Rock Doc Block: September

By Lee Valentine Smith

Due to recent biopics and historic anniversaries, the music documentary has never been a hotter commodity. The latest batch of archival films is a delightfully mixed bag of oldies but goodies. This month's mailbag contains three deluxe sets, all new releases for September from the history buffs at Shout! Factory.

Peter, Paul And Mary At Newport 1963-65
Finds the socially aware trio at the peak of their commercial success with a batch of performances culled from three separate concerts at the Newport Folk Festival. Seen in edited form last year on PBS, the new full-length DVD (and matching CD) includes eighteen previously unreleased live performances. Embodying the ambitious essence of the influential folk revival movement, the set includes exciting versions of "Blowin' In The Wind," "If I Had A Hammer," and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," with insightful period-centric context in the engrossing liner notes by Peter Yarrow.

The Harder They Come Collector's Edition
Reggae icon Jimmy Cliff is featured in this sprawling three-disc set that includes an incredible six hours of bonus features, commentary, featurettes and a new 4K scan from the original 16mm negative. The cult-fave 1973 film features an extensive soundtrack of reggae tunes and the crime-drama story is pure '70s grit. Worth adding to any collection due to the extensive archival material including interviews with cast and crew and Sir Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien), PJ Soles (Carrie, Stripes), Carl Bradshaw and director Perry Henzell's family. Disc three, "The Legacy of Perry Henzell: A Story of Jamacian Cinema" is a priceless and exhaustingly informative overview of Caribbean filmmaking.

Santana Live At US Festival
With the recent collapse of the Woodstock 50 reunion, this look back at Santana's Labor Day Weekend show at the historic US Festival in San Bernardino is a good bookend for a binge weekend of music documentaries. Compare the Carlos Santana of 1982 to the raw naivete of the '69 Woodstock performances and the result is a dynamic before-and-after primer on song arrangement and freeform improvisation. The early-'80s visions of his best work from the previous decade is a jam-lovers delight. "Black Magic Woman," "Gypsy Queen," and "Oye Como Va," are all present and accounted for with fascinating interviews with the man himself discussing his career and explaining his unique sound.



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