Book Reviews

Published on September 9th, 2014 | by Mike Ainscoe

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THE WHO FAQ – Mike Segretto (Backbeat Books)

Described by the author as a “great big bastard of a research project”, which gathers together what turns out to be an anthology of information, essays and articles about the band which later this year goes out one final tour in celebration of fifty years in the rock business. Being one of the all time major names in the rock industry, The Who have received their share of the biography treatment, while Pete Townshend himself has dipped his toes into the autobiography pond, so what does another tome add to the library?

For a start there’s a foreword by The Kinks’ Dave Davies and a whole host of chapters which cover various topics from stage costumes to abandoned projects to the women in the lives of The Who and onto the more de rigeur areas of album art and milestone concerts. While nothing is covered in any particular depth, the book acts as a volume in which to dip, where fans will find all sorts of nuggets and opinions, which of course offer up the chance for some contention and discussion  – interesting for example, to note that in the ‘milestone concerts’ chapter, the most recent show was in 1979; the famous Cincinnati show where some fans lost their lives, if nothing else quite an interesting selection for that very reason rather than musically, and something which kind of puts The Who’s career into perspective. ‘A dozen underrated songs of the seventies’ is another few pages which will surely raise a few eyebrows, woe betide should anyone agree on all ten with the author!

For a band that refused to break up (anyone recall their  ’final’ tour in 1982?), much of their longevity seems to come as a result of their glory days of the late sixties and early seventies, and their impact and output of the nineties and noughties seems to have drifted by unnoticed.  To be picky, there’s very little reference to the various comebacks and incarnations of Moon-lees and latterly Ox-less Who– The Who ‘big band’ of the late eighties revitalising ‘Tommy’ was always a personal favourite – and of more recent times or investigation into what gives the band (or what’s left of them) the impetus or desire to carry on. Yet, it makes no bones about being an in depth analysis, and acts very much as what it says on the tin; an all encompassing contribution to the FAQ series.

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About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.



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