Director: James D. Cooper
Starring: Chris Stamp, Kit Lambert, Pete Townsend, Roger Daltery, Terence Stamp
Running time: 117 minutes
“There were probably no two guys on the planet who knew less about rock than these two.”
The Who are often portrayed as the maverick loners of rock music. A rawness matched perhaps only by The Stooges and MC5, but with the experimental muscle of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Each of the four band members personified the stereotypical character in rock music – handsome singer, quiet bassist, manic guitarist and monstrous drummer, who all produced some of the most idiosyncratic music in history.
It’s refreshingly beguiling then watching LAMBERT & STAMP, and seeing The Who portrayed as almost little more than guinea pigs. LAMBERT & STAMP chronicles Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp’s efforts in managing The Who throughout their early days when they were known as The High Numbers to making their Tommy album. Lambert and Stamp began their individual careers in the film industry and, frustrated by being tied down to runner-level roles whilst wanting to become big shot directors, they hatched a plan to manage a rock band who’s story they’d film and therefore that film would become their big break.
LAMBERT & STAMP follows the two managers carrying out their plan, which The Who evidently seemed more than willing to go along with – probably because Lambert and Stamp failed to tell the band of their true intentions, and opting instead to stress to the band that they could provide a strong visual punch to accompany the band’s music via their film-making techniques.
Both Lambert and Stamp are sadly no longer with us, but LAMBERT & STAMP was produced before Lambert’s death from cancer in 2012, and the elderly former manager turned psychodrama therapist lead the audience through much of the first half of the documentary. He eloquently paints a lively, swear word-filled picture of meeting Lambert, The Who plotting their every move, and the unfortunate unravelling between the band and managers. Pete Townsend and Roger Daltery also contribute to interviews, but the new interviews with Stamp and archive footage of Lambert are the real stars here.
LAMBERT & STAMP is an energetic treat for fans of The Who, and every few minutes seem to spin-out a new revelation as to how the two managers influenced The Who so greatly. Many of these revelations may not be entirely knew to the more hardcore fans, but presented in this manner, with Stamp being as enthusiastic as he is, it makes for hooky viewing.
The polarizing differences between Lambert and Stamp’s backgrounds as well has some endearment to it – Lambert being the son of the famous composer Constant Lambert and Stamp being the son of a tug boat captain. Coupled with archive footage of Lambert chatting away to German and French interviewers in their native tongue and Stamp filling every few minutes he can with as many ‘fucks’ in his descriptions of being The Who‘s co-manager as possible, LAMBERT & STAMP enlightens us with presenting Lambert and Stamp as characters, not just managers.
LAMBERT & STAMP is a fine addition to The Who‘s cinematic adventures, and does an intriguing job in showing us the history of The Who‘s high years from a different perspective to that of the band’s.
LAMBERT & STAMP gets its UK theatrical release on Friday the 15th of May!