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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
The Who (Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Kenney Jones)
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who and Amazing Journey: Six Quick Ones are two exhilarating feature films about one of the greatest rock bands in the world!

Spanning four decades, this authorized and definitive anthology of The Who relives their journey from humble beginnings to their meteoric rise to rock legend status in a 2-film DVD set. Filled with all-new interviews with band members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend and music icons Sting, The Edge of U2, Eddie Vedder and more, this must-have collection also features electrifying rare and unreleased concert footage in mind-blowing 5.1 surround sound. David Wild, a contributing editor of Rolling Stone, says it's "brilliant, an exceptionally smart and intimate portrait." For music that spoke to generations of fans, and refused to be classified, the answer is - and always will be - The Who.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 11/6/2007

Bonus:
Amazing Journey: Six Quick Ones Feature Film
• “Scrapbook” Featurettes
• The High Numbers at the Railway Hotel 1964

• Booklet

PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Amazing Journey: The Story Of The Who (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 23, 2007)

For a fresh look at one of the legendary rock bands, we check out 2007’s Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who. Journey goes back to the 1940s for its start. We hear about the era in which the members of the Who were born and learn about their childhoods and influences. We find out how they got to know each other and how they coalesced into a band. From there we follow the addition of drummer Keith Moon and the development of the Detours into the Who into the High Numbers back into the Who.

From there Journey examines the band’s management and their impact on the group, their rise in success, Pete Townshend’s development as a songwriter, and the Who’s entry into the recording studio. The rest of the documentary views their rising popularity as well as various milestones and problems over the years.

The film follows the usual documentary format to mix archival materials and interviews. We hear from band members Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Kenney Jones, Entwistle’s mother Queenie Johns, production manager Mike Shaw, recording engineer/producer Glyn Johns, Entwistle’s son Chris, Entwistle’s first wife Alison Wise, co-manager (1964-1975) Chris Stamp, manager (1973-present) Bill Curbishley, concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith, album cover designer Mike McInnerney, Townshend’s college roommate Richard Barnes, Keith Moon’s mother Kathleen, Keith’s sister Leslie Fox, Keith’s assistant Peter “Dougal” Butler, Who fan/”original Mod” Alan Garrison, producer Shel Talmy, recording engineer Bob Pridden, Roger’s wife Heather, and musicians Sting, the Edge, Noel Gallagher, Steve Jones and Eddie Vedder.

For Who fans, Journey comes with lot of expectations. Its creators staged an active search for obscure footage, and there were indications that the DVD would include all sorts of great live material. The package boasted the chance to be a terrific collection of rare vintage Who.

Yes, we do find quite a few great nuggets in Journey, but the manner of their presentation will clearly alienate fans. At no point during the film do we see any complete clips. We get bits and pieces but no extended glimpses of this archival material. I guess that doesn’t surprise, but it disappoints nonetheless.

As a straight documentary, I do think Journey works pretty well. Because this is an “authorized” project, one might fear that it’ll present a sanitized view of the Who. That doesn’t happen. Actually, I didn’t really worry about that because Pete Townshend has always been one of the most frank and honest rock stars imaginable. He seems unable and unwilling to smooth talk his way through controversies, so I certainly wouldn’t expect anything under his semi-imprimatur to be a puff piece.

And we definitely don’t get a simple celebration of the Who in Journey. The film looks at all the bands ups and downs in an honest manner. Of course, it does remind us of their greatness, but it doesn’t pile on and bury us with praise. We definitely get a “warts and all” picture of the band.

Probably the most interesting moments come from those that examine the post-Moon Who. While the band was best with Keith, we’ve already heard most of those stories a million times. The post-1978 era usually receives much less attention, so I like the ability to learn a little more about it. We get good notes about what it was like for Kenney Jones to attempt to fit into the band, the tragedy in Cincinnati, “ending” the Who in 1983, and issues related to subsequent editions. These stories lack the incendiary edge to those from the earlier years, but they prove more informative for the fans who already know so much of the Moon-era details.

I still think Journey will prove somewhat unsatisfying for the big fans, unfortunately. They probably won’t learn much new, and the manner in which the film teases us with rare footage – but never shows any full clips – frustrates. As a primer on the history of the Who, Journey works pretty well, and those without a great background on the band should enjoy it.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B+

Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. With its mix of materials, I figured Journey would present erratic visuals, and I was right.

When I look at a documentary like this, I mainly base my picture quality grade on the new elements – in this case, the interviews. Those usually looked fine, but they weren’t as strong as expected. The main offender came from many of the Townshend shots. Those tended to seem a bit muddy and blurry, and they also suffered from a lot of video noise.

Most of the other interviews seemed superior, but they weren’t quite as dynamic as anticipated. Sharpness was decent to good, as the clips usually appeared reasonably concise. Some softness continued to interfere, though those Townshend shots were the least appealing. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Video noise also cropped up in some of the other shots, though again, not to the level seen in the Townshend clips. Colors were reasonably positive, while blacks showed decent depth.

Of course, the archival elements were all over the place in terms of quality. Some looked pretty clean and accurate, but many suffered from softness, various source flaws and other concerns. I didn’t think these were worse than anticipated, as the clips looked about the way you’d expect. Overall, the visuals seemed acceptable.

Similar thoughts greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Amazing Journey. Music and dialogue dominated the piece, as effects were such a minor consideration that I didn’t even factor them into the mix. Speech sounded pretty good across the board. The interviews showed nice clarity and natural qualities throughout the piece. Archival bits could be a little rough, but the dialogue was usually quite good.

Music depended on the source material but generally seemed fine. Although one might expect the songs to play a prominent role in the proceedings, they tended to be more of a background force. Sure, we heard music on a constant basis, but the dialogue stayed in the forefront. This meant that audio quality wasn’t as important as it might otherwise be. The songs offered decent clarity and range but weren’t particularly impressive.

As for the soundfield, the forward channels heavily dominated. Speech consistently emanated from the front center, while music spread across the forward speakers. This usually meant pretty good stereo separation, though some early material came to us via “broad mono”. I’d have preferred actual mono, but the spread of the tunes across the front wasn’t too much of a distraction. The surrounds played a minor role and only were noticeable elements on rare occasions. For instance, the introduction of Moon brought out a barrage from the back. Ultimately, the audio was fine for a documentary, though anyone who expects an active musical experience won’t get it here.

All of the set’s extras appear on DVD Two. Actually, the main extra is less a supplement and more of a companion film; I simply considered it a “bonus” for the sake of convenience. Amazing Journey: Six Quick Ones indeed offers another feature-length look at the Who. Here we get six featurettes that collectively fill one hour, 28 minutes and 14 seconds. These include “Roger” (16:01), “John” (7:38), “Pete” (18:27), “Keith” (9:51), “Who Art You?” (9:23) and “Who’s Back” (26:53).

We hear from a mix of participants across these featurettes. They include band members Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle, Co-manager (1964-1975) Chris Stamp, engineer/producer Glyn Johns, engineer Bob Pridden, manager (1973-present) Bill Curbishley, Entwistle’s first wife Joan Wise, producer Shel Talmy, guitar technician Alan Rogan, Pete’s college roommate Richard Barnes, Keith Moon’s assistant Dougal Butler, Keith’s mother Kathleen, and musicians Eddie Vedder, Rick Wakeman, Sting, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Pino Palladino, Bill Sheehan, Noel Gallagher, the Edge, Simon Townshend, Rob Ladd, Frank Simes and Steve Jones.

The first four components look at the band members, their impact on the Who and their musical styles. “Art” looks at the impact of art schools on the British rock scene of the Sixties as well as topics about the Mods and other styles of the era. Finally, “Back” examines the return of the Who to the studio in November 2003 to record “Real Good Looking Boy”.

Through the pieces that focus on the band members, we get more of the kind of info that showed up in the main documentary. Matters take a more musical bent, actually, as those components dig into what the guys brought to the band musically; they concentrate less on biography and more on the playing. That makes them pretty interesting, especially when we dig into the specifics.

“Art” is a decent look at the London scene of the Sixties. It never proves terribly illuminating, but it’s intriguing. “Back” offers a surprisingly dull look at the studio. Normally I love this kind of stuff, but this piece leaves me cold. Some of that comes from the fact that “Boy” doesn’t do a lot for me; after all the classic Who we’ve heard, it’s tough to get into this fairly mediocre song and care about its recording. It’s not a bad piece, but it’s not particularly fascinating.

Five more components show up under the 21 minutes and 12 seconds of the Scrapbook. This features “Dinner with Moon” (4:35), “A Legal Matter” (4:33), “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (2:35), “Cincinnati: The Whole Story” (7:04), and “Royal Albert Hall 2000” (2:24). Through these wer hear from Curbishley, Townshend, Talmy, Johns, Stamp, and Gallagher. These offer more interview odds and ends that didn’t quite fit into the main documentary. Some good moments pop up here, especially in terms of the Cincinnati discussion. I also like Gallagher’s funny story about his guest appearance at the 2000 concert.

DVD Two finishes with The High Numbers at the Railway Hotel 1964, a seven-minute and 52-second clip. From an aborted “mod” film planned by the band’s then-managers, this piece shows what is apparently the earliest footage of the Who – or the High Numbers, as they were then known. Some notes from Barnes set up the material, and we then get to watch this surprisingly good-looking reel. No one will mistake this for vintage Who as they rip through some lackluster R&B covers, but it’s great to see for historical value. Too bad the DVD doesn’t include more of this kind of stuff.

Finally, the set offers a 12-page Booklet. This text includes an introduction from Richard Barnes as well as some info about the various components on DVD Two. It provides a nice overview of the package.

As a general documentary about the band, Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who proves effective. It gives us an honest look at the group as it goes through their many ups and downs across the decades. The main negative I associate with the film stems from the lack of full performance clips; it teases us with lots of great footage but never provides entire segments.

Picture and sound quality seem average for this sort of project, whereas we get a good set of extras with many more interview snippets and some excellent footage of a very early version of the Who. If Journey included more material of this sort, I could heartily recommend it. As it stands, I like the film but find too many frustrations attached to it to throw out a strong recommendation. It’s a good overall take on the band, though, and worth a look if you’re curious to get a general history of the Who.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 21
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