NY Daily News on Amazing Journey
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 5 18:17:13 CST 2007
Film reveals Who, what & where
by David Hinkley
3 1/2 out of 4 stars
AMAZING JOURNEY: THE STORY OF THE WHO. Saturday, 9 o'clock. VH1 Classic
The Who's first hit was called "I Can't Explain," which makes it amusing that 42 years later they keep trying.
To explain, that is.
No band anywhere has ever delivered the sheer volume of self-analysis as Who frontmen Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Happily, they're good at it, and this latest film is first-class.
For those who really can't get enough, it will be followed Tuesday on vh1classic.com with a second film called "Amazing Journey: Six Quick Ones."
Tonight's film is a chronological band biography, taking the four original members from their birth in the early 1940s up through fame, adulation, big money, wild excess and internal combustion.
The magic bus came to a crashing halt in 1978 when drummer Keith Moon blew himself out. The Who got another drummer, but never another Moon, because no other Moon existed.
As Townshend explains, Moon was an addict of whatever he could get his hands on. He was also what Daltrey calls the "jet engine" that made the band come together and drove them to their greatest heights.
Moon's story would make a documentary all by itself, but the producers here acknowledge what every other Who chronicler has also discovered: The other personalities are so strong it's impossible to separate any one story from the whole.
Townshend, one of the most articulate autobiographers in modern music history, shares the spotlight with Daltrey in recounting the chaotic early days of the band - when Daltrey was kicked out for a month for throwing away a bag of the amphetamines that kept them going.
Townshend becomes more introspective later when he talks about the pressures of success creating tensions that led him to redirect some of his own ideas.
The tale is enhanced at every step by extensive footage of Who music, back to the early 1964 days when Daltrey wore mod sunglasses on stage.
In the end, the music closes the deal. While the Who was never a major pop-radio force, the band is revered among rock fans for a catalogue unlike any other.
Daltrey traces that uniqueness back to "I Can't Explain." Townshend wrote it from the template of Kinks songs, Daltrey says, but it came out deeper. "He's talking about having something inside he can't express," says Daltrey. "You knew then Pete was a songwriter."
Maybe there's something about the Who that still can't be explained, which is why people keep trying to do it. Or maybe everyone knows the story, but it's good enough so you just keep wanting to hear it again.
-Brian in Atlanta
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