The Complete Monterey Pop Festival (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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On a beautiful weekend in 1967 at the height of the so called "summer of love," the first and only Monterey International Pop Festival raored forward - capturing a decade's spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. Monterey would launch the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, but they were just a few among a wildly diverse lineup including Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas and the Papas, The Who, The Byrds, Hugh Masekela, and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the most comprehensive document of The Monterey International Pop Festival ever produced, featuring all three films of the festival: "Monterey Pop," "Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis At Monterey" along with "Monterey Pop: The Outtake Performances.
A special message from Lou Adler, an original promoter/producer for the Monterey International Pop Festival:
It was the first major Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival. No prerequisite…no precedents. We had no idea what to expect. The question of would people come was answered by mid-week prior to the start of the festival. They came and kept on coming. A major surprise was the extent of mainstream media coverage. When John Phillips and I arrived at the fairgrounds on the morning of the first day there were camera crews, photographers and journalists from all over the world. Add to that the advent of FM radio; and the following year Rolling Stone Magazine…Rock ‘n’ Roll was here to stay. Monterey gave birth to the first rock charity Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation, which continues to fund worthwhile causes in the names of the artists who appeared at Monterey. Precedents and prerequisites would be set for future concerts and festivals, including the overall treatment of the artist…Derek Taylor’s handling of the press…Chip Monks’ sound and lights…Pennebaker’s groundbreaking movie “Monterey Pop. The true legacy of The Monterey International Pop Festival is not the crowd size…not the weather…not a violent incident…it is the music. The groundbreaking artists who were introduced (Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who) and the “rock royalty” (Simon & Garfunkel, Otis Redding and The Mamas & The Papas) that performed there continue to be revered and continue to impact to this day the music and musicians who came after it happened in Monterey on June 16, 17, and 18, 1967.
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First, you get the original Monterey Pop film, remastered. I am fairly certain everyone here has seen it..............it's only about an hour and ten minutes long, but just Janis doing Ball And Chain would be quite enough. But I'm just getting started. You get Hendrix and Otis Redding's entire performances in this package. I already had them both, but if you don't............where ya been?
Then we come to the expanded Monterey Pop disc, two hours of never before released footage from the Festival. I'm spellbound by this, and have watched it once a week for the last several weeks. It opens with a great vocal group that I'd completely forgotten about, The Association, doing a stunning Along Comes Mary. Then a two song segment that absolutely melts me and brings tears to my eyes every time I see it: Simon and Garfunkel, so impossibly young and in their prime, do deliciously beautiful renditions of Homeward Bound and Sounds Of Silence. This is nothing short of classical music folks; it'll be played 100 years from now.
As if that weren't quite enough: The Byrds do three tunes, including a most stunning Chimes Of Freedom (Dylan), He Was A Friend Of Mine (very political tune about President Kennedy), and a rockin' Hey Joe. This DVD would be worth the price just to hear Crosby and McGuinn's twin guitars and harmonies almost 50 years after the fact. Then you get Buffalo Springfield (For What It's Worth), Crosby subbing for a recently departed Neil Young. You get Electric Flag featuring Michael Bloomfield on guitar, some jumpin' upbeat blues, Drinkin' Wine. Then there's the great Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Elvin Bishop on guitar, without a doubt one of the most influential 60's blues outfits doing Driftin' Blues. Janis w/ Big Brother get another tune, this time Combination Of The Two, from Cheap Thrills, very fun R&B tune. The Mamas and The Papas get an entire set..............yeah, no less than six tunes! The Who get three tunes.............remember this is pre-Tommy. Powerful stuff, as anyone would expect. Throw in a Jefferson Airplane tune, Somebody To Love...........damn, talk about a righteous 60's feeling.
If I were trapped on a desert island, had a DVD player and a TV and only two DVD's............I think it would have to be this one and Woodstock. But remember, Monterey Pop by D.A. Pennebaker is the one that started the whole rock Festival film thing..............it was the first. And with this expanded version, it's every bit right up there with Woodstock. Priceless just to have video documentation of this groundbreaking Festival from 1967. And what they've done with the sound is just phenomenal.
Plenty of fresh new music abounded for an audience that responded with child-like glee (except for the wide-eyed young girl who witnessed Jimi Hendrix for the first time! Don't you just love her expression?).
As a previous reviewer wrote (and I will expand on), there were no tye-dyed shirts or guys with hair down to the middle of their backs in the audience. That style was 1969 and into the 1970's. In fact, most guys wore their hair not much longer than the Beatles did in 1964 - collar length with the ears showing. And, for those who wore glasses, the horn-rimmed style was still the most common and not the John Lennon type from the Sgt. Pepper album. Still a few years to go before that caught on.
Monterey is truly a time capsule of 1967. This magnificent DVD box set has more social history of the times than any musical documentary I have seen. Do you want to know the way it really was in the Summer of Love? Watch the Monterey Pop Festival box set.
Because, that IS the way it really was.
This three disc set comes with some terrific bonus features including outtakes and interviews and a fantasic little book about the making of the Monterey Festival along with rare photos. This three box set is great for old Babyboomers like myself to anyone who just enjoys great classic rock 'n' roll. Film students and artists will enjoy this too!
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