'm looking forward to hearing their (her?) new one that comes out at the end of the month.

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