Sydney Film Festival Review: Lambert & Stamp (USA, 2014)

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The names Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp may not mean much to you unless you know that they were the unlikely managers of The Who during the sixties and early seventies. The pair are a rather odd couple and they’re also the subject of a documentary by James D. Cooper. The result is a vibrant and entertaining film that is also rather uneven and overlong.

Kit Lambert was an openly-gay, Oxford-educated, composer’s son who spoke multiple languages. Chris Stamp on the other hand loved his women and was a charming but tough working class lad and the younger brother of actor, Terence Stamp. The two would meet at Shepperton Film Studios in London and they hit it off. Lambert and Stamp decided to work together on a film project about a band they would also discover.

The group were called The High Numbers but the pair would eventually convince the ruffians to change their name to The Who and become their managers. Lambert and Stamp make an interesting duo, they became music managers even though both they and the band knew they had no experience in this area. And when Jimi Hendrix went to England they went and founded a whole record label (Track Records) just so they could work with him.

Lambert & Stamp draws together some candid interviews with the likes of The Who’s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey while Who trainspotters will know Richard Barnes and Irish Jack who were also around in the early days. Stamp is also interviewed extensively even though he passed away during the filming of this documentary (this fails to get a mention). Lambert died in 1981 and is shown through archived interviews.

The film offers up lots of funny anecdotes and asides mostly by Daltrey, Townshend and Stamp who all make rather interesting raconteurs. This film devotes too much time to some things while other events are glossed over (like the fact the subjects are both deceased and a very limited light is shone on the pair’s involvement with Jimi Hendrix). The moments reminiscing about The Who’s glory days take up too much precedence at times.

This management team were the fifth and sixth members of The Who, at least according to Roger Daltrey; and Lambert often played the muse to Townshend, especially during the writing and recording of Tommy. But they also worked with other artists like Arthur Brown and Thunderclap Newman, although this is only mentioned in passing. There is some excellent, old concert footage of The Who and their music features a lot in the soundtrack (but at times these are reduced to short sound bites).

Lambert & Stamp is a rockumentary that is overstuffed with some details and too light on others. The sprawling documentary contains lots of funny and colourful anecdotes but it could also do with a good edit. The film is another vibrant one about the band and those around them and shows the strange but amazing journey they all had.

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Lambert & Stamp played at Sydney Film Festival on June 5 and 7.