Number 17 on my countdown of Top 40 Albums is Quadrophenia by The Who. Depending on where you draw the line between Concept Album and Rock Opera, Quadrophenia is arguably the most musically cohesive and successful rock opera ever written. More refined and emotionally complex than Tommy, Quadrophenia is an 80 minute musical powerhouse with some of the most successful theme work of the past half century. Musically, the album manages to capture both progressive rock ideals as well as a bare-knuckle, near violence-inducing British rock ‘n’ roll sound. The marriage of these two seemingly discordant musical styles masterfully supports the emotional thread of the rock opera’s protagonist, Jimmy. Jimmy is caught between idealistic morals with undertones of economic social justice. However, at the same time he is consistently violent and using drugs. He is a young man who has no sympathy for the previous generation, yet does not fit in to the mod culture he wishes to be a part of. He is confused, disappointed, angry, and his heart is split between wildly varying principles. This emotional state goes hand in hand with the angry yet elegant musical score The Who expertly drapes behind intricate and meaningful lyrics. This album is truly a masterpiece.
Similarly to Jars of Clay’s If I Left the Zoo, I believe the best way to convey the success of Quadrophenia is to provide an example of it’s genius. Here is the opening to the rock opera (sans “I Am the Sea”) including “The Real Me,” “Quadrophenia,” “Cut My Hair,” “The Punk and the Godfather,” and “I’m One.” As a side note, “I went back to the doctor” is a phenomenal opening line, and if you haven’t heard it the song “Bell Boy” is a personal favorite from this record.
There you have it! Number 17 of the Top 40 Albums countdown is Quadrophenia by The Who. If you are interested in the other installments in the countdown, take a look at the links below!
25. Queen by Queen
Thanks for reading! If you are keeping up with the countdown, I have officially caught up with my schedule! Next week, I will be taking a break from the countdown to do a celebratory blog post in honor of my mom and sister’s birthdays! You can expect to see number 16 the second week of August! Thanks again for reading, and have a great week!