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Monterey International Pop Festival (Razor & Tie)

Wednesday, Jun 13 2007
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Before Lollapalooza, even before Woodstock and Isle of Wight, there was the Monterey International Pop Festival. Over a few days in June 1967, diverse performers from America, Britain, India, and Africa strutted their stuff in the Sunshine State, and the two-CD set Monterey International Pop Festival chronicles this groundbreaking event. If one considers the musical scope, it's hard to imagine something similar occurring these days. The event hosted R&B (Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MGs), cheery harmony-pop (the Mamas & the Papas), blues (Butterfield Blues Band), rebellious, drug-fueled hippie rock (Jefferson Airplane), and world music (Ravi Shankar, Hugh Masekela). Before you born-after-1985 readers dis your parents' soundtrack, be advised — some of these performances are revelatory, both then and now. On "My Generation," the Who evince the same smash-it-up glee as the Damned or the early Butthole Surfers. The excerpt from sitar master Shankar's performance exemplifies his continuing influence on rock, jazz, and minimalist/trance music. The impassioned sets by Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix put them on America's pop-culture map. Alas, all was not golden — the Byrds show how sloppy they could be live and the Animals sound sadly dated. By and large, though, MIPF shouldn't be embraced by nostalgics only.

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Mark Keresman

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