Guide to British Music of the 1960s

April 2004

DVD Review

The Who - The Kids are Alright

Released as a film in 1978, The Kids are Alright marked, unintentionally, the end of the Keith Moon era with the Who. The film has been available on video for some time but the advent of DVD and digital enhancement techniques have enabled this new version of the film. So why is it different? The higher quality of the sound is obvious but the restoration work has made the picture quality much sharper while footage cut from the film has been returned. This is most apparent in A Quick One which is back to its full length complete with an introduction from ringmaster Keith Richards. Part of the second disc is a documentary film explaining how the film was restored and enhanced.

The quality of the music contained in The Kids are Alright cannot be doubted. For those who never saw the Who live, including the reviewer, the DVD offers an insight into how explosive the band was on stage. It could not start any more explosive than the opening My Generation. Taken from a US television show, this performance has gone down in Who folklore. Quite simply, Keith Moon bribed the stagehands to put more than the usual amount of explosives in his drums for the finale. What happened? Take a look at the DVD.

While the Who were known to be at each other's throats much of the time, there is also plenty of humour and this comes across well in the interview clips. When asked by a young Mod girl if the amount of drugs the band took meant that they were blocked on stage, a dead-pan Townshend replies that it meant they were blocked all of the time!

But of course it is the music that is the main thing. A chronological telling of the Who's career might have been what is expected but there is no clear order to the music. It could be said that this helps to disguise the possible decline of the band from its 1960s peak. However, it could also be said that it evens out the band's work, making all of it equally important. Black and white footage from the sixties showing tracks like I Can't Explain, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere and Substitute and mixed with sixties colour such as The Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus and footage especially shot for the film in 1978. The latter was Keith Moon's final performance with the Who in front of an invited audience at Shepperton Studios. The two tracks played were Baba O'Reilly and Won't Get Fooled Again.

The highlight, at least for the reviewer, is the clip from The Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus. For many years, the concert had stayed hidden in a vault. Some said it was because the Stones were not happy with their own performance, other said that they were simply outdone by the Who. Watching The Who running through a storming version of A Quick One makes you think the latter is true. This is the band really on form and probably at their pre-Tommy peak. This was one of the clips that benefited from transferring to DVD. The video release of The Kids are Alright omitted part of the track as well as the introduction by ringmaster Keith Richards. Maybe this was done as a legal obligation to lessen the Who's performance. It's good that it's back.

There are some additional extras on the DVD. These include interviews, a documentary about how the film was restored for DVD and a Who tour of London. The documentary is interesting and explains the modern techniques that were needed to show the film at its best.

All in all, this is an excellent DVD that shows the Who at their best and, sometimes, at their worst. it is a far better production than the original VHS edition and is well worth a revisit.

 

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