Quadrophenia, a monumental concept album released by The Who in October of 1973, was the brainchild of Pete Townshend who also composed most of the music and lyrics. Townshend did extensive field recording for the album using the sounds of the beach, trains and nature to create his desired effect. Its subject is Jimmy, a scooter riding mod, standing on the precipice of adulthood in mid 60s Britain, who suffers from quadrophenia, a disorder marked by the manifestation of four distinct personalities. Each personality, represented by a song, was chosen to reflect an individual member of The Who, “Helpless Dancer”/Roger Daltrey, “Is It Me”/John Entwistle, “Bell Boy”/ Keith Moon and “Love Reign O’er Me”/Pete Townshend. Townshend has revealed that the idea for the album originally came from an autobiography he was contemplating writing. While the songs are connected by a common concept, each stands freely on its own and is striking for the moving effect it individually inspires. Through Quadrophenia, Townshend was able to capture the alienation, loneliness and despair of post war youth in Britain in a way that not only resonated with that generation but still remains musically relevant on a universal level to this very day. For this reason, Quadrophenia may be seen as The Who’s greatest statement.
“The Rock” is an instrumental that wonderfully pieces together the moody musical movements of Quadrophenia. From its opening sea splashed celestial horns accented boldly by the thunderous drum style of Keith Moon to Townshend’s soul grabbing guitar lines lofted by the nervous tension of the string section, the song is an extraordinary aural experience that ties the musical thematic content of the album together.