Tommy made The Who international stars. Critics drooled over it, a full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy, performed by a four piece band across four sides of vinyl. Pete Townshend was hailed as a genius. Its plot might have some holes and too many songs are there purely to move the story on but there is much to be thrilled and excited by. I’m Free, Pinball Wizard, Sensation, Christmas, We’re Not Gonna Take It, and the ten-minute instrumental Underture are all excellent, full of solid pop melodies, delivered with power and grace.
Most bands only manage to release one double studio album, if any. A few years later, The Who released a second ambitious rock opera. This time, the story reflects the band’s own struggle to come of age in the sixties, featuring a confused four-way split personality, one for each band member. Hence the title Quadrophrenia. The songs are less tuneful than on Tommy but are much more direct and rock harder. The Real Me, 5:15, The Punk Meets The Godfather, I’m One, Bell Boy and Love, Reign O’er Me are all tours de force. It is the album on which the rock synthesiser comes of age.
In between these two magnum opi, The Who released a definitive live album and their finest studio album of all, Who’s Next. Ironically, that was originally intended to be another double rock opera as well, called Lighthouse. I think we can all agree that three doubles by one act would have been too much (I’m looking at you, Prince).
My question is; you are only allowed one double, which do you choose? Tommy or Quadrophrenia?