Wednesday, August 1, 2018

MONTEREY POP - D.A. Pennebaker - "Yeah!" (1968)

 The Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 is arguably the best concert of all time! It wasn't as big or crowded as Woodstock that happened two years later, and nobody got killed in front of the stage like at Altamont. The lineup was a superlative cross cultural amalgamation of musical talent that included some of the first major appearances in America by Jimi Hendrix and The Who, and look at the poster, you could have gotten in for $2.50, not $250.00. Any festivals of the last 50 years, whether it be Coachella or Glastonbury wouldn't even exist without Monterey, and without the proper historical perspective, you can't even compare the music, because this was groundbreaking and earth shattering stuff!
So, Welcome to The Dungeon, let's rock!
Thank the Lord somebody made a documentary, because this was a real event, but therein lies the rub! The Director is D.A. Pennebaker, probably the best music documentarian of all time, and this film is true art, but now that 50 years have passed, I just have to say that I think it's a real shame there wasn't more footage of the bands.
 Let me break it down! "Monterey Pop" is 78 minutes long, and out of that 78 minutes, probably at least 15 or 20 minutes is shots of the audience or other crap!

There were quite a few musicians who never made it past the cutting room floor, and some very good bands were left out completely, so it makes for a nice arty film, but as an historical document, it's kind of a failure!  I would have much rather seen some footage of Lou Rawls or Buffalo Springfield than some hippie chick's feet! D.A. apparently has a thing for big face closeups and shots of feet!

The Monterey Pop Festival went on for three days, and on Friday, the performers were The Association, The Paupers, Lou Rawls, Beverley ( I actually have no recollection of this person ever), Johnny Rivers and......... Eric Burden and the Animals,who are recorded doing a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black," instead of one of their own cool originals like "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," or "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" which they didn't perform!

 Simon and Garfunkel closed out Friday night's show, and sent everybody home "Feelin' Groovy!"

 Saturday was heavily dosed with almost half of the bands coming from the bay area, but the opening group was a blues band from L.A. called Canned Heat.....with a very young Bear....

 ....and The Owl performing a rollicking "Rollin' and Tumblin'"`

Next up was Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company doing a rousing version of "Ball and Chain!"

 An interesting side note is that this footage was shot on Sunday, because the story goes something like Big Brother didn't want their Saturday performance filmed because of some kind of disagreement, but the crowd liked them so much, they were asked to come back on Sunday to do two songs, just so they could film it! Their performance led them to be signed to Columbia Records.

 Perennial Dungeon favorites Country Joe and the Fish were up next! For some reason I can't understand, D.A. chose the song "Section 43" instead of either of the two best songs ever recorded by anybody, "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine," and "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag," and that's almost criminal! Believe it or not, two years later, Country Joe McDonald would make a straightforward country album called "Tonight I'm Singing Just For You!"
 Al Kooper, The Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Steve Miller Band, and The Electric Flag rounded out the afternoon, and were all unfortunately left out of this movie!

The Saturday evening show continued with Moby Grape (left out), another real favorite of mine, Hugh Masekela (seen here), The Byrds, and Laura Nyro!

 And Jefferson Airplane!
Another thing I don't understand is that the performances in the movie are not in order! The movie starts off with The Mamas and the Papas, but they were actually the closers! Artistic license I guess, but it's kind of weird when you think about it!

 Saturday night's show closed with Booker T and the M.G.s, followed by Otis Redding!
 Otis was already well known in the black community, but this was his first exposure to a large white audience, and he delivers a dynamic performance beyond compare! A couple of months later, the legend would die in a small plane crash, and a couple of months after that, "Sittin'  On The Dock Of The Bay" was released and would become the first ever posthumous number one hit!

Sunday, the last day the show started with Ravi Shankar in the afternoon! Back in the 60's Ravi was everybody's love child, and his musical performance is a full seventeen minutes long, and that is truly sinful since we don't get to hear a second of any of these Sunday performers:
 Blues Project, The Group With No Name, Buffalo Springfield with David Crosby instead of Neil Young who couldn't make it, and the Grateful Dead!

 Later that night, The Who literally exploded with a destructive performance unseen before!

 By some miracle of God, Keith Moon managed to live until 1978. He was 32 years old!

Now it was Jimi's turn! 

And of course, this was the show where Jimi notoriously set his guitar on fire, but it wasn't the first time he pulled this stunt. A few months earlier, he did it for the first time, and actually had to go to the hospital because his hands got burnt!

I just like this picture of Jimi manipulating the whammy bar on top! In 2012, the charred remains of his guitar were sold for $288,493.00, but it wasn't this one because they switched them out!

They really probably should have ended the show there, but I guess they needed to get everybody to mellow out after The Who and Hendrix sets, so they finished with The Mamas and the Papas with Scott McKenzie. They claim Mama Cass was over 200 pounds, but she looks bigger than that to me. Cass died in 1974 from a heart attack!
You can read the whole set list (almost) and a whole lot more on this Wikipedia page!
And while you're there, why not make a small donation? They could use it!

Other bands who would have made the event even better, but didn't sign up for lots of different contractual, legal or personal reasons were, LOVE, who didn't think it was an event important enough to travel to (But now I've read they wern't even invited), The Mothers Of Invention wouldn't sign because supposedly Frank Zappa didn't want to share the stage with any San Francisco bands. The Beach Boys (You can see they were even on this early poster), Dionne Warwick, and Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band along with many others were scheduled to also appear but didn't for various reasons! Still, what an amazing array of talent! It's hard to criticize this film, but just like almost everything in life, it could have even been so much better, at least for a fan of music! I guess I just need to break down and buy the three disc set from Amazon for $35.00 that includes two hours of performances by a lot of those musicians who didn't make it onto the original reels, or start searching YouTube! (Yeah! That worked!)


Peterpeter said...

What a wonderful post!

EEGAH!! said...

Thanx Pete!! I appreciate it!

Robert M. Lindsey said...

This was probably the most most amazing concert ever. BTW, $2.50 in 1967 equals $18.73 in today's money. Why on Earth is a normal concert $100?

When I saw the film back in the '80s, I mentioned it to one of my dad's friends. He said he was there! He was stationed at The Presidio but he didn't remember any of the weekend! He was so blitz on drugs that all he knows is that he went. As I tried pressing his memory he got embarrassed and I think he was sorry he told me.

I could have done without Ravi, and wish they'd used the time on some variety of music.

Robert M. Lindsey said...

That reminds me, you haven't posted in your alternative best albums list.

EEGAH!! said...

Thanx for the story and the reminder Robert! I've been kind of busy. I do need to finish that project!

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