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Mark Blake: Pretend You’re In A War: The Who And The Sixties

Even ‘orribler than you thought possible.

The singularly combative ‘Shepherd’s Bush entertainment' peculiar to The Who in their original four-man incarnation reached its creative, explosive zenith in the ‘60s. Here was a decade where literally anything seemed possible.

Yet even operating in the most permissive of environments, true pioneers still need be equipped with innovative balls of steel in order to fully experience every untried opportunity they encounter or, on occasion, imagine. Fortunately, The Who were fearless.

The quartet’s innate testicular fortitude was born of a skewed internal chemistry: no other band were as inwardly competitive. Townshend’s boundlessly experimental modus operandi (encouraged by classical-pedigreed co-manager Kit Lambert) would have overwhelmed lesser bandmates, but with simmering drug-free hard man, Daltrey, macabre psychedelicised bon viveur, Entwistle and actual madman, Moon, simmering alongside him in the white heat of The Who’s autodestructive crucible, Pete was often reduced to negotiating with his fists.

Mark Blake’s Pretend You’re In A War is a compelling read, not simply because The Who provide compelling subject matter, but because its story is told with such an unflinching care and infectious enthusiasm. Confirmation at last that all the mad shit you ever heard about The Who wasn’t just true – it was, if anything, understated.

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 19 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.