More combustible than most bands (or 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 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 (and Lambert’s classical vinyl) if he was ever going to finish Tommy.
Blessed with a wealth of golden b&w footage (Lambert and Stamp always planned to document their managerial brilliance), James D. Cooper’s poundingly fun, scrappy profile has an unusually satisfying nuts-and-bolts perspective on the ’60s fame machine. Inevitably the band is emboldened by its success (for good and ill), and the duo behind many of their masterstrokes is pushed off. 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 & roll karma.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf