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The Complete
Monterey Pop Festival

director: D.A. Pennebaker

270 minutes (unrated) 1967/1986/1997
Criterion DVD Region 'o' retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
In June 1967, the first (and as it turned out only) Monterey International Pop Festival took place. Of the three major US rock festivals in the 1960s, it doesn't quite have the cultural significance of Woodstock and Altamont, which - only a few months apart, in 1969 - both summed up the decade at its end. However, it was still a pretty impressive line-up of musicians, with plenty of established names at or near their best, and major breakthroughs for Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding.
   All three festivals were filmed and released theatrically. D.A. Pennebaker (who had previously made the pioneering documentary Don't Look Back, following Bob Dylan on his UK tour) and his crew filmed Monterey Pop with 16mm cameras: some of the same crew worked on the Altamont film Gimme Shelter. With this Criterion release of Monterey Pop, all three festivals are now available on DVD. Criterion also released Gimme Shelter, in an edition which is in this writer's opinion, one of the single finest DVD packages ever produced: not just for the visual and aural quality of the film presentation itself, but for the depth and quantity of the extras. If you buy that DVD, then you have most of the available primary sources for a key event in Western popular cultural history in one place. The Complete Monterey Pop Festival doesn't quite reach those heights, though it comes pretty close.
   The first disc of this three-disc set is the i itself, in its original 79-minute theatrical version. Pennebaker restricts himself to one or maybe two songs per act. He also doesn't respect the festival's three-day chronology, but alternates night and day, light and dark, fury and calm. We do get brief interviews with fans, and some footage of John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas) organising the festival, but mostly the focus is on the music. Along with Hendrix and Redding, other performers at their peak include Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and The Who. Others, like Simon and Garfunkel, are more than competent but somehow seem a little out of place. The film reaches a literally pyrotechnic climax with Hendrix's Wild Thing then brings us slowly down to earth with first the Mamas and the Papas' Gotta Feelin' and then 15 minutes of Ravi Shankar's sitar-playing, which may be too long for many.
   The second disc features the two short films Pennebaker put together from his footage: Jimi Plays Monterey (49 minutes) and Shake! Otis at Monterey (19 minutes), features the entire sets of both men. The first documentary features background interviews plus footage of Hendrix in London. The shorter Redding film concentrates on his Monterey performance, backed by Booker T and the MGs and the three-part horn section the Mar-Keys. The third disc contains two hours of outtakes, featuring more of some of the artists involved, plus some others that weren't included in the original film. The disc also includes some impromptu (and rather camp) performances by Tiny Tim in the festival green room. There are still some omissions, as Pennebaker admits. Most notable by their absence are The Grateful Dead: their songs were simply too long for the 10-minute capacity of the film reels. So it's really the 'Nearly Complete' festival. No matter, it's still four hours of often-superb music. Play it loud!
   All the discs are in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The box-set includes a booklet with four articles and essays about the festival and the film. Sound formats, track listings and extras as follows:

Disc One: Monterey Pop
Track listing: Combination of the Two (Big Brother and the Holding Company), San Francisco (Scott McKenzie), Creeque Alley, California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas), Rollin' and Tumblin' (Canned Heat), The 59th Street Bridge Song [Feelin' Groovy] (Simon and Garfunkel), Bajabula Bonke [Healing Song] (Hugh Masakela), High Flyin' Bird, Today (Jefferson Airplane), Ball and Chain (Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin), Paint It Black (Eric Burdon and the Animals), My Generation (The Who), Section 43 (Country Joe and the Fish), Shake!, I've Been Loving You Too Long (Otis Redding), Wild Thing (Jimi Hendrix Experience), Gotta Feelin' (The Mamas and the Papas), Raga Bhimpalasi (Ravi Shankar)
   Extras: Dolby digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby stereo 2.0 formats, audio commentary by Lou Adler (festival producer) and D.A. Pennebaker, new video interview with Adler and Pennebaker, audio interviews with John Phillips, Derek Taylor (publicist), Cass Elliot, David Crosby, photo essay by Elaine Mayes, theatrrical trailer and radio spots.

Disc Two: Jimi Plays Monterey
Dolby digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby stereo 2.0 formats. Track listing (all by the Jimi Hendrix Experience unless otherwise indicated): Can You See Me?, Purple Haze, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Monterey (by Eric Burdon and the Animals), Killing Floor, Foxy Lady, Like a Rolling Stone, Rock Me Baby, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary, Wild Thing
   Extras: audio commentary by Charles Shaar Murray, trailer, video excerpt of Pete Townshend on Monterey and Jimi Hendrix.
Shake! Otis at Monterey
Track listing: Shake!, Respect, I've Been Loving You Too Long, [I Can't Get No] Satisfaction, Try a Little Tenderness
   Extras: audio commentary by Peter Guralnick on Redding's performance, song by song; second audio commentary by Guralnick on Redding before and after Monterey, interview with Phil Walden (Redding's manager from 1959 to 1967)

Disc Three: The Outtake Performances
In Dolby stereo 2.0 but songs marked with an asterisk have an alternative Dolby digital 5.1 sound mixes. Track listing: Along Comes Mary (The Association), Homeward Bound, Sounds of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel), Not-so-Sweet Martha Lorraine (Country Joe and the Fish), [I Heard Her Say] Wake Me, Shake Me (Al Kooper), Driftin' Blues (The Paul Butterfield Blues Band), All I Ever Wanted to Do [Was Love You] (Quicksilver Messenger Service), Drinkin' Wine (The Electric Flag), Chimes of Freedom, He Was a Friend of Mine, Hey Joe (The Byrds), Wedding Bell Blues, Poverty Train (Laura Nyro), Somebody to Love (Jefferson Airplane), Flute Thing (The Blues Project), Combination of the Two* (Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin), For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield), Substitute, Summertime Blues, A Quick One While He's Away* (The Who), Straight Shooter, Somebody Groovy, San Francisco [Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair], I Call Your Name, Monday, Monday, Dancing in the Street (The Mamas and the Papas), King for a Day, Laugh, Clown, Laugh, May God Be With Our Boys Tonight, My What a Funny Little World This Is (Tiny Tim).

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