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The Complete Monterey Pop Festival: The Criterion Collection

Whether or not you were at the Monterey International Pop Festival for three days in June 1967, fans of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and other performers in that era-defining lineup of rock, blues, soul, ballads, psychedelia, and jazz should jump on this superb Criterion release as if it were the last chopper out of 'Nam. Two years before Woodstock, this was the concert where Hendrix graduated from rumor to legend by bringing his pink, hand-painted Stratocaster to a masterful "Wild Thing" orgasm before setting it ablaze on stage. And here's where The Who's equipment-smashing theatrics concluding "My Generation" were steel-press stamped into the American pop rock scene. Janis Joplin rips open her heart and soul to rise from relative obscurity in the Bay Area clubs. Also here are Otis Redding, Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas and The Papas, and many others. Seminal documentarian D.A. Pennebaker — hired to film the first rock festival for ABC TV (who later backed out of the deal when they saw the Hendrix footage) — shot enough top-quality material to make his documentary, Monterey Pop, one of the great concert films.

Now Criterion presents Pennebaker's original film struck from a gorgeously restored 35mm print and absolutely stunning DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio options. Plus, a second disc holds Pennebaker's Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake!, and a third offers more than two hours of first-rate outtake footage. Moreover, new commentary tracks, archival video and audio interviews with performers, and a terrific 64-page booklet contribute to one of the all-time great DVD releases. Criterion has at least matched its own exemplary standards it set with Brazil by putting together a release essential for concert film collectors and those for whom the late Sixties are worth remembering with affection and perhaps a little awe.

—Mark Bourne

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