The Who Tommy And Quadrophenia Live

After countless reunion tours and the death of bassist John Entwistle, the Who leaders Townshend and Daltrey look back on the Who's career in this smart package, gathering complete live performances of both Tommy and Quadrophenia from 1989 and 1996. A third disc of live hits from the same period collects signature songs such as "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "I Can See For Miles." The older Who still rock. On the Tommy disc, they outshine guest stars such as Billy Idol (silly) and Patti LaBelle (hammy) as they tell the story of the world's most celebrated deaf, dumb and blind boy. However, the band pales against their younger, former selves when Keith Moon's explosive drumming propelled their live shows. The Woodstock (1969) and Isle of Wight (1970) performances found on other DVDs offer definitive versions of these same songs. What saves this DVD set from being a lame rehashing of classic rock are Daltrey and, especially, Townshend's on-screen commentaries. Daltrey's recollections on Tommy and Quadrophenia are refreshingly honest ("Quadrophenia… onstage felt incredibly inconsistent"), even poignant. He closes the '60s generation gap by acknowledging the "trauma" that his parents' generation suffered during the Depression and World War Two, which he didn't understand as a young man singing "My Generation." Townshend, on the other hand, is more analytical and reflective. He explains the inspiration and creative process behind each song he wrote, but also offers the wider context in which both operas were created. The detail Townshend offers is so generous it could fill a book. Along with The Kids Are Alright, this is an essential Who DVD. (Rhino)