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10/27/04
Reviewed by - George Bennett


The Who
Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970
This show and this disc define The Who that I saw at The Fillmore East in 1968-69, and, define rock'n'roll - angry, loud ,funny, obnoxious...and mind-blowing.  After Woodstock , The Who performed at England 's annual Isle of Wight Festival in August of 1970 before some 600,000 people.  This disc is a visual and sonic record of that performance, and the project was overseen by Pete Townshend.  He supervised the sound mix from the original 8-Track tapes to 24 Bit Dolby Digital stereo and 5.1 surround and DTS Surround.  The full-screen video was taken from the original negatives.  The concert lasts 85 minutes and there is an extra - a 2004 Pete Townshend interview (about which I will speak my piece later).  The disc comes in a no frills digi-pak.  Especially considering the age of the show, the sound is incredible and the video is richly colored, detailed and mostly on-stage with the band.  (I do wish there had been more camera shots from the audience POV.  As is, the video rather betrays the enormity of the experience.)

Stacks of Hi-Watt amps, Townshend's Gibson SG and ever-present white flight-suit, Daltrey's lion's mane of hair and bare chest, Entwistle's signature skeleton suit of the time coupled with his lightning-fast, unmistakeable, defining low-end sound, and Mooney's break-neck command of seemingly miles of drums surrounding him...it's all here.  Townshend:  the stomping, thumping, marching, jumping lurching angriest of angry young men.  Moon the Loon:  an excellent, up-close example of why and how he earned that monicker.  Entwistle:  the perfect stalwart anchor.  Daltrey:  the lion-voiced, scream-singing, mic swinging rock god.  This DVD proves that each was, undeniably, the master of his own instrument.

Townshend, never bettered by any guitarist, ever...strangling, abusing, swinging, throwing, throttling, and generally playing his guitar into submission... and, my gawd, those patented Townshend windmills!  Moon, easily killing that giant squid of a drum set entangling him from every direction, always smiling, with a gleam of the devil in his eye!  Entwistle playing thick bass strings so hard and so fast his fingers become a blur, wringing so much outta that bass that you'd swear there was at least a five piece band up there, with all the fills and flurries he provides behind Townshend's lone guitar!  And Daltrey's voice - huge and guttural, singing Townshend's lyrics as only he could - a look larger than life!

Loveable, smart-ass punks, the lot of 'em, as they quibble amongst themselves and with the audience.  Highlites of the show include the usual suspects:  "Young Man Blues", "Shakin' All Over/Spoonful/Twist and Shout", "Summertime Blues", "My Generation", "Magic Bus and 14 tracks from "Tommy"...Entwistle's unholy bass sound on "Pinball Wizard", "We're Not Gonna Take It"'s "Pictures of Lilly" riff, chorus and coda, "See Me, Feel Me/Listening To You" as it gains hurricane strength and builds into a tornado of sound, absolutely flattening everything in its path, and those Klieg lights aimed out at the audience from behind the band...I've seen it live, and believe me, it is like seeing God!!  If you truly want the real live Who experience, you gotta be willing to crank this mutha up to 11!  I've heard and seen it all live and on video 100 times and I still get chills and goose bumps every time.  How did Moon do it?  He lived and played too fast and too hard...until he just burned out.  There's a funky little video tribute to Mooney after the concert footage to the tune of "Tommy Can You Hear Me?"

Now, about that 40-some minute new Townshend interview done for this release...if you're a Who fan, you're absolutely gonna be dumbfounded by this!  I guess Townshend is Townshend, and he has as much right as anyone to speak his mind, but what he has to say here is heresy, blasphemy!  And I sum it all up as "bullshit!"  To whit:  "I really didn't like working with that band at all."  Q: Was The Isle of Wight fun?  A:  "What we produced was not something that I wanted any part of.  The Who didn't make the kind of music that I wanted to make, not the kind of band I wanted to be in, and it was just one of those things where I just happened to be there, and when you put us together, we went off in this particular direction."  "I always felt uncomfortable...ill at ease."  Well, you, dear reader, will see the rest of this interview, or not...All I can say is "Bullshit again!"  To Pete Townshend from this writer:  You were The bloody Who, you twit!  You were the leader, you wrote the friggin' songs...nobody made you do it!!  It was YOUR f***in' band, man!!  He says "these are people with whom I had absolutely nothing in common."  Maybe that's why you were so goddam angry all the time, sell-out boy!!  He says he "felt trapped", poor sot...because the music he was writing got a commission, so he kept on writing it, even though it wasn't what he wanted to do!  Trapped by making so much money, and with so much success, he couldn't stop, he says!  Well, you surely could have stopped years ago, instead of choosing to keep on touring as 1/2 The Who and an old fart on into the 2000s - playing music that you didn't want to play all those years ago with people you didn't like!!  "BULLSHIT!!" 

This disc is great.  Townshend is, apparently, a sell-out and full of shit.  Get the disc for the concert.  It is awesome.  Don't watch the interview.  Townshend comes off such a fool - like someone was twisting his arm to keep doing this on into his 60s.  Come on, Pete - you just had to, right.  Somebody hold a gun to your head?  If you disliked it all so much but kept doing it for the money - years ago you had more than enough money to stop.  And you didn't, did you...and you bitch about it.  Jesus, some people!  I should have such problems.  Honest to God, I will never look at The Who the same again.  Townshend, you prick bastard!!  Just what were you trying to accomplish in that interview??!!  How many Who fans' hearts were you hoping to break, how many bubbles were you hoping to burst??!!  And you're goddam right I take it personally!!!!  I have not been this mad in a very long time!!!



Release Date: August 10, 2004
Tracks: 25 - Time: 125:00
Directed by: Murray Lerner
Format: DVD
Website:
www.petetownshend.co.uk


Track Listing:

Heaven and Hell / I Can't Explain / Young Man Blues / I Don't Even Know Myself / Water / Shakin' All Over / Spoonful-Twist and Shout / Summertime Blues / My Generation / A Passing Feeling / Magic Bus / Overture / It's a Boy / Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker) / Christmas / The Acid Queen / Pinball Wizard / Do You Think It's Alright? / Fiddle About / Go to the Mirror / Miracle Cure / I'm Free / Tommy's Holiday Camp / We're Not Gonna Take It.


The Who:

Pete Townshend - Vocals / Guitar
John Entwistle - Bass
Keith Moon - Drums
Roger Daltrey - Vocals.




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