I have a soft spot in my heart for The Who. I happened to hold The Who partially responsible for fueling my adult life's passion for music. I've always loved music, enough so that when I was a mere 19 years old I had the foresight to buy a ticket to a concert to see The Who. This was well after Keith Moon's passing (incidentally, in the same flat that Mama Cass from The Mamas and The Papas had died in), but prior to John Entwistle's passing. Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) played drums. And this concert changed my life. Its the beauty of live music. I had never seen anything like it.
The Who has been back in the news with the current Roger Daltrey tour of Tommy, which has put The Who back in the front of my mind for go-to music. And my go-to hasn't changed. For me its not Tommy. Its Quadrophenia.
Quadrophenia came out as the band's 6th album, and second concept album/rock opera (after Tommy). Like Tommy, it tells a story throughout the album, here with the protagonist going through a realm of psychiatric experiences, arguments, and internal struggles, before culminating in a personal revelation. It is said that the protagonist represents various parts of The Who members' personalities (Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon). Keith's fantasmical, staccato, frantic drumming is especially notable on this album, as is Roger Daltrey's voice. In short, its a stellar piece of work that every rock fan should be familiar with (no matter what your age).
During the recording of Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend took a recorder to various places, picking up sounds that made it onto the album- most notably the sound of ocean waves crashing, which ushers in the album calmly on "I Am The Sea", is heard throughout, and then ushers out the album in a climax of "Love, Reign O'er Me".
There is no other song like it.
Love, Reign O'er Me
Like most other concept/rock opera albums, its impossible to fully appreciate it (or in this case, fully understand it) without listening to the entire album, from start to finish. I realize that listening to a full album is a lost art form now and we've reverted back to the single being king, but as a music fan- do yourself a favor. Buy the album- the whole album. Then go somewhere quiet. Put on some headphones. And blast it. You'll never hear anything like it.