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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Stereo
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English DTS 5.1 Surround
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New 5.1 mix by legendary recording engineer Eddie Kramer, presented in Dolby Digital and DTS
  • Jimi Plays Monterey:
  • Audio commentary by music critic and historian Charles Shaar Murray
  • Trailer
  • Excerpt from an interview with Pete Townshend
  • Shake! Otis at Monterey:
  • Two audio commentaries by music critic and historian Peter Guralnick: on Otis Redding's Monterey performance, song by song, and on Redding before and after Monterey
  • Interview with Phil Walden, Otis Redding's manager from 1959 to 1967
  • A new essay by David Fricke

Jimi Plays Monterey / Shake! Otis at Monterey


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: D.A. Pennebaker
1968 | 68 Minutes | Licensor: The Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #169
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: June 13, 2006
Review Date: September 17, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding arrived at California's Monterey International Pop Festival virtually unknown. Returning stateside from London, where he had moved to launch his musical career, Hendrix exploded onstage, flooring an unsuspecting audience with his maniacal six-string pyrotechnics. Redding, a venerable star of Memphis's Stax record label, seduced the "love crowd" in one of his best--and last-- shows. Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey, acclaimed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop companion pieces, feature the entire sets by these legendary musicians, performances that have entered rock-and-roll mythology.

Forum members rate this film 7.6/10

 

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PICTURE

Available on its own or as part of The Complete Monterey Pop Festival DVD box set, Criterion presents D. A. Pennebakerís two films Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this dual-layer disc. This review as a whole can pertain to either the individual release or the disc found in the box set. The only difference is packaging, where the box set disc comes in its own individual digipak and the individual release comes in a basic DVD keep case. The booklets also differ.

The transfers for both look incredibly sharp and look about the same as what is also found on Criterionís Monterey Pop DVD. The prints have been miraculously restored and there is very little in damage, limited to some stray hairs that can appear and a few specs of debris and vertical lines, though material that looks to have been shot on 8mm for an earlier Hendrix performance (not at Monterey) does show some more damage and poor colour saturation. Grain is still present in the rest of the two films but isnít all that heavy (itís actually more noticeable on the new Blu-ray edition.)

The digital transfers themselves are quite sharp. Colours look excellent, far better than I ever would have expected with some sharp reds. The image overall is quite sharp but is limited to the primarily 16mm source, which isnít always in focus and is limited in and of itself in capturing detail. Still, the transfers look impressive with all things considered.

Like with Monterey Pop Iím still incredibly pleased with the transfer found here, even 7 years later. Theyíre sharp and far exceeded what I was expecting.

8/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Jimi Plays Monterey

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Shake! Otis at Monterey

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Shake! Otis at Monterey

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Shake! Otis at Monterey

AUDIO

Both films present restored Dolby Surround 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 surround tracks. All of them sound exceptional but the 5.1 surround tracks have more fidelity and work to better create the concert atmosphere, similar to what was found on the Monterey Pop DVD. The DTS track is the best of the three, presenting deeper bass and far more natural sound with better details. The difference between the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks are actually rather striking. While all of them are good I would stick to the DTS tracks if you can.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Found either in The Complete Monterey Pop Festival box set or on its own, both discs present the same supplements and only differ with the booklet.

In its presentation Criterion actually breaks the two films out. From the main menu you can either select Jimi Plays Monterey or Shake! Otis at Monterey and then be taken to their individual menus that include the options to play the movie, go to the chapter or audio options menus, or watch their respective supplements. You can then go back to the main menu by selecting ďMainĒ from any of the menu screens.

For Jimi Plays Monterey we get one of the best supplements on here, an audio commentary by music critic Charles Shaar Murray. Itís an absolutely fantastic commentary track. He talks very little about the film itself, and only talks briefly about the actual Monterey festival, and instead spends most of the track talking about Hendrix himself and his career. He gives a brief bit of information about Hendrixís career and early life (he saves more material for another section of the disc) but his main focus is to talk about Hendrixís performance at Monterey. Itís a quick, often timeís humourous track helped by the fact Murray is obviously enamoured by the musician. He loves pointing out Hendrixís techniques, loves talking about his guitars and his style, and just canít stop praising his performance. Itís an absolutely wonderful track, a real treat.

And I can only assume Murray couldnít contain his enthusiasm during his commentary because Criterion has also included an additional 44-minutes worth of material from the man under Additional Audio Excerpts, which plays in an audio only presentation apart from the film. The film itself is only 49-minutes so Iím guessing this is material that was edited out to fit the timeframe of the film. Iím glad Criterion decided not to dispose of this material as itís all golden, with Murray further getting into Hendrixís personal life, his life in the military, his political views, how he would string his guitar to play left hand, and Hendrixís obvious love the for guitar. Itís a great expansion on the commentary track and is definitely worth listening to.

Next is a short 4 and a half minute interview with Pete Townshend recorded for VH1 in 1987. On Murrayís commentary found on this disc and then elsewhere in the Monterey Pop DVD features thereís mention of an apparent fight that occurred between Hendrix and Townshend on who would perform first. There was suspicion it had to do with the fact both wanted to be the first to destroy their instruments on stage, though here Townshend says he wanted The Who to go first because he feared following Hendrix. Most of the interview excerpt pertains to this with a little about Monterey as a whole. Itís a shame more of the interview wasnít included but I guess Criterion figured it only made sense to include material that had to do with Monterey and Hendrixís performance.

The supplements for this film then conclude with a trailer that is for both Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake!.

Shake! Otis at Monterey is the shorter film, running only 19-minutes, receiving only a few supplements.

This film gets two audio commentaries, both by music critic Peter Guralnick. The first track talks specifically about Otisí performance at Monterey while the second is a brief, quick, 19-minute bit about Otisí early life and career. Unfortunately it pales in comparison to Murrayís energetic and excited commentary track, and at times it sounds like Guralnick may be reading from notes. It actually moves at a leaden pace, stunning for a film thatís only 19-minutes, and offers little in the way of insight I found.

Better is the interview with Reddingís manager Phil Walden. Running 18-minutes he gives a better account of the man with some wonderful anecdotes (such as how Redding helped Walden raise his tuition for school,) Stax Records, and how a European tour led to Monterey. He also recalls freaking out about the psychedelic effects used during other performances and worried how the crowd would react to Otis, but Otis didnít seem concerned and just went out and did his thing. With text notes thrown into expand on certain subjects itís an excellent interview and far better than the two commentary tracks for the film.

The individual release then comes with a slim booklet containing an essay by David Fricke, senior editor at Rolling Stone, who writes about the two performers, their impact, and their untimely deaths, and the release in the box set comes with a thick 65-page booklet containing essays by Michael Lydon, Barney Hoskyns, and Armond White, along with a Rolling Stone article by Jann Wenner, and an intro by Pennebaker. Oddly enough the Fricke essay does not appear in the box setís booklet.

On its own itís certainly not as lavish as the Monterey Pop DVD but when put together with the complete box set itís a great expansion on the festival and the performances there.

7/10

CLOSING

For those only interested in either one or both of these films the individual release comes with a high recommendation. The transfers are both awesome in the video and sound department, and the supplements, specifically the commentary for Jimi Plays Monterey, are pretty good overall. I still recommend the complete box set, though, that also contains Monterey Pop and the outtake performances, but the individual release isnít a bad deal.


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