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The Beatles—Rare and Unseen DVD(MVD Visual/Wienerworld Productions)

Various Artists—The Who, The Mods, and the Quadrophenia Connection DVD(Sexy Intellectual Productions)

The Beatles ceased being merely a rock band and became a full-fledged religion somewhere around 1967, when Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out. The previous year’s Rubber Soul and Revolver had already cemented their reputation as profound poets of lyrical genius and impeccable songcraft, but with Sgt. Pepper’s surreal, Zeitgeist-changing sense of musical experimentation the quartet simply left the rest of the pop universe in the dust. The world now looked to the four formerly cuddly and innocent Liverpudlians for its future artistic directions, and, right or wrong, their very utterances—in the studio and away from it—became cryptic pearls of wisdom, meaning-rich nuggets to be held up to the light and dissected by legions of obsessive mortals.

Which is why now, in the years since their 1970 breakup, any unearthed grain of minutiae can form the basis of whole box sets, coffee table books, or university courses. As such, Rare and Unseen is built around scarce footage that includes the earliest known film of the Beatles on stage (Liverpool, February 1962—in color!), the only film of their October ’64 tour of Scotland, and amateur clips of a January ’64 gig in Paris. Padded with cheesy, “nostalgic” narration and talking-head quotes from tour manager Sam Leach, press officer Tony Barrow, (pre-Beatles outfit) Quarrymen drummer Colin Hanton, and musician-fans like Phil Collins and Gerry (Pacemakers) Marsden, few of which will reveal much for the fanatics it’s aimed at, Rare and Unseen is also devoid of any actual Beatles music (no surprise, as it’s up front about being an unauthorized project). But the rare early footage is still historically important, and, for fans anyway, it definitely merits a peek.

In those heady British Invasion days the Who was a relative latecomer act to the U.S. charts, not hitting on this side of the pond until—after many worthy attempts—1967, when the band finally entered the Top 40 with “Happy Jack” and played a triumphant set at the all-important Monterey Pop Festival. But by then the group was well on its way to attaining god-like status in England, having been adopted as the flagship act of the nation’s dynamic mod movement. In addition to laying out the story of the band’s early days The Who, The Mods, and the Quadrophenia Connection does a tight job of dishing up the deal on the mod subculture, from its beginnings in London’s hip modern jazz scene to its style-conscious followers’ embracing of soul and R&B to the formation of the Who, the Kinks, the Small Faces, and other classic acts (although it’s puzzling and unpardonable that mods-to-a-T quartet the Creation isn’t even mentioned).

From there the focus is on the making and impact of the Who’s 1973 double LP Quadrophenia, which kept the torch burning and, along with the emergence of mod-punks the Jam and Quadrophenia’s 1979 film adaptation, sparked the full-on mod revival, a phenomenon that continues today. Between and over period clips and stills, expert journos, scenemakers like Pete Townshend pal and Who roadie Roger Barnes, and members of revival bands the Chords and the Purple Hearts run it all down. 1979’s The Kids Are Alright remains the definitive exposé on the Who, but anyone curious about the mod culture that surrounded and was inspired by the band should look no further.—Peter Aaron

The Beatles:
The Who, The Mods, and the Quadrophenia Connection:

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