Music

DVD Review – The Who: Under Review 1964-1968 – The Kids Are Alright and Don’t Need This

The more I seek out DVDs based on bands I’ve listened to since my years as a teenager, the more I’m coming to the conclusion that everyone who has access to a studio is producing unauthorized documentaries about their favorite band.

The Who: Under Review 1964-1968 is another such documentary. None of the surviving members of The Who are actually interviewed for this assessment of the band during their early years. Instead, we have a bunch of “experts” – music critics and journalists – talking about the band.

The Who were mostly doing R&B covers during their early years, such as Shout and Shimmy by James Brown. When they started recording their own material, it was interesting to see the reactions they got. Between becoming a staple on a British pop shown known as “Ready, Steady, Go” to their recordings with the feedback that were sent back by the record companies for “having something wrong with it”, The Who managed to change what was then thought of as pop music. Like many of the musicians from this era, The Who had to go with the change from singles-based releases to albums. Seems like we’re going back the other way now, doesn’t it?

It’s not that the material on The Who: Under Review 1964-1968 isn’t interesting. It’s just that watching a rock critic sit there and show me how certain riffs from their music came about strikes me more as a wannabe trying to fulfill his unrealized dream rather than members of the band talking about what was actually going on.

The good parts are some terrific clips of the band from their early years. Watching the early black-and-white footage of Can’t Explain with Keith Moon on drums and Roger Daltrey looking quite a bit younger than when I saw them live in 1982 was quite a treat. However, none of the clips contain an entire performance of any of their hits, so just about the time I started getting really into a performance, it was cut. Many of these clips are also available on other (authorized) DVDs, so it’s not like the material is something I couldn’t find elsewhere if I wanted to.

The Who: Under Review 1964-1968 also covers their songs such as The Kids Are Alright, My Generation, Substitute, I Can See For Miles, and Magic Bus. Although the Tommy album is mentioned briefly, they don’t go into it too deeply. That’s a shame because when I took a course in rock music in college, four entire classes were devoted to the discussion of Tommy, both the music and the movie. How could the makers of this DVD gloss over something that was so important to its time?

The other good point is that The Who: Under Review 1964-1968 talks about songs that weren’t as popular here in the U.S. as they were in the U.K. such as I’m A Boy, Bucket T, and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. These were songs I have on albums at home but hadn’t paid all that much attention to before hearing them on this DVD.

While The Who: Under Review 1964-1968 has some good points, it just isn’t anything that fans of the band need to have. The clips can be found elsewhere and hearing other people talk about the band rather than having the band members themselves talk about what was going on doesn’t impress me.


BONUS FEATURES:

” The Hardest Who Quiz Ever
” Discography 1964-1968
” ‘Legs’ Larry Smith on Keith Moon
” Beyond DVD


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