Wednesday, January 02, 2008

amazing journey

so anyway, my sis-in-law sent me the dvd of amazing journey: the story of the who, which isn't gonna make anybody forget jeff stein's the kids are alright, but is still worthwhile viewing if'n you're a fan. in fact, if you're _not_ a fan, it'll give you a better idea what all the fuss was/is about than tkaa, altho from the fanboy's perspective, it's frustrating to catch glimpses of so many classic shows (including the aforementioned london coliseum, tanglewood, and charlton, not to forget leeds 2.14.1970, which i didn't even realize was filmed) and not a single complete performance in the bunch (except the two songs that kit lambert and chris stamp filmed at the railway hotel in 1964, which appear on the second disc).

i'll admit that 1) the 'oo were the first band that i ever loved and 2) i've been ambivalent about them since quadrophenia. by the time i got out of high school in '74, i'd lost the thread, and as much as i tried to convince myself i liked their albs starting with who are you, i almost walked out on 'em when they played dallas in '79, and i still projectile vomit anytime i hear "eminence front." i viewed all their post-'83 reunions pretty cynically, altho i was surprised at how impressed i was when i ponied up $80 for a friend's extra ticket to see 'em in y2k (altho it still felt creepy to be in a reunion arena-ful of ppl my age or older). and when i expressed said cynicism to hembree, his response was something along the lines of, "if i can tour with a band i love to play in when i'm 60, you betcher ass i will." point taken.

i always say that my favorite muso stories are about groups of ppl growing up together through music, and it certainly ain't townshend and daltrey's fault that they got to have more time together than, say, the mc5 (subject of my all-time fave rock biopic mc5: a true testimonial) did, or that they managed to garner more fame 'n' acclaim in their days than my local faves from here in the fort have. the filmmakers (murray lerner, who filmed the 1970 isle of wight festival, and paul crowder, who edited lotsa vh-1 behind the music episodes as well as stacey peralta's dogtown and z-boys) deal with the tough stuff -- the deaths of 11 fans at cincinnati's riverfront coliseum in '79 as well as those of moon, entwistle, and townshend's svengali kit lambert; they even briefly touch on the latter-day (unproven) kiddie porn allegations against townshend, and interview early producer shel talmy (who successfully sued the band for breaking his contract and once tried to sell his who master tapes on ebay).

for once, the dominant voice in the narrative is someone other than townshend's -- in this case, daltrey, who's never been my favorite but comes across a lot more sympathetic than he did, say, on the kids are alright bonus disc where he sounded, um, kinda brain-damaged. maybe i'm getting sentimental in my dotage, but i find it disarming to hear a man in his 60s talking about wanting to be like elvis when he was a teen (and realizing that he actually lived that dream, which musta felt like sci-fi to somebody from his west london 'hood). while there's no way that the 2004 song "real good looking boy" is going to supplant sell out or leeds when i need a who fix, i find i'm able to respect it more 'n lots of their late-period music, and even muster some interest in the mini-feature on its recording (with, um, greg lake on bass!). in the fullness of time, in fact, it's the connection in the now between these 60somethings that gives this telling of their tale its special poignancy.


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