I’m fairly certain – no, I’m positive – that The Who never had any predilections toward becoming über-representatives of ‘classic rock’, and yet that is exactly what happened.
With the unusual/contradictory notion of creating “Rock Opera”, “Tommy” went a long way to establishing The Who as members of the ‘classic rock’ brigade. Townshend’s subsequent (and failed) attempt at an even more grandiose vision (“Lifehouse”) only heightened their status, when “Who’s Next” served up highlights from “Lifehouse” without any context to the storyline.
To this day, that album remains the definitive example of classic rock, but “Quadrophenia” is surely the quintessential (and most artistically successful) representation of The Who as a band, and also as a muse for Townshend. The theme of “Quadrophenia” places the characters of each bandmember into the body of one poor soul, a confused teenager named Jimmy who struggles to find peace within himself, while the disparities of his personality pull him in multiple directions until it tears him apart.
The story is lucid, far more so than the impossibly vague plot of “Tommy” and the melodies blend with a genius that suggests classic symphonic arrangements as much as it does ‘classic rock.’ Once again, Townshend aimed impossibly high, and yet hit the bullseye with a collection of songs that very well may be the best representation of classic rock and roll from this (or any) era.
I Am The Sea
The Real Me
Cut My Hair
Punk Meets The Godfather
Love Reign O'er Me
The Dirty Jobs
October 1973 - Billboard Charted #2
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