Monterey Pop was only previously available in the box set of The Complete Monterey Pop Festival but was later released on its own on DVD (and was also released on Blu-ray recently.) Everything on the disc for Monterey Pop found in the box set is also found on the individual DVD edition.
First up is an audio commentary recorded by director D. A. Pennebaker and festival producer Lou Adler in 2002. The two have been recorded together and recall what they can about the festival and filming it. Adler talks about the festival in general through most of the track while Pennebaker sticks mostly to talking about the film itself, which includes the technical side of things and the complicated process of getting the footage and then editing everything together. Other than a few select performers (Joplin, Hendrix, The Who, Redding, and Shankar) the two actually talk very little about the individual performances, but offer a few anecdotes involving some behind-the-scenes stuff (including how Joplin’s agent did not want her performances recorded.) I actually rather enjoyed the track, though, and I found the two informative and entertaining, never letting the track lag in any area. Certainly worth a listen.
The remaining supplements are then all found under “Supplements” from the main menu.
First on the roster is a 29-minute video interview between Lou Adler and D. A. Pennebaker. Considering the two did the commentary together I figured this would be a bit of a waste for a feature but the two actually further expand on the commentary track. In it the two discuss their early careers (Adler in music, Pennebaker in filmmaking) and how the two became involved with the Monterey Festival. Adler explains the reasoning for the festival (primarily to validate rock/pop music as an art form) and Pennebaker talks about the actual filming and editing (and the hours of rushes he had to deal with.) Again it’s an interesting extension to the excellent commentary track.
Scrapbook has a couple of nice supplements. A sub-section here is devoted to Elaine Mayes’ photos taken at the festival. First there is a photo gallery featuring her photos from the festival with notes preceding them, which you navigate through using the arrows on your remote, and then there is a photo essay, which is a 12-minute presentation featuring Mayes’ work as she speaks over it in an audio commentary, talking about her career, what it was like at Monterey, and then even gets into technical details (lenses, film) and her favourite photos. There is then a short text bio on Mayes. As a whole it’s an excellent feature, one of the more interesting photo presentations I’ve come across.
Also found under “Scrapbook” is the Festival Program, which presents a copy of the actual program that you can navigate through using the arrows on your remote. At times you will also see a “TEXT” option show up at the bottom of the screen. When you select this you are then presented with an easy-to-read reprint of the text that is on the page you’re viewing. A rather nice addition and I wish Criterion did this with all similar extras on other DVDs (unfortunately they don’t.)
There are then four audio interviews featuring John Philips (16-minutes), Cass Elliot (12-minutes), David Crosby (9-minutes), and then Derek Taylor (29-minutes). Between the four they cover various aspects of the festival. Taylor talks a lot about the set up of the festival and behind-the-scenes stuff, including dealing with a disapproving town, record labels that showed up, and then persistent rumours about The Beatles actually being there. Elliot and Philips also touch on the festival set up, the intentions behind it, but also both talk about their amazement with Janis Joplin, and also both agree that the Mamas and the Papas gave the worst performance of the whole weekend. Philips also throws in a comparison to Woodstock. Crosby was my favourite of the interviews, focusing on the stands outs of the festival, which included Hendrix and then The Who’s destruction of their instruments (which he says he found disrespectful and “sacrilege.”) He’s the most blunt and honest of the bunch. The Taylor one can be a little dry but all four are worth listening to.
Next on the list are four radio spots for the film and then a theatrical trailer.
Finally the section concludes with The Remix, which presents notes by Eddie Kramer covering the restoration, and then there is also a brief text bio on the man.
The main menu then concludes with MIPFF which is a small note on the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation.
Not found here but found on a separate disc in the DVD box set (and also on the individual and box set Monterey Pop Blu-ray) are the outtake performances. While they’re not great as a whole, they were rather cool to see, but the lack of them on the individual DVD release does keep the price down I guess for those not interested in them.
I know between the box set release and the individual release that the discs themselves are the same but the booklets do differ. While I actually haven’t seen it firsthand my understanding (according to Criterion’s website and others) is that the individual DVD release comes with a booklet containing a few essays. This includes an incredibly long essay on the festival and the filming by Michael Lydon, and then two essays on the film, one by Barney Hoskyns and another by Armond White. The box set comes with a rather thick booklet that also includes these essays plus a reprint of a Rolling Stone article by Jann Wenner and then an introduction by Pennebaker.
At an MSRP of $29.95 the individual release isn’t a bad deal for all of those only interested in the film and didn’t feel like forking over $60-$80 for the box set. It’s missing the outtakes, sure, but the other supplements are all excellent and it’s still fairly packed for what is essentially a lower-tier release. I still recommend the box set, though, which not only includes the outtakes, but also contains the films Jimi Plays Monterey and Shake! Otis at Monterey. 8/10