★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Who’s Next consistently ranks as one of my favorite albums of all-time. Because of this, it was only natural for me to be drawn towards what live Who footage there was out there. For many years, my uncle or one of my brothers had bestowed a Best Buy gift card to me for Christmas; being a digital nut, it was always a safe bet. One year, when I was about 16 or 17-years-old, one of those gift cards was cashed in for this two-part DVD.
The footage itself is not so much self-contained as it is an amalgam of footage over the career of The Who. Footage quality varies widely from early black-and-white to slick live color 16mm footage from the late 1970s. Intermixed with the live footage are interviews with the members of the band: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. The film encompasses the band’s life from 1964-1978 and includes some of drummer Keith Moon’s final performances. He would die of accidental barbiturate overdose at the age of 32 in September, 1978.
The raw energy of a band like The Who is hard to capture in concert footage, but I feel this film gives a valiant effort. Especially worth noting are the later performances of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Who Are You” and “Baba O’Rilly” in 1978. Iconic footage from these performances have made been integrated into many other media avenues since release including the 2001 Cameron Crowe film Vanilla Sky.
If you are a fan of The Who, then I highly recommend this film. Not only does it capture the band’s life from early success until Moon’s final, tragic days, it also takes a look in a very unobtrusive way into their lives recording together and interacting on promotional tours, etc. It definitely is a gem of compiled footage from a band that will go into the annals of music history as trendsetters and masters of raw emotion, both live and on the album.
Here’s one of my favorite tracks from the film: