Lambert and Stamp Blu-ray Review
Everyone wants to be a director. Studio assistants Christopher “Kit” Lambert and Christopher Stamp spent much of the early 1960s toiling behind the scenes at Britain’s Shepperton Studios. Feeling they would never get the chance to direct they did the next best thing. They will go out and find a local band and feature them in their own movie. Well the movie never took off, but the band, with Lambert and Stamp’s promotion, sure did. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome…The Who.
Told through modern day interviews and vintage film footage, LAMBERT and STAMP gives an inside look into the British youth culture of the 1960s. Where the “good” kids had the Beatles while the “bad” kids preferred the Stones, when first discovered, the Who had yet to have a hit. In fact, they had recently changed the group name to the High Numbers when Lambert and Stamp came upon them. Each had come from a different side of the tracks and their combined efforts soon made The Who an up and coming band on the local music scene.
The film follows the partnership from the very beginning, with memories shared by Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey, the two remaining living members of the band (drummer Keith Moon died in 1978, bassist John Entwistle died in 2002) and Christopher Stamp, among others. Kit Lambert passed away in 1981, and a lot of times it seems that a lot of the things that may not have gone as well as planned are dumped on Lambert just because he’s not here to contradict them. The interviews are honest, as are the behind-the-scenes film presented, showing the band as they were and not as they were promoted. When they are compared favorably in America to the Animals, Townsend can only exclaim, “If they like Eric Burdon, were f***ed!”
Fans of The Who will enjoy the archival footage of the band playing local shows as well as the in-depth conversations with Townsend and Daltrey. It was Lambert who convinced Townsend, the group’s main songwriter, to rise above the pop scene and challenge himself. The result was the classic rock-opera, “Tommy,” which Lambert and Stamp booked into every major opera house around the world. One can only imagine the reactions of the blue-bloods when they sit in their seats and take in a story of a deaf, dumb and blind kid that excels in pinball! Other highlights include very early footage of Jimi Hendrix in London and the fact that Jimmy Page tried to lure Moon and Entwistle away from the band to become a part of Led Zeppelin!
If you’re a fan of the 1960s, either the music or the generation, then you will thoroughly enjoy this film. If not, watch it to see how the promotional machines used to work their magic, turning unknowns, albeit talented unknowns, into stars. They may have never made that film they so badly wanted to, but Kit Lambert and Christopher Stamp certainly left their mark on pop culture history.
Video: Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the film is rather muted color-wise. Even the modern day interviews are badly lit.
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS-HD 5.1 and is delivered clearly, though it won’t hurt to turn up the volume when Pete Townsend is speaking.
Commentary with James D. Cooper: The film’s director spends some time talking about the film and the band, but appears to enjoy watching the film more than talking about it.
Q & A with Henry Rollins and James D. Cooper (39:18): Following a screening, singer Henry Rollins peppers Cooper with questions about the film and its subjects. Though it appears he’d rather be anywhere but there, Cooper answers everything honestly.
“The Who” in Finland (9:02): The band arrives at a local airport and signs autographs for fans.
“The Who” Promotional Film 1967 (2:43): A silent bit following the boys as they drive along the countryside. Almost seems to be a rip-off of something Richard Lester would do, with the sped-up footage and shots of the boys chasing their Bentley down the road on foot.
“Where the Action Is” Archival Footage (5:48): A quick interview with the band from the popular American television show of the mid-60s. The clip is almost 50 years old, which may explain the poor sound quality.
Call Me Lightning (2:03): A silent promo film featuring the band riding bikes and blowing up things.