The Kids Are Alright (The Who) – Original Soundtrack Album

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on October 9, 2010

A Double Album, "The Kids Are Alright" Collected The Best Music On One Of The Rock & Roll Movies Ever

A Double Album, "The Kids Are Alright" Was The Companion Piece To One Of The Most Memorable Rock & Roll Biopics Ever

The soundtrack to Jeff Stein’s highly-adored biopic is a double album made up of live highlights. Of course, the terms “live” and “highlight” are the bywords when we are talking about The Who with Keith Moon sitting behind the kit.

The version of “A Quick One” at the Rolling Stones’ Rock & Roll Circus leads the charge. The Who stole the show that day, to the point that the Stones (aware that they had been outplayed) later tried to sell the movie to The Who so that they could release it as their Rock & Roll Circus. Personally, I like the version which is included on the “Live At Leeds” album even better. But in any case, both cuts showcase what a demolishing live band The Who was during the “Tommy” period.

That is also underlined by the three songs from Woodstock which are included – all three are “Tommy” numbers (“Pinball Wizard”, “Sparks” and “See Me, Feel Me”) and they are all terrific. They can also be found on the original “Woodstock” soundtrack. The version of “Sparks”, incidentally, is also featured on “Almost Famous” – it is the song that makes the main character realize his destiny of becoming a music journalist.

Likewise, the album includes the cataclysmic performance from “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” that earned Moon the moniker of “British Patent Exploding Number”. It is not really a “live” number (they are playing over a track which was prerecorded), but it has the full dialogue introduction in which the guys drive Tommy Smothers crazy.

And three songs are featured from two concerts which were specifically scheduled for the film. The first took place at Kilburn and it was a major disaster. The one track from that concert which found its way here proves it, as the band struggles through “My Wife”, arguably John Entwistle’s best stage number alongside “Heaven & Hell” and one that they seldom got wrong. For years, fans have joked that the live version of “My Wife” recorded at that gig was only included on “The Kids Are Alright” as a way to show that the band could have days off, just like everybody else.

The second show that was arranged for the movie was a different story, though. The band played to a hand-picked audience at Shepperton, on the week Pete Townshend had turned 33. The excellent versions of “Baba O’ Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” found here come from that show (the band’s last with Keith).

The album also has some studio cuts like “Magic Bus”, “I Can See For Miles”, “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” and “Long Live Rock”. That was an early ’70s track which was meant to be issued as a single after “Let’s See Action”, “Join Together” and “The Relay” had run their courses – a plan that never came to fruition. That was quite disconcerting, specially when we remember that a full rock revival was taking place back then. With its sassy lyrics and back-to-basics sound, “Long Live Rock” would have been a much better single. Well, it finally got its own release as this soundtrack’s first radio cut.

“The Kids Are Alright” hit the theaters shortly after Keith Moon’ tragic demise. The movie had Keith as the undisputed protagonist of its brightest scenes. So did this soundtrack album. It was to be a difficult ride for The Who from this point onwards. The kids weren’t alright any longer. But they were still there for all of us. Yet, they tried to communicate with a younger audience that was not really receptive to what they were saying. How loud they were playing was all that mattered to them. And when that happens, when a band performs in front of an audience that has stopped listening, its ability to say something meaningful is affected.

Rating: 7.5/10

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