Classic Quadrophenia – A Classical Classic?

Classic Quadrophenia hits the top spot of the classical chart – or that would have been the headline if the album had been eligible for the official classical chart.  As it is, in the first week of release, it reached No.32 in the overall album chart with sales figures that would guarantee the top classical spot several times over.  In comparison, the actual classical No. 1, Andre Rieu’s Magic of the Violin features at number 100 on the overall album chart.


As we know (click here to read more) the album is not eligible due to the original music being rock.  The current rules state that

each album will be judged on the works performed on the album – and that these works must be composed by recognised classical composers and/or in a publicly-recognised classical idiom or form

Additionally, a spokeswoman for the Official Chart Company said that “There’s nothing unusual here, classical covers of pop/rock works have never qualified for the Official Classical Charts, and the rules are agreed in committee with the music industry (including the band’s label). Classic Quadrophenia will be treated like any other album of contemporary music recorded in a classical style.”

However, supporters of the album point out that in 2003 The Queen Symphony, also performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was included in the Classical Chart. Composer Tolga Kashif used the melodies of Queen hits such as Radio Gaga, We Are The Champions and We Will Rock You and the release reached No.4 in the Classical Chart.

On the face of it this would seem to be unfair but I suspect the answer lies in the amount of new material penned for each album.  To qualify for the classical chart, 60% of the music needs to be classical (as judged by the current rules) and The Queen Symphony, while using several Queen songs as a base, has a lot of new additional music written by a recognised classical composer.  Classic Quadrophenia on the other hand, is an orchestrated cover of a rock album.

The question I’m asking today is: Is this fair?  Should the classical chart open the doors to new forms of classical music, creating new classical classics (as it were) or would that lead to classical music being sidelined in it’s own area?  What if it were Alfie Boe’s next classical album (hypothetical album!) that were kept off the top spot by an album that may not be strictly classical?  We know Alfie’s thoughts on this as he tweeted this week (amongst others)

Classic Quadrophenia apparently is not eligible for the Classical charts. It’s moments like this that prove the classical industry is still run by narrow minded arseholes.

but I don’t know the answer and I’m not sure there is a right answer so please help us out with your thoughts – please leave a comment!

Classic Quadrophenia is available now:

classic quad

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7 thoughts on “Classic Quadrophenia – A Classical Classic?

  1. karenblower

    The rules are the rules. Stupid as they may be. The charts are outdated anyway. There are so many different forms of music and ways to listen to music that that are more or less irrelevant. The album is outselling everything in the classical chart, it has public and critical acclaim. Which I may add is a lot more than some artists get. I’d go so far as to say Alfie is probably the ONLY artist who could get away with doing this kind of album.. the only other is Ronnie James Dio and sadly he’s no longer with us. A masterpiece is a masterpiece and this is a masterpiece. They’ve stuck two fingers up at the Classical Chart.. leave it at that.

  2. Sally Cook

    Have to say that as the situation stands I am indignant on behalf of Pete Townshend and Alfie but(and this is where it gets interesting) – Alfie is still classed as a classical singer despite wanting to be thought of as just a singer (and some singer!). And he has also stated publicly that he wants to sing (and we know he does) music from all genres and he sees music as having no boundaries beyond what sounds good for his voice. So my question is – should we be pushing for Quadrophenia’s recognition as a classical album (which in my view it is) or should we be saying there are no boundaries and therefore there should be no classical, R & B, country or any other divisional charts but just the one big music chart.

    1. thoughtsofjustafan Post author

      interesting but that would probably mean no chart positions at all for the many fab artists that make up the “alternative” charts…food for thought

      1. Sally Cook

        I know – that’s the problem of having music without boundaries – it doesn’t give lesser known artists chance to become known through being top of their individual charts because the likes of No Direction etc tend to dominate the overall chart.

  3. Jo

    It seems mad to me. The music is orchestral, the lyrics are mainly sung by a classically trained tenor. What’s not classical about that?

    1. thoughtsofjustafan Post author

      would seem mad wouldn’t it but that’s not what classifies it as classical at the moment!

  4. Ellen Rook

    I think music is evolving all the time and the classical world should move with the times, personally,I think it is an insult to everyone who has put their hearts and souls in to Classic Quadrophenia and it deserves to be recognised for what it is,A classical masterpiece!

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