Picks and Pans Review: The Who: Thirty Years of Maximum R&b
The subtitle is rather misleading, making The Who appear to be one of those fatuous soul bands that drift out of northern Britain every few years. Instead, as almost everyone knows, the London quartet was one of the four great rock bands to spearhead the British Invasion of the '60s. What they brought to the bacchanal, more so than the Beatles, the Kinks or even the Rolling Stones, was a nascent but nasty punk influence. (The band's signature—destroying their instruments—was also a pretty effective way to get out of doing encores.) And as proved by the wonderful footage in this appreciation (much of it previously unseen), The Who was the best of the bunch at playing live—at least until the death by overdose in 1978 of its ferocious drummer Keith Moon. (The band hasn't toured since 1989, although singer Roger Daltrey, along with bass player John Entwistle, is currently on the road with a tribute to the music of Pete Townshend and The Who.)
Woven throughout the program are kudos from fellow musicians Keith Richards, Bryan Adams and Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors. More interesting are the candid, articulate reflections of Townshend, the band's dominant personality. But at the heart of this special, a PBS pledge event, are the performance capsules, from "So Sad About Us" at the Marquee Club in London in 1967, with the band all decked out in formal Mod garb, to "Love Reign O'er Me" at New York's Shea Stadium in 1982.