Although the soundtrack to The Who’s 1979 film Quadrophenia tells the same story as their original 1973 rock opera, it is definitely an album that stands apart from its predecessor. The difference doesn’t make either a better or worse record, they’re just distinctly different.
First off, because it has a film telling Jimmy’s story, the soundtrack doesn’t need to tell all the details, so there are fewer Who songs on it. Side four of the album is actually filled with other bands that had songs featured in the movie. James Brown, Booker T and the MG’s, The Ronettes, and others fill side 4.
Another difference is in the songs that appear on both albums. All of them were re-recorded and for the film and this album. The mixes are noticeably different, most of the time bringing the guitars more up front. Again, this doesn’t really make one version better than the other; just different. I really wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite between them.
There are also some several Who songs on the soundtrack that are not on the original double album. On side 3 for example, only the final track, “The Punk and the Godfather”, appears on both albums. Speaking of side 3, I probably should mention that there are a couple other bands playing on it as well, but not really. “Zoot Suit” is credited to The High Numbers, and “High Heel Sneakers” to the band Cross Section, but it’s still The Who performing them. Both are very early songs by The Who. So early in fact, that the members hadn’t fully settled on a final, permanent name for themselves.
I really have a hard time choosing which “Quadrophenia” I like better, the 1973 original or the 1979 soundtrack. Usually, when I listen to one, I end up putting the other on right after in an attempt to settle the debate in my head once and for all. It never is, but I always enjoy trying.