Thursday, 7 August 2014
"FAQ" by THE WHO - A Review Of The March 2014 'Backbeat Books' Paperback by MIKE SEGRETTO...
Here is a link to AMAZON UK to get this superb publication at the best price:
“…I Sing My Heart Out To The Infinite Sea…” - FAQ by THE WHO
There's a point in time when yet another book about a classic Rock band is about as welcome as fart in a spacesuit. And when this 374-page oversized paperback came stuffed through my letterbox - I was a bit concerned at first. But have no fear - this is a fabulous collection and I haven't enjoyed a read this much - in years.
First of all - as a tome about The Who - it's best described as a sort of "Odds And Sods" compilation but in book form - a gathering together of bits and pieces of insider information that make up a 'bigger picture' of the band.
Take Chapter 5 - which is called Sound Round - it deals with Producers and Sound Men - fascinating insights into legendary names like Shel Talmy, Glyn Johns, Kim Lambert and even Barry Gray. Chapter 22 is called "Hit The Stage" so you get important concerts and knowledgeable info about what happened at them and why and the consequences to the band and even fans. Chapter 18 is called "All Mixed Up" which tells what's been remixed and remastered - and where - fabulous stuff about the different variants of "Magic Bus" or the 7" single edits. Chapter 12 is called "I'm The Snappiest Dresser" and goes into The Who and mod styling.
Chapter 15 is genius - plotting the Rock Opera via Ogdens Nut Gone Flake in 1967 and SF Sorrow in 1968 through to Tommy in 1969 and of course the wonderful 1973 double-album Quadrophenia. Chapter 14 is called Wish You Were Here and is a potted International Discography. Chapter 4 is Meet The New Boss discussing their managers across the decades - Helmet Gorden, Pete Meadon, Chris Stamp, Mike Shaw and others. Chapter 23 is called I Used To Follow You and goes into their influences and British contemporaries like The Kinks and The Small Faces. And I love the chapter on underrated tunes - like Townshend and Daltrey's impassioned singing on "The Song Is Over" that ends Side 1 of "Who's Next". There's stuff about who the band sessioned with (solo included) - who their heirs are - The Who as Punk Pioneers - reoccurring themes through their music - the album artwork and who did it - the singles that failed and why - foreign singles - stunning European EPs - The Who on TV and Film - Unrecorded songs and Lost Tapes (Lifehouse etc) - there's chapters about girlfriends and wives and friends of the band who kept them sane and out of prison. The only real let down (if you could call it that) is the absence of colour in the superb 7" Single. EP and Album covers that dot the text page after page - but I suspect costs would have been astronomical for such a thing.
You have to say that this is a clever take - all the weird and wonderful titbits about this most iconic of bands and their solo careers put together in one place. It would have taken years of research and author MIKE SEGRETTO also doesn't take that creepy reverential stance - he names the bad - and often gets very witty about the good and even the ridiculous (which surrounded The Who a lot).
As you can imagine all of this makes for a blindingly great read.
I love THE WHO - just looking at them urinating on that Obelisk of Concrete on the front cover of 1971's "Who's Next" gets me a bit wet in the trouser area too.
If you're a fan - you will need to own it. If you're just curious - then treat yourself. And don't be too surprised if you find yourself chuckling of an evening with your glass of warm milk and reading glasses on - breaking admiring smiles at the sheer audacious snotty British genius of it all.
THE WHO folks - accept no substitute. God bless 'em and their battered instruments...
PS: If you're interested in 1970's Rock - here is a link to my new book which is available to buy on AMAZON as a Kindle Download: SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970's Rock & Pop