Lambert & Stamp, Film Review. Picturehouse@F.A.C.T., Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Think of The Who and the thought of one of the greatest ever British bands should immediately spring to mind, the thought of the Rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia will occur naturally not far behind and songs delivered with overwhelming talent and power such as The Kids Are Alright, Who Are You, Pinball Wizzard and My Generation with couple themselves with images of four of the finest rock talents to ever come out of London. The mix is explosive, it has any fan of the band reaching for an album to get their fix, their daily dose of exuberance, excess and excellence.

This though is how it is remembered now, four lads who went onto become superstars, who took on the establishment set out by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and who along with The Kinks and The Small Faces sold Mod to the world as if being allowed to sit at the table laden with the finest offerings. Such is the importance of this Mod-triumvirate that they are still cited today as being socially important to the fabric of music at the time and to the modern day listener.

What is forgotten by all but the completely dedicated is the role that two other men had in bringing this near uncontainable talent, this nuclear bomb of whirling arms, screaming thoughtful lyrics, patient but genius bass grooves and Tasmanian devil like approach of one of the most exciting drummers of all time, two of the most unlikeliest of men who by luck, certain judgment and on the back of a wing and a prayer made them the band that people look at with fondness.

Lambert & Stamp is the latest in the rise of the Rock documentary and puts immense emphasis on the two men who made The Who, literary from the ground up. In a way the suggestion of manufacture rears its head and whilst that should and normally would be dismissed out of hand completely, the thought remains. Yes the band were already there in one form as The High Numbers, they already had the potential, but what Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp did was bring them a certain style and nurturing which may have gone sheepishly to the background and withered and died within a year or two.

To manufacture a band is a display of the ignorant and the greedy, it is to see pound signs floating about as if caught on the delicate wings of a butterfly being seduced by an elephant, yet the proper management, to the point where the image is king, where the music is empirical and all the combustible elements work in synergy, that’s where creation is observed, it is not fabrication, it is elevation and evolution and without Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, the world would never have had The Who.

The documentary reveals possibly more than could have been hoped for but it still doesn’t go far enough and unfortunately such things never will as the much missed Keith Moon, the genius of John Entwhistle and the social grace of Kit Lambert will never be available to comment on what was perhaps the golden period of the genre, the combination of film making and music being seen to work in tandem from the very start of a band’s career.

The film also, and perhaps rightly leaves out the period after the fall out from Tommy until almost the present day. Whilst it would have been enriching to see how the band progressed without Lambert and Stamp forging their way, this really was a film about the two men with contributions from Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, Terrance Stamp and a host of others, not the other way round.

Lambert & Stamp is a great step into the unknown and sometimes unknowable but one that should be treated with respect, even if it doesn’t quite give the full story of one of the greatest bands from Britain and the team that made them. A film of cultural significance that should be preserved and shown to aspiring band managers on how to put the group first and to give them the further education needed.

Ian D. Hall