Sound: If you weren't born early enough to witness the impact that The Who had on music, any question you might have about the English band's success are answered in full with the new DVD Amazing Journey: The Story Of The Who. The 2-disk release features both a documentary and a 6-part film, the second of which delves a little deeper into the separate biographies of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle. From The Who's early days as a mod band called The Detours, to its eventual disintegration following Moon's death from an overdose, Amazing Journey leaves pretty much no stone unturned.
The footage featured in the DVD is unbelievable, particularly considering that there is so much of it from the early 1960s. Even in the rough-around-the-edges performances, you see the same kind of energy that would eventually make the band a household name -- from Moon's spastic drumming to Townshend's trademark windmills. Both vocalist Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend are interviewed throughout both disks, with each providing a very unique perspective of their time in The Who. What is perhaps most interesting is the attitude that Townshend felt towards Daltrey in the beginning days. While it's obvious that the guitarist and vocalist are exceptionally tight in the present day, it was pretty evident that Townshend felt that Daltrey might not have been quite up to the level that he, Entwistle, and Moon were in the beginning.
The Tommy generation is covered in full, with scene after scene showing Townshend feverishly working away at the epic rock opera. While the film for Tommy is touched upon, the DVD gives most of it's attention to the lives shows performed at classical music halls. It's during those shows that you're able to see a complete transformation in Daltrey, who becomes as much of a driving force as any of the other bandmates. Besides the incredible live footage, you're also able to get better insight into Townshend's struggle in creating something that would live up to Tommy. Townshend felt an enormous amount of pressure to live up to the rock opera, and to the man's credit, he was actually able to pull out hit after hit several years after.
While Moon and Entwistle (who passed away in 1978 and 2002, respectively) were obviously not able to lend their own commentary to Amazing Journey, there is still a great amount of attention given to the 2 talented members. The DVD doesn't shy away from talking about Entwistle's vice of overspending and Moon's addiction to an assortment of drugs, but it also doesn't hesitate on giving most of the focus to their amazing skills as musicians. Seeing the early footage of Moon going absolutely berserk behind his humble set is alone worth seeing the documentary. // 10
Content: Amazing Journey: The Story Of The Who is hands-down one of the best rock documentaries ever made because of its thorough coverage. The makers of the DVD wisely didn't shy away from showing an extended concert scenes, which often told the story as much as the interviews. While plenty of focus is given to the people who lived and worked everyday with The Who (everyone from Townshend's college roommate to Kenney Jones, who replaced Moon after his passing), there are also concert scenes interspersed with it all that last several minutes long.
The second disk, Six Quick Ones, is comprised of several chapters, with each member getting his own brief biography. One of the later chapters titled Who Art You deals more with The Who's relationship to the modern art world, which often inspired Townshend as much as the blues. There's a shift to a later incarnation of the band in the chapter called Who's Back, which covers the making of the single Real Good Looking Boy. There aren't any full-length concerts shown on the DVD, but you won't miss it. The nearly 4-hour long DVD set covers plenty of ground, and you'll get guest commentary from Eddie Vedder, The Edge, and Noel Gallagher along the way. // 10
Production Quality: The producers of Amazing Journey likely spent a lot of time and energy, particularly when you look at the astonishing amount of vintage footage they acquired for the film. You get rare scenes from every stage of The Who's career, and considering that some of the performances are 40-plus years old, it all is still very engaging. While some documentaries don't have the cinematic power to be shown on the big screen, the quality of Amazing Journey actually deserves to be shown in a theater. // 10
Overall Impression: There is not a lot left out of the 2-disk set on Amazing Journey, but for those who would like to see more live footage, you're in luck. Best Buy is selling an exclusive 3-disk set of Amazing Journey, which will include 90 minutes of The Who performing live in Chicago back in 1979.
The Who has often been called one of the most influential rock bands in history, and that becomes quickly obvious when you hear The Edge and Eddie Vedder go on and on about the band. Even if you don't care for the rock opera Tommy or songs like Who Are You and My Generation, it's likely that you'll still be intrigued by The Who's live show. In fact, some of the band's earliest shows put many of today's live acts to shame. Amazing Journey does make it clear that Townshend, Daltrey, Moon, and Entwistle were more than just about guitar smashing and microphone swings, however, and by the end of the DVD it's likely that you'll have a better appreciation of the true talent in The Who. // 10