Pretend You’re In A War
– The Who And The Sixties
By Mark Blake
I must confess, there are times when I see new books about certain periods, genres or specific artists in music that make me wonder why?
Is there really any more unearthed information about The Beatles, Dylan, The Rolling Stones or Elvis for example? How much more can be said about a band or artist that hasn’t already been covered by numerous books before?
The Who are a band which fall into this category. So many books of varying quality have been written about them, is there anything left to say? Surely any avid Who fan will probably know all there is to know.
So, I began reading this latest tome by Mark Blake with a small degree of cynicism and suspicion. However, by the time I had finished the second chapter I was totally hooked.
Of course there is some familiar territory to go over, but that is unavoidable when writing about a band like The Who. Things have to be put into context.
What I particularly liked is Blake’s narrative writing style. Informative, concise, well-researched and written in such a way as to be a joy to read.
The early photos of the pre-Who days are great, but this is not a coffee table book.
Tracing the bands evolution from their humble beginnings and childhoods through to the end of the decade, this is by far one of the best books about The Who I have ever read.
Blake is much lauded for his seminal work on Pink Floyd. I think it’s fair to say this book deserves to be recognised in much the same terms.
With the festive season not too far off, this book would give a Who fan a very happy Christmas.
Published by Aurum Press
The Album Book
By Jacqueline McFall
It is fair to say 2014 has been a big year for books about mod. Some have been much advertised in print and social media and rightly so, but there are one or two that may have escaped your notice.
The Album is one such; a 180 page photographic book documenting the mod scene in Northern Ireland. I have often heard people like Eddie Piller and Anthony Meynell from Squire speak very highly of their experiences in the region going back to the early Eighties.
Thankfully in 1983, a seventeen year-old photographic student chose the mod scene to be her subject for one of her projects and she chose to take only black and white photographs.
30 years on, and Jacqueline McFall can still be seen at mod clubs and events snapping away and documenting the scene with her camera.
This book represents most of the photos from her original published project from 1985 entitled ‘Mod Is Mod, Not Fade Away’. The second half of the book contains shots taken more recently. It was quite fascinating to see just how many of those very young faces were still on the scene today.
Just in case you were wondering, there are recent photos of both Eddie Piller and Squire playing live in Northern Ireland.
Quadrophenia – A Way Of Life
Inside The Making Of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film:
By Simon Wells
If nothing else, you can always guarantee that when Simon Wells takes on a project, no stone is left unturned. His particular field of expertise is film and British film from the Sixties and Seventies are his passion. Couple that with his life-long fascination with mod and you have a very capable candidate to write arguably the definitive work about a film that, over 30 years since its cinematic release, has retained the power to inspire and influence generation after generation and not just in the UK.
I’ll avoid the obvious and refrain from waffling on about the film itself. Heaven knows you should all be familiar with by now (sic). Neither will I go on about the continuity hiccups that are almost as famous (infamous?) as the film itself!
What is not in question though is Wells’ ability to wield both metaphoric microscope and shovel in his research.
Every key member of the cast and crew has input. The collection of unseen photos is quite extraordinary as are the selected script pages which highlight just how much improvisation and license both director Franc Roddam and the actors had with the storyline.
To give the film added kudos, Wells also interviews people for whom, the film and their involvement in mod has led to lifelong associations and therefore impacted on their lives.
This really is a fascinating, enjoyable and informative piece of work by Simon Wells. If you thought you knew all there was to know about Quadrophenia, read this, then you really can claim to know it all.
Published by Countdown Books
ISBN: 9 780992 830441
Ugly Things Magazine
It’s been a while since I reviewed and edition of Ugly Things, the half-yearly publication from Mike Stax based in La Mesa, California.
The one thing that can always be guaranteed, is that every edition is packed with really good interviews and features.
Although the Fall/Winter edition is due out soon, this Spring/Summer 2014 version is a classic example. From the outset, the Pretty Things are a key feature with a thorough and interesting interview with Phil May. There follows an extract from Mr May’s forthcoming autobiography looking at the band’s experiences at the infamous Star Club in Hamburg.
For Small Faces fans, another equally absorbing interview with Ian McLagan followed by a reprint of Robert Haagsma’s interview with Steve Marriott a year before his death retains your attention with ease.
Other notable articles include Thursday’s Children, Carl Douglas and The Big Stampede, The Gears and the song-writing team of Carter and Gilbert.
With a whole host of music reviews as well, Ugly Things magazine is a mighty and very worth while publication.
Soul Up North Fanzine
With the advent of social media, the era of the fanzine has been on the decline somewhat, so it was a welcome surprise to see ‘Soul Up North’ arrive at the NUTs office. It would be great to see some more fanzine’s!
Edited by Howard Earnshaw, this is one for the dyed-in-the-wool Northern fan.
Features include the Jessica Records Story (pt 1), The Trey J’s, an interview with Marvin Smith lead singer with the Artistics.
Martin Scragg continues his series of unveiling ‘cover-ups’ and loads of info and reviews of songs supplied by the likes of Steve Plumb, Wayne Hudson, Julie Molloy and Craig Butler to name a few.
Soul Up North fanzine is available by mail order only and at three quid per issue, it’s very good value.
October 2014 Issue
Perhaps unsurprisingly, with all the hype over the film, Manifesto is loaded with Northern Soul references.
We have a great interview with writer and director of the film, Elaine Constantine and a nice feature about the film by Gareth Sweeney.
In addition, there are features on Ann Sexton and Leroy Hutson, a review of the Cleethorpes Weekender and the wonderful columns by Keith Rylett, Sean Chapman and Soul Sam (who is playing the NUTs NYE Northern Soul Celebration this year).
If you are a fan of all things soul-related (Northern or not) this is a must-have magazine. Its contributors are first-class and in Mike Ritson, it has a dedicated and highly knowledgable editor too.