I am presently engaged in writing two 10,000-word chapters and half a dozen smaller, 1,000-word, features for a book to be published next year called Tommy At 50. My co-author, the designer Mike McInnerney, who designed the wonderful blue Tommy sleeve, is writing a similar amount. Mike’s brief is to write about the Mood and The Look, mine to write about The Music and The Legacy.
         All of which has caused me to listen again, several times, to Tommy, both my original vinyl edition on Track, bought in 1969, which I still possess but is a bit scratched and warped, and so sounds well ropey. In 1972 Track reissued the double LP on two separate discs, Part 1 (sides 1 and 2) and Part 2, with generic artwork but no libretto, presumably to make it more affordable. On this release the label read Tommy Revisited, and although I can’t recall how I acquired it I seem to have Part 2 of this in my collection.

Although in better nick that the original, it’s still a bit dodgy. I also have a mint condition copy as part of the Phases boxed set of the first nine Who LPs on vinyl that was released by German Polydor in 1981, but for reasons I can’t explain (!), this re-issue, though absent of scratches, sounds flatter than the original.

         Subsequent remastered CD versions sound much better, and I’ve been listening to these in my car this week and last. Writing about Tommy yet again isn't the chore I thought it would be, but I've got to be careful not to repeat myself. In truth I have so much research material here in my office - about a dozen books, all this vinyl, CDs and DVDs, what I can find on the internet - that I find I actually have too much to wade through. I'll post an extract here when I'm happy with what I'm writing. 

         In the midst of this research I came across a few of my Who rarities, amongst them this rather strange Japanese CD that a friend of mine who visited that country brought back for me around 1990.

It’s called The Who - My Generation on FIC Records, in what appears to be a series called Big Artist Album(s). Though it lacks ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Anyway Anyhow Anywhere’, the 13 tracks are a decent selection and sound fine. The inclusion of 'So Sad About Us' indicates that whoever compiled it knew what they were doing. Oddly, three of the four tracks from The Who Sell Out, ‘Armenia’, ‘Our Love Was’ and ‘Miles’ are preceded by the commercials from Sell Out, as if they were intrinsic to the songs, which suggests the Japanese record company somehow copied them from the album itself.
         I’m not sure of the significance of the picture on the front but at least it’s better than the Spanish album with the wrong photo. For that story read here: http://justbackdated.blogspot.com/2013/12/lo-mejor-de-who.html


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Westbury Music Fair, Jericho NY, March 1975

I was lucky enough to see Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band five times before Born To Run was released, in Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, in New York City at the Bottom Line club and the Academy of Music, and at the Westbury Music Fair, a theatre in Jericho on Long Island. I was reminded of this last occasion today when my Melody Maker review of the show popped up on Rock’s Back Pages, so I’m taking the liberty of cut and pasting it into Just Backdated.
         I remember the occasion well. I was driven there by Peter Philbin, Columbia International’s RR guy, a big Bruce fan who became a good friend of mine when I lived in New York as MM's US Editor. Weirdly, the gig was on a revolving stage in the centre of a room that held about 1,800 people. I don’t think it was sold out. The other thing I remember was that the place was run by Italian gangsters, and that the backstage area was patrolled by these olive skinned men in dark suits and ties with bulging shoulders, all of whom looked like extras from The Godfather. Philbin recognised this before I did and advised me not to make eye contact with them. We went backstage to chat with Bruce after the show but, as ever, he was tight-lipped, pre-occupied with the issues surrounding the release of Born To Run, of course. I wasn't to know this as the dispute between his manager Mike Appel and future producer and manager Jon Landau had yet to break out into the open. 
         Here is the review I wrote for Melody Maker, virtually unchanged. (I still think ‘Sandy’ is one of the most moving songs he has ever written by the way.)

Bruce Springsteen, an artist whose talent has inspired respected critics to fawn like teenage groupies, took over the revolving stage of the Westbury Music Fair last weekend and showed yet again why one critic opined that the future of rock and roll rested on Bruce's bony shoulders.
         Eschewing the usual sleeveless tee-shirt in favour of a rumpled rugby sweater, and abandoning his fifties style shades, he led his band through a two and a half hour set that included a couple of two-song encores. Or was it three? By that time Bruce had virtually boiled over and taken the audience with him. Details get a little hazy at times like this.
         Since I last saw him, Bruce has found a new drummer, Max Weinberg, and piano player, Roy Bittan, and added a shapely violinist called Suki Lahav who not only improves the aesthetics of the set, but also adds considerably to the crushing atmosphere that Springsteen, street poet extraordinaire, is capable of creating. Unfortunately, I was informed, it was her last gig with the E Street Band.

(I found this picture on line, the only one I could find with Bruce and Suki on stage together)

         Springsteen's material alternates between whispered verses about kids growing up in New York and the surrounding area, and hard driven rock music propelled for the most part by Clarence Clemons, the giant black reed player, who rasps through his three horns in that old King Curtis manner.
         As a guitarist, Springsteen is more of a rock and roller than romantic poet. But his crazy movements back and forth, deliberately knock-kneed at times, are always fun to watch. This time, he jumped up rather precariously onto the organ midway through his encore of Presley's ‘Wear My Ring’.
         For me, the highlight of the set was not so much the hysterics at the end, but Bruce's first encore, the super-emotional ‘4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)’ with its French accordion and whispered passages about boardwalks, beaches and sea-side bars. Bruce altered the words slightly so that Hells Angels came riding in at one point, but ‘Sandy’ remained essentially intact, one of the most moving pieces he has written.
         He’s overdue for a third album, and Columbia are scratching their heads about what to do with their prodigy from Asbury Park. On Sunday’s showing, it’ll just be a matter of time before Springsteen is acclaimed by the people as well as the critics.



Joining the shelfload of books published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the birth of Led Zeppelin is this upmarket coffee-table photo book featuring the work of Terry O’Neill, who has the lion’s share of pictures within its pages, Michael Brennan and my pal Baron Wolman who, by the way, was actually christened Baron and is not a member of the feudal aristocracy. Accompanying the best part of 200 pages of pictures, all but Woman's black and white, are text and captions written by Dave Lewis, founder, proprietor, editor, principal contributor and energetic promoter of Tight But Loose, the fanzine and website that stimulates interest in Led Zeppelin with the same kind of zeal that fired the group when they launched into ‘Rock And Roll’ at the start of many of the concerts covered herein.
         O’Neill’s shots are from concerts in May 1975 and June 1977, Brennan’s from January 1975, and Wolman’s from July 1977, the latter the two concerts in Oakland, California, that brought down the curtain on Led Zeppelin’s record breaking and occasionally lubricious love affair with America. And pretty much every picture in the book is a fine example of the photographer’s art, so much so that it becomes clear that so long as your camera was in focus it was pretty hard not to take a decent photograph of this group when they were strutting their stuff, as reflected in the occasional spreads of contact sheets where all that separates the great shots from the good is the exposure, from which we can deduce that stage lighting impacted on the finished product, as perhaps did adjustments to the exposure and aperture of the cameras used.
         Here are the highlights:
         O’Neill: Jones so clear you can count the hairs on his head on page 24, Page the same on 25, and the Plant spread across 28-29, the latter leaving no doubt as to the singer’s masculinity; Page on 43, scraping his violin bow in the mist, Plant on 51, beckoning with his index finger in that peculiarly idiosyncratic way of his; Plant and Page together on 55, singing the chorus of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ (the only point in their shows during this period when it was possible for photographers to snap their heads together); Page on 67, on one leg, his body shifting in the opposite direction to his twin-necked guitar, which must surely have strained his skinny hips; Plant across 68 & 69, close up, giving his all, and over the page on 71, as handsome as handsome gets; a group shot across 83 & 84 during the acoustic interlude, Plant grinning across at Bonham, probably urging him not to sing; Jones on 89, a study in concentration on his peculiar triple-necked instrument; Bonham a blur on 92 & 93, maximum effort albeit perhaps a tad overweight; and 105, Plant all smiles, confidence abounding.
         Brennan: Bonham on page 117, in the dressing room, contemplating, perhaps – as he occasionally admitted – suffering a touch of stage-fright before the show; the crowd shots from the stage on 122, 123 and across 124 & 125, so close they could reach out and touch whatever Page and Plant wore on their feet; the spread on 131, Page arching backwards as if performing the limbo; and leaving the stage on 146, another triumph; Bonham, head down, eyes shut, keen to get away, Plant a bit lost behind him, and, over the page, Page, grinning, still carrying his guitar, giving a thumbs up to the faithful, yet no sign of Jones who as likely as not was already on way his back to their hotel. (Brennan’s shots were taken on a tour that I briefly joined and also include a few taken on the Starship, their private plane, all of which brings back a few memories, reports of which can be found elsewhere on this blog.)

Jimmy dances the limbo

         Wolman: Plant on 153, another warm and smiley shot; Page’s eight guitar arsenal awaiting its master stageside on 154 & 155; Page on 167, crouching like the phantom snakes on his black and gold suit; Page and Plant on 183, the former reaching up for a note somewhere in the Gods; and, finally, the view from the audience on 186 & 187, the strange, slightly absurd Stonehenge stage, constructed no doubt by Bill Graham, that reminded me rather too much of the absurdities in Spinal Tap.
         Those familiar with the look of Led Zeppelin will recognise many of these photographs from other books and magazines but O’Neill’s in particular have been largely under wraps for 30 years or more, so it’s nice to finally see them again. We are perhaps fortunate that Zep worked in an era when photographers were not as restricted as they are today, nor managements – even Peter Grant! – so eager to control what would become known as image rights, with the result that 45 or so years down the line we can observe Led Zeppelin in their pomp on so many wonderful photographs like those in this book. O’Neill, Brennan and Wolman are part of an honourable platoon of photographers who captured Led Zeppelin for eternity, among several others that include Neal Preston, Bob Gruen, Barrie Wentzell, Michael Putland and Barry Plummer. Bearing in mind the ‘security’ – and I use in the word without my tongue in my cheek – that surrounded Led Zeppelin, they all deserve medals for extreme courage in the face of the Hammer of the Gods.
         Led Zeppelin Live 1975-1977 is published by ACC Editions and though the RRP on the back is £29.95 Amazon is selling it at £19.95.
          Dave Lewis also has a special limited edition run of the book of 150 copies  individually numbered and signed by the editor with a special interview insert  order via this link: