Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the classic I was expecting, 2 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Pete Townshend: Who I Am (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this book - let me say that upfront, but I enjoyed it with certain reservations. The cover description of "...one of the most eagerly awaited autobiographies of recent times" was true as far as I was concerned, as I consider Pete Townshend to be one of the most charismatic and articulate rock stars of those recent times. His track record with both The Who and as a solo recording artist speaks for itself, "Who's Next" is one of the finest rock albums of the seventies, and Pete's first two solo efforts ("Empty Glass" & "Chinese Eyes") are simply superb. So what is the problem with the book, well actually there are two.

The first is that Pete's writing is nowhere near as engaging and as interesting as it needs to be. I would hesitate to use the word boring, but all the tales of rock excess and self-indulgence come across as a little ho-hum we've heard all this before, possibly because we have. As all the great rockers of the halcyon days of that genre slowly morph into respectable old age (God help us!) it seems that the biographies and autobiographies are coming thick and fast, each one trying to outdo the last with stories of drug-taking, drinking, womanising and general debauchery that are usually reserved for musicians and premier league football players. Pete is no different, but why should he be, that is the world and those are the conditions of it - I just wish he could have made it more interesting.

The second problem I had with the book was Pete's hypocrisy, the cavalcade of blondes that he was in danger of running out of superlatives to describe while continually harping on about the guilt of his infidelities, started to become a little tedious. Spoiler Alert: he eventually finds one that stays with him! This, coupled with the shame and guilt over his monumental drinking while doing absolutely nothing about it, suggest to the reader a certain lack of credibility.

Those gripes aside, the descriptions of writing and recording techniques are interesting as Pete describes where the music came from and how he got it into the public domain. All the stories of the Who albums, the rock operas and the solo projects are told with pride and a form of self belief that I would have liked to have seen more of in the more personal sections of the book. And these projects were really lucrative, only on a couple of occasions does he mention actual figures, but the amount of money Pete generated over the years must have been quite staggering, given his penchant for houses, boats, studios, recording equipment, etc., and his ability to purchase them in a way us mere mortals could only dream of.

On the whole, I think this book is as honest as it can be. Pete is open about his possible bi-sexuality, the child pornography caution, his low self-esteem and depression, along with the other aspects of his life already mentioned, so I would recommend it, but as I said, with certain reservations. One thing that "Who I Am" did do for me was confirm my belief that most high profile figures like Pete Townshend are better served by having their stories told by a third party, or collaborating with one for a more balanced and objective end result.

Three stars but approach with caution.
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Location: Cardiff

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