[Review] The Who: The Kids Are Alright (1979)

A ray of light in a moonless sky, featuring live performances of classics over the years.

Kronomyth 13.0: Odds and Leeds.

This is the soundtrack to the film of the same name, a collection of live performances, interviews and archival footage that was begun in 1977 and released in 1979, almost one year after the death of Keith Moon. In no way was the film intended to be a Moon memorial, and the version that moviegoers saw in the summer of 1979 was the essentially the same version that Moon reviewed before his death. No allusion is made to Moon’s passing, no sentimental cards are played. It is simply a long and loving look at what many would consider the greatest rock & roll band of all time, viewed mostly through their highly charged stage performances, but also illuminated by moments of humor and candor.

The movie doesn’t bother much with chronological order, yet the soundtrack sticks pretty close to the film’s order. It opens with The Who’s shocking performance of My Generation on The Smothers Brothers Show, and ends with their recent performance of Won’t Get Fooled Again. In between are excellent live performances that range from grainy black-and-white footage to the band’s technicolor performance of A Quick One filmed for the Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus. Throughout the film, Pete Townshend and Moon emerge as the scene-stealers: Townshend for his frenzied stage persona, Moon for his madcap antics both onstage and offstage.

The Kids Are Alright was conceived as a visual/audio experience, so if you’re only listening to it on elpee or disc, you’re missing half the story. The soundtrack does function well as an archival live album, sort of a cross between Odds & Sods and Live at Leeds. The packaging was lovingly done with a large booklet, nice graphics and picture labels that looked like tape reels, making it one of the most impressive Who packages since Live at Leeds. Unfortunately, the initial compact disc reissues were a miserable affair, minus one track (the penultimate medley) and all of the packaging that made the original feel like a loving tribute rather than a cash grab.

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Original 2LP Version

A1. My Generation (4:32)
A2. I Can’t Explain (2:01)
A3. Happy Jack (2:12)
A4. I Can See For Miles (4:17)
A5. Magic Bus (3:22)
A6. Long Live Rock
B1. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (2:49)
B2. Young Man (Blues) (Mose Allison) (5:46)
B3. My Wife (John Entwistle) (6:08)
B4. Baba O’Riley (5:29)
C1. A Quick One (7:30)
C2. Tommy, Can You Hear Me? (1:46)
C3. Sparks (3:01)
C4. Pinball Wizard (2:48)
C5. See Me, Feel Me (5:25)
D1. Medley: Join Together / Road Runner (Ellas McDaniel) / My Generation Blues (9:54)
D2. Won’t Get Fooled Again (9:48)

All songs written by Pete Townshend unless noted.

The Players

Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend. Musical direction by John Entwistle; associate producers: The Who; tape research, record and remix engineer by Cy Langston.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP, cassette and 8-track on June 24, 1979 in the UK  and Germany (Polydor, 2675 179), the US and Canada (MCA, MCA2/MCAC2/MCAT-11005), Australia (Polydor, 2488 739/40), Brazil (Polydor, 3577 343), Japan (CBS/Sony, 40AP 1630/1) and Mexico (Polydor, LPR 16326A2) with booklet and innersleeves; reached #26 on the UK charts and #8 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record).

  1. Re-issued on 2LP, compact disc and cassette in 1985 in the US (MCA, MCA2/MCAD/MCA2-6899) [CD minus D1 track, 2LP and cassette have the same ID number].
  2. Re-issued on compact disc on May 20, 1993 in the UK (MCA, 517 947).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1994 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-2345).
  4. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2000 in Europe (Polydor, 543 694).
  5. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in Japan (Polydor, UICY-3114).
  6. Re-released on red and blue vinyl 2LP in 2018 in Europe (UMC, 6713232) [Record Store Day].
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