Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Monterey Pop (1968)

Great music = great music documentary. The equation for a fabulous music doc isn't always that simple, but when a film is shot as this one is, that's all you need. This appears to be an offshoot of the impassive Wiseman-style filmmaking in that it simply shows an event with no attempt to editorialize or contextualize -- the concert simply exists. With the music on display here, it doesn't need to do anything else, and it's probably better for not trying to make a grand social statement out of it. For a while, it looks like it would be tough to pick out a top dog among the performers (The Animals covering "Paint it Black" in a performance that Tod Ashley is likely familiar with! Janis Joplin and her wrenching "Ball and Chain"! The Who in their vibrant youth tearing apart "My Generation"! Otis Redding singlehandledly introducing soul to the hippie generation!). But then Jimi Hendrix comes onstage and makes everyone else look like amateurs. (Side note: If Jimi had survived, he probably would have eventually recorded an album of nothing but feedback some time in the mid-70s. Wonder how that would have altered the course of rock history...)

Grade: B+


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