(Track / Classic Records)

THE WHO: Quadrophenia (Track / Classic Records) It seemed like forever since we originally placed our request for a review copy of Quadrophenia. I've been reading about what a great job Classic did on this release and waiting (semi) patiently for it to be delivered ever since.

Well, the day finally arrived. The time had come for me to see and hear what everyone had been raving about. Just to set the stage for the review, I should mention that I've owned multiple copies of this album over the years - from a promo copy when the album was originally released to various import/domestic vinyl and CD copies, the MFSL 24K gold version, the soundtrack, the 1996 remixed version. You get the picture. Suffice it to say, I'm VERY familiar with this album.

When I first opened the packaging, my first impression was one of immediate approval. Beautiful job on the cover (aside from the 'yellowed' paper used for the booklet - which is attached to the inside of the gatefold cover), nice crisp corners too. Between the cover, the booklet and the two 200g slabs of vinyl, this thing weighs a ton! Very nice.

I pulled the first album out of the sleeve and GASP!! The vinyl looked dirty; definitely not new. However, as any vinyl lover will tell you, never judge an album by looks. There are a number of things that can cause a new album to look less than perfect. In most cases, all it needs is a thorough cleaning.

After a spin on the record cleaning machine, I put the album on the turntable, lowered the tonearm, and prepared myself to be blown away. As the needle settled into the groove, I didn't hear anything till the ocean swells of "I am the Sea" started billowing through the speakers. The vinyl was dead quiet. No surface noise at all. So far, so good.

Two minutes and eight seconds later, "The Real Me" blasted forth and it sounded slightly brighter than what I was used to. John Entwistle's fluid bass lines resonated with commendable depth and clarity, and the attack of Pete Townshend's power chords hit with a vengeance, but it sounded different. For someone who knows every little nuance of this album, this was going take some getting used to.

However, by the time I got to the end of the title track, with the synth strings swirling and Keith Moon's drumming bringing the song to its crescendo (and at a fairly high volume, I might add), the sound quality was literally chill-inducing. This is what having a high-end audio system is all about. Try that with a freakin' MP3!

Listening to the rest of the album, I was continually amazed at what I was hearing. Just a few of the album's many highlights: the dynamics throughout "Helpless Dancer," the drums on "I've Had Enough," the punch of the horns on "5:15," and all of side four - especially "The Rock" and the end of "Love, Reign O'er Me." Some people have mentioned that the second disc sounds brighter than the first. I didn't hear any discernable difference between the two. Both sounded great.

Bottom line - if you're a Who fan and you don't already have a copy of Classic's 200g pressing, get one now. This is the definitive version (by rachael). Absolutely essential.

Editors note: Since this review was originally published, Classic has stopped pressing this album on 200g vinyl. It is available on 180g and 140g.

© 2008 Steve Marshall