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Media Preview August '09

From metal to Woodstock, upcoming videos for '09.


Such Hawks, Such Hounds – Scenes From the American Hard Rock Underground
What exactly is “heavy”? If you’re Matt Pike, guitarist for High on Fire and the legendary Sleep, you might equate it to the wrath of an overlord as he lacerates the heads off of his enemies. “If you can make the riff sound like that, that’s heavy,” says Pike at the opening of Such Hawks, Such Hounds, a new documentary showcasing the current hard rock underground landscape.

Director John Srebalus paints a very diverse picture of the scene, reaching all the way down to the roots of the movement with heavy nods to Pentagram and Black Sabbath. Srebalus shows all sides of the stoner rock movement (a label that a lot of bands resent), illustrating how much more it is than slow, droning riffs. Noise-sludge darlings Sunn 0))), Joe Preston of Thrones and Earth and Scott Reeder of the infinitely influential Kyuss are just a few of the figures involved offering their viewpoints and influences.

It should be noted that the most impressive thing that Such Hawks, Such Hounds achieves is dispelling the meathead myths about rock and metal in general. It seems that the major focus of the documentary is not only educating viewers on the history of the movement, but stripping away any needless flash and excess to show that these people are just like anyone else. The musicians even take a few minutes to talk about about their day jobs, making the film even more intimate and relatable. Srebalus not only shows the obsessive devotion that these musicians have for their music, but the primal need to keep it honest to themselves. Those traits are ultimately why their fans seek them out in the first place. —JW

List $21.95

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music, Director’s Cut
(40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

In the age of reprocessed and repackaged CDs and DVDs where the “bonus” features and additional content are anything but, the Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director’s Cut 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD gives you everything you wanted and more. It comes in a ’69-inspired package—no extra charge for the leather fringe—which includes a holographic photo showcasing the festival, reprint of a the Life magazine commemorative issue, replica hand-written notes and quotes from attendees and an iron-on patch featuring the classic dove and guitar logo. For those who couldn’t be in attendance, this package provides a one-stop Woodstock shop. Although the package and its extras are a welcome add-on, the real treat of this DVD package lies in the audio and visual presentation.

The four-hour director’s cut of the original Oscar-winning documentary was remastered by Eddie Kramer to boost the audio quality up to today’s A/V standards. The documentary weaves performances of Hendrix, the Who, Janis Joplin and others with a chronological narrative of the festival from its preliminary setup and grassroots beginnings to the horrific chore of post-festival cleanup. In addition, it comes packed with over three hours of bonus footage, including two hours of previously unreleased, sizzling live performances from the Dead, CCR, Johnny Winter and many more. The list of other bonus materials runs long. Standout segments include: 3 Days in a Truck, which documents Eddie Kramer’s three days spent capturing the audio of the entire event from his truck; and Suits VS. Longhairs, which focuses on the creative struggle between the flower children filmmakers and the white-collar Warner executives. Collectively, all the parts of the documentary capture the raw emotion of the event. From the hippies basking in their utopian-weekend to Michael Lang and the other promoters scrambling to keep everything from burning like Nero’s Rome, it was all seen through director’s Michael Wadleigh’s Éclair NPR camera.

While at its core the DVD is about the music—just like the original festival—it turns out to be about the people too, their first-hand recollections and the social significance that this event still has in a world full of corporate-driven concerts and festivals. It was more than the music. It was more than the improbable list of performers. It was about a time and place that can never be recreated—see Woodstock ’94 and ’99. Sure the legacy of the festival hinges on the performers and their music, but would it have mattered if over 400,000 people didn’t converge on Bethel, NY? Probably not, but this documentary provides a potent insight into a world in the midst of a cultural revolution fueled by thought-provoking music, the youth and their hope, even if it was just for that summer. —CK

List $59.98