Tuesday 10 November 2015

Lambert & Stamp

It’s been a big few years for The Who. Ever since they played at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, they don’t seem to have stopped touring as part of their The Who Hits 50! tour – with a few cancelled dates here and there due to lead singer Roger Daltrey’s failing voice. After a cracking headline performance at this year’s Glastonbury festival, the public interest in The Who is still as strong as ever. I caught two of their shows in the Hits 50 tour myself, and can confidently say they’re the best they’ve been in a long time. But when people think of The Who, they only think of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Nobody thinks of, arguably, the 5th and 6th members of the band – Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. 

Out now on DVD, Lambert & Stamp is here to change that. In the early 1960s, two aspiring filmmakers from completely different sides of the tracks formed an unlikely partnership. Kit Lambert, a homosexual socialite, and Chris Stamp, a bit of a cheeky Cockney lad, decided they’d work together against all odds to make an underground film about an up-and-coming rock band. In the search for a subject, they found The High Numbers. After rechristening them The Who, they quickly scrapped the idea of making a film and instead became the band’s management team, bringing their outrageously differing different personalities and ideas to fuel the band’s artistic development, and being instrumental in creating one of the world’s most famous rock bands of all time.

Lambert & Stamp is an important film. Much like the recent The Wrecking Crew, it tells the story of unsung heroes that nobody seems to remember, or speak of. Roger Daltrey says at one point during the film; “The Who never would’ve been successful without 2 special people, and that’s Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp”. It’s time the world knew their unusual, unlikely story! Thankfully, Lambert & Stamp is an impeccably made documentary that tells the story with great charisma and charm – through a large selection of rare, archive footage, Lambert & Stamp transports the viewer back to the 1960s and 1970s to a time of rebellion, noise, love and art. I know what you’re thinking, you’re wondering why you’d ever want to watch a film about the ‘suits’ behind The Who. But believe me, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp are just as much rock stars as Daltrey, Townshend, Entwistle and Moon. It’s truly surprising that The Who have reached such incredible success and power, when you learn how much of their career has been down to luck. Chris Stamp, who was alive for the production of the film but sadly died after it was finished, says bluntly in the film how he didn’t have a clue what he was doing and was winging it for most of the time. But it’s not all fun and games – the film doesn’t hide away from the darker sides of the relationship, with stories of drug and alcohol abuse being told with blatancy and honesty.

We hear from a variety of people, with Chris Stamp and his actor brother Terence making appearances, as well as The Who’s surviving members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. Unfortunately, Kit Lambert died in 1981 after falling down the stairs at his mother’s house. In one of the pair’s many rock n’ roll stories, on the night of his death he was seen drinking heavily at a London gay nightclub and was beaten up by a drug dealer over an unpaid debt. This is what I mean when I say Lambert & Stamp is not a story about the ‘suits’ behind The Who. It’s about 2 incredibly interesting and mismatched men who helped define a generation. Lambert & Stamp is an excellently made documentary telling the story of two of rock n’ rolls unsung heroes.

Lambert & Stamp will take you on an Amazing Journey. 4/5.


Sam Love

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