The Who: The Kids Are Alright
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A visual exploration of the great performances and maniacal events that constitute the legend that is The Who. Includes interviews with band members Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon and John Entwhistle, plus cameo appearances by Ringo Starr, Keith Richards and comedian Steve Martin.
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I was a Who fan. This DVD turned me into a raving Who fan. It starts out with a bang (a real one, complete with drum shrapnel and burning hair) and ends with a blistering live performance of WGFA (Won't Get Fooled Again) from 1978 -- Keith Moon's last public performance with the band. There's also a live version of "Baba O'Riley" from the same session in 1978, and magical footage from Woodstock of Daltrey singing "See me, hear me, touch me, feel me" as the sun breaks over the horizon and floods the stage. Makes me want to have been there even more than Hendrix's performances do.
I just watched "Live at Isle of Wight" (as well as the Woodstock footage), and the '78 live versions of Baba and WGFA are every bit as electric as the performances in '69 and '70.
The bonus material is also fascinating: if you look at what they did during the restoration and audio cleanup of the original release, your jaw will be hanging on the floor (if you like such things).
This deserves twice as many stars as I can give it. No offense to anyone who doesn't like it, but how that's possible is beyond my comprehension.
Long live rock.
P.S. You should also get your hands on the DVD about the making of Who's Next: amazing, truly amazing -- behind the scenes info from Townshend, Glyn Johns, and many other people involved with the production of the record. It answers a lot of questions, like "Is that a *violin* at the end of Baba O'Riley?" (Yes, played by Dave Arbus) and "Is that a synth loop?" (No, but you'll have to listen to Glyn Johns's explanation because I don't quite understand it)
It seems like every night, Dave and Jay have some new band on stage. Some angst-projecting vocalist trying to sound like Kurt Cobain, some guitarist who knows 5 chords and 2 ways to strum each one, a bassist who plays one note at a time, and a drummer who knows only one rythem - bump-bah-bump-bah-bump-bah-badump. But no matter how bad they are, they all have one thing in common - they're all pretty enough for MTV. It's enough to make me scream in frustration, because I know how good rock and roll can really be, and THIS DVD is it.
Patch your DVD player through your stereo, put masking tape on all your window glass, stuff the dog's ears with cotton, protect all small children with DOT approved devices, then pop this DVD in and hide under the couch, because THIS is rock and roll as it was and is meant to be - master musicians with genuine f--- it all attitude, playing through 10 tons of Marshall Hiwatt amps. In the late 70's there was a famous ad in "Stereo Review" showing a guy sitting in an armchair in front of a speaker, with his necktie being blown straight back behind him. Picture that, and you get an idea of what this movie and this band are all about.
The movie itself is half comedy and half action-drama. The comedy comes during interviews and conversations with the band, with Keith initiating most of it and everyone else either joining in or, in the case of the slick corporate "host" types, getting skewered. The action-drama is all on stage, with Pete whirling his way through incredible guitar playing, Roger providing his usual peerless singing, Keith bringing something almost otherworldly to his drums, and John holding it all down, standing there motionless like the rock of gibralter, his fingers on the bass a blur.
Unlike so many modern bands, who surround themselves with "star" mystique and who are always safe and cool on stage, The Who were self-deprecating and able to laugh at themselves when they weren't playing, and when they were playing... well, when they were playing, they consistently reached for the stars. Sometimes it didn't work - sometimes they sounded like crap. But when they were in the sweet spot, when they were in "the zone," they were, to use the apt words of another reviewer, "the greatest rock and roll band ever to draw breath."
Most of what you get in this DVD special edition is "in the zone," and what little isn't, doesn't really detract from the experience. Everyone who worked on producing this DVD edition should get a medal, as the film looks and sounds as close to perfection as it is ever going to get.
By the way, if you are listening through an old-fashioned, two speaker system, choose "stereo" under sound options. The reviewer who panned the sound, probably hadn't tried that option yet - on my system (Carver tuner with 2 Dahlquist DQM-9 Compact loudspeakers) choosing "stereo" cleaned up the sound greatly.
Unfortunately, most of the people who buy this DVD, probably already know how great it is. You won't be disappointed, and if you show it to a friend or two, maybe the memory of The Who won't die with us. There's never been another band like them, and this DVD does them justice for the ages.
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