Jimi Plays Monterey / Shake! Otis at Monterey (1986)

by | May 30, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Jimi Plays Monterey / Shake! Otis at Monterey (1986)

Director: D. A. Pennebaker
Studio: The Criterion Collection 169
Video: 1.33:1 full screen, color
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 & stereo, DTS 5.1
Extras: Audio commentary by music critic Charles Shaar Murray, Excerpt from interview with Pete Townshend, Trailer, two audio commentaries by music critic Peter Guralnick on Otis Redding, Interview with Phil Walden, Redding’s manager, New printed essay by David Fricke
Length: Jimi – 49 minutes; Otis – 19 minutes
Rating: ****

This is basically the third DVD from the three-DVD package of the Monterey Pop Festival which was issued earlier and which we reviewed herewith.  Criterion is now offering it separately.  There wasn’t nearly enough time in the Pop Festival documentary to include all of both sets by these two important performers.  Both have long been part of rock n’ roll mythology for many reasons. Hendrix arrived at the event in California almost totally unknown by the general public and even those in attendance at the music event.  He had made his initial success in London, where he had moved from the U.S.  The audience was flabbergasted by his maniacal approach to his six-string electric guitar – an approach which turned into the pyromanical at the end when he laid the still-playing instrument on the stage floor, squirted it with lighter fluid in a rather suggestive pose, and then set fire to it – still playing a reverberating highly amplified note! (I was present.) The audience had already experienced The Who smashing their guitars against the speakers and amps in a cloud of sparks and smoke the night before, but Hendrix upstaged them good!

Otis Redding’s put on a short but super-funky show for the Monterey crowd, showing why he was the longtime star of the Memphis-based Stax soul label. This turned out to be one of his very last shows – he didn’t even stay around as long as Hendrix. I find it interesting that even an unassailable label like Criterion promotes both digital transfers as being “high-definition.”  I’d like to know how you can possibly have hi-def when the source is 16mm film – not matter how carefully the restoration work is done. Also, creating the 5.1 surround mix out of the stereo originals is a nice idea, but there really isn’t that much to work with there. Still, this is the very best that can be extracted from the original materials, and those with tight pursestrings who are less interested in the rest of the Monterey Pop Festival will be delighted to have these two musical documents made available separately.

– John Henry

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