( – promoted by TheMomCat)
We last discussed the first side of the seminal album, Quadrophenia, by The Who, entirely written by Peter Townshend. Since that time I have done more extensive research, and found some interesting things that I hope will be illuminating for everyone. They were for me. Without too many details in the introduction, I can say with a good bit of confidence that this record almost dissolved the band.
Roger put Pete in hospital with punches, Kit was almost banned, and the fraud that the management was doing to the band was discovered. That was part of the genesis for the song “How Many Friends Have I Really Got” that was part of The Who by Numbers some time later. But there is more!
I have a frank correction to make, and then what is more like a clarification as to the original characters who were combined to make Jimmy. I also have a stupid one to make, about the name of the album itself. Shall we begin?
First, I have to thank Bush Bites for correcting me. The Jones version of “Can you see the Real Me?” was from a 1979 redo. I had mistakenly said it was contemporaneous. I finally found it deep in the notes from the extraordinary good book by Andy McNeil and Matt Kent, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere, the complete chronicle of The Who, 1958 - 1978. I recommend this book highly.
The clarification is that Townshend did not originally craft the work to fit the four band members. According to the book mentioned before, there were actually SIX people that he used as models, and here are their names:
“Irish” Jack Lyons, Paddy Keene, Chrissie Colville, Mike Quinn, Lee Gaish, and T. K. Gaish. As best as I can tell, these were real Mods, and none of The Who really were. What say you?
As promised, I shall tell about why the tour went so wrong. There were many reasons. First, the analogue tapes did not sync well with the band, and in 1973 is might have as well been 1073. They just were always acting up, badly! Today it is EASY to get things to work together, but not then. The Moody Blues had the same problem with the Mellotron, and only Pinder’s technical expertise kept them on the road.
Now you know why I can not find many contemporaneous performances of Quad. They abandoned it soon out of the door. It was a disaster as far as live performances went. However, it was a brilliant as a studio piece. But it was released at a bad time. The oil embargo pretty cut off vinyl for months, just at it was supposed to be at the top.
Those are historical events. There are more. Townshend actually named it for what he thought would be the new technology, quadrophonic sound. At the time, it was not practical. Vinyl ruled, and it is not easy to get four tracks of sound from vinyl. It is possible, but not practical. Now, in the digital age, five track is common, but this is the 21st century. In the mid 1970s, not so much. That was also the problem with the playback equipment, all analogue.
Anyway, too much for the technical stuff. Let us enjoy some of their best music.
Track #11, or #1 on the second vinyl, is the brilliant 5:15. Daltrey was never better. There is a very hint of lesbian sex on it, but I think that the reference was more rivals trying to look better for men. You decide. As another aside, my dear friend was a “girl of 15, sexually knowing”. She has a wonderful little girl, no help from me. I love the little one as a daughter and her mum, now of age, as a friend. I would do anything for either or both of them.
Here is the studio cut:
This is getting a bit too personal.
Here is what appears to be a live version.
I could not find the demo.
The next cut, “Sea and Sand”, is wonderful. Daltrey sings most of it. I am getting quite teary now.
Not to take away from this wonderful piece, The Girl I love is beautiful, and has hazel eyes to snatch ones’ soul. I have looked into them, and lost my will. Now for more of the song.
Here is a very scarce live version from 1973. Not to many backing tapes to go wrong, so it is OK.
Here is the demo. Pete’s voice is so, so sweet! I like it very much, almost better than the studio piece. Being in love affects my emotions.
Next comes “Drowned”, one of their best live pieces. Entwistle was wonderful on all of them. The words are also wonderful. Teachers always said that you might be drinking the water that Columbus used to wash his feet. Townshend said it better, I think:
I’m flowing under bridges, and flying through the sky!
I’m traveling down cold metal; just a tear in a baby’s eye!
I’m remembering distant memories, recalling other names,
Dribbling oer the canyon, and BOILING in the train!
Those words have meaning! Here is the studio version:
Here is a VERY nice live version. Daltrey is at his best. When he was good, his voice sounded like that of an angel, and it did here.
I also like this one because of lots of video of Moon and Entwistle.
And of course, here is the demo. The lyrics are a bit different, but the sense is the same. Got to love Pete!
Now comes “Bell Boy”, supposed to be theme for Keith. Townshend wrote this especially for him, and said that Moon’s voice was the sweetest one that he ever heard, but that he had a narrow register. Daltrey sings most of it, but you can hear Moon in his parts. I agree, he had a very sweet voice. Here is the studio version:
Seeing the Ace Face as a bellboy traumatized Jimmy even more. His hero was nothing but a low wage worker hoping for tips now! How heroes fall!
Here is a wonderful live version, with lots of film of Moon singing. Very rare, I daresay.
And the demo, with Townshend intentionally singing in Moon’s range. He loved Keith more than a brother, and wanted Keith to have a singing piece on the album. John got only backing vocals.
You know as well as I do that all of the rest of the band were worried about Moon’s health. It was only a matter of time.
The next song is “Dr. Jimmy”, sort of violent but beautiful. I kind of self identify with it, but I am not a violent person. When I’m pilled I don’t notice him (I do NOT get pilled, except now an then an aspirin). He only comes out when I drink my gin. That is another story. Here is the studio version:
This might just be the very finest piece that the band ever did. Everything is just perfect! Daltrey is at his best with the expression of his voice, and the bass and drumming is flawless. What can I say? Listen, starting at 8:00, at what Townshend’s aural idea of a buzz is. Have any of you experienced anything like it?
Here is a live version with a rather long explanation of the story. Townshend thought it was necessary to explain what was going on before the song, and that drove Daltrey nuts. Daltrey thought that the long times betwixt songs interrupted the flow. Quad nearly rent the band. Daltrey’s voice is in excellent shape here.
I could not find a Townshend demo. If you locate one, please add it to the comments.
“The Rock” is the next to last song on the record, and involves Jimmy being stranded on a rock in the sea with the tide coming in fast. Here is the studio version:
The coots that you hear at the beginning is a recording made by Townshend, as were most of the sound effects on the album. He and his father went around the UK getting just the right sounds.
I could find neither a live version nor a demo.
The final cut, “Love, Reign o’er Me” is a masterpiece. I love the way that it ends, with the growl of the guitar. Here is the studio version:
Here is a live version from 1973. I strongly suspect that the timer starting at almost three minutes was how long it took Townshend to explain the song, but I do not know that for a fact.
I was able to find the demo for this, and it is wonderful. I really like to hear Townshend’s original concepts:
I looked for the 7 Up advert that used this song, but could not find it on You Tube. If you can find an embed for it, please put it in the comments. How many of you even remember that advert?
Well, there you have it folks. Some believe that Quadrophenia was the finest work of The Who. While I do not necessarily take that view, it certainly is one of the finest examples of rock and roll ever written and performed. It came at quite a cost, both emotionally and performance wise, because as I said the tour was fraught with technical difficulties, temper flares, and bizarre happenings, like having a stand in for Moon from the AUDIENCE! on 197731120 at the Cow Palace, Moon apparently was given or intentionally what I assume to be PCP. When he became too disorientated to drum, they carried him away, sort of got him going again, only for him to collapse again. What a thrill for the nineteen kid from Muscatine, Iowa named Scott Halpin to be able to answer Townshend’s call for a stand in drummer!
I hope that you have enjoyed this bit of musical history as much I have enjoyed writing it. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith
Crossposted at The Stars Hollow Gazette,