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on January 24, 2003
Filmed at California's Monterey festival in mid 1967 at which most of the new San Francisco bands performed, "Monterey Pop" captured the feel of the artists and, equally importantly, the audience at an event that catapulted the West Coast onto the international stage. Problem was that for various reasons, including poor playing & camera-work, a large number of these bands never made it into the released version leaving much of the film dominated by the more established & "professional" UK & US groups such as the Who, Eric Burdon & the Animals, the Mamas & Papas and Jimi Hendrix. But... no matter, because the contributions from Jefferson Airplane (and their superb lightshow lifted straight from the San Francisco ballrooms), Country Joe & The Fish (whose rendition of "Section 43" is a near perfect insight into "hippiedom"), Big Brother & The Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin at her peak) and Ravi Shankar provide one of the few visual records of the San Francisco music scene at the time.
So, if you're interested in finding out what was happening see the original film. But if, like me, you already have it, or if you're just more curious, then this expanded 3 disc DVD edition is just about all you could ask for, and probably all you're ever going to get. Sure, the film quality on several of the additional sequences is poor but hey, you get a further two hours of performances - including Al Kooper, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield (with David Crosby & without Neil Young), the Association, Laura Nyro and Electric Flag, none of who were included in the original film, and... additional numbers from artists who made it into the original, including Country Joe & the Fish, Jefferson Airplane, Simon & Garfunkle, Big Brother & the Holding Company, the Who and the Mamas & Papas. Plus... a further hour featuring the full sets from Jimi Hendrix (simply electric!) and Otis Redding.
In amongst what totals over four hours of music, you get much good and some bad - this was 1967 and many of these groups were still finding their way - but as a comprehensive insight into both the festival and the mid 60's "underground" scene it's unbeatable. And... to top it all, the comprehensive booklet included in this boxed set includes several lengthy reviews of the event, and the background to it, that put it all into context. Wonderful stuff...
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on May 1, 2004
Mere words cannot describe the transcendental viewing experience that is "Monterey Pop", but I'll do my best to try here. Imagine a film of many of the best rock and pop acts of the 1960s performing at or near their peak smack in the middle of 1967's fabled Summer Of Love. Now imagine this concert expertly and emotionally filmed by master documentarian DA Pennebaker, and beautifully remastered 35 years later with crystal-clear sound and video. Now imagine every available surviving outtake from the original '68 film--including the complete Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding performances (both briefly issued on VHS in the 80s), plus two more hours featuring many acts not featured in the original film--added to the set, most of which is as good or even better than what made the final cut.
"Monterey Pop" should be required viewing--far more than "Woodstock", that's for sure--for anyone interested in what the 60s was really all about. It is more than just an incredible rock festival, the first and still the best of its kind. It is a historical document of the hippie era at its euphoric peak. DA Pennebaker truly earned his credentials here as his camera focuses with incredible grace and sensitivity on each face, be it from audience member or performer. There is one shot during Ravi Shankar's performance where his camera walks down a lengthy aisle and the quasi-religious looks and gypsy-like fashions on the dozens of people he meets along the way is simply breathtaking. That singular mood--which captures a long-lost communal paradise of gentle smiles and laughter, incredibly colorful clothing and painted faces, mind-blowing psychedelic light shows, gods-eye weaves, beads, flowers and of course Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Otis Redding, Country Joe & The Fish, Simon And Garfunkel and many more giving performances more akin to spiritual visions than entertainment--will hypnotize and delight the viewer from beginning to end, and even though there are four hours of entertainment here you will be left wanting more (and usually wishing for a time machine).

With the audience almost as dazzling a sight as the performers, and the light show competing with and complementing the music for one's attention, the film feels like one singular artistic statement which came together like magic, fuelled by the acid-soaked climate of the time. Much interesting historical info is given in the booklet and audio commentaries, although the
real highlight of this re-release are the two extra DVDs featuring all the available outtake footage. Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, of course, gave two of the greatest performances of all time at Monterey; nothing need be said of Hendrix's now-iconic US breakthrough, which upped the ante on The Who's stunning set. Much more of The Who's set makes the outtakes disc as well, along with many artists unfortunately cut out of the original film such as The Byrds, Laura Nyro, The Electric Flag, The Blues Project and Buffalo Springfield. The Blues Project give a particularly fine, unexpected performance featuring an inspired flute solo. Other highlights include Big Brother doing "Combination Of The Two" (which crackles with excitement), Simon And Garfunkel dishing out a mesmerizing "Sound Of Silence", Country Joe & The Fish rocking on "Martha Lorraine" (with more classic audience shots), Jefferson Airplane storming their way through "Somebody To Love" (which should have made the official film over "High Flying Bird"), Laura Nyro's dramatic rendition of "Poverty Train", and Crosby and Stills together on stage for the first time while the Springfield do "For What It's Worth".
Films like this need to be preserved and cherished as time capsules of a bygone era that becomes more and more distorted through hazy recollection and warped media images over the years (for starters, not a *single* person in "Monterey Pop" can be seen wearing a tie-dye shirt!). It is my favorite concert film and one of the most enjoyable and even spiritual films I have ever seen, which at times brings a tear to the eye. If you've already seen the original film, the DVD will be "like Easter and Christmas and New Years and your birthday all in one"; if you haven't, and particularly if you are of today's under-21 generation for who the 60s are a distant grandparents' memory, "Monterey Pop" may change your life.
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on January 24, 2004
The wonders of modern technology! Take a concert from 1967 and turn it into something that looks like it was filmed yesterday. How they do that? The video and audio restoration here is just incredible. Anyone with a high quality tv will be amazed. The sound quality is outstanding. The first disc is the documentary and it's a great time capsule of 60's music. The second disc is just Hendrix and Otis Redding. This is worth the price of the dvd all by itself. Without question the greatest pair of performances by ever. And just a few years before their untimely deaths, which makes it even more special. Hendrix was and may forever be the best guitarist and stage performer combined of all time. Otis R was perhaps the best soul singer and performer of all time. This captures them at their prime. The third disc is out-takes, which has some good performances too. But make no mistake, this is Jimi and Otis show. Their likes may never be seen again. An essential dvd!
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on March 29, 2003
I was worried spending this much money on a set that more than one person complained about video quality. I am here to say there is nothing to worry about. The actual film's disc looks and sounds great, as do the Jimi and Otis disc.
People seemed to have the problem with the bonus disc. Yes, there was one camera angle that has big black hairs in it. That only shows up durring two acts, and for a total screen time of maybe 5 minutes. Otherwise, the picture quality is fine, actually much better overall than the new McCartney "Back in the US" DVD is. I almost didn't buy this based on those other reviews, because I am usually quite critical of product quality, and usually end up agreeing with negative reviews. Boy, am I glad I took the chance on this one anyway. There are some great surprises in this box, like wonderful performances from people I wasn't familiar with, and terrible performances from people I thought would be great. The Byrds doing "Hey Joe" was so amazingly bad it made me laugh. Any garage band could have done a better job on that, but it's not the DVD's fault.
There are many hours of enjoyment in this set and they did a good job putting it all together. There is a lot of information available here too, both in the dialog tracks and the very nice book included. I am very glad I bought it, and am betting you will be too.
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on December 21, 2003
Given the large number of great bands and performers at the festival, many reviewers have speculated about why some footage was included and some bands entirely skipped over. I recently e-mailed a performer at the festival re whether additional footage was available. This was his reply:
"This Monterey box includes ALL the outtakes they had."
If you loved or even liked late 60's rock, buy this set. It represents part of your life.
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on January 19, 2003
This collection was given to me as a gift from my wife this past Christmas. I was familiar with much of the material on this boxed set (except for the Out-takes disc and the full Otis Redding performance), and I was impressed with the digital transfer and sonic enhancements.
A young co-worker of mine has a rock festival memory that spans all the way back to Live-Aid(!), and he was eager to view this DVD set. He couldn�t believe it! Imagine � a bunch of well-scrubbed Bay Area kids back in 1967 went home to their breakfast tables on Monday and said, �Hey! Guess what I did this weekend?�
Contrast that to Woodstock two years later, which wasn�t really that groovy a place to be, judging from the New York Thruway, the weather, the lack of food, the bad strain of brown acid in circulation, etc. Let�s not even discuss Altamont, and especially not Woodstock �99. D. A. Pennebaker�s film documents the music festival before it became corrupted by egos, money, television, damned fools and finally, corporate sponsorships.
Monterey was the first of its kind and unfortunately, the last of its kind, which is why this film still has legs. Sure, there�s a lot of quaint, silly stuff there, but it�s very much of its time (�Dig yourselves, man, because it�s groovy � it�s really groovy!�). The music, for the most part, still holds up.
Despite the title, this is far from the �complete� festival, but Pennebaker cops to that in his liner notes. There�s a long list of artists who appeared at the festival and weren�t filmed, and a few who were filmed but wouldn�t cooperate with release of footage and/or soundtracks. In other words, it�s as �complete� as it could legally be.
Disc Two, The Outtake Performances, contains acts and songs that weren�t included in the original film (Disc One). Tiny Tim makes an appearance, as does Laura Nyro, with additional performances by Big Brother & The Holding Company, Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & The Papas, Jefferson Airplane and The Who, among others.
The third and final disc contains the Jimi Hendrix Experience � Jimi Plays Monterey, and Otis Redding � Shake! This (almost) complete Hendrix performance has been available on VHS for years, but never quite like this. The new 5.1 surround mix is nothing short of spectacular � you won�t believe it�s possible that only one man was playing a guitar. And be sure to check out Charles Shaar-Murray�s voice-over commentary. The Who�s guitarist, Pete Townsend, also includes an interview in which he reflects on the backstage tensions at Monterey between The Who and the Experience (who gets to destroy a guitar first?). While this account doesn�t quite square with those he made earlier, Pete�s got other problems now.
Just as poignant as Hendrix� sudden and all-too-brief star turn is Otis Redding�s set. Like Jimi, Redding toiled for years on the chitlin� circuit. He achieved a modicum of success. Just as Hendrix did, Redding won over the audience and broke through to mainstream success. Unfortunately, scant weeks after achieving stardom, Otis and most of his band died in a plane crash. Redding�s powerful set at Monterey gives us a glimpse of what could have been.
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival is far from complete, but it�s absolutely essential viewing, and now might be a good time to spring for that surround system while you�re at it.
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on November 19, 2002
The Summer of Love, 1967, a time that today seems as remote as the Middle Ages. A time when people cared about life, the war in Vietnam; a time when people wore beads and flowers in their hair: a time when LSD and marijuana were abundantly available; a simpler time when people lived for the music. And oh what music! The Byrds, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and the Mamas and the Papas. And did I mention JIMI HENDRIX? This Criterion DVD has all of the bands that made music relavent, and it contains so much more than the original movie that I have to recommend this set to everyone. Of course, just because it is a Criterion DVD, you know from the beginning that the picture and sound are as good as it gets, and you wont be disappointed. Put this disc on, turn up the volume, and get back to the sixties and enjoy the music and bands that made a difference. And did I mention JIMI HENDRIX? That's right, an entire disc devoted to HENDRIX, his entire performance, caught on film and digitally remastered by Jimi's own engineer, Eddie Kramer. This HENDRIX concert alone makes the set worth the money. This material has been circulated for years as a bootleg on vinyl (does anybody still remeber vinyl?) and CD, but here you get Jimi's searing performance at Monterey in beautiful technocolor and surround sound. Simply put, this DVD set is a must have for everyone that loves rock and roll, and there should be a law that every library in America should have a copy of this available to the public, and it should be mandatory viewing for all high school students.
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on November 18, 2002
I have nothing but praise for this accomplishment of DA Pennebaker. I saw this in the theatre when it was first released on film and was awed by the performances of some of the greats of that time, some no longer with us ie Janis and Jimi. Viewing it today has the same impact on me now as it did then. This 3 disc set is chock full of performance gems and brief glimpses of the spectators of this event, used like seasoning to set the mood of the performances.
Disc one is the original movie mentioned above, disc two contains performaces by Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, done as only Mr Pennebaker could present it, but disc three is the real treasure as it contains footage not released until now (that I know of), which includes artists such as The Association, sounding a bit like Devo or Talking Heads; The Paul Butterfield Blues Band featuring the late Paul Butterfield laying down some wild Blues Harp licks that harp players today emulate; Al Kooper, of the Butterfield Band with his awesome blues talent; and rare footage of Quicksilver messenger service.
I am unable to find anything approaching boring or not enjoyable within this 3 disc set. Im glad I waited for it to come out in this format
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on February 12, 2003
This is a wonderful DVD set - and I've played it over & over since getting it. There are some tracks I do skip past sometimes, but on the whole this set is so deep and rich it is incredible. Having so much of the Who set on the "outtakes" disc is really good; though it would be even better to be able to seamlessly go from "A Quick One" to "My Generation". I never got to see The Who play live, but I did see the Airplane numerous times. The three songs represent them well and it is fantastic to 'time-travel' back; only complaint - I want more! Not enough people have seen Michael Bloomfield play and at least we get one track here. Or Larry Taylor playing bass (Canned Heat) - he is SO into it! Reminds me - how do you describe Jack Cassady without something like this? I first saw Hendrix about a year after this was filmed; I found this performance to be astonishing but not as overwhelming as that 1968 experience (ooh!).
I could go on and on!
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on August 6, 2009
The Complete Monterey Pop Festival 3-DVD set is wonderful! It's well worth the money. Don't be put off by the negative comments on some of the reviews you'll read...the problems are really very minor. My son and I purchased this set for my husband/his dad for Father's Day, and the three of us have spent many hours watching each DVD from start to finish. And over again. See Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Mamas and Papas, The Byrds, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane...and on and on and on. We have been spellbound by the performances. It brings back countless happy memories for me and my husband, and our 25-yr old son can now see famous artists playing the music he has heard throughout his life.

Just be sure to get the 3-DVD has footage that is awesome. This set is an amazing record of an astounding weekend in history during the Summer of Love.
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