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Customer Review

74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great box but could be so much better, f-f-frustrating, 14 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: Quadrophenia (Super Deluxe Edition) (Audio CD)
I love this album. It connects somehow, the frustration of My g-g-g-generation extended to an entire double album, played with the frenetic energy and genius of The Who, and intermingled with a dash of Pete Townshend's mystical leanings. I am the sea.

It is not only the music, the whole package was perfect when it arrived in autumn 1973. The black and white cover with the scooter and the four faces of the band reflected in its mirrors, and a breathtakingly good series of monochrome photographs. If any record deserves a deluxe edition, this one does.

And here it is - or is it? What we have is something half-way between the sumptuous, informative, historic collector's edition which the album merits, and the kind of money grabbing release you get when some record company notices how much people are paying for boxed sets these days and says, "Quick, let's get Quadrophenia out before the CD market disappears completely".

Because there is a lot wrong with this release, though I still cannot give it less than four stars. Still, time to stop rambling and tell you what you get. Within a very solid slipcase you will find a poster advertising the original double album (actually this is a fine reproduction and one of the better things here), a colour envelope holding various bits of memorabilia: reproductions of some of Townshend's draft lyrics, a rather darkly reproduced colour photo of Jimmy (the central character) on a scooter, and a 7-inch single of 5.15 backed with the slightly rare track Water.

Then there is the main event: a 100-page hardback book of photos and an essay by Townshend, within which nestle the original double CD remastered, a DVD with 8 tracks remixed for 5.1 surround sound, and two CDs of Townshend's demos for the album.

The book is certainly nice to have, though bear in mind that the original album came with a 46 page insert which is all included in the book, so that accounts for nearly a quarter of it. I am also upset to report that the quality of those wonderful photographs is poor; I was really hoping that I would get better copies than those in my falling-apart LP but in fact these are noticeably worse; they have that grainy look you get when photos are reprinted from a print rather than from the originals.

Still, the *other* photos in the book are nicely reproduced and the essay is fascinating if you love Quadrophenia half as much as I do. Townshend recounts how he came up with the story that is printed in the front cover of the LP (and also here), when remembering how he slept under Brighton pier once "after a riotous night at the Aquarium ballroom." He also describes how the album came together, how it was recorded, and adds notes on the songs and demos.

If you are a fan, you will definitely want to hear the demos too. They form a sort-of alternate version of the album, lacking the Who's energy but with its own appeal. There are also songs here that are not on the album, and others that did not show up until the soundtrack of the Quadrophenia film. Some of the songs have overdubs which I personally would rather had been omitted.

Note that the standard-price 2CD set has 11 of the demos as bonus tracks. This box has 25 demo tracks.

The 5.1 mix is enjoyable too. This album is ideal for surround sound, especially at those moments when sea noises swirl around.

It's curious though that only 8 tracks have been mixed to 5.1. Why? But the rest of 5.1 Quadrophenia is not the only thing missing.

The important thing to realise is that this is Townshend's deluxe box, rather than The Who's deluxe box. I have not spotted any contribution to the package from Roger Daltrey, despite his massive contribution to the quality of the album, nor even any attempt to collect existing quotes from the two members of the band who are no longer with us, Keith Moon and John Entwistle. There are no outtakes from band sessions, nor are there any live tracks from when Quadrophenia was performed live back in the day; yes I realise that the concerts at the time had some problems but I would still love to hear how they sounded.

Quadrophenia was remixed in 1996 and it is the remix that is offered here - there are small differences in the remaster including a new train noise in 5.15 but no big leap in sound quality - but for completeness I would have liked both mixes to be included, in line with what has been done in deluxe boxes for other classic albums such as Jethro Tull's Aqualung and King Crimson's In the Court of. To my mind the original mix is still important, the Quadrophenia that is as I first heard it in the seventies.

So this is a frustrating production, much less than it should be; but then again frustration is what Quadrophenia is all about so that is curiously fitting. Fans will still want this package, hard though it is to justify the cost. And I suppose when and if the full 5.1 release is done eventually we will be asked to pay again.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Nov 2011 10:33:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Nov 2011 10:33:50 GMT
The sticker on the back of the slipcase with all the blurb and content listing is only lightly fixed and is easily removed to reveal the photo of the scooter in the sea with no text at all.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 10:36:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Nov 2011 11:03:56 GMT
Not on mine - I started trying and quickly saw it would tear. Glad you were luckier though. I've amended the review though, as clearly it is intended to be removeable.

Tim

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 12:16:56 GMT
Ferrous Kid says:
I've just peeled mine off quite easily...it's only held on at the corners with that stuff they use to fix cds to magazines.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2011 12:59:37 GMT
Thanks - I have corrected the review but the edit takes a while to show up.

Posted on 18 Nov 2011 16:56:52 GMT
me3101 says:
comprehensive review, thank you

Posted on 11 Dec 2011 20:58:13 GMT
A. Boers says:
You won't have to pay again for the full 5.1 mix when it becomes available, according to Pete owners of this box will be able to download for free the complete 5.1 mixes. But I will wait for a Blu-ray audio release instead I guess. Meanwhile will buy the 2cd.

Posted on 3 Jan 2012 11:05:19 GMT
A very interesting and comprehensive review. I particularly liked your observation on it being Townshend's deluxe box. I too would have loved to see a DVD of outtakes from the recording sessions and live footage: that would have justified the price. I was there at the 1973 Newcastle gig when the tapes started slowing and Townshend assaulted poor Bob Pridden. I was never sure why they had to resort to backing tapes when they played Quad live (or lengthy spoken explanations of the 'story') as I never want a faithful reproduction of an album when I see a band live. The Who were sufficiently innovative and powerful live to be able to offer an alternative rendition so DVD footage would have been fascinating. The demos are intriguing but I'm not sure whether I will listen to them often: I can now understand why some tracks were discarded from the finished album as they are weak musically.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2012 11:17:03 GMT
How will Pete know we have the box when we're offered the complete 5.1 download? He could come round and check and I will wallop him over the head with this mightily weighted package for not getting it right first time.

Posted on 23 Apr 2012 00:16:14 BDT
Thank you - a very helpful review.

Posted on 19 Jul 2012 08:10:28 BDT
AK 1957-05 says:
All Amazon reviews should be like this.
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