inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #51 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 29 Jun 11 08:42
    
"Baba O'Riley" almost certainly would have been the first song, sort
of a grandstanding curtain-riser, to "Lifehouse" in both its album and
film versions. Townshend explained the lyrics to Circus in late 1971 as
specifically “about the farmer, out in the fields, a 50-year-old man,
whose kids have run away. He’s saying that the whole of youth is
wasted. Wherever he looks, all he sees is wasted teenagers.”

To more fully explain its position in the story, it's necessary to
briefly explain the plot, though the plot was never fully understood by
anyone other than Townshend, who seemed to change his explanations of
the narrative as the project proceeded. Basically, "Lifehouse" would
have taken place in the future, which at the time it was conceived was
30 years after 1970 (around 2000). By that time, pollution and
environmental devastation have become so bad that people don
"experience suits" to survive, isolating them from both each other and
the world at large. The experience suits supply their material needs,
but aren't so good at fulfilling their emotional ones. The information
and "experiences" people get are controlled by a fascist government of
sorts.

In resistance to the regime, some people manage to scrape by through
living in remote rural areas, like the "farmer" of "Baba O'Riley." Some
citizens disenchanted with the way things have gone organize a rock
concert in resistance, at which people will spontaneously come together
to watch musicians (who almost certainly would have been/included the
Who) express themselves, with an audience-listener interaction that
elevates everyone to a new plateau of experience. This in turn almost
certainly would have involved a search for a lost or pure note, as
reflected in the song that launched the whole project, "Pure and Easy."

A subplot of sorts would have involved the farmer's daughter, Mary,
running away from the remote farm (probably in Scotland) to meet up
with her boyfriend for the great communal concert (probably in London).
That probably means the farmer who serves as the narrator of "Baba
O’Riley" is the father in pursuit of a runaway named "Mary," the
subject of one of the best songs in "Lifehouse" that the Who did not
release at the time (or, apparently, even record). Both the father and
daughter figure in a few other "Lifehouse" songs.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #52 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 29 Jun 11 08:55
    
Also, it's still a mystery to many fans to this day as to why the song
is called "Baba O'Riley," though as noted earlier Baba is Townshend's
guru Meher Baba, and Riley is composer Terry Riley. What's Riley's
influence on the song? His works, which helped pioneer minimalism,
often involved repeated patterns that overlapped each other and subtly
changed over time. You can definitely hear the influence of Riley
compositions such as "A Rainbow in Curved Air" on the patterns
introducing and weaving through both "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get
Fooled Again."

When I interviewed Riley for the book, he told me, "I used to stay
with The Who’s lighting man when I was in London in the early 70s, and
he told me that he and Pete took psychedelics and listened to 'A
Rainbow In Curved Air' for hours. So I was aware that he knew about my
60s albums on CBS. I called him a few times in the 70s and we discussed
music things, and he expressed being deeply affected by my music. It
was mutual. In a phone conversation once with Pete, he mentioned to me
that he owned something like thirty copies of A Rainbow In Curved Air.
We finally met about five years ago when he invited me to a show The
Who did near Sacramento."

Townshend was probably also familiar with another of Riley’s most
famous works, the 1964 composition 'In C,' in which musicians are asked
to play 53 phrases, but starting at different times. Riley told me,
"The kinetic repetitive bright major mode opening of 'Baba O’Riley' is
reminiscent of 'In C' and is one of the most brilliant intros in pop
music. It would be a good candidate for one of its sources of
inspiration. Clearly 'Baba O’Riley' is inspired on many levels, and
seems a brilliant fusion of the rivers of thought flowing
through classical and pop music at the time. Pete made it clear from
the beginning that it was a kind of homage to his guru Meher Baba and
my humble self. I still have kids come up to me after my concerts
asking me if I am the Baba O’Riley...Now that I am in my mid-seventies,
I guess I am."
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #53 of 110: Gail (gail) Wed 29 Jun 11 09:43
    
Excellent!
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #54 of 110: Scott Underwood (esau) Wed 29 Jun 11 11:03
    
That's great.

Were there other classical or contemporary composed music influences on
Pete? Did he actually study operas for ideas on writing repeated
motifs, overtures, and so on? Did Pete ever consider wiriting music
outside the rock band framework?
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #55 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 29 Jun 11 13:36
    
While Townshend's classical or contemporary compositional influences
usually weren't as apparent as they were on "Baba O'Riley," he had them
going way back to the mid-1960s. This was in large part due to the
influence of the Who's co-manager, Kit Lambert (their other manager was
Chris Stamp, brother of the actor Terence Stamp).

Lambert, though he was an aspiring filmmaker when he first saw the Who
(he and Stamp came across them as they were looking for a group to
feature in a short about an up-and-coming British pop band), was very
aware of classical music and opera, as he was the son of classical
conductor and composer Constant Lambert. Townshend even 
credited the suspended chords of early Who songs like "The Kids Are
Alright" to the influence of baroque music Lambert had played him,
especially on an album of works by 17th century composer Henry Purcell.

While it's hard to say how much Townshend studied specific operas, and
he most likely didn't rigorously or methodically look at scores or
study theory, certainly he would have absorbed some ideas about
repeated motifs and overtures in opera, whether through Lambert or
other sources. This didn't start with "Tommy," but can be heard in some
shorter or somewhat aborted conceptual works predating 1969. "Rael,"
the five-minute-or-so song that closes the 1967 album "The Who Sell
Out," was supposed to be a twenty-scene work written for a full
orchestra. You can get an idea of the more symphonic notions he had in
mind by listening to an eight-minute solo demo he did of "Rael" at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIgVFh9sLnI, particularly in the opening
instrumental section, and a grandiose organ passage at about the
five-and-a-half-minute mark.

It's still little known, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s,
Townshend did some composition (and instrumentation) for obscure film
soundtracks of underground/art films by friends of his. These use some
rock instrumentation, but also some electronics and avant-garde ideas
that would have been hard to fit into the Who, at least in an
unfiltered form.

I haven't been able to hear much of that work (some of it's been
bootlegged) and what has surfaced is rather erratic, and more
interesting than enjoyable. But it's interesting to hear him testing
out ideas that are more experimental than those he could have used in
Who records. Also that work was probably very much an influence on his
ambitions to make "Lifehouse" a film as well as an album, and perhaps
the film, had it been made, would have included some non-Who Townshend
compositions/instrumentation that were more in the overtly
operatic/cinematic mode than you heard on Who records. Townshend
partially fulfilled ambitions to do soundtrack music with some of his
synthesizer work on the soundtrack to the "Tommy" film, though in my
opinion neither the film nor Townshend's soundtrack work were as
brilliant as what you might expect given the merits of the "Tommy"
album on which they were based.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #56 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Wed 29 Jun 11 13:43
    
To backtrack a bit to "Baba O'Riley" and Terry Riley's influence, an
interesting aspect to the Who's work at this juncture is how
avant-garde it was in certain (if limited) respects. "Baba O'Riley" and
"Won't Get Fooled Again" have been so overplayed, especially by
classic rock radio, that it's hard to think of them as being
avant-garde in any fashion. "Won't Get Fooled Again" was even a hit
single; both were played by what was left of the Who at the 2010 Super
Bowl; and at the Giants stadium and other sports events, you sometimes
hear soundbites from both tracks (especially the opening "Baba O'Riley"
instrumental pattern and Roger Daltrey's yell in "Won't Get Fooled
Again"). So how can such mainstream staples be avant-garde?

Well, both use patterns, at the beginning of the songs and then
underlying much of the subsequent tracks, that, as noted a few posts
earlier, are very rooted in the work of minimalist composers such as
Terry Riley. And although the synthesizer was becoming more frequently
used in rock music by the early 1970s (and would eventually become
overused), it was still somewhat exotic and daring to use the
instrument in rock and pop to the extent that Townshend was in the
early 1970s, on both "Who's Next" and "Quadrophenia." Townshend played
the instrument -- big bulky things that were hard to set up and use
back then, not the relatively easy and portable ones of today --
himself, and I think with more taste and subtlety than anyone else
working in rock. In "Quadrophenia" in particular, it also gave him the
chance to inject some of his more symphonic classical-influenced
arrangements and melodic ideas.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #57 of 110: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Wed 29 Jun 11 17:57
    
I've been humming Baba O'Riley to myself a lot the last few days, and
about half the time I realize I'm humming Eminence Front instead.  They
were written a decade apart, but at some level there is a deep
similarity that keeps tripping the connections in my brain.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #58 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 Jun 11 19:29
    
Just chiming in with a midpoint shout-out: we're a week into this
two-week conversation: big thanks to Richie, and to Kevin and John for
the excellent exchanges so far. For those of you who are reading this
but are not members of the WELL, a reminder that you can participate,
too, by sending your comments and questions to inkwell at well.com.
Onward!
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #59 of 110: John P. McAlpin (john-p-mcalpin) Thu 30 Jun 11 06:11
    
Thanks, Jon.

Richie makes an important point in #55. 
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #60 of 110: John P. McAlpin (john-p-mcalpin) Thu 30 Jun 11 06:13
    
What are your thoughts, Richie, on Townshend's revisits to the
"Lifehouse" material over the years? Do the radio plays, the
compilations and concerts help to refine the concept to where it works
better with decades of distance? Or is it still a bit of a muddle?
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #61 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 30 Jun 11 07:58
    
This isn't going to be a very popular opinion with some Who and
Townshend fans, but I don't like his attempts to revisit and rework
"Lifehouse" material. There have only been a couple major such
attempts: a couple of solo concerts (the basis of the "Music from
Lifehouse" DVD) in London in February 2000), and the BBC radio play.
The concerts, like so many reunion/revival shows, lacked the edge of
the original performances and interpretations, even setting aside the
obvious observation that the Who weren't involved, as they would have
been back in the early 1970s. The radio play, again like some
revisitations, was unbecomingly sentimental in places, and not nearly
as interesting to hear in real time as it was to imagine what
"Lifehouse" might have been in your head.

Also, both interpretations (it's hard to call them reinterpretations
since "Lifehouse" was never finished or presented in the 1970s) took
some liberties with the original concept. The live shows almost
certainly used some songs that wouldn't have been part of "Lifehouse"
as originally conceived. The radio play did not follow the original
story, or what was known to be in the original story, to the point of
not including a couple of key characters that were mentioned in
Townshend's early "Lifehouse" summarizations, "Bobby" (who would have
been the protagonist) and the villain (variously named "Jumbo" and
"Brick") was gone. Instead it focused on the story of the problems
within a family, using the character of a couple's runaway daughter,
"Mary," the subject of one of the songs in the original "Lifehouse"
that didn't make "Who's Next."

There was also some additional material relating to "Lifehouse"
included in Townshend's six-CD "Lifehouse Chronicles" box set (issued
in 2000 through his website, and no longer available). This was
invaluable for the inclusion of two CDs of Townshend solo "Lifehouse"
demos (though some of these were almost certainly recorded after the
Who had abandoned the "Lifehouse" project. But elsewhere on the set,
the reworkings of "Lifehouse" material and classical arrangements of
pieces by Townshend and classical composers were inconsequential. The
box also included, on two CDs, the BBC radio play. It spoke volumes
that the two CDs with demos were far more interesting than the other
discs, towered over them in fact.

More than being a failure to do something exciting, I think these
revisitations demonstrated how hard, and probably impossible, it is to
recapture or complete something decades after the bout of original
inspiration. In another controversial opinion, I feel similarly about
Brian Wilson's recreation of the Beach Boys' unfinished 1960s album
"Smile" in the 2000s, though that was better than what Townshend tried
to do with recreating/revisiting "Lifehouse." 
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #62 of 110: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 30 Jun 11 12:03
    
What did you think about All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes?
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #63 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Thu 30 Jun 11 12:10
    
I didn't like it. I like Pete Townshend's solo material from the
1970s, in part because it gave him the opportunity to do some songs,
usually on the low-key side, that weren't like the usual ones he wrote
for the Who. Some of these seemed more personal than the ones he wrote
for the Who, and certainly they often had a more spiritual flavor,
sometimes reflecting his involvement with Meher Baba, though in a
humble and approachable way. I also like his voice. It was too high and
thin to be as commercial a fit for much of the Who's work as Daltrey's
was, but like some other classic British rock guitarists who didn't
sing too often in their main groups (George Harrison, Keith Richards,
Dave Davies), it had a winsome everyman sincerity you don't hear all
that often in rock.

But...I frankly find Townshend's post-1970s work disappointing. The
songs aren't as good, the production often inappropriately glossy, and
the concept albums, while still ambitious, not as interesting as the
Who's.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #64 of 110: Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 30 Jun 11 13:19
    
I guess you're including "Empty Glass" (1980), which I think is a
brilliant album. "Chinese Eyes" I like for its ambition -- his
unapologetic use of spoken-word interludes and synth-y textures -- even
if I think it's not entirely successful. Here's a video for
"Communicate," which has the best and worst qualities of the album:
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELgwdyBdqwQ>

On the other hand, "The Sea Refuses No River" is a very strong,
classically Pete song.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #65 of 110: Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 30 Jun 11 13:23
    
Many years ago, I saw a DVD of "Psychoderelict," which I remember liking
much more than I expected. Again, I think I admired Pete's ambition in
presenting the story, even if I don't remember any of the music.

Reading the Wikipedia entry on it, I see it seems to be a kind of comment on
his own life, with the main character working on a music project called
Gridlife, with obvious parallels to Lifehouse.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #66 of 110: Kevin Wheeler (krome) Thu 30 Jun 11 21:32
    
I have always liked this piece

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paiQWninQoI&feature=related

And it is now firmly embedded in this video which is from when I was
21 and rapidly growing older as I think Pete always was.  I must say
that no less part of the thrill of this video are the bkgd. singers,
but my dating life at 21 is neither here nor there.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #67 of 110: From welohr, Off-Well (captward) Fri 1 Jul 11 00:31
    
If you were a teenager in the American suburban wasteland in the early
seventies, there is a good chance much of your music listening would
have taken place in a car, where the rhythm section was competing with
roar and rumble of the engine and chassis bouncing on the street. Music
had to cut through a lot of noise and "Who's Next " excelled in a way
"Quadrophenia" didn't. "Quadophenia" came across dense and murky; it
fused with the noise and got lost ( a similar set of noise parameters
exist for hearing music at parties.) In order to appreciate,
Quadrophenia one had to spend the time listening to it in your bedroom,
possibly with headphones. So while "Who's Next "was about being out on
the road on a journey; "Quadrophenia" was a dark introspective album,
a claustrophobic story about urban tribal warfare.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #68 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 1 Jul 11 07:34
    
Hi Ed, I agree that "Who's Next" was a lot more radio-ready than
"Quadrophenia," not just because of the nature of the production, but
also because the songs had more hooks and could stand (or at least make
playlists) more easily as individual tracks. In a way, that wasn't
always a good thing, as it helped define the "classic rock" format,
which favored production values that were in some ways slick and
bombastic. To this day, "Who's Next" gets tons of classic rock airplay
(and tons more than "Quadrophenia"), and that's how it will always
remain.

Michael Tearson, who in the early 1970s was a young DJ on the
Philadelphia FM rock station WMMR (and remains active on Sirius and
other outlets), also pointed this out when I interviewed him for the
book: “For FM radio, the album was incredibly deep. We could play every
single song. Nothing on the LP was second-rate. It had anthems. It
rocked. It was one of the first albums that felt arena-sized from the
first note. It compromised nothing! It was rebellious, swaggering,
young. Just what we DJs wanted to feel we were saying, back in a day
when we each programmed our shows all by ourselves, without
consultants, without the computer program Selector to give you the
preselected show.”
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #69 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 1 Jul 11 07:50
    
As Ed and I both brought up how the album benefited from being heard
on headphones, it's a good time to note how important the sound effects
on the album are. Also, how the way they complemented the music (both
during the tracks and as links between tracks) made it something that
needed to be heard in its entirety to be fully appreciated, and so
might have hindered airplay of individual tracks.

I don't think there's any other rock album in which sound effects are
as important, though some people might argue for "Dark Side of the
Moon." They fill in the narrative and plot of what isn't the easiest
story to follow, help maintain momentum where it might have flagged,
and almost creative the sense of a movie-on-record (and not a mere
background soundtrack). The constant roar of the ocean waves, the
chants of concert crowds and striking workers, the train whistles,
crunching steps on pavement and the beach, a BBC news bulletin on mod
vs. rockers, a Salvation Army-type band, the eerie whistle of a boiling
keetle, even the distant sound of the Who themselves playing in the
distance (taken from their actual recording of "The Kids Are Alright")
-- all are used purposefully and deftly.

One of the most interesting parts of my research was asking a couple
of engineers about the recording and production of the sound effects,
which no one else to my knowledge had tried to document. The fake BBC
radio news report, for instance, was actually recorded off the real
radio, after Townshend bribed a real-life announcer to read the false
bulletin on the 6pm news. One of the train whistles was recorded when
one of the engineers actually went on the tracks to get the train
engineer to blast the horn to get him out of the way, as there was no
other way to get close enough to make it sound good. When they went to
record ocean waves, the day was so unexpectedly calm that they had to
turn the mics so far up that it picked up the sound of a dog barking
almost a mile away.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #70 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 1 Jul 11 07:57
    
It was also interesting to find how challenging it was to mix the
sound effects into the recording with 1973 technology. Engineer Ron
Nevison told me, "We were on 16 tracks. Can you imagine, with all the
synthesizer, all the vocals, all the effects, and everything? We didn’t
have room to put everything onto the 16-track. So Pete got hold of a
couple of these cartridge players that they used in radio stations for
commercials. We had two machines – he had one and I had one – and we
would load the sound effects. In other words, you’d click a button, and
it goes off, and then the next one comes up, and then you hit the
button again and the next one goes off, like commercials. So we’d load
them in in the order that we had in the mix. He’d have like three or
four on one side, and I’d have three or four on the other side. And
when we wanted thunder, or we wanted a train whistle, we’d just like
hit the button, and sound effects would come out. And that was how we
achieved all the sound effects, because we didn’t have room for them on
the recording."

He also told me that subsequent mixes for CD don’t "have some of the
qualities that we put in there, because we had scattered all that stuff
on cartridge machines. The train whistle is gone from '5:15,' even
though I think I was very careful to archive all of the sound effects
on quarter-inch tape. They probably should have been stored with the
mixes and everything else. But because stuff wasn’t on the 16-track,
they would have lost some.

"Then once the whole thing was mixed, the next thing was cross-fading
from one song to another, which was a tricky thing. Each side of [the]
four sides of this record had like 100 edits in it. One time I was
spooling through one side of the record and the edit came apart, and
the whole thing went on the floor. Luckily, nothing was injured. We
were freaked out, but a splice had come apart, so we just carefully
picked it back up, and certainly it was cool. But the whole [thing] was
just Pete and I, the two of us, mixing. I don’t even think there was
an assistant there, just the two of us did it. For maybe three weeks we
were there."

According to Rod Houison, who built the studio in which this was done,
"We had upward of maybe 12, 13, sometimes 15 machines running in the
room at the time on the mix. There were endless amounts of effects
running. Setting up the room used to take forever."

Incidentally, the transcript of my interview with Ron Nevison can be
read on my website, at http://www.richieunterberger.com/nevison.html.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #71 of 110: Kevin Wheeler (krome) Fri 1 Jul 11 11:24
    
Wow.  I'm looking forward to getting to that point in the book.  Those
of us who grew up with records like this felt completely comfortable
using these kinds of effects in recordings.  Even entitled to use them.
 It still wasn't always easy but part of the reward was finding a way.
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #72 of 110: Kevin Wheeler (krome) Mon 4 Jul 11 16:13
    
I am listening to Who Are You for probably the first time since 1980
and I still don't really care for much of it.  By 1978 the
transformation I was in the middle of in 1973 was complete.  But I
still like 905, which could have been the ultimate # on Quadrophenia,
not only for the words but for the synthesizer rhythm.  I don't recall
if the following came out in 78, 79, 80 or a little later but I have
managed to remember the chorus(I was born #17 romeo delta 59 system 605
unit 91) for all these years and the 2 are certainly of a piece, place
and time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sqSUd7Iddo
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #73 of 110: John P. McAlpin (john-p-mcalpin) Tue 5 Jul 11 06:07
    
I'm now starting to see Townshend's career in terms of the tension
between his ability to write great rock songs and his desires to be an
artist who writes the long-form rock operas. 
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #74 of 110: Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Tue 5 Jul 11 08:45
    
With "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia," I think he was pretty much able to do
both. Obviously there are some tracks on these that are "link" tracks
where much of the purpose is to be there to move the story along,
especially on some of "Tommy"'s shorter songs, like "Do You Think It's
Alright" and (as enjoyable as it is) "Tommy's Holiday Camp." 

Yet "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" both have songs that would have stood
well on their own without ever being identified with an opera, like
"Pinball Wizard," "Sensation," "I'm Free," "The Real Me," "Love Reign
O'er Me," and "5:15." "Lifehouse" had perhaps a greater percentage of
these. Almost all of the eight "Lifehouse" songs on "Who's Next" have
received massive radio airplay; a couple of them ("Won't Get Fooled
Again" and "Behind Blue Eyes") were hits; and many radio DJs and
listeners have probably never been aware that they were intended for a
rock opera.

That might have even been a subtle factor influencing the failure of
"Lifehouse" to be completed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I feel
there's a big gap between "Lifehouse"'s better songs and its lesser
songs -- a bigger gap than you find between the better and lesser songs
in "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia." That might have made it relatively easy
for engineer/co-producer Glyn Johns to suggest abandoning the opera
and cutting the length from a double album to a single album, focusing
on the strongest standalone songs.

Some of the songs on "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" are instrumentals that
would have no obvious place on a non-concept record, like "Underture"
from "Tommy," and "The Rock" from "Quadrophenia." Far from being
filler, though, I think these enhance the atmosphere of the albums
considerably, and also gave Townshend a chance to stretch out as an
instrumental classical-type composer in a way that conventional
pop/rock songs couldn't have. In an interview with Zoo World, he even
called "The Rock" "one of the finest tracks that I’ve ever been
involved in, in any music ... there’s the four themes representing
each facet joined into one, and this really the symbolic sort of thing
where the boy’s quadrophenia is, if you like, resolved, because he
suddenly realizes a kind of a point to life, and symbolically the four
pieces of music all join together into one theme."
  
inkwell.vue.411 : Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again"
permalink #75 of 110: David Julian Gray (djg) Tue 5 Jul 11 08:47
    
I missed quadraphenia when it was released, and have only become familiar
with one track in the intervening decades - so my experience of learning it
as part of this discussion must be completely different from the experience
upon its release - above and beyond the fact that I am now in ... um...
late middle age ... to me it sounds like a follow on to Who's Next - of a
piece with Townsends musical preoccupations and production ideas ...
If it was not told the story - I'm not sure I would "hear" the story ...

Also - psychoderelict made no sense at all as a "concept" to me when
released and now I see it as straight autobiography ... the Story of
Lifehouse - which I had no idea about until the book ...
  

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