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Lambert & Stamp

May 22, 2015
Watching James D.Coopers documentary on the mercurial duo who “managed” the Who through the 60s makes you realise just how special they were, and what a substantial contribution they made to the music that Pete Townshend wrote. The film shows how this odd couple – ultra-posh Kit Lambert, East Ender Chris Stamp – made a highly effective team who bewitched Townshend, bedazzled record companies and ripped off banks through the force of their personalities and an address in Eaton Square. Whether they managed the Who is debateable: the Who’s business affairs were chaotic throughout their time in office. But what Lambert and Stamp gave the Who was vision and direction. Their successors  such as Bill Curbishley and Peter Rudge sorted out the chaos but could never have contributed artistically the way that Stamp and (especially) Lambert  did. The son of respected classical composer Constance Lambert, Kit worked vicariously through Townshend to bring a very British choral approach to Pete’s simple pop ditties. This culminated in Tommy, which transformed the band into transatlantic superstars but only because Lambert was capable of taking a grab-bag of disparate Townshend pieces and editing them into some sort of coherent narrative. When Kit was unable to do the same thing for the subsequent Lifehouse project, Townshend felt betrayed and this was the start of the end of their relationship. The film glosses over this period: Stamp alludes to a final ghastly meeting at Shepperton Studios (which the Who by now owned) but the abortive sessions for Who’s Next in New York where Lambert really lost it are barely mentioned. Throughout the film Stamp looks fantastic as he progresses from 60s modernist to elegant elder statesman, Lambert not so good as the rent boys, heroin and Venetian palazzo kick in. Whilst there is music, it is mostly material and performances we already know. A notable exception is Townshend running through Glittering Girl on acoustic for Lambert and Stamp, the musical highspot here. The remainder of the film consists  of recent interviews, but the subjects are so interesting that the film delivers an engrossing snapshot of some extraordinary times.
(We saw the movie in the highly appropriate setting of the former Olympic Studios in Barnes, now turned into a a very well appointed boutique cinema with a terrific Dolby Atmos sound system which really added to our enjoyment)

 

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