Quadrophenia and Moral Panics

Iconic shot from Quadrophenia

If you’ve never thought of throwing a Vespa (or Lambretta, you choose your favourite) off a cliff, do you even know a thing about what shaped the ‘70s?Quadrophenia, developing around the events of the infamous Brighton Beach Riots of 1964, is a rock opera, and later a movie, among the most acclaimed 1970s celebrations of the era of Mods and Rockers… Or is it?

During this pandemic, we had plenty of time to immerse ourselves in our all-time favourite albums and movies, and not long after the first weeks, we came across this masterpiece by The Who. V had never seen the movie before, and I insisted in filling this shameful gap.

“You know I hate mods, I don’t want to waste two hours of my life watching a celebration of parkas” she whined just before I pressed ‘play’.

Two hours of amazing soundtracks later, V was finally convinced that The Who in fact shared her disillusion in these mainly teenage rebellion movements. Personally, as the boring pseudo-academic that I am, I’ve always found fascinating how the era of Mods and Rockers, not only shaped the music (starting with the ‘70s), but also history, and even my sociology course!

‘Folk Devil and Moral Panics’, is in fact a 1972 sociological study around these movements by Stanley Cohen. I was thrilled as a first year student to finally be able to talk about something that I knew a lot about at the seminar, without even do the reading! So much time to binge watch series with a well deserved drink. Finally! Who was I kidding? The boring geek in me wanted to read it anyway, and during the seminar that we spent going through Stanley Cohen’s speculations about future youth movements and public attitudes towards them, all I could really think about was: “The Who already said all that!”.

Parka and bikes can easily become boots and leather jackets, spiked hair or arguable bangs, and so on all the way to Kpop stans.

We’ve all been Jimmy, we’ve all felt the need to be part of something, to find an identity in something that would make us relate to our peers, or even to differentiate ourselves from them. The ideals of different movements certainly shaped who we became, our favourite bands sang to us what then became our lives’ mottos, and The Who told us with some of the most iconic songs of the ‘70s that it’s ok.

They told us that we need to use those songs to find the courage to grow up, to develop and grow ourselves into something that we might like, that usually is something we think will be very different from what our parents are.

On the other hand, though, they highlight what of these movements and ideals can be toxic for our teenage years and hurt us. The clinging to a fashion that we can easily think will define us, the idealisation and depersonalisation of popularity, that makes us feel inadequate and fills us with impossible standards. All this sickens these movements and too often transforms them in twisted money-making fashion machines that sometimes can eat someone forever.

Of course Quadrophenia is not the only example of depictions of the rise and fall of many youth movements, almost all related to music, that shaped the UK and the world, especially in the ‘70s, but also after that. Here’s our top suggestions of well known, or not so known movies to make you all nostalgic. Because that’s exactly what we need now, isn’t it?

This is England
Meantime
SLC Punk
Zabriskie Point

If we got you feeling all gloomy thinking back of your old favourite jacket sitting in the darkest corner of your wardrobe while you now wear a suit 5 days a week, let me tell you:

What are you waiting for? Go and put it on!

What we want to tell you is to stay true to yourself, to your younger self, to your deepest beliefs and to your favourite band who you thought was more important than your own family for so long.Go easy, step lightly… Stay free.

I

’70s in 8-bit

8-bit Paul McCartney in Give My Regards To Broad Street (1985, Commodore64)

Many times I wondered what I could have possibly found in common between my two greatest passions: the ’70s and video games. They always appeared to me as two distant realities, and yet I thought that the gap between the two worlds wasn’t as big as it seemed. In the meantime, the only thing I could do was to mute the game I was playing and put some good records on.

Just some time ago, I stumbled upon a YouTube comment where a user pointed out the incredibly resemblance between an early Deep Purple’s song (April, Deep Purple, 1969) and the main theme of one of the most iconic video game of all times: The Legend of Zelda.

So I was right!

I was excited beyond imagination and I had to find out more. Many searches and gameplays later, it was clear that honorable compositors such as Koji Kondo and Nobuo Uematsu shared with me the same passion for the ’70s hard and progressive rock music. It’s not a coincidence that these two geniuses are both Japanese; the Nipponic Islands have always had a pivotal role in the pressing of top-quality records, therefore shaping the musical tastes of Kondo and Uematsu’s generation. Moreover, some of the most famous rock masterpieces are, in fact, concept albums, with different characters and intricate plots, just as video games are thought and structured.

I find these two great musicians particularly interesting for different reasons ­­- they composed themes and soundtracks globally recognisable, and thanks to their genius every gameplay is hundreds times more immersive than any other game (except Toby Fox’s Undertale, but that’s a story for another time). Plus, their hard and prog rock influences are definitely detectable in their works. Especially Uematsu’s work, which has a clear prediligence for progressive legends such as Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer (me too, Mr Uematsu, me too), although his biggest inspiration resides in Elton John, who brought him to be not only the amazing composer he is, but also a great self-taught pianist.

I could spend hours listing all the big and little hints of rock references throughout the entire soundtrack of Final Fantasy series composed by Uematsu, from chapter I to IX, but “Dancing Mad” (Final Fantasy VI) and “Force Your Way” (Final Fantasy VIII) are probably two of the best examples of prog rock inspired songs. These two tracks were also included in the first album by The Black Mages (band formed by Nobuo Uematsu and other two SquareEnix’s composers, Kenichiro Fukui and Tsuyoshi Sekito).

On Koji Kondo’s side, while rock nuances are less evident in his compositions, he stated multiple times that some of his main inspitations come from the ’70s rock, specifically Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake and Palmer (yes, once again). It is no surprise that these two bands keep comining up in this article, since they have a huge component of Hammond organs and synthetizers, and Kondo too started his music career as organist in a jazz-rock cover band.

All this research on the matter led me to realise how rock music, but more specifically progressive rock music influenced fields apparently so distant in concept and time, making my two main interests closer than I’d have ever imagined. We all have passions that pull us towards polar opposite directions, but as Kondo and Uematsu showed us, they are all just part of what we are. It is up to us to find a Link between worlds (wink).

V

Back to the present ­- if you’re self isolating and don’t want to go Jack Torrence crazy, stay tuned for a selection of ’70s inspired video game soundtracks and much more to come on our socials pages. Follow the links at the top of the page, stay safe and look after other people’s safety, too ^^^

Jack Nicholson in The Shining (1980) by Stanley Kubrick