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The Complete Monterey Pop Festival(1967-1986)
This director-approved special edition Criterion Collection contains four performance films by legendary documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker from the unforgettable 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Titles included are 'Monterey Pop', 'Jimi Plays Monterey', 'Shake! Otis at Monterey', and 'Monterey Pop: The Outtake Performances'.
For more about The Complete Monterey Pop Festival and The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray release, see The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray Review
Starring: Jimi Hendrix, Chris Hegedus
Director: D.A. Pennebaker
This Blu-ray release includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 24, 2009
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The set contains D.A. Pennebaker's legendary documentary "Monterey Pop" (1968) as well as "Jimi Plays Monterey" (1986) and "Shake! Otis at Monterey" (1989). The set also contains an enormous amount of supplemental features - audio commentaries, interviews, outtakes, promotional materials, and more. Criterion have also provided a 46-page illustrated booklet for "Monterey Pop" and a 10-page illustrated booklet for "Jimi Plays Monterey" and "Shake! Otis at Monterey". Not subtitled in English. Region-A "locked".
Criterion's "The Complete Monterey Pop Festival" contains director D.A. Pennebaker's legendary Monterey Pop as well as his Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey. The three films capture a number of musicians as they perform at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 in front of an enthusiastic crowd. After the festival, some of them would go on to become superstars; others would give up music.
Monterey Pop is essentially a raw documentary – it contains footage from unedited performances by The Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Mamas and The Papas, Hugh Maskela, Big Brother and The Holding Company, Scott McKenzie, Canned Heat, Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Country Joe & The Fish, and Ravi Shankar. In between each of these performances, director Pennebaker also captures the reactions of the audience, many of which are just as fascinating to behold.
Judging by director Pennebaker's comments found in the supplemental features section of this Blu-ray disc, shooting the entire event was an enormously challenging task - he was assisted by six cameramen, strategically positioned around the stage (and amongst the audience), who had no way of effectively communicating with each other. As a result, certain performances ended up being rather poorly filmed.
Monterey Pop does not include all of the performances from the Monterey International Pop Festival. Many of the missing ones, however, are found in the outtakes included with this Blu-ray release - The Who ("Substitute", "Summertime Blues", "A Quick One While He's Away"), The Byrds ("Chimes of Freedom", He Was a Friend of Mine", "Hey Joe"), Al Kooper ("I Heard Her Say Wake Me, Shake Me"), Jefferson Airplane ("Somebody to Love"), etc.
Still, Monterey Pop is a remarkable film. It captures the raw energy of a historic event unlike any other music documentary film that I could recall. From Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend's notorious acts to Ravi Shankar's unforgettable improvisations, there are moments of pure magic in it.
Something else that is worth mentioning is the colorful crowd that attended the Monterey International Pop Festival - hippies, members of the Hells Angels, casual music lovers, confused cops, etc. At times, they are as fascinating to behold.
Jimi Plays Monterey (50 min) was assembled in 1986. The film offers a quick summation of the famous guitarist's life while at the same time shows additional footage (a total of nine songs) from his appearance at the Monterey International Pop Festival. It is narrated by John Phillips from The Mamas and the Pappas. In 1987, Jimi Plays Monterey was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
Shake! Otis at Monterey (19 min) was assembled in 1989. The film offers the complete set of songs (a total of five) Otis Redding performed at the Monterey International Pop Festival. This proved to be one of his very last performances as the gifted singer was killed in a plane crash just a few months after he had dazzled the crowds with his incredible voice.
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, D.A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The transfer for Monterey Pop has been personally supervised and approved by D.A. Pennebaker. According to the information provided in the booklet offered with the Blu-ray release, it was created on a Spirit Datacine from the original 16mm A/B camera reversal and 35mm duplicate negative. As a result, Monterey Pop probably looks the best it could.
The overall quality of the transfer is solid – detail is pleasing and clarity impressive. The color-scheme is also very strong, with reds, blues, greens, yellows, blacks and whites looking natural. Neither edge-enhancement nor macroblocking appear to be a serious issue of concern. I also did not detect any traces of DNR. This being said, I did spot a few minor flecks popping up here and there, but large scratches, debris, or dirt do not plague this transfer.
Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey both arrive with restored high-definition transfers that have been personally supervised and approved by D.A. Pennebaker. As a result, they look notably healthy. Jimi Plays Monterey in particular looks lovely when blown through a digital projector. Contrast, clarity, and detail on both films are very good. Similar to Monterey Pop, I did not detect any signs of DNR manipulation here either. (Note: The two discs in the Complete Monterey Pop Festival are Region-A "locked". Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free player in order to access their content).
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Monterey Pop arrives with three different audio tracks: Original Uncompressed Stereo, Remixed Uncompressed Stereo and Remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. I opted for the Original Uncompressed Stereo track and later on did a few random comparisons with the other two tracks for the purpose of this review.
As most of you probably already know, legendary recording engineer Eddie Kramer is responsible for the remixed audio tracks found on this Blu-ray disc. He went back to the original 8-track tapes made at the concerts by Wally Heider and ended up remastering them. The results are indeed very impressive.
I, however, prefer to watch the film with the Original Uncompressed Stereo track. I like its organic qualities and, more importantly, the type of atmosphere it has the ability to recreate. Obviously, there is quite a bit of noise and hiss on it, but I still like it better than the other two tracks included on this disc
The Remixed Uncompressed Stereo track addresses the two issues noted above. Jimi's solos, for example, are a lot clearer, as is Janet's singing, which is one of the key reasons why I believe that many of you would probably end up using the Remixed Uncompressed Stereo track when viewing the film.
The Remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track has been praised by a number of reviewers, but I am not a big fan of it. Yes, it is true – there are notable improvements in terms of balance, depth and dynamics. The sound is also a lot crisper when compared to the other two tracks mentioned above. But the rawness, and all the minor imperfections that are part of the film's identity, are simply missing from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track – and as far as I am concerned, Monterey Pop just isn't the same film without them.
Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey arrive with two audio tracks: Uncompressed Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Once again, for the same reasons noted above, I prefer the Uncompressed Stereo track over the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. For the record, none of the two films offer optional English subtitles.
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
a) Friday, June 16 - performances by The Association ("Along Comes Mary") and Simon & Garfunkel ("Homeward Bound" and The Sounds of Silence"). (1080i).
b) Saturday, June 17 - performances by Country Joe & The Fish ("Not-so-sweet Martha Lorraine"), Al Kooper ("I Heard Her Say Wake Me, Shake Me"), The Paul Butterfield Blues Band ("Driftin' Blues" - video cut and full performance), Quicksilver Messenger Service ("All I ever Wanted To Do Was Love You"), The Electric Flag ("Drinkin' Wine"), The Byrds ("Chimes of Freedom", He Was a Friend of Mine", "Hey Joe"), Laura Nyro ("Wedding Bell Blues", Poverty Train"), and Jefferson Airplane ("Somebody to Love").
c) Sunday, June 18 - performances by The Blues Project ("The Flute Thing"), Big Brother and the Holding Company ("Combination of the Two", original and 5.1 mix), Buffalo Springfield ("For what it's worth"), The Who ("Substitute", "Summertime Blues", "A Quick One While He's Away", original and 5.1 mix) and The Mamas and the Papas. (1080i).
d) The Hunt Club - Using only the illumination of a cigarette lighter, D. A. Pennebaker captured Tiny Tim performing a number of traditional songs at Monterey's Hunt Club, the official greenroom for the festival ("King for a Day", "Laugh, Clown, Laugh", "May God Be With Our Boys Tonight" and "My What a Funny Little World This Is"). (1080i).
e) Artist Index -
a) Adler and Pennebaker - This video interview with festival producer Lou Adler and filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker was conducted in the summer of 2001 in Los Angeles. (30 min, 1080i).
b) Audio interviews - four interviews with John Phillips, Cass Elliot, David Crosby, and Derek Taylor.
Promotional Material - theatrical trailer and radio spots.
Festival Ephemera - Elaine Mayes photographs and Festival Program.
MIPFF - info on the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation.
Commentary - and audio commentary recorded for the Criterion Collection in 2002, featuring Monterey Pop Festival producer Lou Adler and filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker.
Booklet - an illustrated 46-page booklet containing "Monterey Pop:The First Rock Festival" by Michael Lydon, "The Meeting of the Twain: Monterey and the Great California Divide" by Barnet Hoskyns, and "Monterey Pop: People in Motion" by Armond White.
Jimi Plays Monterey:
Commentary - an audio commentary with audio excerpts, featuring music critic and historian Charles Shaar Murray, recorded in London in the Spring of 2002. The additional audio excerpts provide further details on the music career of Jimi Hendrix.
Interview - an interview with Pete Townshend conducted in London in 1987 and produced for VH1 by Tom Kaniewski. In this excerpt, he discusses his memory of the Monterey International Pop Festival. (5 min, 1080i).
Trailer - (4 min, 1080i).
Shake! Otis at Monterey:
Commentaries - two commentaries featuring music historian Peter Guralnick recorded in Boston in the winter of 2002. The first commentary is a song-by-song reading of the film. The second is a look at Otis's career, pre- and post-Monterey.
Interview - an interview with Phil Walden, Otis Redding's manager from 1959 until Otis's death in 1967. The interview was recorded in Atlanta in the spring of 2002.
Booklet - a 10-page illustrated booklet containing "Bold, Beautiful, and Black" by David Frickle.
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival chronicles an event many believe changed the way people perceived pop and rock music. As usual, Criterion's treatment of the three film included in this boxset is solid. Absolutely, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND it.
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival Blu-ray, News and Updates
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