This album was originally issued on vinyl in the autumn of 1973. I was then 16, and bought it the day it hit the shops. I played it right through, twice, that night. I fell in love with it there and then.
Since that time, the reputation of this album has risen and fallen a fair few times.
At its very worst, when you listen to it and your mood is wrong, "Quadrophenia" can sound turgid and lame - 70s rock, stuck in its own groove.
There's power, grace, calm and elegance in here.
Pete Townshend was aiming to write something to unite the rough edges of rock with the higher aims of art. In the 21st century, such an ambition seems almost laughable - mainly because so few people have the talent or the vision to even try. They'd rather loll about in a vapid cloud of "post-modern" irony or "slacker" idleness. The Who in 1973 did not know HOW to be idle.
Listen - hear the way PT combines T.S. Eliot's despairing visions of a world dry and arid for lack of spiritual life, with a pimply youth's callow cries for acceptance and self-knowledge. Hear how THAT seemingly pompous notion is turned into living, breathing music with fire in its belly, blood in its limbs - and angels on its shoulders.
The great beast that was The Who was simply magnificent back then. This is their gift to history. Take it. And be lucky.