More combustible than most bands (and most explosives), The Who had a street fighter for a frontman, a thorny intellectual for a guitarist, a lunatic whirlwind for a drummer and John Entwistle on bass. As we learn in the puckishly entertaining doc ‘Lambert & Stamp’, the guys needed a firm hand: Oxford-educated Kit Lambert and East End schemer Chris Stamp (brother of actor Terence) were both frustrated filmmakers until they found a mission in polishing the rock quartet for stardom. Roger Daltrey’s punching problem had to be addressed, while Pete Townsend required creative encouragement if he was ever going to finish ‘Tommy’.
Blessed with a wealth of golden black-and-white footage (Lambert and Stamp always planned to document their managerial brilliance), this poundingly fun, scrappy film has an unusually satisfying nuts-and-bolts perspective on the ’60s fame machine. Inevitably the band were emboldened by their success (for good and ill), and the duo behind so many of their masterstrokes were pushed out. Drugs take a sad toll on the late Lambert, whose 1981 death makes this double profile a touch incomplete. But to hear the love pour out of Stamp and a reflective Townsend (escaping his own self-regard) is the sweetest rock ’n’ roll karma.