Sunday, July 22, 2012

Film Recommendation of the Week...

Quadrophenia: Can You See the Real Me?
BBC Documentary-July 2, 2012.
Running Time-1 hour 10 minutes.

Interviewer-"What was Kieth (Moon) like in 1973?" 
Roger Daltrey-"Just a little bit more drunk than he was in 1972!!!"

"Quadrophenia" was meant to be the rock opera that would replace "Tommy" in The Who's live repertoire. Things didn't work out for many reasons. This succinct documentary illustrates these difficulties without the maudlin nostalgia or overemphasis on the stereotypical drug and alcohol issues that have plagued so many rock bands over the years. We are taken from the origins of the album, as Pete Townshend has an epiphany as an 18-year old after doing a gig and getting stuck in a beach resort town. He begins to write the outline for the story starring Jimmy, the protagonist of the album who is a representative of all the members of the band, one person with four distinct and clashing personalities as he makes his way from teenage Mod to adulthood.

Here is a quote from a review from

"In his home studio and revisiting old haunts in Shepherds Bush and Battersea, Pete Townshend opens his heart and his personal archive to revisit 'the last great album the Who ever made', one that took the Who full circle back to their earliest days via the adventures of a pill-popping mod on an epic journey of self-discovery.

But in 1973 Quadrophenia was an album that almost never was. Beset by money problems, a studio in construction, heroin-taking managers, a lunatic drummer and a culture of heavy drinking, Townshend took on an album that nearly broke him and one that within a year the band had turned their back on and would ignore for nearly three decades."

Interviews with some of the main players (those who are still around) make up the core of this documentary, and it is an enjoyable ride on the time machine for any Who fan. Some of the other band members took issue with Townshend over this project; they saw themselves as session players in a Pete Townshend solo extravaganza. When the others came in to the studio, Townshend had already laid out most of the album as highly constructed demos, leaving them with not much room to add their own creativity to the project.

The project was hampered by Townshend's desire to record and play the album live in quadrophonic sound instead of the usual stereo. Neither worked. After the album was mixed, The Who's management quickly booked a world tour, leaving the band no time to implement the changes Townshend was looking to make. Playing the album live proved to be so laborious that it was scrapped and never played again in its' entirety until fairly recently. I've always felt that with Entwistle and Moon no longer with us, The Who is no longer really "The Who". But they keep marching on, and the 2012 iteration of the band are currently on tour. Good for them, but what a tragedy that these two cats aren't around to take the stage with Roger and Pete.

If you're a fan of The Who, this documentary is not to be missed.

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