Video Saturday – Quadrophenia

Great film bettered by its sound track.

The Who’s Quadrophenia album was lent to me by some classmate at school, Dave Hay it might have been, and transferred to a C90 cassette pretty damn quickly. It became the soundtrack to the whole of my 1st year Sixth, the first of two years in which we were supposed to be studying for the extremely hard (in those days) “A” Level exams with a view to a University place at the end of it all.

My ambitions were slightly lower than Oxford or Cambridge, I was just tossing off for the year having been unable to make a decision on a career in the workplace at the end of the Fifth Form I blagged my way into the Sixth Form (normally by invitation to the intelligentsia only) by means of just turning up on the first day of term and pleading ignorance of the undeniable fact that my name wasn’t on the list, the fact that Trampus Shaw was one of the First Year Sixth heads meant that I was able to play him like a well tuned violin and convince him that I should really be on the list after all and it was all the school secretary’s fault, he believed me and I was in.

And why for ?

Because I hadn’t a clue what else to do, I wandered along to Geography and Art A level classes with no real desire to do either, Art because I’d got a grade A at O level and Geography because some of my mates were doing the subject and there was a week long field trip to Cornwall planned for the summer which sounded a hoot.

So that year was passed idly and nights when I should have been doing my A level homework were spent with a huge pair of headphones sat in the corner of the living room listening to The Who and being told to turn it down every two minutes by my long-suffering parents who continued to feed and clothe me at 17 years of age like a pair of sparrows do to a huge lazy arsed cuckoo in their nest, “Are you sure this is ours?” they must have asked themselves.

But more importantly it was around this time that the concept of quadrophenia as an audio technique came to the retail trade and Albert Hart a mate of my dads went and splashed out on a quad amplifier and another set of speakers in his front room. My dad had recently invested some of his sales bonuses on a Wharfedale stereo system and was getting into the whole hi-fi thing and so we went along to Alberts house to listen, me talking up the whole thing in the hope that with four speakers in the living room I’d be able to play my LP’s even louder when they’d gone out on a Saturday night.

The whole thing was a bit of a disappointment really and as many people have since realised with the re-emergence of quad sound under the guise of “surround sound”, you only get the full effect in a room with absolutely no furniture, not even a chair to sit on. Alberts room was full of dralon sound-deadening furniture and he twiddled the knobs all night long to try and prove to us that his new amp was indeed “true” quad but unfortunately, being a new concept the only albums recorded in quad at that time were sound effect albums and so we sat there all night long listening to trains entering a station or going into a tunnel, “See?” shouted Albert above the 8.10 from Paddington, “its gone into a tunnel near the fruit bowl, now wait, it’ll come out of the tunnel somewhere near the kitchen door”.

We didn’t bother with quad sound.


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