On October 26, 1973 The Who released their second rock opera, Quadrophenia, in the UK. The project began as an autobiographical tale of the rise of The Who in the early 60's but eventually Townshend settled for a broader tale of a teen-ager named Jimmy growing up in the Mod/Rocker period with four personalities--each representative of a member of The Who.
There was the tough guy of "Helpless Dancer", representing the former sheet metal worker Roger Daltry. The romantic of "Is It Me?", John Entwistle. The lunatic of "Bell Boy" , Keith Moon and the spiritual beggar/ hypocrite of "Love Reign O'er Me', Townshend himself.
Those without the patience to try to follow the story can settle for the music--some of the band's very best.
Though there are some who never appreciated Quadrophenia--yet another early 70's double album. While praising its ambition and recording quality Lenny Kaye, writing for Rolling Stone said :
On its own terms, Quadrophenia falls short of the mark. Jimmy Livingston Seagull, adrift on a stormless sea, with only his shattered wings and sharded memories to keep him company -- so close, and yet so far"
Jon Tiven of Circus was happier:
Entwistle plays loud, clean, and well. Daltrey sounds like himself but stronger, Pete's always Pete, and Quadrophenia's almost as good as the Who writing about being horny, but I guess even Mr. Townshend has trouble trying to be a kid again. No matter, this record is the Who's best in practically five years (but nothing will ever top The Who Sell Out), and if you don't own this one, you better just go ahead and trade in your stereo for a bellboy's suit.
Townshend's own take on Quadrophenia: