However, it was not easy. The initial follow-up was called Lifehouse, but the project eventually collapsed. The bulk of the music from that project appeared on Who's Next in 1971, as well as on singles released in 1972. Heading into 1973, Quadrophenia took shape and when released, it reached the highest a Who album would ever reach in
Despite the sales, the album was never embraced in
Secondly, the setting of the album was in the Mod culture of mid-1960s
Thirdly, as the album title states, the story's main character, Jimmy, did not just suffer from schizophrenia. He suffered from 'quadrophenia,' and the album's efforts to show the four sides of his personality lacked any real depth. Each of the four personalities was meant to represent a member of the band. 'Love, Reign O'er Me' was Townshend's theme. Singer Roger Daltrey's was 'Helpless Dancer.' Bassist John Entwistle's was the 'Is It Me?' portion of 'Dr. Jimmy.' Drummer Keith Moon's was 'Bell Boy.'
Each of those songs is excellent when taken singularly, but as part of a storyline, it is confusing how these fit in with the overall album.
Because of these issues, Quadrophenia seemingly has not had the staying power of Tommy. The two singles from the album ('Love, Reign O'er Me' and 'The Real Me') both failed to crack the top 70 of the singles chart. Tommy, on the other hand, had three singles reach the top 40 ('Pinball Wizard,' 'See Me, Feel Me' and 'I'm Free').
That said, Quadrophenia has several things going for it. From a production standpoint, it is a much better sounding album compared to Tommy. The Who was finally able to harness its live sound in the studio on Who's Next and it carried over to this album.
Additionally, there are some tremendous songs on Quadrophenia. All the previously mentioned songs are first rate, as well as several others like 'I'm One,' 'Drowned' and '5:15.'
If all these songs are accepted as just individual tracks on an album, then Quadrophenia can be viewed as a triumph. Unfortunately, the band had much higher ambitions, and those ambitions were not met.
Because of this, an album that almost topped the American charts has almost none of its songs played with regularity on the radio. That is a real shame because there is some great music to be heard.