Lambert & StampCultureCinemaMovie reviews
As a rock band that embraced “mod”, The Who helped unite two warring British youth subcultures and package the defining fashion and music ethos of swinging London for consumption by a worldwide audience to huge commercial success. A new documentary from first-time director James D Cooper revisits this cultural flashpoint with focus on a singular aspect of the legend: the partnership of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp – the business creatives that Roger Daltrey describes as “the fifth and sixth members of this band”.
Fittingly, the film takes as its leaping-off point the moment aspiring filmmakers Lambert and Stamp fell into their role as a two-man management and production team for the band they chose as the subject of their own rock documentary at Wealdstone’s Railway Hotel in 1964. What follows is a deeply personal account of a rollercoaster 40-year period of success and excess, untimely deaths, rifts and reconciliations, told through “talking head” accounts from Stamp, Daltrey, Townshend and a host of others who survived the ride, and rare period footage.
That footage is the film’s trump card, and it illustrates the “opposites attract” interplay between aristocratic “Boys’ Own” adventurer Lambert and working-class ladies man Stamp (brother of Terence) with a neat visual efficiency. Whether showing Lambert interviewed on a boat returning from a disastrous rainforest expedition, Stamp talking a young lady away from her male companion and onto the dance floor of a West End club, or the pair schmoozing with Hendrix, the candid authenticity is palpable. The only question mark hangs over who the film is for. Though much of the footage may be pleasingly new to them, the die-hard obsessive among The Who’s fan base will likely know the story intimately already – songwriters and filmmakers alike tend to be skilled self-biographers. Meanwhile, more casual fans may be disappointed to find the things that draw them to the band – their music and live performances – are knowingly given a back seat, relegated to short illustrative snatches to keep narrative focus on the titular duo.
While it’s difficult to imagine many among the audience who won’t find their attention wandering at some point during the ponderously paced two-hour running time, as an exercise in conveying the atmosphere of a vital era in British culture, Lambert & Stamp is an immersive experience.
Lambert & Stamp is released nationwide on 15th May 2015.
Watch the trailer for Lambert & Stamp here: