For anyone who really loves great music, The Who are an indispensable part of British musical history. Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend, John Entwistle, and the infamous Keith Moon undoubtedly changed the face of British rock forever, and they were doing it before Zeppelin, better than The Beatles, and with much less pouting than The Stones.
If you are a true fan you will have owned Jeff Stein's masterpiece on VHS for a few years now, but this is literally a totally new package, not just the common place "re-issue the old film with a few extras tagged on". The entire film has been painstakingly restored from the original film reels, mixed into a 5.1 surround sound mix, repaired, remixed, re-everything-you can-think-of-ed and, most importantly, while keeping the raw integrity of the original.
And for all of you who think as I did that re-mastering amounts to not much more than putting the old film onto DVD, trust me, the quality of the picture, sound and extras are quite simply unbelievable.
For example, the purpose filmed live set from Teddington Studios (filmed in 1975) is crisper and richer in quality than a lot of bands' footage released today, and shows a brilliant band at their very, if somewhat over-performing best. With performances spanning their lengthy career from dodgy black and white pop TV versions of My Generation, to electric extended jam sessions at Woodstock, the range of material in this visionary film is astounding.
The 100+ minutes of extra footage that makes up the second disc is without a doubt the best mix of "nerdy fan nuggets" I've ever seen. There are the obvious making of fly-on-the-wall documentaries (which are features within themselves for all you sound and vision geeks out there); a tour of Who sites through London, with audio tracks at each stop along the way; and two songs of isolated bass track during which John "The Ox" Entwistle's bass playing will mesmerise, intrigue and then stun you beyond belief.
As if this wasn't enough, there are also in-depth interviews with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend, photo galleries and some truly unique secret sections which can only be reached by answering 20 questions of Who trivia correctly.
If on the other hand you don't own a Who album and have never invested much time in one of the most underrated British bands ever, shame on you. Go and buy this brilliant film now, and begin your education. After all, this band were abusing guitars and trashing drum kits long before Mr. Cobain and Co. were born, and ridiculing the established and acceptable norms of rock long before Sid became Vicious.
Yours truly has never finished a review without at least one iota of criticism being thrown into the mix, but on this occasion I am stumped. No matter what your musical preference, The Who were the sort of band that helped to form and influence the foundations of rock as we know it today, and through this film, the lads from Shepherds Bush will continue to do so for years to come.