JamBase on Isle of Wight '70 DVD

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 27 20:36:54 CDT 2004

On line at:

About one year after Woodstock, a massive
600,000-person rock festival took place on the United
Kingdom's Isle of Wight. At 2:00 a.m. on August 30,
1970, The Who took the stage for a raucous set. This
powerhouse moment in rock history has been captured on
the newly restored and remixed DVD release of The
Who--Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. The
packaging of the disc claims the 85 minutes on the DVD
is The Who's "complete" performance despite the fact
that the band reportedly exited the stage at 5:00 a.m.
Either there were exceptionally long banter or pee
breaks in this set, or some of the music is missing
from the DVD.

This is not what one might expect from a 1970
rockumentary. I don't know if it's because the camera
crew was British or because the film was edited years
after the fact, but those glorious, elongated 1970s
close-ups on a guitarist's frenetic fingers are
unfortunately nowhere to be found. In fact, the camera
angles are rather unorthodox, relying primarily on an
interesting stage left profile shot of the band and
rarely cutting to the strangely obstructed frontal
wide shots.

Of course, this would all be a big deal if the music
wasn't so amazingly explosive. This gig found The Who
in their prime, and they eagerly tore across the stage
with their badass blend of rock and blues. Although
the set includes a lengthy but somewhat truncated
version of their rock opera Tommy, the real highlights
are the incredibly energetic opening tracks of the
set. From the opening salvos of "Heaven and Hell," and
continuing through the thunderous mod sounds of "I
Can't Explain" and the scorching rage of Mose
Allison's "Young Man Blues," it's obvious that this
band was operating in high gear. The set climaxes on a
rowdy, ten-minute version of the sexually-charged
"Water," featuring some rare improvisation from
guitarist Pete Townshend. 

This release provides the added options of both Dolby
5.1 Surround Sound and DTS Digital Surround, enabling
the listener to plop himself right inside of Keith
Moon's drum kit. While the sound is impressive, it
also reveals an interesting truth about The Who. As a
chemically-enhanced Moon pounds his kit, a
bare-chested Roger Daltrey preens back and forth, and
Townshend jumps across the stage and windmills his
guitar on exaggerated chords, one man stands stoically
dressed in a skeleton costume. He is the late John
Entwistle, and the enhanced sound of this DVD brings
forward his vast array of mind-numbing riffs that
propel the band forward and are often overlooked in
the visual shuffle of his hyperactive compatriots.

The DVD is closed out with a 40-minute interview of
Townshend, where he candidly reflects on his dislike
of his bandmates, his hatred of the hippie/Communist
movement, and his discomfort with his famous career.
Watching an aging rock star bitterly gripe about his
incredibly successful life is a fascinating and
bittersweet way of ending a DVD release that truly
captures Townshend and company at the peak of their
immense powers. 

Brian Ferdman
JamBase | Worldwide

-Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!

Do you Yahoo!?
Declare Yourself - Register online to vote today!

More information about the TheWho mailing list