I don’t know why I keep torturing myself with these “independent critical reviews” of bands and musicians that I have listened to over the years. I suppose I am hoping one will offer something new and different; something like the moments in the music class I took in college where some of the ideas present in their songs came to light.
If you want to believe the hype on various websites, The Who: The Moon Years is billed as “the ultimate review”. Once again, it’s critics sitting around talking about The Who’s music. This time, it doesn’t seem so much as criticism as it is giving the background and history as to what was going on at the time these songs were popular. There’s also a bit of technical information as to how certain distinct sounds on the recordings were made, such as Moon double-tracking the drums. They also talk about how the songs were performed live, versus how they were recorded.
I found this to be quite interesting. I haven’t heard of these people, but among those doing the talking, there are Hugh Fielder, Les Davidson, Chris Welch, Rob Corrich, Martin Turner, and Jerry Ewing.
Another plus is that The Who: The Moon Years has music from The Who in it, unlike other similar documentaries. There are also a lot of songs played, not just snippets. Some of the vintage video footage is worth watching as there are performances shown which haven’t been seen in more than 40 years. There are lots of clips from the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.
I Can See For Miles from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour kicks off this retrospective of the music of The Who during the years Keith Moon was their drummer. The primary focus is on the albums made during the late 1960s and 1970s. Each album is addressed and the music is talked about, although not every song on each album. At the end of the section on a particular album, the overall rating based on the critics is displayed. This was the only bit I found to be a bit presumptuous.
The Who never had a #1 single. I Can See For Miles was the closest, making it to #2 in 1967. That was something I sort of knew, but it was something to think about against the pop music of today with the emphasis on the hit single once again, rather than complete albums. It was interesting to hear how they approached making an album in the style of pirate radio in the day.
Of course, a lot of time is spent on music from Tommy. It was a huge gamble for the band and turned into one of their biggest albums, or their biggest album, depending on who you listen to. The movie is also talked about as is Quadrophenia when the discussion turns to that. That said, I did find that the week we spent studying Tommy (both the music and the movie) in my class in college was much more interesting and informative.
The only “extras” on the DVD is an Image Gallery which doesn’t contain much.
Of all of these reviews I’ve seen, this is one of the best. That may not be saying much, but there were at least some interesting parts. I think it’s worth renting and watching, if for nothing else than the early footage of the band. I would not recommend purchasing it as there really isn’t anything here that warrants sitting through it multiple times.