The Who: The Kids Are Alright (Special Edition) product details page

The Who: The Kids Are Alright (Special Edition)

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Twenty-year-old Who fan Jeff Stein had a dream -- to create the ultimate rock film on the most explosive rock roll band in history. With unprecedented help from British gents and five years of digging through reel after reel of footage, Stein's dream became a reality and, in 1979, The Kids Are Alright premiered in theaters to raucous fans around the globe. Filled with wild television appearances and searing concert footage spanning 15 years of their career, the film traces the growth of the Who's early destructive years through their artistic Tommy days and eventually to the pinnacle rock album Who's Next era. Starting off with the legendary guest spot on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (where Townsend apparently lost the first bit of his hearing from fireworks blasted from Keith Moon's bass drum) and ending with the special Shepperton Studios gig filmed especially for the production, the clips bounce back and forth through time as you view both the band's musical and visual style change from their initial mod days to the hardened and worn veterans seen by the end of the film. At the time of release, the highlight was undoubtedly their infamous version of "A Quick One" from the Rolling Stones Rock Roll Circus -- then still unreleased, as ordered by the reportedly embarrassed and shown-up Stones at the time. (Truncated versions of this segment would not appear on home video for years, until Pioneer restored and reframed it with their amazing Kids Are Alright DVD in 2003.) Other spotlighted moments include brief skits Ringo Starr drunkenly joking around with Moon and a glorious archived bit with an enraged Ken Russell relating the Who's rock roll movement to the insipid and decadent English culture of the time. In the end, the film is a testimonial to the group's initial lineup which remained intact given their chaotic personalities and various changes in modern rock music and cultural climates. Sadly, the film became the final capper for Moon, who tragically died just days after screening the film. In fact, their Shepperton footage marks the last time the band performed together with its original lineup. Their final rousing and blistering version of "Won't Get Fooled Again" couldn't have been a better send-off, as the track comes out of the gate aggressively and crescendos in a visually stunning laser light display before the song howls and rages to its feverish and feedback-laden climax. Stein most assuredly achieved his goal, for the film embodies whom and what the band was and cements its memory forever in the annals of rock music. Long live rock. Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide