Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: 'The Complete Monterey Pop Festival' Blu-ray


Capturing Rock & Roll at a more experimental phase than The T.A.M.I. Show did, but not as self-indulgent and drab as Woodstock, or as depressing as Gimme Shelter, D.A. Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop is the greatest multi-artist concert film. With a wide selection of some of the era’s most thrilling artists to include in his feature, Pennebaker created a nice sampler of all that made 1967 Rock’s most dazzling year. There’s a whole lot of soul (Otis), raga (17 minutes of Ravi Shankar flooring the crowd), jazz (Hugh Masekela), blues (Janis, Canned Heat), pacific pop (Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & The Papas) proto-punk (The Who), and of course, psychedelic Rock (The Animals, Country Joe, the Airplane, Hendrix and his Experience). The performances are as electric as they are eclectic, and Pennbaker’s shadowy cinematography creates nearly as much mood as the vibrant music.
In 2002, The Criterion Collection put together a triple-disc package called The Complete Monterey Pop Festival that built an already monumental film to skyscraper proportions. The set included the original film, as well as complete performances from Otis Redding and The Jimi Hendrix Experience and the feature-length Outtakes Performances. This is just as essential as Pennebaker’s 1968 film, recovering additional performances from The Who, Simon & Garfunkel, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Mamas & The Papas, and Country Joe & The Fish, as well as footage of some major artists who didn’t make the cut of the original picture, such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Laura Nyro (whose spellbinding rendition of “Poverty Train” dispels rumors that she fumbled the gig), The Association (who provide a charmingly mainstream moment amidst all the heavy underground activity), and others. In addition to the three major supplements were a plethora of commentaries, interviews, trailers, and booklet essays.
In 2009, Criterion upgraded the 2002 DVD for Blu-ray without offering anything beyond the 2002 supplements. For the festival’s 50th Anniversary, Criterion has given the video a 4K buffing and added several extra features, such as new onscreen interviews with Pennebaker (who discusses the filming and the acts) and festival producer Lou Adler (who discusses a 50th Anniversary festival staged on the site of the 1967 one, the original film’s lack of explicit politics, and other matters) and a general new essay about the film by Michael Chaiken (however, text by Pennebaker and Jann Wenner from the 2002 edition have been lost in translation). Much more historically significant are some extra outtake performances from The Steve Miller Band, Moby Grape, and The Grateful Dead. 

Criterion’s new 4K restoration of Monterey Pop delivers splendid colors and appropriately crunchy grain. Some shots are a bit soft, but that is likely a consequence of the lo-fi conditions under which Pennebaker and his crew made the movie (we often see them working the focus in the middle of a shot). Jimi Plays Monterey, Shake! Otis at Monterey, and The Outtakes Performances are presented in the same 1080p transfers used for the 2009 Blu-ray release, but the Hendrix and Otis mini-movies have been newly restored according to the back-cover copy
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
All written content of Psychobabble200.blogspot.com is the property of Mike Segretto and may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.