In a departure from my usual habit I am posting on my blog today an e-mail I received about Andy Neill’s recent Ready Steady Go! book. The writer is our mutual friend Ed Hanel, a fellow Who archivist and collector with whom I have been friendly since we first met in 1981. At that time Ed and his family lived in north London where he and his wife Lynne worked for the US military. Now retired and living in Hawaii, Ed worked all his life as an attorney for the US Navy which just goes to show that Who fans come from all walks of life.
About 25 years ago he and Lynne were stationed in San Francisco Bay, occupying a large house on Yerba Buena Island which during WW2 was used by the Navy top brass overseeing operations in the Pacific. We – myself, Mrs C & two kids – visited the Hanels there in 1996 and you can imagine how delighted I was to note that the room in which the admirals deliberated over how best to neutralise the Japanese war offensive was now a Who museum, housing Ed’s vast collection of Who memorabilia. I even told Pete T who was also delighted.
Anyway, because Americans never got to see RSG! I found Ed’s pronouncements particularly noteworthy. Here they are:
“Anything published by Andy Neill will be thoroughly researched, carefully organized, and extremely well written. Ready Steady Go! (RSG!) is his latest effort and the result is, as expected, brilliant. He describes the book as a “labour of love”, and probably that is the most accurate description. But that alone wouldn’t merit a five-star review. Already out in the UK, comments there wax poetic about the detail and scope of Andy’s history of a TV show that few Americans ever saw.
“Why should the book merit high regard here in the states? Come and gone by the end of 1966, the RSG! TV show assumed a shadowy status for American teenagers. We were told that it was a show where The Who became stars. It had a glamorous emcee named Cathy McGowan. It was filled with English bands who started the British invasion in early 1964. (The two terms, British and English, meant the same thing, right?) That was about all we knew. Those of us listening to teenage music on American AM stations at the time were puzzled by British band references to Radio Luxembourg. Surely British radio stations and TV played British rock and roll all day long. Why would anyone in London have to listen to a foreign radio station?
“Andy’s book goes a long way toward explaining the entire cultural background in the UK that took American music, tried to copy it, created a “new” exciting sound, and shoved it down deep into our American hearts and minds. All of this done in a nation still locked into the after-shock of World War II and a class system not quite ready to give up its hold on the general population. This is a book for anyone interested in sixties music and culture, and who wants a good broad overview of what was happening in London ’63-’66.
“It is not a quick read. Physically, the size and nearly six-pound weight of the book call for a table or counter-top where the book can be left open so that the reader can tackle it at leisure. RSG! deserves a careful and thoughtful read. Treat it like a good Scottish malt whiskey – neat and in small doses. As is always the case when reading Andy Neill’s books, I am looking forward to wherever he takes us next.”