The Reelin’ & Rockin’ selection for this month at the Gateway Film Center – The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” – is, quite simply, in my humble opinion, the greatest rock & roll documentary ever made that doesn’t include any audience members being killed by Hell’s Angels. (Obviously, that leaves “Gimme Shelter” as the single greatest rock doc ever.) *
“The Kids Are Alright” was directed by 22 year-old Who fanatic Jeff Stein, who sported no previous movie experience whatsoever, let alone qualifications that would allow him to direct a major motion picture. But that was kinda the story of late 70’s movie-making: “Jaws” and “Star Wars” had come out of nowhere to become HUGELY POPULAR pictures and Hollywood studios realized there was a new youth demographic ripe for the picking. Then the Ken Russell-directed debacle that was The Who’s “Tommy” scored big in 1975, hence talented rookie Jeff Stein was handed the keys to the car & the editing room and “The Kids Are Alright” is the result. (By the way, I have never seen the movie “Tommy.” I will never see the movie “Tommy.” I wish the movie “Tommy” had never existed. On my rock & roll planet the mega-success of that movie is what forever stalled/stunted/killed Pete Townshend’s creativity in the 1970’s and ever after. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog for a whole ‘nother time.)
Okay, I’m gonna try to pitch this movie for every existing generation of rock & roll fan:
1) If you came of age in the 1960’s or 70’s this movie is a glorification of the greatest live rock & roll band of all time. And yeah, I’m very well-aware of the existence of The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin in those decades, and yeah I’m saying The Who were a better LIVE band than either one of them.
2) If you came of age in the 1980’s or 1990’s this film is a glimpse into the time before MTV existed, when power & passion reigned, when you didn’t have to be pretty & you didn’t have to be polite and a guy with a nose like Pete Townshend’s could still reign as a major media figure.
3) If you came of age in the 21st century this movie is a Masters Course on JUST HOW FAST rock & roll progressed in those long-lost hazy days between 1965 and 1969, when The Who moved from 2-minute songs like “I Can’t Explain” to the rock opera “Tommy” in just four short years. Bands nowadays go four years between CD RELEASES, let alone leapfrogging genres, styles & movements the way Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon did.
I’ve watched the DVD of “The Kids Are Alright” dozens, if not hundreds of times in the comfort & confines of my own home. I haven’t seen it on the big screen at a movie theater since sometime in the 1980’s. I can’t wait. – Ricki C. / May 15th, 2014
“THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT” WILL PLAY AT THE GATEWAY FILM CENTER ON CAMPUS
THIS WEDNESDAY, MAY 21ST, AT 8 PM. HAPPY HOUR BEGINS AT 7 PM.
COME TO HAPPY HOUR AND LET RICKI C. BORE YOU TO TEARS WITH LEGENDARY STORIES OF
HOW GREAT THE WHO WERE WHEN HE SAW THEM LIVE IN 1969 AND 1972, AND HOW MUCH
HE NOW WISHES PETE TOWNSHEND HAD DIED BEFORE HE GOT OLD.
A GOOD TIME WILL BE HAD BY ALL.