In 1970, 600,000 people came to the Isle of Wight to attend a music festival. 2 A.M., August 30th, The Who appeared and gave one of the most memorable performances of their career, with early hits and live Who staples culm... more »inating in one of their last-ever complete run throughs of the seminal rock opera "Tommy." Songs: Heaven and Hell, I Can't Explain, Young Man Blues, I Don't Even Know Myself, Water, Shakin' All Over, Spoonful/Twist and Shout, Summertime Blues, My Generation, Magic Bus, Overture, It's a Boy, Eyesight to the Blind (The Hawker), Christmas, The Acid Queen, Pinball Wizard, Do You Think It's Alright, Fiddle About, Go to the Mirror, Miracle Cure, I'm Free, Tommy's Holiday Camp, We're Not Gonna Take It.« less
"The sound and picture are in much better shape than on the first release. On the first edition four of the first five songs ("Can't Explain", "Young Man Blues", "I Don't Even Know Myself" and "Water") were largely untouched. Heaven and Hell had some of its footage sped up slightly but otherwise was just as electrifying as the other four numbers. From there the film became a slice and dice of patchwork concert footage that looked a like a badly pieced together jigsaw puzzle.
The bad news is that the editing is still a hatchet job. The concert is still out of order. "Tommy" was played in the middle of the show not at the end. Much of the material is cut. The Shakin' All Over/Twist and Shout" medley has at least a third of its content missing as does "Magic Bus". "Substitute" and "Naked Eye" are missing completely. In the case of the "Naked Eye" footage that may be a case of copyright blocking presentation. The footage does exist and can be seen on the "Message to Love" DVD. The content from "Tommy" is a mess. The "Overture", "It's a Boy", "Eyesight to the Blind", "Go to the Mirror", "I'm Free" and "We're Not Gonna Take It" are all presented as fragments edited into song form. "1921", "Amazing Journey/Sparks", "Tommy Can You Hear Me", "There's a Doctor", "Smash the Mirror" and "Tommy's Holiday Camp" were omitted the first time around and haven't been inserted. Most of the editing is smooth enough but the gaps are still glaring.
The saving graces for this film (and especially this release) are the parts of it that have been done right. The interview with Townshend is enlightening and enjoyable (though allowances have to be made for his sense of drama). The picture is much clearer than before. The sound is vastly improved. It's noticeable everywhere but particularly outstanding on the bass and drum tracks. Keith Moon's drums sound the way they should. It's amazing how much of what couldn't be heard before can be heard clearly now. The same can be said of John Entwistle's bass lines. Anyone wanting to understand and appreciate his contribution to the group should be watching this issue. The re-master places his contribution where it should be rather than burying much of it as happened with the first release. And then there's footage that has been left intact. This is some of the most electrifying concert footage ever captured on film, period. The Who were a blistering band that made playing rock sound and feel like a matter of life and death. If nothing else this film captures that. As such it's an invaluable historic record for anyone wanting to know what makes rock and roll tick.
But, it's still not what it could have been."
Hind Sight is 20/20, but buy this DVD anyway
Jefferson T. Packer | Taos, NM | 03/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First, for those who own and love the original release DVD - this remastered version sounds and looks MUCH better. Thanks to Pete and Murray for giving us that.
As for all the complaints about choppy footage, missing songs, out-of-order song list and the like, well, they're all true.
We should remember that, at the time, neither Murray nor The Who knew that this set was going to become one of the most legendary rock performances of all time. Murray Lerner was out to make a rock movie about the Isle of Wight Festival, and The Who (just one standout of the many acts who performed there) were going about the business of being The Who. They had performed hundreds of times before this, and had many, many shows to go afterwards. For them, it was just another night on the job, (although it seems to have been an exceptionally good one.)
No one knew that Keith would eventually semi-fry his brain and then leave us far too soon. No one knew that the short, fragile, golden age of authentic, people-driven rock was about to end. If Murray Lerner had been able to know all of these things, I'm sure he would have given us the complete set, in order, without a single note left out. And while we're dreaming, we'd have a DVD bonus feature of film from a camera pointed directly and unerringly at Keith for the whole length of the concert. Drummers everywhere would give a pint of blood for that one.
But we don't have these things, and we never will. The cut footage from the 1970's editing room floor has undoubtedly long since been swept into the dustbin of history. What we do have, is a glimpse of magnificence. We have a flawed gem, and an irreplaceable one. In a nutshell, if Rock and Roll moves your soul, then the Who's performance on this DVD will leave you slack-jawed.
And when you finally get tired of watching it, get off your couch, find some people with equipment, set up in your garage, and do something new, something fresh, something that says who you are and what you feel. Just be sure to do it loud enough to piss off your square neighbors. Somewhere, Keith will be raising a glass to you."
Michael Mullins | Indianapolis, Indiana | 05/25/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"What could have been a definitive document of the Who at the height of their powers as the world's greatest rock n' roll band is instead presented as a nearly-unwatchable mess of a film. Songs are obtrusively edited (sometimes in half), key numbers are missing (Tommy without "Amazing Journey/Sparks"?), and the whole show is shown out-of-sequence, as if we wouldn't notice.And to add insult to injury, many songs contain footage from other songs, ostensibly edited in to cover for missing footage. It happens with disorienting frequency, until you're no longer sure of what you're watching... "Overture," in fact, seems to be contructed entirely from footage taken from other songs. You don't have to be a musician -- or even be particularly fluent in the Who's music -- to notice when what you're seeing doesn't match what you're hearing (just watch Keith).All this adds up to make this video a singularly infuriating viewing experience. It's hard to know who this video is targeting -- only relatively hard-core Who fans will likely be interested, and such fans will be driven to distraction by its egregious inadequacies. Stick to the 2-CD audio set."
A+++Rock and Roll
A music fan | somewhere in Maryland | 09/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best film documents of rock'n'roll ever, "Listening to You: The Who Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970" captures a legend of rock at the absolute height of its powers.
If you're expecting a high-fidelity kind of Event Coverage that Sees All and does everything except an indepth study of John Entwistle's nose hair, you either were born too late or have gotten too spoiled by culture and technology. It's easy to forget that at the time this concert took place in 1970, Led Zeppelin didn't sell cars and the Rolling Stones didn't shill for Bill Gates. Rock was youth music, viewed with suspicion by Old People (i.e., over 30. Yes, if you're 34, old as you may feel, you were probably an embryo when this gig went off). You never heard real rock on TV, and had to hunt to find it on radio. The Square View was what prevailed in the national media: squeaky guitars, flashing discotheque lights and gyrating girls in plastic dresses and boots. Hippies figured in there somewhere. But the so-called general public, i.e., you, if you were over 30 at the time, didn't know what rock sounded like. The huge potential of the young as consumers was just being sniffed about by The Establishment.
Then there's the filming. Murray Lerner's crew was, well, about as big as your immediate family. There was no Sky Cam. You had a camera here, one there, one someplace else. They pivoted when the person holding them did. OK, not that home-movie primitive, but essentially a hand operation. Rock gigs weren't mass merchandise yet, and you couldn't buy plane, hotel and concert tix on the Internet (something that makes the enormous gatherings at places like Monterey, Woodstock and the Isle even more amazing in retrospect and attests to the pangenerational power of the infant Rock). So big technology wasn't being catered to, even to the extent it existed at the time, because the big money wasn't there yet to cater to it. (I once bought a Led Zeppelin ticket from a scalper. For twenty bucks. That kind of money is what we're talking about here.) Filming the Stones or the Who was like filming a Vietnam firefight, only without the ordnance.
So don't complain about how few camera angles there are, or how the same stuff keeps getting filmed. (As one who saw this lineup from the second row one night, I can tell you that Daltrey really did do the same stuff, over and over and over.) Focus instead on how everyone in this band plays lead - unlike the Stones, for example, who anchored firmly to a dynamic yet by comparison pedestrian rhythm section - yet everyone, somehow, stays right on time, even when somebody screws up! (Pay attention; it happens more than once.) Focus on the incredible energy and fluidity Townshend brings to the guitar, and the Olympic athleticism of his physical presence. Focus - and this disk does, further evidence that this crew knew its stuff - on John Entwistle's breathtaking finger runs up and down the fretboard, and on how much he holds down the sound and plays second guitar through Pete's flights of fancy and violence. Focus on Keith Moon! You can't help it; the camera loves him, and he loves it back, and he shows here why he probably didn't need to so much as lift a finger between shows to keep the weight off. Focus on Daltrey's stage presence; he was immobile compared to Mick Jagger, but knew how much to do of what when, and sang the roof off the joint. There is enough, no, wait, way more than enough, way more than an abundance, of every single thing that made The Who great to see and hear on this DVD. Yes, the modern monkeying with the picture and sound helped a lot. And what the heck is wrong with that, eh?
Focus on what you can see, and be happy that you can see it. Shot in 1970? Sometimes, it's hard to believe. If someone wants to erect a monument to The Who, this film, playing in perpetuity on a Pyramid-size screen, will do. Quite nicely, thank you. "
A reminder of why they were a great live band
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 09/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One can easily say more negative things than positive about this concert DVD, but let me insist at the outset that the small number of positives unquestionably outweigh the many negatives. At the heart of the disc is a phenomenal live performance by the Who in 1970, when they were at their instrumental height, and before the excesses of the sixties and seventies began taking their toll on the playing and hearing of the quartet. Yes, there are many things to carp about, but in the end it all comes down to the fact that these guys were flat out superb that evening. Although much of the end of the concert consists of a performance of highlights from TOMMY, most of the concert on the DVD (more about the contents in a bit) contains a host of covers, all of them stunning. While all of the band members are outstanding, Pete Townshend (who was ironically of the three musicians the least virtuosic, both Moon and Entwistle having few peers) always seems able to steal the show with his helicopter power chords, brilliantly inept dancing, and congenial lunacy. I am not generally a fan of concert DVDs, but I had a whale of a time with this one.
There are, as I have said, some negatives. For me the most irritating is that the cameras had very limited angles to film the concert. Almost all of the concert seems to have been covered by two cameras, one onstage that seems to linger almost exclusively on stage left (the right side viewed from the audience or camera) and one that is in front of the stage. The result is a feeling of constriction, as if you aren't really getting a good view of what is going on. This is exacerbated by a tendency (primarily early in the performance) of the cameramen shaking the camera while filming the performers, as if an active, dynamic camera produces results preferable to a static one. As is always the case, they were wrong (one of the great benefits of Jonathan Demme's STOP MAKING SENSE is that since then almost all concert footage has been shot with rather static cameras). The problems aren't restricted to the visual. The sound, while not exactly muddy, isn't as crisp as one could hope.
The most controversial aspect of the DVD is the excision of a number of songs. I wonder about this. Perhaps another reviewer can expand upon this, but I wonder about whether there is actually footage for every song in the concert. Perhaps there is, but it is also quite possible that we lack footage (or usable footage) for a number of tracks for which we possess soundtracks. If so, this would not be the first concert film for which this would be true. Just because we possess a soundtrack, we mustn't assume that we possess film. Now, having said this, I will add that it is possible that such footage exists, and they merely decided not to include it, and if so, that is greatly to be lamented. Nonetheless, I do not regard this as a fatal flaw, and it certainly didn't lessen my enjoyment of the music that we have.
The Who were unquestionably one of the very greatest live bands in the history of rock, and this disc will go a long ways towards reminding their fans of this fact and of illustrating that fact for younger viewers who may have missed them at their peak. Either way, I am grateful this disc was released."