Lambert & Stamp
I finally managed to catch this film, curtesy of our new local Curzon Cinema. Released back in May, this saw very limited showings, being an independent British film.
The film is about The Who’s managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp who managed the group from 1964 to 1973. Those who have read or watched anything about Who-history will be familiar with Kit Lambert, much as been written about his huge influence, particularly on Pete Townshend’s song writing and concepts such as “Tommy” the rock opera. Kit’s approach to getting financial credit gets some laugh out moments and the black & white footage of London adds to the whole outdated idea that “the aristocracy know best”. It is Chris Stamp that is more fully illuminated in this documentary style film though, often depicted in Who biographies as the “cockney barrow boy” who worked on films to keep The Who financially afloat in the pre-Tommy years. His love of film, his thrill of working backstage at the ballet and artistic contributions to The Who brings him out of Kit’s shadow and show what is genuinely the most intriguing and unusual management relationship in this era. Chris’ story about Keith Moon’s loyalty and being called up to face The Who’s lawyers the day after Moon’s burial is gut-wrenching, showing just how messed up things were by the late seventies.
For Who fans there is unseen footage galore, along with standard stock used in other Who documentaries, the music is mainly live versions of Who songs and to my knowledge there was nothing that I hadn’t heard before. The incidental music was culled from Pete’s “Scoop” albums, which being too loud over some of the interviews was the only thing I could fault in this film from a technical standpoint.
The film seemed to take a similar direction to the Who biopic film “Amazing Journey”, concentrating initially on the relationship between the two managers and The Who, the first hour had a real energy and focus that was compelling and mesmerising, during the second hour the plot started to meander somewhat. Despite both Daltrey & Townshend’s high praise of Chris Stamp and a rather uncomfortable (for myself anyway) scene with them all in tuxedos at The White House collecting medals, it’s clear from all parties that there were still some old rifts that had not healed. Which leads on to something that I was scratching my head about as I was leaving the theatre, best summed up by the couple I was following as one asked the other “So is Kit Lambert dead then?”. Now I know that Kit died in 1981 from head injuries after falling downstairs, but at no point is Kit’s death mentioned and only vaguely referred to as “he’s no longer with us”. Kits death had a huge impact on Pete and would inform his 80’s output (All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes LP & Horses Neck book). Chris Stamp talks about how Kit’s heroin addiction made him unpredictable while walking in a graveyard, while even Stamp’s passing in 2012 wasn’t mentioned.
Like all the best Who projects, you are left with more questions than answers and there is something of a half-finished idea like” The Who Sell Out” to this film. It is however well worth watching and is carried by the sheer unmitigated gall of this charismatic team. It’s scheduled for release on DVD etc. later this year.