AMAZING JOURNEY: THE STORY OF THE WHO
VH1 • Saturday, Nov. 3 (9 p.m.)
Unlike the 1979 documentary The Kids Are Alright, Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who is more about the band’s Mods roots and reflection than concert performance.
Quick cuts revisit the lads’ birthplaces amidst rubble-strewn, post World War II England, while black and white photos and archival footage from local club scenes take viewers back to the early and mid-1960s, before the boys hit big.
Fresh conversations with surviving members Roger Daltrey and guitarist/creative genius Pete Townsend are interspersed with interviews with The Edge, Sting, Eddie Vedder and Noel Gallagher. Tales and remembrances also come from late bassist John Entwistle’s wife and mother, local club owners and former and current manager Chris Stamp and Bill Curbishey.
Devotees will delight in the doc’s snippets from the Beat Club, rarely seen promotional videos of “I Can’t Explain” and “The Kids Are Alright,” and the earliest footage of the band, then known as The High Numbers, at the Railway Hotel.
Not that more familiar stories and on-stage action are neglected: how late drummer Keith Moon’s 21st birthday bash got the band banned from Holiday Inns; the competition with Jimi Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival; their explosive American debut on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour; and newsreel of Mods and Rockers clashing in Brighton, later depicted in their Quadrophenia movie.
The film also has the surviving members delve into Entwistle and Moon’s high-profile deaths and child pornography allegations against Townsend. It would have been interesting, though, to hear commentary about the rampant commercialization of the band’s catalog. After all, the solo recordings and frequent reunion tours aside, The Who went 24 years without a new studio album until 2006’s Endless Wire.
The movie concludes with their anthem “My Generation” and Townsend’s voice: “We’ll be back.” No doubt: There’s already buzz about a 2009 tour to celebrate the 40th anniversary of rock opera Tommy.
Long live rock.