Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amazing Journey - Discs 2 and 3

Picking up where I left off, here are my thoughts on the 2nd and 3rd discs in the new Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who DVD box set. Disc 2 is a feast for Who fans. Split into 6 parts, the first 4 segments are in depth studies of the band members musical prowess, spliced with historic footage and interviews. Among lots of interesting revelations, you've got the Edge explaining Pete's flamenco guitar style, and session drummer Rob Ladd trying to breakdown Keith's unorthodox drumming. Cut to Keith literally leaping out his seat while playing, from the Live at Leeds footage. It may be more information than the casual music fan will care about, but for a Who fan, particularly anyone with an interest in the band members extraordinary talents, it is spectacular. Best of all, we get more rare and previously unseen video. I've read dozens of articles and books on the Who, and I still learned quite a bit from these segments.

Part 5 focuses on the art school origins of Pete and its influence on the visual aspects of the band, including the mod symbology and guitar smashing. Again, this is important stuff that has been previously unexplored in a documentary format. It's fun to see the original early 60's Coke commercial that the Who did the music for. Part 6 takes us to the sessions for Real Good Looking Boy, and is somewhat reminiscent of the footage from the Kids Are Alright when the band is working on Who Are You. As a finale, the disc includes the earliest known video of the band, taken at the Railway Hotel in 1964 as the High Numbers. Primal, that's all I can say. Oh, there's also a Scrapbook section with other anecdotes, but it's worthless.

Disc 1 and 2 comprise the basic package, and overall I would probably recommend this DVD set over The Kids Are Alright to someone that wants a good overview of the band. As I said in my previous post, The Kids is a really entertaining film, but it doesn't offer the insight of Amazing Journey. Disc 3 is a bonus, and is currently available in a limited edition package at Best Buy. Containing about 90 minutes of footage from the December 11, 1979 performance at the International Amphitheater in Chicago, this is particularly thrilling for me, as I was at that show. Ticket demand for this tour was huge, and in Chicago, fans without tickets were able to watch the show on a live simulcast at outlying theaters. Hence, a pretty decent video of the show exists, and this version is improved in both audio and visual quality.

I'm not complaining though. I paid $25 at Best Buy for the 3-disc set, so this bonus disc was practically free. And, I get to relive my first Who show. Rock concerts are of the moment; even the best ones leave only fleeting memories. I remember a lot from this show that was nearly 30 years ago, and this video helps me fill in the blanks. Coming only 6 days after the tragedy in Cincinnati, it's miracle our parents let us go. The Amphitheater was in a rough neighborhood, and none of us could drive. We got a ride down by a friend's older brother, and chipped in for a long cab ride home. From our seats we couldn't really discern the facial expressions of the band. The video reveals that Pete was quite clearly drunk, with the toussled hair and glassy eyes of his 'cognac period.' The band was asked to acknowledge the fans out in the movie theaters, and there's a funny bit where Pete says through his shifty eyes and sideways grin " We would like to say hello to (reading from a cue card)......the people in...Gateway and Nortown. Both of those places are my hometown. We were born there." These were our heroes, in the flesh.

Musically the band is in fine form, despite a new drummer who was certainly no substitute for Moon, and retrospect, the wrong guy for the job. It's an unbelievable set list, including Young Man Blues and lots from Quadrophenia. I remember the surprise of hearing The Punk Meets The Godfather at this show and it is a great moment in the video. We expected to hear Love Reign O'er Me and 5:15, but not this one. When I think of that show I always go right to that song. Quadrophenia was only 6 years old in 1979, and seeing them perform it that night feels like my slim link to the Who's past.

But I'm rambling. The bottom line is that the limited edition set is worth the extra money if you are a Who fan, but maybe not so much for the casual observer or those of you who are just curious.

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Blogger Chris said...

Hi Mark. Terrific post, alwys been a Who fan & I'll likely buy the set because of this review. Have a great Thanksgiving!

5:04 PM  
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