"Champagne for my real friends. Real pain for my sham friends" (used as early as 1860 in the book The Perfect Gentleman. Famously used by painter Francis Bacon)



giovedì 15 dicembre 2011

MAYBEPHENIA?


Official badge from 2002 London dates by The Who
with the late John Entwistle



MAYBEPHENIA?
(another hit and miss from an expanded edition)

I got inspired from the various reviews I found in, probably, the biggest internet shop (the one which begins with an “A”) about The Who’s Quadrophenia: Director’s Cut.

For the two or three readers (lucky ones: you will discover a great album by the way) who do not know, Quadrophenia is an album formally by The Who (but for some the most townshend-esque of all) which came out in vinyl as a double LP in October 1973.
Notably, the sleeve is in black and white and it contains a “fat” square booklet almost the 12” size of the gatefold sleeve.

As The Who launched a serious reissue campaign in the mid-nineties of the last century, Quadrophenia appeared in “proper” double CD version in 1996.
Well not really, as most fans will argue about a mixing which was not considered to be faithful to the original.

Let me put the record (no pun intended) even straighter: although I bought (cheaply) the 1996 version, I was lucky enough to get at very reasonable prices: both a copy of the Japanese CD version (their artworks are always better) which came as a vinyl replica in terms of sleeve and booklet, as well as a copy of the gold CD version from Mobile Fidelity.
A few years ago I also managed to get an original UK first edition of the vinyl version ([1]) for a not absurd sum of money.

Given the fact that Pete Townshend released a total of three double CDs (that is 6; I cannot remember if in terms of vinyl they are more than that) of demos within the Scoop series and that there is also a quite rare 5 CDs bootleg set by the title The Genuine Scoop, the conclusion is easy: a number of demos from Quadrophenia were already pretty well known.

Still …?
People hoped for a new Quadrophenia edition, on the heels of The Who Live at Leeds ([2]) which received a “super deluxe” treatment.

Well, the summer of 2011 had the expected news of a Pete Townshend supervised edition, with the “super deluxe” edition under that moniker which reminds certain movies: like Blade Runner or Apocalypse Now, sort of cult ones with a commercial appeal too.
The description of the contents left more than one surprised: because you have to buy the Director’s Cut version to hear all the demos which are part of the reissue; and also because indeed all the bonus (and the minus as we will see) were only in that set too.

We, fans of the album, loyally waited for the release, hoping also that, maybe, some adjustment could have been made as almost everyone asked why there would not be a full 5.1 DVD-A version for those wishing to hear the entire album in that format.

Aside from the reviewer (an Italian) who stated that the DVD contains also the movie of Quadrophenia (by Frank Roddam) – no, it does not – the sides of the now owners of the Director’s Cut version are quite evenly represented: the “five stars at any price” people and the more objective fans who sometimes slide towards the “one star because we are tired of being ripped off but we will continue to be ripped off” kind.

I am more in the second league, although I will say three stars to the boxed set (the album in itself is a five stars in my opinion. Full stop), because we got something.
But there are flaws: given my audio options I will not talk about the remastering (which does not seem to be so great) or the mutilated in tracks 5.1 sound version.

First: do we get all the demos and/or songs’ versions available (that is recorded by either Townshend alone and/or by The Who) of the album? I do not know, I suspect not.

Second: do we really need a poster?

Third: instead of the vinyl single replica (the French edition in terms of picture sleeve appears to have been a very modest choice), would have not been better to keep just the “paper reproductions” and add the proper booklet separately from the hardcover book which contains Townshend essay and credit notes as well?

I am raising this issue because someone objected that the quality of the original booklet photos, which are reproduced along the book which accompanies QDC, is not so great.
Well, this appears to be an understatement because of a confession included in the book itself: the photographer also made a set of colour photos during the “cover shot”, which means that if not the original negatives of the booklet photos at least something very close to them was and is available to be used as the matrix for the printing.

For all those who know and love Quadrophenia, the booklet is something very very special: to be annotated by some and to be kept immaculate by others. So we want it as it was in format and as good as it can possibly be in quality presentation.
We did not get it as such.
Let’s hope not “to have to” pay more money for a deluxe version of the booklet alone in the near future (maybe as a numbered portfolio?).

In the end, we did not get “The Real Quadrophenia” we almost dreamed of.


                                                                                                                      Steg



© 2011 Steg, Milano, Italia.
All rights reserved/Tutti i diritti riservati.
No part – including its title – of this work and/or the same in its entirety can be reproduced and/or filed (including by means of electronic systems) for private uses and/or reproduced and/or filed (including by means of electronic systems) for the public without previously obtaining in each and any case, the explicit consent from the author.


[1] My first one is a Dutch or an US one, I don’t remember, still it came with the booklet as I purchased it more than 30 years ago.
[2] I am unable to get astonished by that album, I am sorry.

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