Monday, March 14, 2011

The Who Revealed by Matt Kent

It is amazing to me how the time flies now that I'm a baby Mummy-crikey! Where does it all go? I'm behind on blogging but ahead on packing and flying away with baby Albie on my lap for what should be 12 fun filled hours. He probably needs his own seat (they can sit on your lap until age two proper) as he's as big as many three year olds (fit and height to weight proportionate of course!) Yet what my handsome husband and I will toil for in mid Atlantic baby holding we will save in airfare (about 375 quid). This pin money is going towards my long awaited website which was supposed to première nearly three years ago! Remember fans, Rome wasn't built in a day-what I got is already built!

Someone who has a great website already up, that has premièred nearly three years ago, who makes many nappy free journeys to concert stages and who happens to be a pal, Matt Kent, just published his second Who related book, The Who Revealed.


Firstly, The Who Revealed is thee best book since Richard Barnes' "Maximum RnB" and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who 1958-1978, Matt's 2005 release co-authored with Andy Neil. I HIGHLY recommend that volume too. All three books are MUST haves for Whoheads and the casual fan alike. (Can anyone be 'casual' about The Who?) I like The Who Revealed just a tad more than the former two because I had yet to see 90% of the photos. THAT to me is like seeing a deleted part of a cherished film once thought lost to time, show up on You Tube. It not so much as a "missing puzzle piece" found as finding an entirely new puzzle altogether. And there they are; out takes or different shots of familiar Who pics and totally new ones to me. It feels more than a bit moving to behold.

The Who Revealed features many early portraits and casual shots that encapsulate that open hearted, non-sequential ionization of the mid 1960's National Geographic England. All the optimism of playing outdoors in DIY turtle-necks, all the bright sparkling eyes, all the joy...all the under pants the boys forgot to wear! From bell bottomed shots of the idyllic rolling green amber afternoons of the 1970's to the member's only jacket, "It's Hard" 1980's (an album I love) all the way through to present day.

The Who Revealed is also fabulous because the pictures are not only huge but the book's production quality is high. I was surprised at the very reasonable price as there are Taschen books showcasing giant anatomical appendages that have much lower picture quality and go for well over 60 quid.

Two minor criticisms: the cover should have been reversed with the back pic thus swapping a lovely "Steve Reeves coiffured by Phil Lynott's hairdresser" style open shirted Pete Townshend onstage at the Lewisham Odeon for a gob smacking near edible technicolor portrait of the entire group by Terry "God" O'Neil (Shepperton?). Another critique is that the images are not credited (and I don't mean by who took the pictures) I mean what stage is the band on, what year is it, and so forth. But these considerations are very minor in light of all the visual Who bon bons that stood out for me. Here are but a few:

Mid/early 60's in Picadilly Circus: The Who facing West, squinting into the midday sun and no proverbial Eros statue in view. (After all they are the main attraction here and the ones you want to love...) Wrigley's sign to the left and Grants Scotch Whiskey upstage. That one area always seems to personify mid 1960's 'fanfare for the common man' London for me. Vintage pics of the circus always show this blazing blue sky and pillar box red buses so the fact that this publicity pic is in black and white makes it especially poignant.

Mid 60's informal group promo portrait: Lush, blazing color with all the boys wearing turtle-necks with Pete's in dazzling "Alex DeLarge white", bejewelled with war medals and Victoria crosses. Rog, Keith and John in powder blue with DIY air force emblems, all looking "MODerately" tasty.

Mid 60's: Tower Bridge as the backdrop and the band plays at street level for the London passer-by. I had seen another out-take of this series in Dave Marsh's article on The Who for the first volume of the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll (that really BIG book) and always wondered if I'd ever see it again. Granted, if I surfed the web I'm sure I'd uncover even more pics I've yet to behold but my Who love began pre-net so in many ways a book like this allows me to savour The Who live and in person-the way it was and the way it should be. It reminds me after a few years of singing more standards and lullabies than Odds and Sods, what my favourite music truly is. And perhaps as important, how many unhappy days the Who's music saw me through to these now joyous and busy years.

Not to be taken away indeed.

Labels: , , ,