The Who (The ‘Oo) – No Fiddlesticks (Shout To The Top STTP 193/194)

 No Fiddlesticks (Shout To The Top STTP 193/194)

Champs Elysees Theater, Paris, France – January 16th, 1970

Disc 1 (70:31):  Heaven And Hell, I Can’t Explain, Fortune Teller, Tattoo, Young Man Blues, A Quick One While He’s Away, Overture, 1921, Amazing Journey, Sparks, Eyesight To The Blind, Christmas, The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, Do You Think It’s Alright, Fiddle About, Tommy Can You Hear Me, There’s A Doctor, Go To The Mirror, Smash The Mirror

Disc 2 (41:02):  Miracle Cure, Sally Simpson, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Summertime Blues, Shakin’ All Over, My Generation

The Who began the new decade with two shows at the Champs Elysees Theater in Paris, France on January 16th and January 17th, 1970.  Still touring with Tommy fresh on the charts, the concerts at this time presented a generous selection from the work in the middle of their set, with other songs from their earlier albums and various cover tunes.   

1969 to 1973 were a liminal time for The Who.  They were transcending their roots as a mod mouthpiece and exploring the outer limits of the pop-form rock and produced some of their greatest work including “A Quick One While He’s Away,” Tommy, Who’s Next, and Quadrophenia

Important traits for the liminal period, as Susan Broadhurst points out in her book Liminal Acts, are “the centrality of non-linguistsic modes of signification.  In much of the liminal, significatory modes are visual, kinetic, gravitational, proximic, aural and so on.  … Other traits that are central to the liminal are indeterminancy, fragmentation, a loss of the auratic and the collapse of the hierarchical distinction between high and mass/popular culture.”

Tommy was such piece for the band.  Although not the first concept album or even the first work to be called a “rock opera,” it did define the genre and use of rock music in presenting very esoteric ideas.  Hearing the finished recording is itself fantastic, but hearing them bringing the piece to the stage is quite another for it places the music into the proper context of performance.  All of the tapes during this time such as the Concertgebouw, London Coliseum (found on the Live At Kilburn DVD), Live At Leeds and Isle Of Wright tapes are all valuable.

The Paris tape is the rarest of the lot.  No Fiddlesticks is the only silver pressed release of the show and, given the sound quality, probably will never see official release.  It is a good and clear but thin mono recording from a Europe 1 radio broadcast on the day after the show.  There are slight hints of radio static in some quiet parts and small cuts throughout (probably to remove DJ comments). 

The performance itself is spectacular throughout.  It’s much tighter than the Amsterdam show in September and is on par with Leeds and the Isle Of Wight.  They still had much enthusiasm for the piece at this point and give a nuanced but gutsy performance. 

The tape opens up with Pete  Townshend tuning his guitar to “Mary Had A Little Lamb” before the explosive “Heaven And Hell” and “I Can’t Explain.”  Pete Townshend speaks about “Fortune Hunter” as a song which the Rolling Stones also covered in their live set in the past, and it segues into “Tattoo.”

Townshend gives a long explanation about Mose Allison, the jazz pianist whom he calls a “typical playboy” and of whom “a lot of negros who buy jazz records think he’s white even though he’s walking around all white – they don’t think it’s really him” before they play a cover of Allison’s “Young Man Blues.”

But the more serious portion of the show starts with “A Quick One While He’s Away.”  Townshend calls it a “mini-opera” and was the first step in creating a sustained narrative in rock.  He’s funny listing the cast and in speaking about the end, which is about forgiveness which back then was hard to get “unlike today when you forgive anyone for anything.”

Paris would be one of the final times it would be played live (it was played in Leeds and Hull in February and several times in 1993).  

It serves as a prelude to the event of the night, the performance of Tommy.  Townshend warns the audience that the program is not exactly correct since they will omit some songs like “Cousin Kevin.”  The suite follows the same arrangement as in Amsterdam in September but much tighter and devoid of the hesitations and playing errors.  It is one of the best recorded versions of the suite available and could be definitive if the recording were better.

The rest of the show after contains their early hits including their “hymn” “My Generation.”  The band include a nod to Joe Cocker by playing that arrangement of “With A Little Help From My Friends” as an instrumental.

No Fiddlesticks is a very good release by Shout To The Top.  They didn’t try to bolster the tape’s sound but left it warts and all.  They could have handled the gaps a bit better, but it’s not distracting by any means.  The artwork is stately with appropriate photographs from the era and until a better generation tape were to surface, this is an excellent title to have. 

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  1. Gsparaco,
    after taking in the above banter, I just want to say you do a brillant job with this site. Its one thing to love music,and a completely different foray to create a website designed to share your passion with other fans. The prolific and well written reviews that appear here on a daily basis are indicative of the time you put into this page. I would like to thank you for your efforts. People like yourself make collecting more fun and interesting for all of us.Keep up the great work!

  2. What “obvious” error are you talking about in the No Fiddlesticks review? You say you’re trying to be helpful, but I still do not know what you’re talking about.

    If you’re referring to “The ‘Oo,” that is not an error. That is a phonetic spelling of the British pronunciation of the band’s name. If you have the Isle Of Wight disc, listen to how the mc introduces them. And the spelling was checked by Stuart who himself is British. It was just an attempt to add a little jocularity and fun to this site. Sorry if I offended you.

    If that’s your reaction to my spelling, you are taking me and the site too seriously.

    And by “others” who choose not to post on my site, I assume you mean your alter ID “DLee,” right?

    • DLee is my brother, who lives less than a quarter of a mile away from my house, where he’s been at many times, even using one of my PC’s (computers). And I’ve been at his many times, also using one of his computers.


  3. your over-reaction really disappoints me. holding you up to public ridicule?! my having a bad attitude?! by merely asking if you were paying attention when it appeared that you never noticed such an obvious, glaring error? i was trying to be helpful to everybody on the site by posting (twice) on it what I thought would simply draw your attention to the obvious error, which still hasn’t been corrected…i’m rather mystified about that.

    i’ll admit my choice of words or writing style may not have been the best, but i didn’t think that anybody would misinterpret what i wrote so much as to feel offended or insulted.

    over the last several months i’ve noticed other errors and typos on the site, such as the wrong date given for an early June 1976 Stones concert and a Led Zep 1CD released by the Boogie Mama label rather than by Sugar Mama, and i tried to be helpful to everybody on the site by politely inquiring about the discrepancies in those two specific instances, but most other times i just held my tongue because i didn’t feel the mistakes were significant enough to be worth my time or anybody else’s. however, on this latest occasion, i made 2 attempts to bring your attention to such an obvious error, only to end up with the kind of reaction and attitude i’m now getting from you? if this is the way it’s going to be, then that’s unfortunate because i guess i may not be so eager or willing to help the next time there’s a chance to, as now i’m beginning to realize why others have chosen to no longer post responses on the site.

    i’ll just give you the benefit of the doubt by speculating that the major reason you were overly sensitive was that you probably must have had a very bad day or something like that. to be completely honest, i do respect the work that everybody does on the site, especially there being so much of it, but it seems to me that some of you have sacrificed a notable degree of accuracy for the sake of sheer prolificacy…it’s just my personal preference, but i wouldn’t mind having slightly fewer reviews and other types of entries on the site if they just had less mistakes in them.

    with all due respects, i really don’t want to spend any more time discussing this any further, so no offense to you intended, but if you choose to reply to this message, then i may have to just delete it right away without reading any of it.

  4. If you wanted to be helpful, you’d point out specific errors to me in a private email. Constructive criticism isn’t writing:

    “shouldn’t there be somebody who corrects all the errors and typos on this otherwise excellent site ? is gsparaco or his alter ego GSparaco possibly paying any attention here ? just wondering…just curious”

    as a public comment. You’re questioning my attentiveness, writing ability, and it just drips of a bad attitude.

    I spend a lot of time and (my own) money providing this free service and I do not like to be held up to public ridicule. There are better ways to present “constructive” criticism.

  5. well, a lot can be said about that in response, but rather than spend time explaining it all to you, why did you have to take such personal offense to what I wrote? why take it so personally? you seem to have either misunderstood or missed the essential meaning behind what i wrote…my “criticism” was mostly meant as CONSTRUCTIVE “criticism” to just be helpful, but you seem to have mistakenly interpreted it as being much more DESTRUCTIVE or negative than it was ever meant to be…..anyway, please just try to relax (calm down)…and have a rather nice day!….

  6. I do this on my spare time. Let’s see you write and edit several reviews a day and not have some typos and errors get through.

  7. shouldn’t there be somebody who corrects all the errors and typos on this otherwise excellent site ? is gsparaco or his alter ego GSparaco possibly paying any attention here ? just wondering…just curious

  8. although i haven’t yet started collecting any boots of the ‘Oo, the ‘Oo has always been one of my personal faves. the ‘Oo ROCKS! who doesn’t love the phenomenal music of the ‘Oo ?!?!?!/???!!!


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