Author Richie Unterberger revisits
The ‘oo’s fertile early ‘70s period. Watch a video of “Baba O’Riley,” below.
March from Jawbone Press is a new book about The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again: The Who From Lifehouse To Quadrophenia, penned
by veteran writer and former Option editor
Richie Unterberger, who previously authored Unknown
Legends of Rock’n’Roll; the two-part 1960s folk-rock history Eight Miles High and Turn! Turn! Turn!; White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day; and The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film.
As the title suggests, it’s a focused-lens volume rather than a comprehensive
biography, basically covering the band’s incredibly creative early ‘70s period
when, post-Tommy, they created
masterworks Who’s Next and Quadrophenia and transformed themselves
into full-blown arena superstars.
aimed squarely at die-hard Who fans, though, not the casual observer, no doubt
because Unterberger realized that there were already plenty of Who books out there,
some of them regarded more or less as definitive at the time of their
publication, like Dave Marsh’s ’83 biography Before I Get Old, and others the work of pure hackdom (Geoffrey
Giuliano’s 1996 Pete Townshend tome, Behind
Blue Eyes, comes to mind), not to mention more specialized volumes devoted
to discographies, concertographies, photo essays, etc.
Unterberger decided to zero on that aforementioned inspired early ‘70s period,
detailing the day to day and week to week goings-on of The ‘oo’s world that not
only produced those two classic albums but also brought Townshend to the brink
of a nervous breakdown: in struggling to come up with a worthy successor to Tommy, with the Live at Leeds album a stopgap release buying him time to develop a
new conceptual piece, Townshend crafted a convoluted-narrative (involving
dystopian futures and mankind being saved by a “single pure note” that,
naturally, was played by a rock ‘n’ roll band) he called Lifehouse. Nobody was buying, however, particularly not the other
members of the band, so the project was scrapped and the best songs salvaged
for Who’s Next, and the rest is
interviewed a number of Who associates with firsthand knowledge of
conversations and events that took place during this time, additionally drawing
upon a wealth of archival Townshend and Roger Daltrey interviews to paint a
detailed portrait of inspiration, neurosis, hubris, despair, and eventual
regeneration. Throughout this 300-page book there’s enough minutiae and previously-obscured
factual tidbits to satisfy Who lifers, and it’s also the kind of read that will
have you reaching for your Who albums – official, bootleg, and otherwise – and
revisit them, newly gifted with fresh knowledge.
BLURT for a full review soon.