Lambert & Stamp
by Jordan Canahai
If you have any interest in the music business, or you’re like me and have been a lifelong fan of The Who, I would definitely recommend James D. Cooper’s latest documentary Lambert & Stamp. It details the unlikely partnership of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, two aspiring filmmakers who hoped to make an underground film about the mod culture in 1960s London, only to end up discovering and managing the up and coming act The High Numbers, who would of course go on to evolve into the legendary rock band The Who.
As the documentary shows, pairings don’t get much more unusual; Lambert was gay, served in the British Army, and came from an upper class background, being the son of renowned composer Constant Lambert. Stamp came from London’s working class, being the brother of actor Terence Stamp, he entered the arts through backstage work with the theater and ballet. It was at the Shepperton Film Studios where each was working as an assistant director when their lives converged, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Much of Lambert & Stamp unfolds as rich oral history, as director Cooper allows his subjects to recount their firsthand experiences in a truthful and heartfelt manner. It’s an approach hampered less than one might think given the absence of some big names throughout the story, including Lambert himself, who died in 1981, as well as deceased members of The Who Keith Moon and John Entwistle. Thankfully, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry offer clear-eyed memories that are insightful and affectionate without underselling the conflicts that led to The Who eventually splitting from the managing duo in the early 70s. Most remarkable as a storyteller is Stamp himself, embodying a similar gravitas in his voice and presence as his famous older brother. He speaks with clarity, humor, and more than a little regret about his friendship with Lambert and their eventual rise and fall.
Mixing interviews with archival footage and setting it all to one great Who track after another, the documentary moves along briskly, occasionally at the expense of story. Anyone without a passing familiarity to the Mod Scene or the history of Britain’s rock music will likely have a hard time connecting with the material. Still, Lambert & Stamp offers an engrossing and intimate account of one of rock’s most influential acts from a perspective that for too long has gone largely unknown.
Watch the trailer for Lambert & Stamp
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