SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Who : Concert Memories from the Classic Years, 1964 to 1976 Book

THE WHO  –  CONCERT MEMORIES FROM THE CLASSIC YEARS  –  1964 to 1976       Edoardo Genzolini 

A couple of weeks back, i brought you a review of Italian author Edoardo’s book on Cream. I somewhat cheekily ended that review by noting that Edoardo had also had a work published on The Who, prior to that of Cream in December 2022 and if the publisher, Schiffer Publishing, would like to send me a copy……Thank you Victoria for doing just that, here are my thoughts on this hefty tome, in all senses of the word. As i mentioned in my summation of Edoardo’s work on the Cream book, i found myself in the company of a new author (to me) who i could completely empathise with, who loves music and film passionately and whose passions were ignited at the age of around 13, as indeed were mine. Edoardo came to The Who by watching the film of Woodstock. That in itself is paradoxical as i know from Pete and Roger that they hated the event and would happily forget all about it personally in many ways, although it did of course bring The Who to a worldwide audience. I was intrigued by the premise of this new book as it takes a fresh approach to the story of the band during the decade + it focuses on, and uses, in the main, the reminiscences and thoughts of a wide ranging group of fans and the authors insights. As Eduardo puts it ‘It’s the reflection of what my thirteen-year-old self would have loved to read about The Who from someone else’ i.e. from a fans perspective as an audience member watching the sights and sounds of the band. Now here i should just explain briefly for those not familiar with my own ‘career’, i first saw The Who on Hastings Pier back in May 1967 when i was just starting out in the music biz working backstage. Since those first early days i have had a lifelong association with the band, which includes working at their Record Company Track Records, attending dozens of gigs and parties with the band, interviewing them for Press and Radio etc etc. So, in short i have been a lifelong fan of the band and their music, and also had the privilege of seeing and hearing a lot of the stories recounted in this book at first hand. Indeed it has been really interesting to compare the contributors thoughts on central characters involved in The Who’s story, such as early mentor Pete Meaden and infamous later band Managers  Kit Lambert & Chris Stamp. The whole question of were The Who a Mod group? or rather a reflection of a whole movement. What was the reason for all that wanton destruction of guitars, amps, drums etc? and how was it financed? Is there really at the heart of the band a great tension between Pete & Roger? all these questions and so much more are discussed and chewed over. Each year is prefaced by a ‘scene setting’ editorial from Edoardo before it’s given over to the thoughts from all the many participant’s  he has tracked down for this exemplary book. And i haven’t even mentioned the dozens of photos, many, many of which appearing for the first time in black & white & colour. And it’s fascinating to see the ‘amateur’ shots taken by fans which painfully reminds me personally, of all the wasted opportunities i had in front of me at the time, had i only had the presence of mind to whip out my Kodak’Brownie’. But i was by then in ‘work mode’ and taking photo’s wouldn’t have occurred to me, an everlasting regret. But to return to the book. I am frankly amazed by the clarity of peoples memories of the bands, but then i shouldn’t be, where as i may have become ‘blase’ to a Who gig, for many it was one of the highlights of their youth (or indeed lives) because rarely have i attended any concert by ANY band that contains so much ferocious energy as that that emanated from Pete, Roger, John & Moony at their height. It’s quite clear to me that Edoardo is fascinated with the character of Pete in particular, for reasons i perfectly understand, he is a complex and mercurial individual and not always an easy person to know. But as the creative force of the band his outlook and views are always interesting and often controversial. I have always got on much more easily with the down to earth approach of the less intense, yet equally interesting Roger. Many books have been written about The Who over the years, mostly from a scholarly musicologist point of view, this work is from a huge fan who has taken the time, as he did with the Cream book, to once again assemble a work that includes meticulous attention to detail, coupled with a fund of stories and anecdotes from avid fans that illustrate the love and respect this most seminal of bands is held in. Without sounding smug, i may have not personally learnt much that i didn’t already have some knowledge of. but it’s been fascinating comparing notes with other like minded people. If i have one critiscism at all, well more of a minor niggle really, it’s that many of the contributions are from American sources, i would have liked to have heard more from the British side, nonetheless, I hope Edoardo continues to write further books on other bands as I am increasingly attracted to his whole style and approach. As i said at the start of this review this is a hefty A4 + sized hardback tome, that weighs in at several pounds, and runs to 304 pages complete with the 100’s of photo’s mentioned earlier. It’s not cheap at a recommended price of £54.99. but it’s produced to the highest standards, on fine quality materials and as a treasure trove of material for the true Who fan it is quite truly indispensable.

Available from  Amazon, etc.

See you again soon. Take care and happy reading….Colin



Edoardo Genzolini… Hello Colin, your two reviews about my two books were simply wonderful, and it was a pleasant surprise to find a kindred spirit in you. It comes as even more surprising to realise you were THAT close to The Who in the sixties! Giving the book a more American take, as you rightly observed, became a necessity, as I must admit I was getting a lot of scepticism from the majority of the UK fans I have met. But I am sure I was just out of luck! In fact, I am working patiently on a new volume with mostly UK material and memories, including people who were very close to the Who. Now that I know you were a fortunate insider, I would find wonderful if you could participate! We’ll go into that in private, if you like. Thank you again and best wishes!

Colin Bell… Hi Edoardo, thank you for the kind words, feel free to DM me anytime. Best wishes Colin.

Richard Porter… Edoardo, My wife’s first husband was Roger’s accountant. We socialised with him and his family.

Ken Wilson… Saw them on the pier Hastings they were brilliant ,early 60s

Barry French… Was lucky enough to get tickets to see the WHO at the Central Cricket ground Hove a couple of weeks ago. A breath taking show that highlighted that Roger Daltrey is still one of the great voices in rock (The scream at the end of “Wont get fooled again” got a huge cheer from the crowd & nearly made my ears bleed ) & that Pete Townsend is a genius guitarist with more tricks than Paul Daniels & more windmills than the Netherlands. Absolutely Brilliant !!! (These guys are nearing their eighties!!)