Friday, August 12, 2011

An Ox's Tale: The John Entwistle Story (2006)

IMDB says...90 min
An intimate portrait of the legendary bass guitarist for The Who. This documentary includes the last footage ever recorded with John Entwistle, and features interviews with Pete Townshend, as well as other major figures in rock history.

The 73rd Virgin says... A good-hearted low-budget attempt to put an image on a man whose only image was flamboyant clothing, stock-still stage presence, and great bass playing. If you dont know the subject, pick up The Who's "Live at Leeds" and marvel at the delicately rolling thunder of Entwistle and Keith Moon. Also note Entwistle's vocal harmonies with Peter Townsend which are awfully good in themselves, given that he was also busy playing, to my ears, remarkably complex rock and roll bass.

There are a million videos of "My Generation" on TV with the clueless cameraman bouncing around trying to figure out who is playing that weird sounding guitar while Townsend is obviously doing nothing. The Smothers Brother's cameramen actually get it, though. Entwistle is in black.

That said, even the footage in this movie barely notices Entwistle. Peter Townsend continues as the spokesman of rock and roll survivors, at one point acknowledging that he and Roger Daltrey cut back on their lifestyles when The Who retired, but Entwistle never did, which is why he had to perform constantly, and the main reason why The Who kept coming out of retirement to give him another cash infusion.

Townsend's very generous in describing Entwistle's ability to essentially outplay him during improvisational exercises on stage. Entwistle's mother, Queenie, describes his early days, as young as 14, playing trumpet with Townsend in pubs around London.

Townshend also give compelling defense of his decision to carry on with the tour after Entwistle's death and how it feels to perform without him.

In the end, Entwistle comes off as a generous and somewhat irresponsible guy who didn't do much damage and died early because he was worn out. Sad, but with some uplift.

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