The Who-30 Years of Maximum R&B Live (1994)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 4-Nov-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 153:35
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Nick Ryle
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Pete Townsend
Roger Daltery
John Entwistle
Keith Moon
Kenny Jones
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $19.95 Music The Who


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Portuguese
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

'Sometimes I still sleep on the beach, remember when stars couldn't reach,
 I wander in early to work, Spend my day licking boots for my perks ...'

    In the beginning there was Elvis, and rock and roll. Whilst the Beatles and Beach Boys sang about wholesome love, sunny days and California girls, the Stones addressed the seamier side of life, sex 'n drugs and rock 'n roll. Then there was The Who - angry, street-fighting, crew cut Daltrey and the equally angry but more intellectual and eloquent Pete Townsend. Moon thrashed the crap out of the drum kit and concentrated on having a good time - John Entwistle, well he just played bass and played it bloody well too. What were they angry about ? - the usual teen frustrations; no money, dead-beat jobs and the prick-teasing birds who always fancied the 'ace-face' whilst you were suffering with terminal acne. You know what - it never changes - "Meet the old boss, the same as the old boss!"

    Well Pete Townsend was a bit of a Mod, new suit every week - had to be just right, uppers, downers, purple hearts and smart disco - and so it was no surprise that the Mod movement adopted the Who, whilst the greasy, long-haired 'bikers got into hard rock and the origins of metal. Whilst expressing teen frustration, My Generation, Substitute, Won't Get Fooled Again, Pete investigated psychedelic drugs, the meaning of life, Eastern Philosophy and composed a triad of rock operas - A Quick One (while he's away), Tommy and Quadrophrenia. John collected esoteric weapons and musical instruments, Roger stayed incredibly fit and got off on the band and Keith blew up the odd toilet, chucked TV's into hotel pools and then choked on his own vomit and died in September 1978.

    After the shock of Moon's death, the band lost the spark and the chemistry between the players was gone forever. Sure Kenny Jones (ex Faces/Small Faces) is a good rock drummer but Keith Moon was a genius - his attack, subtlety, variety  and precision have never been emulated IMHO. The band struggled on, had a few hits, were generally more pensive and introspective but achieved further recognition after The Broadway production of Tommy in 1993 which won 5 Tony awards. A stunning performance of Quadrophenia to 200,000 people in Hyde Park in 1996 and some memorable live performances with new drummer Zak Starkey (son of Ringo) undoubtedly won over new fans until John Entwistle's sudden and unexpected death in 2002.

   What's all this to do with the DVD: The Who - Thirty Years of Maximum R & B Live ? Well, all the above events and more are documented with this fine collection of live performances, originally put together for video in 1994, and dating from December 1965 to July 1989 - so we miss out on some of the band's more recent revival fortunes. What we do have are 23 songs, recorded over 24 years, tracking the evolution of the band and trying to capture some of that Who magic on video. We have some of the early trademark neck-of-Gibson in HiWatt antics of Townsend in Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere from Richmond, Surrey in 1965. Similarly if you're looking for Townsend's scissor leaps, arm windmills or self deprecating stage persona - they're all there, along with Daltry's microphone whirling, onstage march and effortless vocals. For a really tight, integrated, virtuoso Rhythm 'n Blues performance, check out the 1970 version of Water. What should have been a great legacy of quintessential Who from Charlton Athletic Ground in 1974 is marred by a dreadful recording and similarly their Monterey set from 1967 sounds distant, as though recorded by an audience microphone. Happily the recording from the legendary 1970 Isle of Wight Festival (which also featured The Doors, Hendrix, Free ...) is good and captures some of the energy. The first performance after Moon's death, recorded at Shepparton Studios in 1979, is obviously strained and though the band members put on the happy face and play well enough - the synergy has gone and the strain shows. Although a little subdued, the 1981 version of Behind Blue Eyes from the legendary Hammersmith Odeon is powerful and poignant not least for Pete's reply to the audience jibe "Get on with it" - "'Get on with it' is something we know all about!". Interspersed with the plentiful live recordings we have insightful snippet interviews with Roger, Pete and John to augment and not interfere with the music as is so often found with presentations of this nature.

    I might sound a little less than enthusiastic about this feature, but I'm not - all these recordings are priceless and I wouldn't miss a minute of any of them but whereas some bands, notably The Stones and Iron Maiden, have kept their vitality, this collection sadly shows the ravages of time and sadness on icons, certainly of, My Generation.

    'The band was supposed to be a reflection of what the audience was feeling. If it worked, if The Who were successful it was against all f***ing odds. We were horrible, ugly, noisy, umm, scruffy, arrogant, intimidating bunch of a*******s. We became successful, I think we became successful, because that's what the audience were like too ...' Pete Townsend 1994.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
2. So Sad About Us
3. A Quick One, While He's Away
4. Water
5. Young Man Blues
6. I Don't Even Know Myself
7. My Generation
8. Substitute
9. Drowned
10. Bell Boy
11. My Generation Blues
12. Dreaming From The Waist
13. Sister Disco
14. Who Are You
15. 5.15
16. My Wife
17. Music Must Change
18. Pinball Wizard
19. Behind Blue Eyes
20. Love Reign O'er Me
21. Boris The Spider
22. I Can See For Miles
23. See Me, Feel Me

Transfer Quality

Video

   With archival footage, some of it amateur, we have a varied quality of video but it is largely of good quality and none of it's unwatchable. If you're going to be too worried about video quality on a disc of this nature, it's probably time to get a life.

    The transfer is presented in 1.33:1 format and is not 16x9 enhanced.

   You can see every video artefact at some stage here. Much of the footage was obviously film based and is largely sharp and good quality. As would be expected from live venues, lighting is often subdued and shadow detail limited - there was no low level noise. There was some microphony on the black and white footage from the Marquee Club set and the odd film fleck and scratch. MPEG artefacts were seen in some of the older footage. Mild pixelization and aliasing was evident, particularly in the Monterey footage, and undoubtedly arises as a result of having to fit in well over 2 hours of footage onto 1 DVD disc.

    Colours were excellent from latter day studio footage but oversaturated in some of the night time tracks and of dubious accuracy in much of the live footage - hardly surprising!

    Subtitles, in English, white on black background were burned in to give song titles at the start of each performance and were selectable in English, French, Portuguese, German, Italian and Spanish for interviews and on-stage dialogue - no lyrics though!

    The disc is an RSDL disc with a layer transfer point at 76:33 just at the start of Bell Boy which is mildly disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is a bit ordinary - probably better suited to your TV's speakers than porting to your glorious HiWatt surround blasting system. I'm not sure if it's the severe encoding compression or the source material but some of the recordings, notable the Charlton Athletic venue, sounded very harsh and down in the mid-range. Better suited to your warmer sounding systems and worth investigating those dusty knobs with 'bass' and 'treble' written above them. Anyway, it's heaps better than other marketed 'live recordings' I've heard and with a bit of judicious equalisation can be made to sound acceptable.

    There is just the one track - Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo recorded at a measly 224 bps.

    Dialogue from interviews was of high quality as was most of the recorded singing - naturally some of the live comments from performers onstage was a bit variable in discernibility.

    Audio sync was amazingly good considering the age of some of the recordings and even the assorted video montages were cleverly synched to the soundtrack.

    There is no surround or LFE usage here but there is good bass in the soundtrack as I found when I hotwired the subwoofer into the front speaker channels with a very gratifying enhancement of Entwistle's lower bass register.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    Static 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, 3 choice menu featuring an aerial picture of Mr Townsend.

Subtitles

    English, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish subtitles of good accuracy to the spoken, but not sung, word.

Booklet

    8 page glossy fold out booklet with 4 pages of The Who history penned by John Atkins of Generations magazine and the flip side has good notes on the performances and credits.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

        As far as I can judge from disc specs the R1 and R4 releases are identical apart from PAL/NTSC encoding.

Summary

    An amazing and insightful collection of 24 years history of arguably the greatest live rock band of all time.

    The video quality is acceptable bearing in mind the archival footage.

    The audio quality is pretty ordinary and crying out for higher resolution mastering and release, maybe as a 2 disc deluxe version. It is worth pointing out however that the recordings are available as a 4 box CD set and I suspect the audio quality would be better.

    The extras are just about non-existent and there wouldn't have been much room for them anyway - another reason for a definitive multi-disc release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE300E Projector onto 250cm screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersMartin Logan - Aeon Fronts/Script rears/Theatre centre/ - REL Strata III SW

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE