Eagle Vision has released a series of DVDs under the Classic Albums
banner that analyses and explores some of the most important rock albums
of the 20th Century. Falling into that category is one of the most
powerful and exciting albums released by The Who: Who's Next.
Produced by a group that has a catalog of energetic and well crafted albums,
this 1971 record is a giant step forward for the band, both in Pete Townshend's
song writing ability and the group's musical ability. This DVD, originally
released in 2000, looks at the whole disc through interviews with the band
themselves, the sound engineer who recorded the album, and others associated
with the recording. Though casual fans of the disc will probably
be bored by the minutia and technical details of the album's creation,
those who want to learn all they can about this seminal record will be
After a very brief overview of the band's history, the disc really starts
getting detailed right after Tommy, the Who's first 'rock opera'.
This was the record that launched them into super-stardom, but also left
them with a problem: how do they top that? The answer was Lifehouse,
a very ambitious multi-media project that was Pete Townshend's brain child.
He has the idea for a new opera, but one where the audience's feedback
would be just as important as the songs themselves. It would end
up being released as a movie, a soundtrack album, and a live concert.
Pete had a good idea of what this creation was going to be about, but no
one else seemed to understand it (as the other band members and associates
of the band willingly admit.) After renting out a theater and playing
songs for a hand picked audience, rewriting the music, and repeating the
process over and over, the project stagnated and it was obvious it wasn't
Taking the best of the music that had been written, the band was eventually
convinced to go into the studio and record it. The result was Who's
Next, and while there are only glimpses of Pete's original concept
apparent in the record, it is an amazing accomplishment that has stood
the test of time.
This DVD has a lot of interesting things that die-hard Who fans, like
myself, will find exciting. I've read a lot about the aborted Lifehouse
project, but it was great seeing Pete Townshend explain the concept and
process in his own words. Hearing Roger and John, along with several
other people involved with it state that they never fully understood what
Pete was getting at was a bit humorous.
While the anecdotes are interesting, the real mouth watering section
of this disc is when they are in the studio with the original multi-track
tapes of the recording sessions. The sound engineer relates how some
of the songs were recorded, which members were playing at the same time
and which tracks were overdubbed, and then plays the individual tracks.
He then layers one track over the other until he has all of the elements
incorporated. It was great to hear just John's bass or Keith's drumming
during some of the songs. There are details and nuances to there
performances that get lost in the mix that fans can hear for the first
Another high point in the disc was when Pete demonstrated and described
how he created the synthesizer track for Won't Get Fooled Again
in his home studio. This was the first time (arguably) a synthesizer
had really come to the front of a song and been part of the rhythm track.
The multilayered feel of the track adds a lot to the song and the fact
that it wasn't looped when it was recorded was amazing.
The only real complaint that I have with this disc is that it's only
an hour long. They glossed over some of the songs, such as the Entwistle-penned
My Wife, and some vintage interview clips would have been a welcome
addition. Even with these critiques, this is a very nice look at
an extraordinary album.
The stereo soundtrack is very nice. The music comes through loud
and clear with nice dynamic range and the dialog is easy to discern.
I'm also glad they didn't create a 5.1 mix for this disc. It wasn't
needed and would have distracted from content of the disc. There
are no subtitles.
The full frame was also very satisfactory. With the show only
running an hour, there is plenty of room on the disc for this show, and
no compression artifacts are present. The color looks fine and the
contrast is good. A nice looking DVD.
Unfortunately there are no extras on this disc. I would have really
enjoyed outtakes from the various interviews that were conducted to create
this program, but alas there are none.
This disc is only aimed at big fans of The Who and their album Who's
Next. There's a lot of information about the creation of this
fantastic record that many causal fans will find yawn inspiring, but those
who are interesting in the history and genesis of this seminal LP will
really enjoy this look behind the scenes. For those people this DVD
is Highly Recommended.