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Review: LAMBERT & STAMP (2015)

In FLIX!

Joseph Friar

By Joseph Friar
May 5, 2015 at 2:28 p.m.



Lambert & Stamp (2015)

Christopher Stamp, Pete Townshend, Richard Barnes, Roger Daltrey, Terence Stamp

Directed by James D. Cooper 

In the early 60's a pair of aspiring London filmmakers named Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp came up with the idea to shoot a cinéma-vérité documentary about the mod world of rock and roll.  They decided the best approach would be to manage a band, even though they had no experience, and make that band the subject of their film.     

By chance the duo stepped inside the Railway Hotel after noticing an assortment of scooters parked out front.  Inside they found four young geeky musicians, Roger Daltrey on vocals, Pete Townsend on guitar, John Entwistle on bass, and the rowdy Keith Moon on drums.  The band called themselves The High Numbers and this is the story of how Kit and Chris transformed these four lads into one of the world's greatest rock bands, The Who. 

Filmmaker James D. Cooper, an experienced cinematographer, makes his directorial debut and photographs this fascinating documentary about these two unlikely partners who came from very different walks of life, yet they complimented each other so well.  Kit Lambert came from a well respected upper class family.  The well dressed, Oxford-educated erudite was the son of a celebrated symphony conductor.  Chris Stamp was just the opposite.  Described by his brother, actor Terence Stamp, as a "rough tough fighting spiv," Chris came from the working class, an East Ender whose father was a tugboat captain.  Kit was also gay while Chris was straight, yet despite all these differences, these two promoters and filmmakers came to be known as the "fifth and sixth members of The Who" an honorary title given to them by lead singer Roger Daltrey. 

Surviving band members, Townsend and Daltrey speak highly of the duo throughout the film that is loaded with great archival footage.  Lambert passed away in 1981 at the age of 45 after struggling for many years with alcohol and drug addiction, but thanks to the great footage and fond memories by his partner and the band members, his presence resonates throughout the film.  Stamp, who died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 70, is prominently featured in the documentary in a series of interviews shot before he passed away. 

The film's many highlights include how The Who's rock opera "Tommy" was born, Lambert & Stamp helping Townsend become a better writer, and the duo starting their own independent record label, Track Records, which featured artists Jimi Hendrix, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and Golden Earring.  The footage in the film includes some early performances by The Who, candid personal footage of the band, and small anecdotes like the creation of The Who's logo with the male arrow on the "O" and how Chris came up with the stuttering idea for "My Generation."  It's also funny listening to the band downplay the hit "Magic Bus" which became one of the group's staples. 

On December 3rd 1982, while a senior in high school, I had the chance to see The Who live at the Houston Astrodome and it was one of the greatest shows I've ever seen.  I was fortunate to catch the band before John Entwistle passed away in 2002 and the band was at the top of their game.  

"Lambert & Stamp" is much more than your average rockumentary.  It's a love story between two great friends who conceived one of the world's greatest bands.  Even if you are not a fan of The Who, you'll enjoy this remarkable story that will go down as an important part of music history. 

(4 stars) 

Opens Friday May 8 at the Sundance Cinema Houston and May 15 at the Arbor Great Hills Austin.          

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